The Rev. Mike Slaughter, author of Change the World: Recovering the Mission and Message of Jesus, says, "As the United Methodist Church, we have worried too much about getting numbers into our churches, instead of getting the people in our churches out into the world in relative ways. Even our smallest churches can have incredible impact when they leave their four walls to serve the needs of their neighbors, alongside of their neighbors."
So far 12 churches in the California-Nevada Annual Conference have committed to leaving their four walls to serve their communities, this month, as part of The United Methodist Church's first-ever Rethink Church "Change the World" event – a two-pronged movement to engage 11 million United Methodists around the world in service to their neighbors on the April 24-25 weekend, while at the same time uniting them globally to fight malaria.
Congregations are encouraged to schedule a community-based work day on Saturday, April 24, and pastors are asked to focus their Sunday sermon on April 25 (World Malaria Day) on the campaign to wipe out malaria (and to take a special offering in support of that effort, if possible).
Malaria is a preventable, treatable disease which has been totally eliminated in the United States but which kills one child every 30 seconds in other parts of the world, primarily Africa.
Participating Cal-Nev churches and their projects
1. St. Paul's UMC in Reno, NV – "We will become the hands and feet of Christ in our community by focusing volunteer efforts on Peavine Elementary School. Along with church members we will canvas the neighborhood for other volunteers and the church will provide lunch for all participants."
2. Chinese Community UMC, Oakland, CA – "We are hosting a Benefit Dinner to raise funds for a Christian Boarding School in Kumi, Uganda. An 8-person mission team worked on the construction in 2009 and the school is 25% complete. With additional funds raised, we hope to complete the primary school wing and have it operating by 2011. Our church currently supports a group of vulnerable children in Kumi with room, board, tuition, spiritual and emotional care."
3. El Cerrito UMC, El Cerrito, CA – "We will join community members and participate in our Earth Day Celebration by cleaning an assigned area in the city."
4. Forestville UMC, Forestville, CA – "Congregation members will hold a work day on April 25 to post new group signs on the Chamber of Commerce & a Welcome to Forestville sign near the Forestville Academy on Highway 116 which goes right through our town. We are partnering with the 4H parents who are creating new signs for the service organizations and churches of our community. We will also do clean-up of this area where school children walk every day."
5. Trinity UMC, Mountain View, CA – "We will have a free spaghetti dinner for our neighbors and the low-to-extremely low-income people in our community."
6. United Methodist Church of Davis, Davis, CA – "Grace Garden is a faith-based ministry to feed the hungry of our community. We feed the soil by using sustainable gardening practices. We work together to grow relationships which nourish the body and the soul. On April 24th we will have a comnmunity work day."
7. Livermore UMC, Livermore, CA –
8. FUMC, Modesto, CA – "Tuolumne River Trust Go Green Volunteer Saturday, April 24, 9 a.m.-12 noon to Save the Ceres River Park. Join us in clearing weeds that have overtaken baby oak trees and many parts of the park."
9. Temple UMC, San Francisco, CA – "April 25, 'Brown Bag of Love' (Youth make & deliver peanut butter & jelly sandwiches to about 100-150 homeless people in downtown San Francisco)."
10. Wesley UMC, Palo Alto, CA – "April 25, join in walk together with many faith communities for understanding. "Walk Together" provides an afternoon of walking, talking, sharing issues of our community for better resource-sharing and helping one another."
11. Oroville UMC, Oroville, CA – "April 25, we will advertise and host a worship service in our outdoor chapel to include the low-income folks who live near the church and who are not ones who will come to our building for worship. Then we will serve breakfast and have conversations around the tables outside. We hope to continue this in the future, especially when the children are no longer getting meals in school. In the afternoon we will be helping one of our low income, elderly folk fix her fence, trim trees, repair the back porch and clean up her yard."
12. Church of the Wayfarer, Carmel, CA – "April 24, we will take seven youth from the East Salinas Family Center to participate in Science Tech in San Jose."
Join the group!
Taking part is simple:
1. Plan a work project in your community for Saturday, April 24 (or register one which already has been planned)
2. Focus your April 25 Sunday service on the fight against malaria
3. Add your event to the Change the World website!
Is your congregation already doing something outside church grounds on the April 24-25 weekend? Have you registered that event? If you haven't, please register it at www.Rethinkchurch.org/changetheworld to have it counted as a Change the World event.
If nothing is on your church's schedule for the April 24-25 weekend, please plan and register a Change the World event. Click here for ideas.
Free, downloadable Change the World resources are available, including flyers, bulletin covers, Worship slides, and World Malaria Day sermon starters.
Join in 'Sleep out to End Malaria'
One suggestion for local churches is that they hold a "sleep out" event – in which individuals sleep overnight under imitation bed nets – on the weekend of April 24-25 to coincide with the official launch of Imagine No Malaria, an initiative that seeks to raise $75 million to eliminate death and suffering from malaria in Africa by 2015.
Sleep outs provide a great teaching opportunity for youth and help them to connect to families in Africa.
"The United Methodist Church is committed to being a key player in the global movement to eliminate the worst effects of this deadly disease," says the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "This event is a unique way to raise awareness and build unity around the idea that we can make a sweeping difference on the African continent."
The Church is partnering with the United Nations Foundation and the global malaria community inch a unified action for World Malaria Day.
Included are instructions for making bed nets, ideas for using the event as a malaria fundraiser, worship resources, and more.