Archive - June, 2012

GenXaret youth event: saving lives is fun

BWC GenXaret event

On Friday, June 23rd, 2012, Glen Mar United Methodist Church’s young adult members Katie Cheung and Hannah Hardin partnered with Ray Jordan from GenXaret to raise money for Imagine No Malaria. As members of The United Methodist Church, a promise has been made by all members and confirmands to support this life-saving mission of the Church, which is a denomination-wide outreach ministry.

GenXaret is “an innovative, faith-based outreach where God is changing lives, healing communities, and empowering youth to change the world.” At this concert venue and safe haven for local youth, a worship service was led by Cheung and Hardin. This event featured the praise band Salvation Rock from Glen Mar UMC. Also attending the event was District Superintendent the Reverend Vivian McCarthy, speaking on the behalf of Bishop John Schol of the Baltimore-Washington Conference.  Rev. McCarthy shared a powerful and inspiring story of her personal experience around malaria.

Each of the attendees paid $10 as an entry fee, buying a single net to save a life, or even the lives in an entire family. To add to the fun, DJ Ostrowski played music after the service.  The largest group of attendees were from Wesley Freedom United Methodist Church in Eldersburg, Maryland, who brought the majority of their youth group after a full day of team building events for their upcoming mission trip to Chicago. All enjoyed the event and partied with a purpose to end Malaria in Africa.

Learn more and get involved in Imagine No Malaria today!

From one mother and child to another

WNC lemonaid

By Pamela Carter, Western North Carolina Annual Conference

It had been some time since I had last seen my friend, Susan.  She was the team leader for my first international mission trip. At that time our church mission team traveled   to Guatemala to help build a place of worship for a small mountain community, and I remembered with thankfulness those days when I began to see God’s world in a different way.  We had connected as a team to God’s vision for a transformed world as we worked alongside our Guatemalan brothers and sisters in Christ.   In those days, Susan was the associate at the church where my husband served as Senior Pastor, now 10 years past.   Now here she was at Lake Junaluska with her two young children in tow, Hank and Caroline, visiting lots of friends at Annual Conference.   Her life had been transformed as well since we had last been together.

As we gathered near the bell tower under a tent, just beyond the reach of Stuart Auditorium, the kids chattered on about their day with pride.   That week, while at Junaluska, they had raised over $41 at a lemonade stand they set up for Imagine No Malaria.   When Hank and Caroline had wanted to help, Susan had shown them the website,, and talked with them about the need.  How children and mothers just like themselves, far away, were at risk or suffered because of this disease.  Hank and Caroline were ready to act.  So one cup of lemonade at a time they did their part.  That $41 has grown to well over $150 as others heard about the work of two small hands (and one attentive mother).  A lay woman here in the crowd, or a pastor there, reached into their pockets and contributed, giving generously out of love and compassion for the sufferings of women and children far from the place where we are now singing praises and offering   prayers.  Others connected to the hearts’ desire of   Caroline and Hank, 7 and 8 year old children, and the results are inspiring.

Compassions calls forth compassion.  That’s what can happen when our hearts are moved by Christ to compassion for the suffering of others in this world, and we join in this effort with other friends, neighbors, churches, districts and conferences to help alleviate the suffering of those affected by malaria.   Children under five and pregnant mothers are most at risk unfortunately.  But in this case, the fate of a mother and her children far, far away is being met with the compassion of another mother and her children.

We can make a trickle of compassion into a river, an ocean – one lemonade stand at a time, one barbecue supper, or yard sale.   Please join Hank and Caroline, and their mom Susan in making a difference.  Tomorrow morning our offering at Annual Conference will be given to Imagine No Malaria and we will join with the mothers and children of sub-Saharan African as they fight the threat of malaria.  Please be generous – generous and joyful, like Hank and Caroline – and one very smart and attentive mother named Susan.  Your heart will be the better for it, and so will the mother and child who will sleep under a bed net in peace because you acted.

Nothing But Spokes

Center front: Bishop Peggy Johnson. From left to right in back: Jim White from St. Mark's UMC in Mt. Joy, Rev. John Pfeil from West Willow UMC, Shelly Trego from Mt. Zion in Narvon, Rev. Jim Todd, Southwest District Superintendent, Jay Horning, Grandview UMC. Missing from photo: Rev. Richard Conner, Calvary UMC in Wyomissing.

Nothing But Spokes begins 335 mile ride for Imagine No Malaria from Washington, DC

It was a perfect day for cycling. The day dawned sunny and cool, and at 9:00 am on Sunday, June 17, several cyclists gathered with dozens of members of Grandview UMC near Lancaster for a celebratory breakfast and prayer circle for the beginning of Nothing But Spokes for Imagine No Malaria. The trip has been in the works for the latter part of 2011 and all of 2012, with the cyclists raising funds from fellow church members, friends, family members, and business associates to support the denominational emphasis called Imagine No Malaria.

Center front: Bishop Peggy Johnson. From left to right in back: Jim White from St. Mark’s UMC in Mt. Joy, Rev. John Pfeil from West Willow UMC, Shelly Trego from Mt. Zion in Narvon, Rev. Jim Todd, Southwest District Superintendent, Jay Horning, Grandview UMC. Missing from photo: Rev. Richard Conner, Calvary UMC in Wyomissing.

Southwest District Superintendent Jim Todd was inspired to create the trip after hearing moving stories by Bishop Thomas Bickerton of Western Pennsylvania in October 2011, including one where Bishop Bickerton prayed over a tiny baby who had contracted malaria, only to see her die the following day because anti-malarial drugs were not available in that part of Africa to save her. The thought came to Superintendent Todd to create a bicycle trip to Pittsburgh, so that those going on the trip could be greeted by Bishop Bickerton at the end of the trip in downtown Pittsburgh. Most trips between Washington, DC and Pittsburgh go “downhill,” from Pittsburgh to DC, but it so happened that the Rails to Trails Conservancy was planning a reasonably priced DC to Pittsburgh trip at the exact time the group wanted to go. With professional planners taking care of the details of the trip, the cyclists themselves could focus on getting into shape for the 335 mile ride and raising support funds for Imagine No Malaria. There are five persons on the trip the week of June 17-24: Pastor John Pfeil of West Willow UMC, Pastor Richard Conner of Wyomissing: Calvary UMC, Mr. Jay Horning, member of Grandview UMC, Ms. Shelly Trego, member of Narvon: Mt. Zion UMC, and Mr. Jim White, member of Mt. Joy: St. Mark’s UMC. DS Jim Todd had every intention of going; however, he discovered in late May he had a herniated disk in his lower spine, and was urged by the doctor not to make the trip. He did transport part of the group from Lancaster to the starting point in Georgetown, NW Washington, DC, and rode 33 miles, or one-tenth of the total trip. Bishop Peggy Johnson, joined by her son Gabriel, met the group at the start of the trip and had prayer with them before they began the ride.

The initial vision was for there to be 50 riders, each raising a minimum of $5000 for Imagine No Malaria. In the end, there are only five riders, but each of them have come close to raising $5000 each, and by the end of the summer, Supt. Todd estimates that $30,000 will have come into the District and Conference offices in support of the Nothing But Spokes ride. Other inspiring events are happening in conjunction with the ride. The Rev. Paul Crikelair, a pastor on the Northeast District appointed to Poplar Valley and Cherry Valley UMCs, had wanted to go on the ride but could not because of schedule conflict. Instead, he sent a donation from his churches and decided to run each day for the cause of Imagine No Malaria. This also included him running a marathon on one day of the week of Nothing But Spokes. A member of Faith UMC in Manheim Township, Mr. Fred Helder, also wanted to go on the trip as one way to celebrate his 70th birthday. He also was not able to go, but instead is cycling 42 miles each day for eight days around Lancaster County, thereby riding the same distance as the trail riders going to Pittsburgh. Fred’s church has been very generous in helping him raise funds. Yet another pastor, the Rev. Rick Rimert, who serves Conestoga UMC, was not able to go because of a previously planned family vacation the same week as the Nothing But Spokes ride. He plans to ride the same route as the Spokes riders by himself in July, and is also raising money to fight malaria. Said DS Todd: “Just as I was inspired by Bishop Bickerton to get involved in Imagine No Malaria, so I have been inspired by those who have caught the vision on the Southwest District and other districts to find creative ways to raise awareness and funds for this most worthwhile of projects. I also want to thank the Rev. David Ryan, who is our District Mission Secretary and who has solicited prayer support for our efforts, and the Rev. Mike Alleman, who has been a great supporter and whose church, Grandview, plans to raise $10,000 for Imagine No Malaria.

Anyone wishing to contribute to Nothing But Spokes for Imagine No Malaria may send a check in any amount, payable to “SW District,” and sent to: PO Box 271, Bird in Hand, PA 17505. A thank you card will be sent to acknowledge your tax-deductible gift, and you can be assured that 100% of the funds you send will go directly to the Imagine No Malaria project. Funds will be used mostly in Africa to supply bed nets, standing water abatement, anti-malarial drugs, and eventually, a vaccine. To follow the daily account of the group on the trip, search for “Nothing but Spokes” on Facebook and “like” the site.

Faith Can Move Mountains

Minnesota umns12_014_01_480

By Victoria Rebeck, Minnesota Annual Conference

Raising a record amount for Imagine No Malaria by January was not enough for Minnesota United Methodists. At their annual conference session last week, they collected an additional $22,000, raising their total to about $2,500,000

“Nothing has made me prouder than your willingness and determination to commit to eliminate deaths by malaria,” Bishop Sally Dyck told the Minnesota United Methodists at their Imagine No Malaria celebration on May 30, the opening night of session.

Two years ago, this conference of 70,000 members questioned whether they could reach an ambitious goal of $1.8 million. With the help of a $600,000 challenge grant and mission-minded churches, Minnesota has raised more for this cause than any other United Methodist conference.

The celebration opened with the song “What’s the Buzz,” from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar, with new lyrics by Rev. Kay Hacklander: “What do you want to know? Saving lives for the children; we’re saving lives one by one. But there are so many children, so much work to be done, oh yeah,” the first verse goes.

The celebration thanked the 83 “challenge churches” that pledged at least $100 times its average worship attendance—many surpassing that goal.

Small churches were among the most generous. Villard United Methodist Church has an average of 54 in worship every week. A challenge pledge would be $5,400. They pledged $10,000—and raised $12,000 so far. Osakis United Methodist Church has 16 in worship every week. A challenge pledge would have been $1,600. That intimate group pledged a generous and visionary $3,000.

Following the song, members watched a “commercial” for Imagine No Malaria made by the youth of Excelsior United Methodist church. The humorous short video portrays a bored youth group becoming convinced of the urgency of combating malaria deaths after encountering a particularly threatening swarm of mosquitoes.

Throughout session, members watched other “commercials” from Park Avenue United Methodist Church (Minneapolis), Centennial United Methodist Church (Roseville), and Hamline University (St. Paul) students.

Churches have organized five‐kilometer runs and scooter‐and‐bike rides; toll a bell every 60 seconds during worship as a reminder that every 60 seconds a child dies of malaria; created maps of Africa to which they paste, for every $10 donated, a graphic representing another child saved; participate in community parades by entering a “Join Our Swat Team” float; and held neighborhood parties where they beat mosquito piñatas.

Discovery United Methodist Church (Chaska) created lawn‐ornament mosquitoes. Members can purchase swarming rights on another member’s home at $10 per residence. Those “swarmed” wake up one morning to find a crowd of the lawn ornaments in their yard. They can either call the swarm hotline to have the mosquitoes removed within a 24-hour period or they can wait until the Swarm Squad removes them in about a week.

Those who want to avoid being swarmed altogether can purchase swarm insurance for $10. All proceeds benefit Imagine No Malaria, of course. (

Hilltop United Methodist Church’s Pastor Fred Vanderwerf told the Imagine No Malaria story to neighbors through interviews on Mankato’s KTOE‐AM radio. Ten‐year‐old Alayna Strunk, daughter of Pastor Greg Strunk at First United Methodist Church in Red Wing, told a reporter at the Red Wing Republican Eagle newspaper that she is selling her own artwork and hand‐made bracelets to raise funds.

Thief River Falls United Methodist Church made sure the Grand Forks Herald and nearby radio stations interviewed them about Imagine No Malaria. That church’s pastor, Rob Kopp, says that “Young people in the church have said, ‘We need to do this; this is what it means to be church.’”

James Coward, a teen at Woodbury Peaceful Grove United Methodist, has said the same. He’s making tie‐dyed T‐shirts to raise funds—because, he says, “I want to hurry Imagine No Malaria along because the church is finally taking action.”

“You have become standard bearers in the United Methodist Church,” Gary Henderson, executive director of the United Methodist Church’s global health initiative, told session members. “God is able to do immeasurably more than we can imagine.”

“All over the connections, people are talking about Minnesota. Because of Minnesota, twelve other conferences are lined up to try to do what you did.”

Henderson urges Minnesota United Methodists to turn their pledges into reality, and “keep the storytelling. Many people don’t know about the urgent need to eliminate malaria deaths.”

“I had the privilege of watching you step out in faith to participate in greater levels than any other conference across the country,” said Leia Williams, who served as Imagine No Malaria field coordinator in Minnesota for almost a year. “You moved a mountain for those children [who are vulnerable to malaria] and their families. Remember who you are and know what your faith can do. Because it is in the moment you know, that you move mountains.”

At the celebration, members learned that a fifth‐grader named Allison asked Pastor Jim Beard at New Day United Methodist Church (Big Lake) if the people in Africa knew that United Methodists were raising funds and working to protect people from malaria.

He said he thought they knew—then asked her why she raised this question.

“I just want them to know that it will get better,” she said.

Bishop Dyck pointed out that as the statistic of children dying of malaria in sub-Saharan Africa slowed from a death every 30 seconds to every 60 seconds, it is getting better.

And as Minnesota’s example inspires and challenges other conferences, it will get only better.

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