Holston Conference is rejoicing that $62,090 -- almost $3,000 over the original goal -- has been raised to build a United Methodist school in Zwedru, Liberia.
The conclusion of the fund-raising campaign comes about a year and a half after Holston churches took offerings for the school during Vacation Bible School in summer 2008. (See brochure.)
Bishop James Swanson asked churches to give for a new school after Bishop John Innis of Liberia requested Holston's support in early 2008. Bishop Swanson later preached at the Liberia Annual Conference in February 2009.
"Don't give up on Liberia. Peace has come to our land," Innis said in a letter to Swanson. "The need for village schools is the most urgent need for Liberia. It is the churches which are providing quality education for the children of Liberia today."
The goal of $60,000 was set to build a school for 300 students in a "fast growing area" near Zwedru United Methodist Church, according to the Rev. Dan Kelly, Operation Classroom Committee chair.
"There is no United Methodist school in Zwedru, so a place was chosen to build a new school in a growing section of the town," he said. More than 120 United Methodist schools currently exist in Liberia.
Zwedru is about 350 miles southeast of the capital city of Monrovia. For many years, Holston Conference has supplied food and school supplies to missions in Liberia through the Annual Conference hands-on project. Holston has also helped build a classroom building for the J.J. Roberts United Methodist School in Monrovia; the "Holston Building" has classrooms named for Holston districts.
Holston has also added eight classrooms to the Tappita United Methodist School through Operation Classroom. The United Methodist Women of Holston Conference also have funded a prenatal clinic at Ganta Hospital.
Construction on Zwedru school started in spring 2009 and will be completed soon, now that funding is secured, Kelly said. In the meantime, Holston churches and individuals can continue to reach out to Zwedru.
"One thing we need to help that school get off the ground is student scholarships," Kelly said. "If they have student tuition, then they also have money to pay the teachers."
A child can attend Zwedru school for a year with only $75, Kelly said. Holston members can provide scholarship support by writing checks to their local churches with "Project 664-Liberia" on the memo line.
Others may give through The Advance on UMC.org. The Advance project number is 3020499.
Danny Howe, chair of Holston's Missions Ministry Team, expressed gratitude for the successful campaign.
"We are excited about Zwedru School and are proud to have had an opportunity to participate in its construction," Howe said. "We also look forward to the day when the classrooms will be full of students and books will be opened to a page that will liberate their minds and insure a future of hope and peace."
For more information about United Methodist ministry to Liberia through Operation Classroom, contact the Rev. Dan Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.