Still Building the Dream: Wisconsin Conference Supports Africa University

The people and churches of the Wisconsin Annual Conference have supported Africa University's vision to become a world class university for leadership development for years, by not only investing funds, but also making personal commitments to serve.

For more than a decade, the annual conference's investment in the Africa University Fund apportionment has exceeded 100 percent of the asking. Even as episcopal leaders have come and gone, the conference has maintained an unwavering commitment to the university's establishment and expansion.

"Bishop Hee-Soo Jung is one of our most deeply connected 'connectional' bishops. He believes that we are one global church and will do everything to support world-changing projects," said Rev. Dan Dick, assistant to the bishop.

Nearly 500 churches in the conference meet their annual apportionment for the university in Zimbabwe, which was founded in 1988 and now has over 1,500 students enrolled.

The vision of building Africa University caught the Rev. Dr. Chomingwen Pond's attention immediately, and the  Wisconsin native and first woman ordained as an elder by the conference wanted to go there and serve. Her dream came true when she served on the faculty of theology from 1995-1997. In addition, she has continued to provide financial support and maintain relationships with former students who are now church leaders in Angola, Malawi and Zimbabwe.

Rev. Dr. Earl Lindsay, former pastor of First UMC in West Allis, Wisconsin, is also committed to sustaining and expanding Africa University. "When I heard about the university, I saw a new opportunity for the denomination to witness to Christ," he said. After spending nearly 25 years fundraising for the school, the 85-year-old retired clergyman took a 23-hour trip to see for himself what God has done in Zimbabwe.

Mary Beth Byrne, a retired deaconess, recently returned from volunteering as a counselor for two years on the Zimbabwe campus. She and her late husband, Alan, designated a percentage of their trust to scholarships for AU. "Every United Methodist should be proud of this quality institution of higher learning that they have had a part in building," she said.

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.