The Mississippi Conference celebrated the completion of its $1.3 million campaign for Africa University in June, having surpassed its goal six months earlier than planned. The campaign to endow 10 scholarships at Africa University has generated a total of $1,354,769.00 in cash and pledges.
"We found that local churches and individuals had a keen awareness and deep commitment to Africa University," said Rev. Jimmy Carr, who co-led the campaign team with Mrs. Martha Scarborough.
Africa University's ties to the Mississippi Conference date back to its inception in 1988. A massive cross and flame, given to the university by the conference in 1994, is a prominent feature of the main campus. Over the past 24 years, Mississippi United Methodists have helped to shape the development of Africa University, and they have consistently invested in the university's scholarship endowment fund.
"That foundation and commitment are the reasons we were able to succeed," said Carr.
Churches and individuals in all 11 districts of the Mississippi Conference responded to the campaign with extreme generosity. But for Carr, the response of the Meridian District was particularly inspiring. A group of 47 predominantly African American congregations—most of them small, with less than 15 members in worship on Sunday—embraced the effort. Determined to raise $130,000 for one endowed scholarship, the churches met their goal by giving sacrificially.
"It all came together and it was truly a God thing," said the district superintendent, Rev. Steven P. "Rusty" Keen. "They amazed themselves, and it was beautiful to see God's spirit working within those churches and in the hearts of the people as they seized the opportunity to leave a legacy, not only here in Mississippi, but also thousands of miles away."
Carr noted that a key "lesson learned" from the campaign was that small to medium-sized congregations should never be overlooked.
Plans are underway for a Mississippi Conference delegation, led by Bishop Swanson, to visit the Africa University campus in Mutare, Zimbabwe from March 20-28, 2017, for the official handover of the $1.35M gift during the university's 25th anniversary celebrations.
Andra M. Stevens, Director, Communications, Africa University Development Office
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.