ELCA Malaria Campaign

Make Malaria History

Climbing Kilimanjaro to Combat Malaria

Posted on May 31, 2012 by jessicanipp

“The Himalayas have always been on my bucket list,” says the Rev. Wyvetta Bullock, Executive for Administration at the ELCA Churchwide Office.  “But this spring, Mt. Kilimanjaro [in Tanzania] kept falling onto my desk. I heard a colleague speak about it, and then I happened to meet a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.” It was a brief encounter that left Pastor Bullock with a business card and a sense that Mount Kilimanjaro—rather than the Himalayas—might be calling her.

The Rev. Wyvetta Bullock

A few days later, Pastor Bullock heard about two pastors in the Metropolitan New York Synod who were planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro this July as a way to raise money for the ELCA Malaria Campaign, “and I felt that the Spirit had moved. That solidified things for me. I am very excited to support the ELCA Malaria Campaign in this way.”

Without hesitation, Pastor Bullock signed up for the climb, which will take place in July, during her well-earned summer sabbatical. She has been serving the Churchwide Office of the ELCA for about as long as there’s been a Churchwide Office of the ELCA. She came on staff in November of 1987, and will be celebrating her 25th anniversary this fall.

Training for the climb will be one of Pastor Bullock’s chief goals for her sabbatical, which begins June 1. “I’m working with someone who trains hikers professionally,” she relates. “We’re working on cardio, agility, strength, balance and, of course, working on an incline. After my first training workout, I was sore for two days!” Now that her long-awaited sabbatical has arrived, she can step up her training routine and continue to enhance her fitness levels. 

A few years ago, Pastor Bullock trained for and completed a half-marathon.  “The success of that venture gives me reason to believe I can do this, too,” she explains.  So far, she feels well-prepared. “I have already visited the travel clinic to get the necessary vaccinations and prescriptions. My biggest concern will be acclimating myself to the altitude.”

Although she’s been in Africa several times, this will be Pastor Bullock’s first visit to Tanzania. “I’m looking forward to visiting with several leaders of our companion Lutheran church in Tanzania,” she says. She’ll have the opportunity to visit some of the malaria programs that the ELCA Malaria Campaign is supporting, to experience firsthand the devastating effects of malaria and the hope that prevention, education and treatment can bring.

As for the rest of her sabbatical? “I hope to rest!” she responds with enthusiasm. “Rest and reflect.”

 The Metropolitan New York Synod has set an ambitious fundraising goal for Pastor Bullock and her two climbing companions– $100,000.  Would you consider donating a penny a foot? (At 19,340 feet, that comes to $193.40.) To give securely online, visit this website and designate your gift for “Kilimanjaro Climb.”

Tanzanian Malaria Researcher Supports ELCA Malaria Campaign

Posted on May 24, 2012 by jessicanipp

Malaria haunted Samson Kiware’s childhood. Growing up in Tanzania, “of course I suffered from malaria,” he reports. “It seemed like everyone I knew had malaria at some point. It was that common.” 

Samson attended secondary school in Kisarawe, near Dar es Salaam. “It was a boarding school, so when my classmates and I got malaria, we took care of each other.”  And there was a lot of malaria in Kisarawe. So much, in fact, that Samson eventually switched schools, moving to northern Tanzania, hoping to avoid the long weeks of school absences due to malaria.

Samson Kiware is completing his PhD at Marquette University. His research is on malaria prevention.

A lifelong Lutheran, Samson then received a scholarship from the ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod to study at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI.  He excelled in his studies of mathematics and computer science, and was excited to be accepted into the Masters and then the PhD program at Marquette University in Milwaukee. “When I found out I could use mathematics to work in the health field, right away I thought about malaria,” he recalls.

Now his research centers on new techniques that will complement other malaria interventions such as indoor residual spraying (IRS) and long-lasting insecticide-treated nets (LLINs).  Samson also has a special interest in how climate change might impact the presence of malaria in different geographical regions. He uses mathematical modeling to create statistical analyses that aid the research projects. 

Research is a key factor that will aid in eliminating malaria from sub-Saharan Africa, according to Samson, but research takes a long time.  “I don’t want to just be doing research and publications while people are dying from malaria at the same time,” Samson says.  That’s why he’s such a strong supporter of the ELCA Malaria Campaign. “This campaign is a way to implement the interventions that have already been researched and approved. It’s something we can do right now.  It’s so important to support medical centers, nets and spraying.”

He’s proud of the anti-malaria work that Lutherans are doing, in the ELCA and in Africa. “The church is showing compassion.  We’re not doing this because there’s something in it for us.  We’re doing it because we are the church, and because we care about suffering people.”  Samson believes that people relate to the church’s message best when the church shows them God’s love.  In his experience, “when Lutherans help people, there are no strings attached.”

His long-term goal is to return home to Tanzania to teach and to continue his malaria research “until I work myself out of a job!” At that point, he’ll use his math and computational analysis background to get to work on the next global health problem.

Samson is very grateful for the opportunities he’s had to study in the United States. “The Greater Milwaukee Synod brought me here and gave me this chance.  They led me to where I am today.”  He’s glad to be an example of the strong companion synod relationship between the Greater Milwaukee Synod and the Meru Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania.

And he’s glad to be a malaria researcher and a supporter of the ELCA Malaria Campaign. “When I go home, I still see people in Tanzania getting sick from malaria.  It’s still there.”

“Faster Pastors” Outrun Malaria

Posted on May 23, 2012 by jessicanipp

Pastor Michael Stadtmueller isn’t what most people would call a runner. “I’ve never even run a 5K,” he admits.  But this September, the senior pastor of Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, CO will team up with 11 other ELCA pastors to run the Ragnar Colorado Relay, a 188-mile relay race through the Rocky Mountains. 

“I’m excited and nervous,” Pastor Stadtmueller says, “but the ELCA Malaria Campaign is great motivation.”  His relay team, the Faster Pastors, is running the Colorado Relay to raise (at least) $10,000 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

The Faster Pastors collaboration began in the Midwest in 2009, when Pastor Chad Kohlmeyer and five of his pastoral colleagues from the Northwest Synod of Wisconsin ran the Ragnar Great River race. They ran to raise money for camp scholarships and their companion synod in Malawi. 

Then Pastor Kohlmeyer came to Atonement Lutheran Church in Boulder, CO, and joined the Rocky Mountain Synod’s Malaria Campaign Task Force. The Task Force was already doing great work with congregational leaders, and Kohlmeyer thought the “Faster Pastors” idea could be a good complement to those efforts: a way to create a non-traditional avenue to build energy and education around an important cause.

“Supporting the ELCA Malaria Campaign is a justice issue for me,” Kohlmeyer explains. “I have experienced the horrible effects of malaria personally, and had the gift of receiving excellent medical care. The idea that our collaboration together could save lives motivates me.”

The other Faster Pastors are equally motivated.  Pastor Joel Pancoast of Zion Lutheran Church in Loveland, CO, says “while I’m a little anxious about this run, I signed up to do it when I heard that malaria is completely preventable and treatable.  So I can put myself through a little pain to make prevention and treatment accessible to our sisters and brothers in Africa.”

Sonja and Joel Pancoast, two of twelve Faster Pastor teammates, have experienced a wave of support in their congregation as they raise awareness and funds for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

Friends, congregation members and community organizations are stepping forward with donations of gear and supplies—and even a logo—for the Faster Pastors, so that all of the sponsorship funds they receive can come directly to the ELCA Malaria Campaign.  Those donations will be shared with the ELCA’s Lutheran companion churches in Africa to fund their programs of malaria education, prevention and treatment.

The ten congregations served by Faster Pastors teammates are already starting to get excited about the ELCA Malaria Campaign. A few weeks ago, Pancoast and his spouse, co-pastor and running partner Sonja Pancoast wore their running shoes as they led worship at Zion, to introduce their congregation to the idea of “outrunning malaria.”  Generous members have already approached them to ask how they can support the ELCA Malaria Campaign through the hard work of the Faster Pastors. (The Rocky Mountain Synod will serve as the conduit for support– details coming soon!)

Leta Behrens, associate pastor at Our Saviour Lutheran Church in Fort Collins, expresses her confidence that the Faster Pastors—and the ELCA Malaria Campaign—will make a difference.  “Even though the Colorado Relay is a little crazy and might be a huge feat for me, outrunning malaria is possible,” she declares. “I think it’s a great way to make some noise, share the story, and run for justice in the name of Christ.”

Youth and young adults in Florida “lift malaria burden”

Posted on May 22, 2012 by jessicanipp

“Who is this person to you?” asked Pastor Janis Kinley  of Trinity Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, FL  as she held up a brochure  for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.   The young adult bible study group looked perplexed as they stared at the brochure, which depicts a young African girl with a bright, beautiful smile. 

After a brief awkward silence the six members of the young adult bible started throwing out possible answers that sounded more like questions.  “An African girl?” “A girl with malaria?” “A beautiful young girl?” “Our neighbor?”

 After each answer, the members scanned Pastor Janis’s face for a sign—what was she waiting to hear? “Those are all correct, but who is this girl to YOU?” she said after the members were out of answers. 

Trinity's congregation bows their heads as Michael Dunne, a discipleship training student, commemorates children who have died from malaria by ringing a bell every 45 seconds.

She then had the group read from Matthew 25: “And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'”  Again, Pastor Janis held up the brochure for the ELCA Malaria Campaign, which depicts a young African girl, and asked, “who is this person to you?”

After another brief silence someone spoke up and said “Jesus.”

Pastor Janis’ thought-provoking message served as a pregame speech to the members of Trinity’s Young Adult Bible Study Group.  Together this group led a multifaceted approach to raise awareness to the ELCA Malaria Campaign in the congregation.  Information about the campaign was incorporated in church’s bulletin, newsletter, children’s message, and sermons. 

Ryan Larson, a member of Trinity and one of the members of the adult bible study, is an entomologist who has performed malaria work in Liberia.  He wrote an article for the church newsletter. “I tried to use my experience in Liberia to explain to the congregation that our brothers and sisters in Africa are not all that different from us,” Ryan said.  “I also wanted to convey the burden that malaria places on our Lutheran brothers and sisters.” And he also described what the ELCA is doing to lift this burden.

Trinity's discipleship training students (ages 11-13) proudly stand in front of display advertising the ELCA Malaria Campaign. This display incorporated ELCA Malaria Campaign posters, a bed net, and large whimsical mosquitoes created by the students.

Malaria work at Trinity was intergenerational. The young adult bible study group teamed up with discipleship training students (ages 11-13) to portray the seriousness of malaria in Africa.  Standing before the congregation, the team asked everyone to close their eyes.  A bell was then sounded every 45 seconds to commemorate a child that has died has died from malaria.  It was a very powerful, yet simple message. 

The two groups also set up a display in the church’s hallway.  They constructed large-scale, whimsical mosquitoes out of a variety of materials including mosquito bed net remnants.  Two ELCA Malaria Campaign posters to serve as daily reminder of the urgent need to help lift the burden of malaria in Africa.  

“Young teens and young adults are a natural pairing, because both have tremendous energy for and interest in service to the community,” said Pastor Janis.  “As the two groups worked together on the malaria campaign, they taught and inspired each other, creating an exciting synergy in doing God’s work.”

Kari Larson (center) and Pastor Janis Kinley (left) drape a mosquito net over children as part of the contemporary worship service's Children's Message, desribing what the ELCA and our companions are doing to prevent malaria.

During a worship service, young adult bible study member Kari Larson led the children’s message, which focused on malaria.  After gathering the children, Kari asked the children if they have ever been bitten by mosquitoes.  Most of the children raised their hands.  “For people in Africa, sometimes that mosquito bite can make them very sick,” Kari explained to the children.  She then placed a mosquito net over the children to teach them how the ELCA malaria campaign protects children in Africa. 

Trinity is not a large congregation, but over $2,000 was collected for the ELCA Malaria Campaign, to help our African brothers and sisters in Christ lift the burden of malaria.  This was one of Trinity’s largest-ever “love offerings.” 

“When we follow Jesus,” says Pastor Janis, “he teaches us to share his heart, so that the things that break God’s heart will break our hearts as well.  Our ‘cross’ is to care deeply about the suffering of others.  At Trinity, Jesus is opening our hearts to care about the victims of malaria in Africa. Our commitment to the ELCA Malaria Campaign has helped us to serve Christ and to be true to our congregational mission statement: ‘To proclaim Jesus Christ to the world’.  We are blessed to help end the suffering and death from malaria by 2015.”

**Special thanks to Ryan Larson for sharing this article.**

The “Noisy Can Kids” can!

Posted on May 16, 2012 by jessicanipp

Maddie Cahoon knows that one person can make a difference.

Last year, her congregation, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Arlington, WA, raised awareness for the ELCA Malaria Campaign by using “Story People.” Paper dolls, dressed in African clothing, sat in the pews. The stories written on their backs were read aloud to the congregation. 

Maddie Cahoon, originator of the "noisy can kids" project, stands in front of the mosquito net display at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Arlington, WA.

Maddie is a compassionate girl, 8 years old at the time. She felt bad when she heard the stories and learned that kids were suffering from malaria in Africa. “Mom, somebody should do something about this!” she said to her mother Dawn.  “Well,” said Dawn, “maybe the person who should do something about it is you.”

So Maddie went to see her pastor, who told her that at their church, new projects proposals needed to be approved by the church council. “I thought that would be the end of the project,” admits Dawn Cahoon. But Maddie was undaunted. She wrote up a proposal and delivered it to the pastor, and it was approved by the church council at their next meeting. 

Maddie’s project  is called “noisy can kids.” Every other week during worship, she and her Sunday school classmates stand up during the offering and shake cans—tin cans, coffee cans, whatever they can find—and take a noisy offering from members of the congregation.  Volunteers collect the change and bring it to the bank.  For every $50 that’s collected, a miniature “Story Person” is added to a wall mural depicting an African village. Every month, Maddie Cahoon writes a story for the church newsletter, keeping the congregation updated on their fundraising progress.

This mural of an African village represents the efforts of the "noisy can kids" as they raise money for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.

The African mural village is becoming well-populated. June 3 will mark the one-year anniversary of the “noisy can kids,” and in that year, Maddie and her friends have raised over $1000 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign.  They’ll host coffee hour on June 3, featuring a large cake with a mosquito on it (and a big red slash through it, of course).

And their work won’t stop there. Maddie and her friends have invited other youth groups in their cluster to become “noisy can kids” in their congregations. They’ll get together quarterly to encourage one another and engage in some friendly competition.

“The attitude in our congregation has changed since the ‘noisy can kids’ began their work,” reports proud mom Dawn Cahoon. “We used to suffer from the attitude that since we’re small, and our Sunday school doesn’t have a lot of kids in it, we couldn’t make much of a difference in the world.  Maddie showed us otherwise—even one person can make a big difference.”

This summer, Maddie and the other the “noisy can kids” will participate in their community fair in Arlington, WA. They’re making a video and a display board about their project.  Will they shake their cans for the members of their community?

“Of course they will!” says Dawn.

Harvest for Malaria

Posted on May 10, 2012 by jessicanipp

There are so many wonderful fundraising efforts being organized for the ELCA Malaria Campaign! Our donors have a wide variety of talents and skills that make their fundraising efforts unique. Here is the story of a retired ELCA pastor, Paul Baardseth, who used his gardening skills to help make malaria history.

Pastor Paul Baardseth served for 34 years at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Amery, Wisconsin.  Even in retirement he continues to be active and hard-working. Last summer, he raised a vegetable garden on an acre of land at the end of a friend’s corn field.  For the entire summer, Paul dug and planted, weeded and weeded for at least four hours a day in the humid heat of summer.

His labors bore much fruit. As he harvested his produce, Pastor Paul was able to share with his extended family, his neighbors, and even his wife’s workplace. Everyone shared in the bounty of the land tended by Paul’s hand.  

And then Paul took his generosity a step further. For six weeks last fall he supplied a table at his church, to sell baby potatoes (for a dollar a bag) and many varieties of squash. He had a French variety called potimorran, buttercup and butternut, and pumpkins.  The little ones sold for a dollar, and the big one for two dollars.  From his dedicated efforts, Pastor Paul raised $500.00 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign. 

And still his generosity wasn’t finished. After the malaria funds were raised, Paul then delivered 120 squash to his local food pantry.  What a wonderful way to share God’s bounty with those in his community and to share the gift of malaria protection with sisters and brothers across the world! I’d call Pastor Paul a shining example of someone who “thinks globally and acts locally.”

Many, many thanks to Pastor Paul for his generous and dedicated labors, and to his wife Nancy Baardseth for sharing the story and photos of his “Harvest for Malaria”!

Miles Against Malaria

Posted on May 9, 2012 by jessicanipp

The Northeastern Minnesota Synod joined hands to end malaria at their synod assembly this spring. During the assembly, voting members from all 138 congregations had the opportunity to stop by the ELCA Malaria Campaign booth to learn more about the campaign and how they could support it.  Volunteers provided campaign promotional materials as well as lists of suggested fundraising activities for congregations…

… and then they modeled one of those suggested fundraising activities!  As part of their Synod Assembly experience, participants were invited to join in the “Miles Against Malaria” walk.  Those electing to take part in the walk collected pledges from their home congregations and walked two miles through business and residential neighborhoods in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. 

Pastor Megan Crouch, Miles Against Malaria participant, proudly displays a sign proclaiming "Walking to Save Lives!!"

They carried signs made by the youth of St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids.

Walkers from Zion Lutheran Church in Cloquet, Minnesota led the fundraising efforts by bringing in over $3,000 from the members of their church and community.  All in all, Miles Against Malaria raised over $5,000 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign!

The ELCA Malaria Campaign was featured in other ways at the Northeast Minnesota Synod Assembly, as well. Senior high youth created cardboard mosquitoes and “story people” to decorate tables in the plenary hall.  Part of a plenary session was dedicated to malaria. Malaria buttons and net corsages were also for sale.

Many thanks to Brenda Wagner, the synod malaria coordinator from Northeast Minnesota, for letting us know of the great efforts of this synod to make malaria history.

More Sorenson Grants Awarded: Congratulations!

Posted on May 7, 2012 by allisonbeebe

A second wave of Sorenson Grants have been awarded, and we are happy to announce the recipients. These grants will be used as seed money to inspire educational activities and fund-raising on campus beginning this spring and continuing through the end of the 2013-14 academic year. Thanks to a generous gift from the Sorenson family, money raised for the ELCA Malaria Campaign on ALL college campuses (not just those who received grants) will be matched dollar for dollar!

  • Louisiana State University, Lutheran Campus Ministry, Baton Rouge, LA – LCM at LSU has plans to host a flag football tournament to benefit malaria. They will host this event in conjunction with the Wesley Foundation at LSU, which is the United Methodist Church’s campus ministry. The students intend to work collaboratively on campus, with participants from many different student groups. Faith-based groups, honor societies, fraternities and sororities– everyone can have a hand on eliminating malaria, and LSU’s plan is reflective of this.
  • California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, CA – At CLU, they plan to raise malaria awareness and educate multiple student populations about the devastating impacts of malaria. They will be led by a student team of Malaria Project Leaders, and will collaborate with others on campus to conduct fundraising projects. The student newspaper, University Choirs and the Athletic Department are just a small sampling of the groups that they plan to connect with during their campaign.
  • Northern Arizona University, Lutheran Campus Ministry, Flagstaff, AZ – LCM at NAU has plans to recruit and train a team of leaders responsible for carrying out the campaign. They will have a great presence on social networking sites and will be assigning students to manage Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others. They will be interfacing with students at tabling sessions in the student union. Theirs will be a collaborative project. They aim to work with student groups who take interest in public health, justice, and international education, just to name a few. They will coordinate public events to be enjoyed by the whole campus each fall and spring.
  • Kennedy King College, This Far By Faith Campus Ministry, Chicago, IL – This will be a joint effort between This Far By Faith Campus Ministry at Kennedy King College and St. Mark Lutheran Church in Chicago. Their particular focus will be to raise awareness about malaria to the African-American Community, by engaging the local congregation. This Far By Faith Campus Ministry’s connection with St. Mark will help set the stage to launch their education and fundraising efforts on campus.
  • Wartburg College, Waverly, IA – Wartburg Spiritual Life and Campus Ministry plans to use their social media grant to enhance the malaria programming that they already have underway. Their campaign will incorporate students, faculty, staff and alumni into its programming.  There will be an intentional education phase, during which trained teams of students give presentations to a variety of groups on campus. A craft project (making “malaria piggy banks”) will engage the creativity of the Wartburg community, and offer opportunities for collecting change for the campaign. A Malaria Benefit Concert featuring student and alumni performers will be the capstone fundraising event.

Thank you to all the applicants for your creative ideas and collaborative work. Check out a list of the other Sorenson Grant recipients and projects here. We look forward to seeing Lutheran college students raise awareness, funds and excitement on their campuses. Students, campus pastors and staff – thanks for joining us in this work!

Grant funding is still available! Applications will be considered on a rolling basis as long as the funding remains available… so apply soon!

This congregation raised $40,000 to fight malaria!

Posted on May 3, 2012 by jessicanipp

Check out this great article on LivingLutheran.com. It profiles the great fundraising efforts of Nazareth Evangelical Lutheran Church in Cedar Falls, IA, that raised over $40,000 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign– about $10 per member.

I love their visual display. It’s big and bold and eye-catching, and it generated lots of attention in the hallways. Each neon child in the display (covered by netting material) represents $10 donated to the campaign– the cost of one insecticide-treated mosquito net. By the end of their campaign, Nazareth had posted 4,000 neon children to their wall display!

The fundraising campaign at Nazareth was intergenerational. Kids and youth and parents and grandparents participated eagerly, giving what they had and inspiring others to give. (You can read some great examples of selfless giving in the LivingLutheran article.)

I know that not every ELCA congregation can raise $40,000 for the ELCA Malaria Campaign. But I do love the $10 per member challenge that the congregation of Nazareth took on. If every congregation in the ELCA raised $10 per baptized member, we’d have over $40 million to put toward lifesaving anti-malaria work!  That’s even more than our Lutheran companions in Africa are counting on. Our goal for the ELCA Malaria Campaign is to raise and share $15 million by 2015. $15 million will help us, together with our companions, to take a huge step toward overcoming malaria in Africa.

Many thanks to the people of Nazareth Lutheran Church for their generosity, and for their great ideas!