Mississippi United Methodists Celebrate $1M Gift to AU

Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. presents a check for $1 million to Africa University's chief advancement officer, Mr. James H. Salley. Courtesy photo.
Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. presents a check for $1 million to Africa University's chief advancement officer, Mr. James H. Salley. Courtesy photo.

A $1 million gift, presented to Africa University by Mississippi Annual Conference on June 6th, is opening the door to a life-changing education for more young people in sub-Saharan Africa.

Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. presented a check for $1 million to Africa University’s chief advancement officer, Mr. James H. Salley, in an emotional and moving celebration at the annual conference gathering in Jackson, MS.

“What a difference you can make when you learn to give,” said Bishop Swanson, as he addressed the conference.

“All we did was to share a dream and you made it possible,” said Swanson. “You took on the task and you did a tremendous job. Thank you, Mississippi. In a state where we sometimes struggle so much, we found it in our hearts to give so much.”

This gift fulfils a scholarship endowment pledge and ends a conference-wide major campaign for Africa University, which began in 2015. Dr. George E. Jones, a retired educator who was named campaign director in March 2017, opened the celebration. The campaign’s culmination was cause for thanksgiving and special recognition of the many leaders who helped to bring it to fruition.

“The Mississippi Conference has been very generous in establishing this scholarship endowment for Africa University students,” said Salley, who described the leadership of Bishop Swanson and Mrs. Delphine Swanson as “a model for the church.

Salley thanked the Mississippi Conference on behalf of the Africa University Board of Directors, its chair, Bishop Mande Muyombo, and the university’s chief executive, Prof. Munashe Furusa.

As he thanked Mississippians for “looking across the ocean to strengthen the special bond between Mississippi and Africa University,” Bishop Swanson highlighted the important contributions made by Dr. Aubrey Lucas, one of the architects of the campaign. Lucas, a former Africa University Board member and treasurer, currently serves on the Investment Committee of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, which is responsible for advancing the Africa University Endowment Fund.

Bishop Swanson also paid tribute to Rev. Joy Carr, who attended the celebration, and to her husband, the late Rev. Jimmy Carr, the campaign’s co-chair who passed away in March 2017.

The three-year Mississippi Conference effort to endow scholarships was part of Africa University’s ongoing $50 million, “Seeding Hope, Shaping Opportunity” campaign. Rev. Lloyd Rollins, a retired deacon from the Mississippi Conference and a longtime friend of Joy and Jimmy Carr, is the lead consultant on that $50 million campaign.

The proceeds of the ongoing $50 million “Seeding Hope, Shaping Opportunity” Campaign for Africa University are already enhancing teaching and research, campus infrastructure, and student access through scholarships. The campaign has raised more 98 percent of the goal as of May 2019. More than half of the overall campaign receipts to date have been in the form of unrestricted gifts to the Africa University Endowment Fund.

excerpt from a story by 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.