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Change coming to General Conference voting

"I'm singing the Doxology," says James H. Salley, "because of the numbers we have received from the General Council on Finance and Administration about the Africa University Fund." Salley is associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement for the United Methodist institution in Mutare, Zimbabwe.

"Once again," he adds, "local congregations invested generously, providing 93.65 percent of the asking for a total of 32 annual conferences paying 100 percent or more. Local congregations invested a total of $2,185,211.73 in the Africa University Fund for the 2015 calendar year." 

Among the annual conferences stepping up their commitment were Upper New York, which went from 54 percent to 100 percent; Eastern Pennsylvania (96 percent to 100 percent); Pacific Northwest (100 percent for the first time in several years), and Indiana (67.5 percent to 90 percent). In the Northeastern Jurisdiction, all conferences gave at 100 percent, and in all five jurisdictions, giving to Africa University increased.

"While there were district meetings, recognitions of churches giving at 100 percent or improving and so on," says Steve Hustedt, director of communications, "the simple truth is that the conference leadership team and council on finance and administration made the decision that the Upper New York Conference would improve. This did mean some painful cuts to other areas of spending, but the feeling was that our connection is a priority."

Sharing the success of Africa University is essential, he notes.

"Our Africa 360 project, which includes raising funds for Africa University and Imagine No Malaria, has done an excellent job of telling the story of the good that has been done by Africa University in … exciting and inspirational ways. This includes videos, brochures, newsletters, a Lenten devotional and much more."

Conference support also includes visits – every other year – to Africa University.

"Africa University," Hustedt says, "is an amazing part of our connection!"

About her conference's success in paying the Africa University Fund apportionment 100 percent, Bishop Peggy A. Johnson says simply, "I hope we can keep it up!"

A partnership with the Central Congo Conference keeps Africa University on the radar of Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.

"It is because we paid all of our apportionments in full this year that we can celebrate that Africa University was a part of it," Johnson says. "However, we do have a partnership with the Central Congo Conference and have keen interest in the Congolese students who are attending Africa University. We are cheering them on as they speak French but go to an English-speaking university. They make the extra effort to get their degree."

"Pacific Northwest leadership made the bold decision to pay 100 percent in 2015," notes Gretchen Engle, executive to Bishop Grant Hagiya. "It was included in church apportionments."

"Indiana has been intentional on moving toward 100-percent payment of our general church apportionment," says Cindy Reynolds, executive assistant to the bishop. "The increase for Africa University is part of our commitment.

"At the same time, Indiana is in a campaign to raise $1.6 million for a special Africa University project."

Reynolds credits the special campaign with keeping Africa University awareness high in Indiana. "We are now at $1.3 million in our campaign," she says, "and plan to finish it this year."

An active Friends of Africa University group actively promotes the school throughout the conference.

Barbara Dunlap-Berg, general church content editor, United Methodist Communications

One of seven apportioned giving opportunities of The United Methodist Church, the Africa University Fund transforms Africa by educating and empowering students from across the continent through Africa University, the first fully accredited, United Methodist-related educational institution on the continent. The Africa University Fund supports the general operating expenses of Africa University including faculty and staff salaries and vital infrastructure. Please encourage your leaders and congregations to support the Africa University Fund at 100 percent.

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