Financial commitments to Imagine No Malaria have doubled in the past year, moving the campaign past its June benchmark goal of $40 million ahead of schedule.
Participation continues to build with more annual conferences and churches pledging involvement for this initiative of The United Methodist Church to raise $75 million to end preventable deaths from malaria in Africa by 2015.
Congregations and individuals from 58 U.S. annual conferences have given to Imagine No Malaria with offerings ranging from $10 to $600,000. At least ten annual conferences are expected to make formal commitment pledges to Imagine No Malaria this summer to raise at least $1 million each.
These conferences join the eight annual conferences that are now actively engaged in working to reach their commitment goals after launching initiatives in the fall or winter (Desert Southwest, Kansas East, Kansas West, Iowa, Holston, Nebraska, Arkansas and Rocky Mountain), as well as the eight “pioneer” annual conferences (Southwest Texas, Illinois Great Rivers, North Texas, Western Pennsylvania, Northwest Texas, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Central Texas) that helped launch the Imagine No Malaria effort following the success of the Nothing But Nets campaign. The Texas, Baltimore-Washington and New York conferences have also contributed significant amounts to the malaria cause, even without a formal campaign.
The Texas and Southwest Texas conferences have each raised more than $1 million for Imagine No Malaria, while Western Pennsylvania has contributed more than $1.5 million and Minnesota and Illinois Great Rivers have each donated more than $2 million.
The Kentucky Conference has made Imagine No Malaria a central part of their upcoming annual conference. Efforts in Kentucky will include a 5K run and a youth rally to raise funds for Imagine No Malaria and Bishop Lindsey Davis has designated Imagine No Malaria as the recipient of this year's annual conference Mission Offering. Bishop Davis and the Cabinet of the Kentucky Conference have set a goal of collecting $100,000 during the mission night offering.
In addition to saving lives, Imagine No Malaria is also revitalizing congregations by mobilizing United Methodists to get involved in a cause.
Churches both large and small have gotten involved in the effort. For example, Peck’s Memorial United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tenn. has only 63 members, yet they have raised more than $15,000 for the fight against malaria. They did it simply by passing the offering plate every single Sunday between Labor Day 2012 and Memorial Day 2013. “Imagine No Malaria has revitalized our spirit which has led to a renewed purpose,” said the Rev. Tim Jones. “Now that the congregation has seen what they can do, the question has become, “What next?”
LeRae Collins, Imagine No Malaria’s field coordinator for the Holston annual conference says the churches she serves are so excited about the opportunity to help others a continent away that they’ve gone over the top to find creative ways to raise money. Congregations have built lemonade stands, walked and biked long distances, shaved a pastor’s head, dared to dive in at a Polar Bear Plunge, and have pledged to skydive if they don’t meet their goal.
They’ve gotten so involved, Collins said, that it has not only changed the lives of people in Africa, but also lives of those who attend church in East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. “This has been an opportunity for churches to connect around a central mission,” she said. “Knowing that $10 saves a life is something all our churches can share.”