In 2013, GNJ passed a bold strategic plan at Annual Conference session to make a difference in people’s lives globally, regionally and nationally through a Mission Fund Campaign. This campaign was enthusiastically embraced by congregations throughout Greater New Jersey.
Part of the enthusiasm stemmed from an initial gift from Bishop John and Beverly Schol, who pledged $53,000 and inspired the 2013 Annual Conference session with their testimony on giving. Beverly Schol had been on the front lines in Africa handing out bed nets and seeing firsthand the effects of malaria on families and children. Bishop John and Beverly Schol both witnessed firsthand the devastation left by Superstorm Sandy in the immediate aftermath of the flooding. Both knew that they would need to make sacrifices to commit to the vision that God had for Greater New Jersey.
Bishop Schol and Beverly decided to forego buying a new car and use additional savings toward fulfilling their pledge over a three year period. Their inspirational decision resulted in thousands of people throughout GNJ making their own sacrifices and commitments to the campaign.
As the Mission Fund nears the three year mark, the people of Greater New Jersey have raised $5.4 million in gifts and pledges. Even though there is more left to raise, these funds have already been put to use in helping the people who hurt.
Through Mission Fund giving, $3.9 million has been raised for A Future With Hope, GNJ’s ministry to help rebuild homes and lives that were destroyed during Superstorm Sandy. As of the end of February, A Future With Hope has rebuilt 204 homes and worked with more than 400 families in recovery. New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs state that in 2016, nearly four years after the storm, there are still more than 6,000 families in recovery from Superstorm Sandy. A Future With Hope has a goal of continuing its work to repair more than 300 homes. The number of homes repaired and the lives touched will increase even more if the Mission Fund meets its goal of $7 million to support A Future With Hope and Sandy recovery.
Greater New Jersey’s commitment to raise $2 million for Imagine No Malaria to treat and prevent the disease is a part of a larger United Methodist effort to eradicate the disease. Greater New Jersey’s pledge is part of $75 million campaign to support Imagine No Malaria. Including GNJ’s Mission Fund pledge, $68 million has been raised to date.
Malaria is a treatable and preventable disease and yet it kills a child in Africa every two minutes. Prevention takes education, resources and clinics and training. By improving the ways people fight the disease using bed nets, providing access to diagnostic tests and medicine, draining standing water, and improving sanitation, Imagine No Malaria has already helped reduce malaria deaths by more than half.
Through the Mission Fund, Greater New Jersey has already raised close to $900,000 for Imagine No Malaria which translates into saving 90,000 lives. When the $2 million goal is reached for this effort Greater New Jersey will have helped save more than 200,000 lives of children who die senselessly from a disease that can be prevented and treated.
Many congregations have planned a special offering for Imagine No Malaria during the week of April 25, which is World Malaria Day.
The last leg of the Mission Fund is to help our congregations connect with their communities through local mission work. Money raised in this area has helped churches open up food pantries, undertake mission trips, fund community breakfasts and more.
The work accomplished and the funds raised through the Mission Fund is an amazing testament to generous spirit of the people of Greater New Jersey.
The Schols finished up their three year pledge to the Mission Fund. They finally traded in their 13 year old car and bought a new one. In 2016, both are celebrating their 60th birthdays. In honor of this milestone and in support of the life changing work of Imagine No Malaria and A Future With Hope, they have decided to increase their commitment to $60,000. They invite all United Methodists to join them in rededicating themselves to the Mission Fund to save and change lives.
At the 2016 Annual Conference in May, one collection will be taken for the Mission Fund. All congregations are encouraged to take a collection between now and Annual Conference and share their gifts in Wildwood.