|Sunday school hits links to build wells for Africa|
Golfers line up their carts for the St. James United Methodist Church Golf Classic in Little Rock, Ark., to raise money for a new water well in the Congo.
UMNS photos by Jane Dennis.
A UMNS Report
By Linda Green*
July 10, 2008
Proceeds from a golf tournament sponsored by a Sunday school class in Arkansas will provide a well with clean water for a village in Africa.
Participants warm up on the course.
The June 21 golf classic, hosted by the Stepping Stone class of St. James United Methodist Church in Little Rock, netted $10,000.
The money will go to build at least one well in Kamina, a village in the North Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Rick Layton, a golf enthusiast who proposed the tournament, said the
event was a way to respond "to God's tugging at my heart to do some type
of activity" that involved the entire 3,700-member St. James
congregation in a mission that would "make a life-long impact to save
The tourney included 19 four-person teams from area churches and
community and business organizations. "We had participation that we were
not anticipating, and we were very pleased," said Paige James, who
helped organize the fundraiser.
The 25-member Sunday school class learned about water needs in Kamina
from a delegation from the church's Arkansas Annual Conference that
visited the village last July. James said church members have witnessed
poverty through mission projects in Mexico and other Third World countries "but it is nothing like Kamina," which is made up of "people who just have nothing … but they have spirit."
James said it quickly became clear that the $6,000 cost to construct a
well "seemed like nothing when it would make a huge difference in the
lives of so many people."
Water is a life-source
Kamina's 300,000 people now have only five wells to provide clean
water. A river is the nearest and easiest source of water but is
contaminated and filled with harmful bacteria. In North Katanga,
women and children walk miles daily in search of water, even dirty
water. Water is a life-source and, without it, disease and death run
rampant, according to the North Katanga Conference Web site.
Led by Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo, United Methodists in North Katanga are working to dig additional wells for clean water.
(From left) Bob Fotioo, Don Bacon, Jim Womble and Marty Fiser win the tournament hosted by the Stepping
Stone Sunday school class.
"To be able to provide this one little well and increase the total from five to six is huge," James said.
Since the class exceeded its fundraising goal of $6,000, members are
considering raising additional money for a second well and other needs.
"Members of the Stepping Stone Sunday school class feel passionate
about the call to do what they can to save lives by providing something
many of us take for granted: good, clean, safe drinking water," said
Jane Dennis, a class member and editor of the Arkansas United Methodists, the newspaper of Arkansas United Methodists.
The idea of tapping into a fresh and accessible water source right
there in the village was appealing to the 24-year-old class. "We
couldn't imagine not having water readily available, or children getting
diseases or even dying for lack of clean water, as they do in places
like the Congo," Dennis said.
The Arkansas Conference has a mission partnership with the church's North Katanga
episcopal area that includes developing relationships, mission efforts
and educational scholarships, as well as supporting clergy and laity in
ways such as purchasing Bibles or bicycles.
The well project supports one of four areas of focus approved for the
denomination at the 2008 General Conference: to improve global health
and fight killer diseases of poverty.
The conference's goal is to involve at least 10 congregations in supporting ministries in the Congo by 2013. Money already had been raised to build 12 wells, and the St. James' effort increases the number to 13.
Sisters Holly (left) and Amy Hilliard tee off.
Providing clean water is one of 11 projects in the Democratic
Republic of Congo by the United Methodist Committee on Relief, annual
conferences and churchwide agencies. UMCOR states that the water project
(Advance Special #127730) is an answer to "prayer for those women and
children who must carry water for miles so their families can drink,
bathe, and cook with clean water." The relief agency recently opened an
office in Kamina and is seeking funds for additional wells.
*Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.
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St. James United Methodist Church
North Katanga Annual Conference
Arkansas Annual Conference
The United Methodist Committee on Relief