Imagine No Malaria 'Days on the Hill'
October 11, 2012
Annual conferences invited to send teams to advocate for global health
by Wayne Rhodes
Editor, Faith in Action
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) and the United Methodist "Imagine No Malaria" campaign will host Annual Conference leaders for a "Days on the Hill" gathering here Sunday to Wednesday, Dec. 2-5.
"Congress is feeling great pressure to cut global health aid, including funds to fight malaria," said the Rev. Clayton Childers, a GBCS staff member who directs advocacy for Imagine No Malaria. "We need to work to make sure that does not happen."
Imagine No Malaria is a United Methodist initiative to make beating malaria a reality. Partners include the United Nations Foundation, the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Imagine No Malaria is Advance Special #3021190 of the United Methodist Church.
The gathering will be held at the same time Imagine No Malaria celebrates delivery of its "One Millionth Net," an exciting milestone indicating the growing success and commitment of United Methodists to this critical global health effort.
Childers explained that the event's primary focus is on bringing teams from each of the "Vanguard Conferences" currently engaged in Imagine No Malaria campaigns. Those in the vanguard include Arkansas, Baltimore-Washington, California-Nevada, Dakotas, Desert Southwest, Great Northwest, Holston, Iowa, Kansas East, Kansas West, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone.
Other conferences are encouraged to send teams as well, Childers emphasized.
Conference teams should consist of the Bishop, Lay Leader, Director of Connectional Ministries and Communicator. Conferences are asked to pay for travel to and from Washington, D.C.
Childers said GBCS will pay all in-town expenses for teams from annual conferences to come to the nation's capital to advocate on behalf of U.S. funding for global health initiatives, such as eradication of malaria.
"We are seeing this event as a "grass tops" advocacy gathering, as opposed to grass roots," Childers said. "We are trying to bring together key conference leaders who will be seen as 'influencers' not only as they visit congressional offices but also as they return home and share their experiences with others.
Each conference is encouraged to send at least two participants up to a maximum delegation of six.
The gathering will open Monday morning with worship and prayer to seek God's strength for this work. There will be an overview of the Imagine No Malaria advocacy initiative, a presentation on effective messaging by Mike McCurry, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton, instruction on how to engage in faithful advocacy by Childers, and advocacy and role-playing exercises to familiarize participants with the advocacy process.
In addition, Rear Admiral Anthony Ziemer, U.S. government global malaria coordinator, has been asked to present to the group as well.
On Tuesday, the teams will visit their respective Senators' and U.S. Representatives' offices. They will convey one simple message:
We ask Congress to continue to fully support global health aid, including critical funds for the fight against malaria. We have made such great progress. We must not turn back now!
"The United States has been the world leader in global health aid, especially through the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis & Malaria and through the President's Malaria Initiative," Childers said. "Because of our commitment, other countries have stepped up their giving as well. We want to do all we can to ensure this critical funding continues."
Besides McCurry and Adm. Ziemer, other presenters include Bishop Peter Weaver, executive secretary, Council of Bishops; Gary Henderson, director of the United Methodist Global Health Initiative; and Michael Pajonk, director of Organizational Partnerships, U.N. Foundation.
You can register a team online at INM Days on the Hill.
For more information or to register a team, contact the Rev. Clayton Childers, director of Advocacy, Imagine No Malaria Campaign, General Board of Church and Society, at email@example.com or (202) 488-5642.