Any church, any size, any place… 1000+ events planned to Change the World


Children of Port Washington United Methodist Church
  The children at Port Washington United Methodist Church will have
a “Sleep Out to End-Malaria” on the eve of World Malaria Day as part of a unified action to raise awareness of the plight of children in Africa.
Photo by Jacqueline Ward Images Photography

By Susan Passi-Klaus

April 22, 2010 | NASHVILLE, Tenn.

On April 24th and 25th, change is coming.

It’s coming to cities and towns all over the U.S. and to villages and neighborhoods around the globe . . . communities with United Methodist churches that have signed on to Change the World during a weekend of radical service.

From Alabama to Washington, New York to Mozambique, a thousand-plus churches , along with districts, clusters and conferences, are revving up to put on more than 1000 Change the World events. The causes are many – everything from preventing malaria and curing breast cancer to protecting the environment and feeding the homeless. United Methodist congregations are taking to the streets, schools, parks, nursing homes, neighborhoods, hospitals, homeless shelters and more to make a difference.

“Everybody wants to help make a change,” said the Rev. Jean McMullan, pastor of the United Methodist Church of the Rockaways, Rockaway, N.J. Her congregation has a list of ten projects they are taking on for the weekend – assembling health and sewing kits for UMCOR, having a Chili Cook-Off to raise funds for the local food pantry, and hosting a Brownie Bake-Off to raise money for the United Methodist radio station in Cote d’Ivoire, to name a few.

“The Change the World event has made it possible for any church, any size, any place, to do one, two or twenty things to help make a difference in the local community or in the world,” McMullan said. “When you add all of us together, we have the potential of changing so much.”

Because World Malaria Day is April 25, many churches have decided to stage an event with a global focus. Several youth groups across the U.S. will “Sleep Out to End Malaria” – camping under bed nets to show solidarity with families in Africa who rely on mosquito netting to protect them from malaria. Many have found creative ways to raise money for Imagine No Malaria, the malaria initiative of The United Methodist Church which officially launches that weekend.

Children in Point Washington, Fla. admit to “bugging” friends and family to donate money to buy insecticide-treated bed nets. The fourth, fifth and sixth graders from Port Washington United Methodist Church are sleeping out in the church’s family life center to draw community attention and will kill a “mosquito” made from pipe cleaners for every $10 they raise for a bed net.

In Prescott, Ariz., youth groups from Prescott United Methodist Church will compete to create canned food sculptures and will donate food to a local homeless ministry. In Montrose, Colo., the folks at Montrose UMC are planting pumpkins. When they are harvested, the money from sales will be donated to Imagine No Malaria. And in Goodwater, Ala., Goodwater United Methodist will invite people with intellectual disabilities in the local community to the church for a Friendship Night Worship Service, complete with singing, sharing a meal and making crafts.

According to the Rev. Dan Peil, pastor of Elk City United Methodist Church, Elk City, Okla., the Change the World event emphasizes the importance of getting outside church walls to transform the world.

“We’ve been trying to rethink church for several years – even before the current campaign started,” Peil said. ”Change the World gives us one more chance to do that.”

His congregation has cleverly devised a “Pay It Forward Tree.” Members fill out a slip of paper listing how they intend to do something good for others, such as deliver a meal to a shut-in, build a wheelchair ramp or help an older adult with yard or household chores. When their mini-project is complete, the paper promise is hung on the Pay It Forward Tree.

Whether the event benefits the local community or the global community, whether it raises awareness or raises funds, congregations have been asked to think outside the walls of their own churches to come up with ways to make a difference.

Seminary United Methodist Church in Roanoke, Ind. will provide free mammograms for women. In Nashville, Tenn., diners at a Dining in the Dark event – held at Pennington United Methodist Church -- will eat their meal blindfolded to experience what it feels like to be visually impaired. Proceeds and donations from the dinner will benefit a local foundation for vision loss. And in Raleigh, N.C., congregation members from the entire district will run/walk, bike and/or golf at Race of Grace, Tour de Grace and Links of Grace. Money raised through registrations, donations and sponsorships will be divvied up between three local non-profit organizations.

Churches in Africa, the Philippines and Europe are also on board with Change the World. One example is Moheto First United Methodist Church in Kuria West, Kenya. It’s the rainy season in Africa and conditions are ripe for malaria-carrying mosquitoes to multiply. The Moheto congregation is not only distributing anti-malaria drugs, they are teaching the local community about environmental sanitation.

Change the World was created by United Methodist Communications in partnership with the United Methodist Publishing House, based on a concept that originated with the Rev. Mike Slaughter of Ginghamsburg Church in Tipp City, Ohio, author of Change the World.

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