ELCA NEWS SERVICE
April 11, 2012
ELCA is striving to begin anti-malaria work in Liberia
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) are extending their observance of "World Malaria Day" from April 25 to May 1 with a goal of raising $200,000 to help end death from malaria. Gifts to the ELCA Malaria Campaign will allow the church to expand its anti-malaria work to include Liberia.
Malaria, a preventable and treatable disease, is a leading cause of death in Africa, claiming the life of a child every 45 seconds. In Liberia, malaria accounts for 30 percent of all deaths seen in hospitals.
Through the ELCA Malaria Campaign, rolled out by the 2011 ELCA Churchwide Assembly, ELCA members are working with Lutheran churches in Africa to prevent, treat and contain the disease by 2015. A goal of the campaign is to raise $15 million and support the anti-malaria efforts of Lutheran churches and organizations in eleven African countries.
"World Malaria Day invites all of us to reflect on the global companionship that is vital to the identity of the ELCA," said Jessica Nipp, coordinator of the ELCA Malaria Campaign. "We are a global church, accompanied on our faith journey by our Lutheran sisters and brothers in countries around the world."
"Malaria is a medical injustice, and God calls us to fight against injustice," said Nipp. "Working together, we can equip our Lutheran companions to treat, prevent and educate about malaria in ways that will make a life-saving difference. We are a church that rolls up our sleeves and gets to work. It's time for us to take the next step in the ELCA Malaria Campaign," she said.
Since the beginning of the ELCA Malaria Campaign, Lutheran churches in Angola, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe have been working to control malaria, but the ELCA has yet to raise the funds needed to begin its engagement in Liberia.
Health officials in Liberia have received information about the ELCA Malaria Campaign.
"I believe that, as a Lutheran Christian, taking care of the physical body should be a mission of the church," said Dr. Walter T. Gwenigale, Liberia's minister of health and social welfare and a member of the Lutheran Church in Liberia.
The ELCA and the Lutheran Church in Liberia are members of The Lutheran World Federation. The ELCA is the federation's only member from the United States.
On April 28 the Lutheran Church in Liberia will celebrate its 152nd anniversary of mission and ministry. The church is well-known in Liberia for its health care ministries.
Lutherans were the first to build a hospital in Liberia. Phebe Hospital opened in 1921, and its school of nursing was the first nursing school in the country. Curran Lutheran Hospital in Zorzor, Liberia, has provided health care to residents in surrounding districts for the past 80 years.
Willie L.B. Roberts, a medical director at Curran, believes that sharing the story of God's love and healing the physical body are critical ministries for both the Lutheran church and medical institutions.
"Healing the sick is a mission that was started by Christ himself," said Roberts. "We believe that what (Lutheran) missionaries brought to Liberia -- education, sharing the story of the love of God, and the healing of bodies -- is paramount" to the mission of Curran.
Information about the ELCA Malaria Campaign is available at http://www.ELCA.org/malaria, ELCA World Hunger at http://www.ELCA.org/hunger and the Lutheran Church in Liberia at http://www.ELCA.org/liberia.
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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 4.2 million members in 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Members of the ELCA believe that they are freed in Christ to serve and love their neighbor. With their hands, they do God's work of restoring and reconciling communities in Jesus' name throughout the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.
For information contact:
Melissa Ramirez Cooper
773-380-2956 or Melissa.RamirezCooper@ELCA.org
Living Lutheran: http://www.livinglutheran.com