9/15/2015 3:00:00 PM
CHICAGO (ELCA) – The 3.8 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is celebrating a significant milestone in reaching a five-year goal of raising $15 million for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.
Since the start of the campaign, ELCA members and others have joined with Lutheran companion churches and partners in 13 African countries to support programs designed to save people's lives from malaria – a preventable and treatable disease – by providing mosquito nets, insecticides, medication, health care services, education and more.
As a result of campaign contributions, malaria programs in 13 African countries have been fully funded. Millions of community members were educated about the disease, nearly 10,000 local volunteers were trained on disease prevention and treatment methods, 50,000 nets were distributed, 32,000 pregnant women received prevention medication and more. Although the campaign's financial goal has been met, the ELCA will continue its anti-malaria work post 2015 through ELCA World Hunger.
"We began the ELCA Malaria Campaign in the depths of the Great Recession and at a time of considerable turmoil in this church. The goal of raising $15 million might have sounded improbable at the time, but our people responded generously," said the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, ELCA presiding bishop. "We are honored to accompany our global companions in the Lutheran churches in Africa in their work to make malaria history."
"I really thank God Almighty for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Communion in South Africa" (LUCSA), said Shoni Ngobeni, a regional malaria coordinator with LUCSA. "They gave me an opportunity to be the feet of Jesus in the southern African region. I travel to the six countries, where I see (that) member churches are capacitated to respond to the burden caused by malaria within the hard to reach areas," she said.
"I learnt a lot of lessons from the church (and its) program, especially on sustainable livelihood. I have seen ordinary women turn into embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and becoming successful business women," said Ngobeni.
LUCSA is a sub-regional expression of The Lutheran World Federation – a global communion of 144 churches representing more than 70 million Christians in 79 countries. The ELCA is the communion's only member church from the United States.
The act of generosity
"Congratulations, church! We celebrate the generosity of ELCA Lutherans who have worked together to give $15 million to the fight against malaria," said Jessica Nipp Hacker, director for donor relations and donor stewardship, ELCA Mission Advancement.
"The success of the ELCA Malaria Campaign demonstrates the commitment of ELCA members to share the gospel with their actions – the act of generosity. Supporting malaria work is one of the concrete ways in which we roll up our sleeves and get to work," she said.
"In the past five years, malaria has become a household word in the ELCA, even among our youngest members. Children, inspired by the message that no child should die of a disease that is preventable and treatable, have been among the most vocal and generous advocates of the ELCA Malaria Campaign.
"The success of the ELCA Malaria Campaign was not due to the generosity of a few individuals, but rather the commitment of a whole church," said Nipp Hacker. "We can be proud of what ELCA members, hand-in-hand with our Lutheran sisters and brothers in Africa, have contributed – and will continue to contribute – to the global movement against malaria. We have made a difference for children, for families, for communities. Lives have been changed, lives have been saved, thanks to the good work of Lutheran malaria programs in Africa."
In a Sept. 15 email to ELCA members announcing the campaign goal Christina Jackson-Skelton, executive director for ELCA Mission Advancement, wrote that the ELCA Malaria Campaign "is just one of 10 priorities" for the ELCA's first-ever comprehensive campaign, Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA."
"While we've hit our $15 million goal for the ELCA Malaria Campaign, there are still many more ministries that need support. Through this campaign, we hope to raise $198 million by Jan. 31, 2019, to help our church grow our communities of faith, form new leaders, welcome our neighbors, confront hunger and poverty, accompany our global churches and so much more," said Jackson-Skelton.
Although the goal was to raise $15 million by Jan., 31, 2016, the ELCA "completed that goal five months early," said the Rev. Daniel Rift, director for ELCA World Hunger and Disaster Response.
"But the challenge continues," said Rift. "Expanded project work to address malaria in Africa will be accomplished by additional gifts to the ELCA Malaria Campaign until the original goal date. After that similar work to address malaria in Africa and around the world will continue through contributions to ELCA World Hunger."
The work of ELCA companion churches, partners
Working alongside governments, international agencies and local organizations, the malaria programs led by ELCA companion churches and Lutheran partners "have been a player in making a contribution to the successes achieved globally against malaria since 2000," said Rebecca Duerst, program director for global health, ELCA Global Mission.
"Churches are often present where other organizations are not, and, therefore, have a role to play in reducing the burden of malaria by reaching and working with people who live in communities that might not otherwise be reached through the government or other malaria programs. The malaria programs implemented by companion churches and partners have taken up this call, working with and through communities in remote areas," she said.
Duerst said that faith groups are often engaged in various types of health ministries, from health facilities to community-based primary health care, "as well as engaging in the response to HIV and AIDS, particularly through life-affirming ministries with people living with HIV and AIDS. Malaria also fits in within this mission of the church, seeking to promote physical as well as holistic health more broadly."
Duerst said the malaria programs implemented by companion churches and partners "also take into account the underlying causes of poor health, first among them poverty. Through livelihoods projects, people have empowered themselves to be better equipped to cope with the costs associated with being able to acquire the resources required to prevent malaria and access care when it needed."
Information about the ELCA Malaria Campaign is available at www.ELCA.org/malaria and Always Being Made New: The Campaign for the ELCA at www.ELCA.org/campaign.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with more than 3.8 million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
Associate director, ELCA Publications and Public Relations
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@elca.org
ELCA News: www.ELCA.org/news
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