|Conference gatherings collect funds for Nets, missions|
Bishop Thomas Bickerton stands with youth wearing
"Buzzkill" T-shirts in support of Nothing But Nets during the Western
Pennsylvania Annual Conference gathering. During their regional
meetings, at least 22 United Methodist annual conferences contributed
more than $1.3 million to the anti-malaria campaign.
A UMNS photo by Mark Rehn.
A UMNS Report
By Linda Green*
July 10, 2007
In the spirit of Methodism founder John Wesley's declaration that the
"world is my parish," at least 22 United Methodist annual conferences
contributed more than $1.3 million in gifts and pledges to the Nothing
But Nets campaign.
At least four other conferences announced activities for later in the
year to benefit the United Methodist-supported fund-raising effort to
end mosquito-borne malaria in Africa with insecticide-treated nets.
Nothing But Nets was one of the most visible beneficiaries of special
offerings collected and promoted during the church's U.S. annual
conference meetings this year. The people of The United Methodist Church
are a founding partner of the campaign and have contributed to the
total of $7 million raised thus far.
Supporters found a variety of creative ways to advance the cause during the denomination's regional gatherings.
In Central Texas, Joye Chamness honored her husband, Bishop Ben
Chamness, and their 47th anniversary with a gift of a $10 net for every
year of their marriage. Others at the meeting then made pledges in honor
of a loved one or special event and, altogether, raised $100,000 for
Nothing But Nets.
In California-Pacific, United Methodists celebrated the 60th birthday
of Bishop MaryAnn Swenson by collecting gifts in increments of 60 to
help people in need. Churches across the conference gave 60 bed nets for
the campaign, 60 child immunizations and 60 tools for recovery work on
the Gulf Coast.
Minnesota Annual Conference delegates place
donations in a basket after intentionally violating cell phone
etiquette, resulting in more than $2,000 collected for missions. A UMNS
photo by Jill Shirley.
The Commale family received a standing ovation from the Eastern
Pennsylvania Conference session for raising more than $27,000 for
Nothing But Nets.
In a modern-day "loaves and fishes" story in the Texas Annual
Conference, one pastor's $20 gift to Nothing But Nets included a
challenge to others that multiplied into $500,000 in donations and
pledges by members and churches.
The highlight of the Pacific Northwest Conference was a basketball
tournament between the "Bishop's Bunch" and "Youthful Yellow" teams.
Donations from cheering fans netted $4,628.
Also using a basketball was Bishop Thomas Bickerton of the Western
Pennsylvania Conference. During interludes, he sank 100 basketballs from
the stage to raise money for the effort, and conference members
challenged one another. In all, the conference raised more than $125,000
for the anti-malaria campaign.
Money for missions
While annual conference meetings serve as the gathering places for
United Methodists to conduct regional church business, they also provide
a venue for Christian worship and fellowship—and another opportunity to
give to mission work and special offerings.
To enhance quality of life for people across the globe and to seek
justice, United Methodists contributed thousands of dollars to mission
projects, disaster response and partnerships in Africa, Europe, the
Philippines and Brazil. Twenty conferences contributed to or addressed
the Global AIDS Fund and HIV/AIDS initiatives in the United States and
abroad. The Red Bird Missionary Conference celebrated a mission offering
of $14,253 for the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference.
Louisiana United Methodists raised $127,000 for the Global AIDS Fund,
and the month of November was identified as "Miracle Month" by
Minnesota United Methodists. Congregations in Minnesota will raise $1
per member for the Global AIDS Fund and $5 per member to build a
multi-use church center in Petersburg, Russia.
Every time a cell phone rang aloud during the Minnesota meeting, the
phone's owner had to donate $5 to missions, thanks to Bishop Sally
Dyck's warning on the first day of conference to encourage cell phone
etiquette. On the last day of the session, members conspired to ring
each other's phones at 11:30 a.m., and a mass of violators then paraded
to the offering basket with more than $2,000 in donations. The
conference also collected more than $80,000 for missions during a love
Keeping with Wesley’s admonition of helping the poor, 22 annual
conferences sought to help pastors and church lay workers in annual
conferences outside the United States retire with dignity, hope and an
adequate pension. The conferences contributed at least $1.4 million to
the Central Conference Pension Initiative by donating annual funds
received from the United Methodist Publishing House.
Holston conference members celebrated its annual "hands-on mission
project" as the conference's 12 districts more than doubled their goals
for donations of school supplies for Liberia and Ishe Anesu in Zimbabwe.
More than 6,300 kits containing food, clothing, health and school
supplies were loaded into two tractor-trailer trucks and dispatched to
Africa. Wisconsin also loaded a tractor-trailer for the Midwest Mission
Distribution Center. The value of the 4,214 baby/youth blankets, shawls,
quilts, tools and other items was nearly $63,000.
Bishop Woodie White, speaking to the North Indiana Annual Conference,
challenged church members to work for justice for all "not because we
are good, but because we experience a living God who says, 'This is my
world; these are my children; and I love them.'"
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in
Nashville, Tenn. This story was compiled from annual conference reports.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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