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BWC renews efforts to combat malaria

Issue Date: 
Wed, 07/08/2009

10-Day Tour Promotes Program

Bishop John Schol and the Baltimore-Washington Conference are "setting the pace for the rest of the denomination and providing true inspirational leadership," Bishop Thomas Bickerton told the more than 120 people who gathered June 17 to renew their efforts to eradicate malaria in subSaharan Africa.

The gathering, at Metropolitan Memorial UMC in Washington, was part of the kick-off of a 10-day Nothing But Nets Washington, D.C., tour.

"I have come to cry out thank you," proclaimed Bishop Thomas Bickerton, who heads the denomination's global health initiative. "Thank you to Bishop Schol, Jo Chesson and the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference for your visionary leadership."   See Bishop Bickerton's comments

Conference Distributes Life-saving Nets 

In 2007, Bishop Schol oversaw the distribution of 7,000 insecticide-treated bed nets to protect children in Zimbabwe from malaria. This year, the people and churches of the Baltimore-Washington Conference raised $100,000 to purchase an additional 10,000 nets, which Chesson, the bishop, and other conference members will distribute in July.

Despite ongoing efforts of the Nothing But Nets campaign, which has collected $26 million, the needs are still great. One million people die each year from malaria, Bishop Bickerton said. Seventy-five percent are children; 2,280 have died today, 10 in the last five minutes.

At Metropolitan Memorial, 120 places were set for dinner, said the Rev. Sandy Rector. During the time it took for the meal and speeches, twice that number of children had died from malaria.

But also during the dinner, $6,598 was raised, potentially saving 660 children's lives, said Jo Chesson, who manages the Nothing but Nets project for the conference.

At the dinner gathering, Zack Ayers, 17, and Elisabeth Klymer, 14, shared how they raised thousands of dollars at their churches with special Salvation-Army-style SWAT collections and a basketball ministry fundraiser.

Partnership Key to Campaign's Success 

The Nothing But Nets Campaign is a unique partnership between professional sports leagues, the United Nations, Sports Illustrated, The United Methodist Church and many other organizations, explained Elizabeth Gore, a member of Foundry UMC in Washington who lead the United Nations Foundation effort.

Part of the campaigns strength has been the vitality of its partnerships, Bishop Bickerton said. "This is not the despair of an ‘I' but the possibility of a "We' at work."