By Dianna Cantler
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- A congregation's Christmas "miracle offering" and the shooting tragedy in Newton, Conn., have begun to weave together as parents at the church are challenging each other to make a difference in the lives of vulnerable children.
“We cannot save the children that were killed, but we can save another from dying,” said Monica Jones, a schoolteacher and member at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church. "Our family is committed to saving 26 lives, and we challenge others to do the same.”
As part of the Holston Conference's "Imagine No Malaria" initiative to save 100,000 lives in Africa by June 2013, Munsey Memorial is participating by encouraging its members to give the gift of Christmas with $10 to save a child from death by malaria.
“What if, instead of buying another sweater or gadget, we give the money we would spend on a gift to the Imagine No Malaria campaign?” asked the Rev. Brian Taylor, Munsey senior pastor. “We would save one or more lives and for those of us who already have so much, we will not miss the addition to our wardrobe or toy boxes.”
The Christmas Eve offering at Munsey has traditionally gone to support a special ministry or organization within the community, Taylor said. In 2012, the congregation is challenged to raise $16,000 to save 1,600 lives from a deadly mosquito-borne disease.
Munsey parents are stepping up to help meet the goal in remembrance of 20 children killed in the Connecticut school shooting on Dec. 14. In addition, Munsey will ring its church bells 27 times on Friday, Dec. 21, at 9:30 a.m.
The bells will be heard throughout downtown Johnson City as they memorialize the 20 children and seven adults killed one week earlier in the shooting rampage, Taylor said.
“We hope people will hear the bells, stop and take a moment to pray for the families and community affected by the shootings,” Taylor said.
Read complete Munsey press release.