Content for this post was written by Beth Walker of Fairport, New York. Beth has been involved with the ELCA Malaria Campaign through the Upstate New York Synod. She and her husband, Rick Walker, are Co-Chairs for the Missions and Social Concerns team at her congregation of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairport.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairport, NY wanted to focus on more than just fundraising with their recent focus on malaria. The congregations used ideas from the Upstate New York Synod Global Mission Team that organized around the seven faith practices.
They chose four foci: fundraising, education, worship, and thanksgiving.
When it came to fundraising, the team at Bethlehem Lutheran used powerful visuals. They draped a baby crib with an untreated mosquito net and pinned 102 mosquito pictures to it. There was a table of information and a few other kinds of nets (fish nets, basketball nets, hairnets), along with a collection jar. When a net was funded, the mosquito was turned over to reveal a smiling child holding up a net. They raised money for 206 nets by Easter and enough for another 25 nets on World Malaria Sunday. A mosquito named BUZZ was their mascot, and he showed up in the most surprising places. They sent their gifts during World Malaria Week, so that they would contribute towards the matching challenge for that week, made possible by some generous ELCA members.
Picture: Pesky mosquitos are replaced by healthy children as the fundraising effort grew.
Their next area of focus was worship, and Bethlehem held a special service that connected malaria to our Christian faith. On World Malaria Sunday, one of the members told his story of contracting malaria while serving in the Peace Corps before the lessons were read. The litanies and hymns were from the ELCA malaria resources, and faith in times of illness was woven into the sermon.
Picture: Children at Bethlehem Lutheran Church learn about malaria during a children's sermon.
Education is an important part of Lutheran Malaria Program on the ground in Africa, and Bethlehem made sure that their own members were well-informed, too. Materials were provided throughout Lent so people could learn about the prevention, education and treatment of malaria. On World Malaria Sunday the children's sermon was about malaria and helping others, the Sunday School classes read Nets are Nice, and the youth had a conversation with the Bethlehem member who had contracted malaria in the Peace Corps, which was followed by with a round of Malaria Jeopardy. It was an intergenerational effort to inform and excite!
Picture: BUZZ served as the mosquito mascot and was spotted around the church throughout the campaign.
The last area of focus was thanksgiving. The pastor at Bethlehem was really taken with the net corsages, but after fundraising through Lent, the team decided it was time to simply thank everyone for their generosity and participation. They made 100 net corsages and cards which said, "We honor mothers everywhere and give thanks that we have been able to keep mothers and children safe from malaria around the world". These corsages and cards were given out on Mother's Day in thanksgiving for the many ways that people contributed to the Malaria Campaign.
Picture: A celebration of meeting and exceeding their goal!
Many thanks to Beth and Rick for organizing a great campaign at Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fairport, NY. Do you have a story or photos to share from your own congregation? If so, send your ideas to email@example.com and we'll share your good work with the wider church!