Conference raises $1.5 million for AU dorm

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.
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Laity and clergy, working together, exceeded the goal of raising and collecting $1.5 million in support of the East Ohio Conference Teach • Reach • Bless campaign. The funds will be used to build a new residence hall that will house 90 female students on the campus of Africa University in Zimbabwe. By generously supporting the East Ohio Conference campaign, donors showed their commitment to improving the education and wellness of women today for a better Africa tomorrow.

In her Episcopal Address during Annual Conference 2019, Bishop Tracy S. Malone shared her vision of raising money to build the new residence hall on the campus of Africa University (AU) so that female students would have a safe, supportive environment in which to live and study.

Six weeks after the January 2020 launch of the three-year Teach • Reach • Bless campaign the first cases of COVID-19 were diagnosed in Ohio. The focus of church leaders then quickly shifted to finding ways to worship remotely and to reach out to their communities in new ways – but their commitment to the Teach • Reach • Bless campaign did not waver. By the end of 2020, donors had contributed $518,868 to the campaign, and had made commitments of future payments totaling more than the needed $1.5 million, to be paid by the scheduled end of the campaign in December 2022.

Courtesy photo. 
Courtesy photo.

Receiving the financial commitments during the midst of a pandemic was a joy to celebrate but beginning construction on the residence hall had to wait. That’s because of a long-standing well-thought-out policy of Africa University to not break ground for construction of campus buildings until all monies needed to complete the project are in-hand.

Aware of the policy, long-time AU supporters the Rev. Bill and Marty McFadden offered a very generous challenge gift in January 2021. The campaign donations spurred on by the challenge gift brought the total amount of funds collected by the end of December 2021 to $1,505,109.

The Teach • Reach • Bless campaign was a collaborative effort of Bishop Malone, the campaign committee co-chaired by Dr. Jackson and Rev. McFadden, the Africa University Development office, Africa University leadership, East Ohio Conference leadership and staff, and local church clergy and laity.

“The success of the Teach • Reach • Bless campaign is a witness to our connectedness as United Methodists who have proved that when we do something together results are achieved that few acting alone can do,” said McFadden.

With the needed $1.5 million collected, the campaign transitions to the building phase. Jackson shared that a building committee has been established consisting of representatives from the East Ohio Conference and from Africa University. She said a project manager has agreed to oversee the construction and plans are being made to break ground for the new residence hall.

“We look forward to having a strong delegation from the East Ohio Conference come and dedicate that building,” Salley said. “A ground-breaking ceremony, whether it’s virtual or otherwise, will happen very soon.”

excerpt from a story by Rick Wolcott, director of Communications, East Ohio Conference

A World Service Special Gift is a designated financial contribution made by an individual, local church, organization, district or annual conference to a project authorized as such by the Connectional Table. Current World Service Special Gifts projects include the Africa University Endowment Fund, the Leonard Perryman Communications Scholarship for Ethnic Minority Students, the Methodist Global Education Fund, the National Anti-Gambling Project and the Lay Missionary Planting Network.