7:00 A.M. EST April 23, 2010
Community health volunteer Madelene Mwainga hangs a mosquito net in the home of Serge Tshibal during a training event in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
View in Photo Gallery
Being the church is about more than sitting in a pew.
It requires “putting faith into action,” asserts Deon Roach of Christ United Methodist Church, Chapel Hill, N.C.
That is why she and other members of her congregation will be doing mission work from preparing health kits for Haiti to writing letters to Russian orphans as part of this weekend’s churchwide Change the World events.
United Methodists across the United States and around the world are gearing up for more than 900 events in 16 countries on April 24 and 25.
Together, Roach says, church members will create “a beautiful mosaic of service and love around the world.”
Everyone can make a difference, she says, “and all of these efforts make a massive impact, more than any of us could hope to do individually. That is what being the body of Christ is about,” she says.
“Why wouldn’t you get involved?”
The Change the World weekend coincides with World Malaria Day on Sunday, April 25. Many congregations are scheduling a community-based work day Saturday and focusing on World Malaria Day in Sunday worship. A special offering is encouraged to support the fight against malaria.
The Christian music group Jars of Clay will be performing this weekend in Austin, Texas, as part of Change the World. Photo courtesy of Provident Music Group.
Imagine No Malaria is a new effort of The United Methodist Church to raise $75 million to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. The ministry will be launched officially to the denomination on World Malaria Day, April 25, during a special event featuring the music group Jars of Clay at the Texas State Capitol in Austin.
‘Being the body of Christ’
From Alabama to Wyoming, from the Philippines to Nigeria, and many points in between, United Methodists will engage in a variety of activities that illustrate what it means to be the body of Christ.
Roach’s church is offering a gamut of options for workers on April 24. Volunteers will prepare health kits for Haiti, make no-sew fleece blankets for area ministries and write letters to children at orphanages the church sponsors in Russia and Brazil. Off campus, they will build Habitat homes, landscape space at local non-profit agencies and glean local fields for crops that otherwise would be wasted.
Whitfield United Methodist Church in Montgomery, Ala., is hosting a Nothing But Nets Basketball Shoot Off. “Each participant,” says program director Patty Macready, “will collect sponsors who will contribute money for each basketball they sink. Monies will go to UMCOR to purchase malaria nets.”
In Oviedo, Fla., members of First United Methodist Church will collect funds for a stove project in Guatemala. The communities need masonry cook stoves, but residents lack the resources to build such stoves for themselves.
“Just think,” member Jacqueline Wise exclaims, “each morning 3,000 families firing up their stoves; 3,000 women not risking blindness while cooking for their families; 18,000 men, women and children not filling their lungs with toxic smoke every day.”
Women incarcerated at the Indiana Women’s Prison will have an opportunity to reconnect with their children at a Mother’s Day party, thanks to United Methodist Women at Castleton United Methodist Church, Indianapolis. The women will serve a family-style meal and lead games and activities the moms and children can do together.
A big goal awaits volunteers at Corbin United Methodist Church, Caldwell, Kan. The Heartland Feeds Haiti organization hopes to package 285,120 meals for Haiti.
Mbayo Ndala and her mother wait at The United Methodist Church's Shungu Health Center in Kamina, DRC. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
View in Photo Gallery
Sneaker collecting is the new hobby at Grace United Methodist Church, Hopkinton, Mass. “We learned that the local aid organization, Project Just Because, is completely out of children’s sneakers,” explains the Rev. Leigh Dry. “We will be collecting sneakers for the next three weeks. We have contacted retailers and other groups that may wish to donate, as well as asking members to give a child a pair of shoes.”
Members of FaithWay United Methodist Church, Saginaw, Mich., will host the season opening of a special-needs park in the community. “Special Day for Special Kids” is a free event for children and families in the community.
Youth at the Summerfield-Siloam United Methodist Church in Philadelphia will host “Malaria and Pizza!” Two related fundraisers—a pizza tasting by local pizzerias and a competition for the best homemade pizza—will net funds to combat malaria.
The environment and hungry children will benefit from two ministries at First United Methodist Church, Hendersonville, Tenn. A Hope for Creation simulcast, open to the congregation and the community, will share “ways we can be greener in our choices.” In addition, throughout the month, members are collecting food for “The Backpack Program,” which provides school-age children with small sacks of food to take home during the weekends and school breaks.
In the Philippines, United Methodists will assist a medical mission, offer vacation church school and present a spiritual concert among other activities. In Africa, opening dialogue between Christians and Muslims is on the agenda of Gwaten United Methodist Church, Jalingo, Nigeria. Members of First United Methodist Church, Moheto, Kenya, will distribute anti-malaria drugs and provide a free clinic for a week.
And the list goes on.
‘Why on earth are you here?’
“Our church is participating in Change the World because we need to be outside the walls of the church, be Christ and bring about God’s kingdom,” said the Rev. Linda McCowen, pastoral assistant and deacon at Pleasant Hills United Methodist Church, Middleburg Heights, Ohio.
Maddie Smith, 13, meets her pen pal Katya at a Russian orphanage. Photo courtesy of Christ UMC,
Chapel Hill, N.C.
Activities on April 24 include collecting food for the Cleveland Food Bank, teaching children about bicycle safety, and assembling health and layette kits for UMCOR. In her role as parish nurse, McCowen will sell pedometers for $10 ($5 for the pedometer and $5 for Imagine No Malaria).
The next day, “No More Malaria Sunday,” the children will take a special collection for Imagine No Malaria.
“Our pastor, the Rev. Sarah Cerreto, is very gifted in altar design and has created a gorgeous altar using the colors of Africa, the geography of Africa and a mosquito net,” McCowen notes. “The banner asks us, ‘Why on earth are you here?’”
McCowen believes that as congregations Change the World, they will change themselves.
“Everyone in our church is working together to make a difference in the lives of many people,” she says. “We will be blessed. I don’t think our church or the community will ever be the same.”
*Dunlap-Berg is internal content editor for United Methodist Communications.
News media contact: Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5489 or email@example.com.