By Nico Romeijn-Stout | Click here for photos
United Methodists from around the Northwest gathered Saturday, June 21 to walk, jog, and run in a 5k to raise money for the Church’s Imagine No Malaria campaign. The United Methodist Church as a global body of over 12 million members has made a $75 million commitment to helping end malaria on the continent of Africa. Here in the Pacific Northwest, United Methodists have joined in this campaign with their own pledge of raising $500,000. The 5k served as a catalyst for some inspired and inspiring efforts by individuals and churches from around the region.
The Rev. DJ del Rosario, senior pastor at Bothell UMC ran the 5k in an inflatable “swimmer dude” costume his congregation chose for him. As one part of his church’s fundraising efforts, Rosario had his congregation vote with their financial contributions between three different costumes for him to wear while running in the 5k. The congregation was then given a chance to sign the winning costume, because as Rosario notes, “it’s not about me running this race. It’s about us as a church fighting malaria. It’s about people who need help and our responsibility to fulfill that need. This is a whole community of people choosing to make a difference.”
When asked why the work of Imagine No Malaria is important for local churches in the United States, Rosario looks to his own experience of visiting thriving, growing churches in Africa last year. Many of the faith communities he met “started with HIV/AIDS clinics, maternity wards, and schools. And then they do churches. They start by living out our calling as Christians to be the hands and feet of Christ and then talk about why we do it, and we as Bothell UMC are trying to be that way too.”
[quote_box_left]Some figures from Brant Henshaw, treasurer of the PNW Conference*:
~$4000 earned through offerings to Imagine No Malaria
~$7000 earned from those participating in the INM 5k
~$7000+ collected for the district “Flamingo Hat” contest
~$40,000 collected, overall, for Imagine No Malaria
*Please note, these numbers are approximate and preliminary as funds continue to be collected.[/quote_box_left]At Sumner UMC, the congregation more than doubled the fundraising challenge set before them by their pastor, the Rev. Pamela Osborne, while she was gone on vacation. She returned to find that the lay leaders of her church had pushed above and beyond her challenge, to deepen their own commitment to his life saving campaign. Craig Edmonds, a lay person in the congregation, notes that Sumner UMC’s commitment to Imagine No Malaria is just one of many ways the church is growing in its commitment to mission and its engagement of its community.
To date, Imagine No Malaria has distributed over 2.3 million bed nets, trained over 11,000 community health workers, and built networks for communication and education around the continent. Perhaps most encouraging is the growing realization that the commitment of United Methodists to helping end malaria is a commitment of United Methodists around the world to work together in helping to transform the world.
Getting involved is simple and easy. It can start with a financial contribution, made at www.imaginenomalaria.org. If you want to do more, begin conversations: talk to your church, talk to your friends, and talk to your neighbors about how together we can imagine a world without malaria. For more resources, contact Julia Frisbie, the field coordinator for Imagine No Malaria at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nico Romeijn-Stout is a student at the Boston School of Theology and is a member of The Pacific Northwest Conference.