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Bishop Jeremiah Park (second from right), presents check to Imagine No Malaria. Also pictured: Bishop Peggy Johnson (far left); Bishop Thomas Bickerton and Tom Willard, senior pastor at Camp Hill United Methodist Church (far right). Photo by Sandii Peiffer, Susquehanna Conference.

Bishop Jeremiah Park (second from right), presents check to Imagine No Malaria. Also pictured: Bishop Peggy Johnson (far left); Bishop Thomas Bickerton and Tom Willard, (far right). Photo by Sandii Peiffer, Susquehanna Conference.

It’s the homestretch: Denomination reaches 90% of goal to combat malaria

Thanks to the efforts of United Methodists across the connection, the church has reached 90% of its goal of $75 million to combat suffering and death from malaria.

At a special press conference on Nov. 16 at Camp Hill United Methodist Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, three United Methodist bishops announced that the denomination has raised $68 million in cash and pledges for Imagine No Malaria.

Bishop Jeremiah Park of the Susquehanna Conference of The United Methodist Church announced that he, in partnership with his conference, has pledged $1 million – the gift that pushed the global campaign to the fundraising milestone. Park presented a check for $149,238.93, 15 percent of the pledge, to Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the Western Pennsylvania Conference as part of the celebration. Bickerton, who chairs the United Methodist Global Health Initiative, has led Imagine No Malaria since 2010.

“We thank Bishop Park and United Methodists throughout Central Pennsylvania who have made this pledge. We also thank United Methodists throughout the world whose fundraising efforts have now raised $68 million in cash and pledges for Imagine No Malaria,” Bickerton said. “Today’s announcement is a celebration for all United Methodists, who serve as a testimony to what we can achieve when we unite for a shared vision of a world without malaria deaths.”

Bishop Peggy Johnson of the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, where local congregations have raised more than a quarter of a million dollars, was also on hand for the major announcement. Johnson also shared her conference’s fundraising experiences, which have ranged from 5K races to bake sales. And the Rev. Tom Willard, senior pastor at Camp Hill UMC, shared his personal story of contracting malaria following a mission trip two years ago to Sierra Leone.

Suffer the little children
The event began with children from Camp Hill’s preschool program singing, “Jesus Loves the Little Children” and a medley of other Sunday school favorites, while images of children on the continent of Africa played behind them. The multimedia presentation helped drive home the point that for many children, malaria threatens the opportunity to grow up healthy. That is what Imagine No Malaria and other global partners are working to change.

It was fitting that children were a part of the event as young people in the church have been vital to Imagine No Malaria’s fundraising efforts, planning events and donating from their piggy banks. The initiative has taken on a grass-roots quality with donations coming from individual givers and kids with lemonade stands. Churches have run races, shot hoops and challenged each other on social media. From motorcycle rides to bake sales, United Methodists have rallied around the cause, and every penny has made a difference.

During the event, Bickerton also shared congratulatory remarks from Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer who heads the President’s Malaria Initiative in Washington, a leader in the global fight against malaria. Ziemer could not attend the event because of travel outside of the country.

“What a remarkable achievement! The United Methodist Church’s delivery on their commitment of $75 million in support of your Imagine No Malaria campaign is unprecedented and has set the bar very high for other faith-based partners,” Ziemer said. “Imagine the thousands of lives that have been saved and the families that have benefited from less malaria in their homes and communities. I recently visited Zimbabwe and saw firsthand the fantastic work that The United Methodist Church is doing.”

We’re almost there
Today, Imagine No Malaria launched a social media campaign to kick off the final phase of fundraising with the #Give10 Challenge. By donating $10 or more, the people of The United Methodist Church will work together to reach the last 10 percent of the goal. Contribute at ImagineNoMalaria.org.

Help us reach $75 million by donating and making a difference in the life of a child, adult or family. With your help, we can reach our goal!

Imagine No Malaria is committed to ending death and suffering from malaria through prevention, communication, trained health workers and facilities, and grass-roots education.

*For more information you may contact Laurens Glass at LGlass@umcom.org or 615-742-5405. This article was written for Imagine No Malaria.

Photo above of children of Camp Hill United Methodist Church in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, singing during press conference by Sandii Peiffer.