Imagine. Churches are taking this year’s Annual Conference theme seriously by doing whatever it takes to realize the “Imagine No Malaria” goal by June 9.
While Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor and her staff make final preparations for the June 9-12 Holston Annual Conference in Lake Junaluska, N.C., congregations are creating new fundraising activities and planning for the traditional missions offering that happens each May.
As of April 30, Holston churches had given $580,485 of the conference-wide commitment to raise $1 million, according to LeRae Collins, campaign coordinator. The $1 million is Holston’s contribution toward helping the denomination eradicate malaria by the end of 2015.
Each of Holston’s 980-plus churches is asked to give at least $10 for every member in addition to taking the Annual Conference missions offering on a Sunday in May, Collins said.
Special bulletin inserts are now available at NoMalaria.Holston.org. Many churches will take advantage of the UMC's Mother's Day campaign to raise awareness on May 12.
In the meantime, Holstonians continue to find creative ways to raise both awareness and dollars, in the international effort to stop death by malaria in sub-Saharan Africa. During the week of April 21, pastors in the Maryville District walked and biked a collective 230 miles, winning local and national publicity for their “Next Mile” effort.
On May 2, a member of Fountain City United Methodist Church in Knoxville cut his long hair in a "Shave and Save" campaign, raising $1,570 to help Holston meet its goal.
A youth group in the Cleveland District has created a "Key Club," requesting the donations of discarded and mismatched old keys. The youth at Benton/Chestuee UMC will recycle the keys as scrap metal just before Annual Conference, donating cash received to Imagine No Malaria.
At least three more groups are planning fundraising walk/runs. On May 19, Emory UMC in Emory, Va., will sponsor a walk followed by a “Singing in the Spirit” concert with six church choirs.
On June 1, Beaver Ridge UMC is sponsoring a 5K “Skeeter Run” on Neyland Drive near the University of Tennessee agricultural campus in Knoxville.
On June 11 during the Holston Annual Conference, a group of pastors are sponsoring an early-morning “BuzzKill 5K” around Lake Junaluska in North Carolina.
OTHER AC REMINDERS
The Holston Annual Conference is the yearly meeting of leaders representing more than 980 churches and other ministry groups.
• In addition to raising money for the missions offering, churches are also collecting supplies for the annual Hands-on Mission Project. Each of Holston’s 12 districts have assignments for goods that will ultimately be shipped to missions in Liberia and Zimbabwe. (For example, the Abingdon District is collecting soap, washcloths, and toothpaste for Zimbabwe. The Morristown District is collecting school supplies for Liberia.)
Churches will take their collected supplies to designated drop-off points during the first week of June. Contact your district office for the designated drop-off point in your region.
• Participants in the conference health-insurance plan – who are also attending Annual Conference – are invited to sign up for the "Healthy Holston" program, sponsored by the Board of Pensions and Health Benefits. The first 12 participants to sign up in each district (and to complete the exam onsite at Annual Conference) will receive $120 off their Blue Cross Blue Shield premium for the 2014 year.
• The “Book of Reports” is now available online for those attending Annual Conference. Visit AC.Holston.org for additional information, such as the Annual Conference agenda and special events schedule.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.