United Methodist staff mark Malaria Awareness Day

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The Rev. Larry Hollon encourages people to donate $10 to the Nothing But Nets anti-malaria campaign during an observance of Africa Malaria Day in Nashville, Tenn.
UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.

By Deborah White*
April 25, 2007 |NASHVILLE, Tenn.(UMNS)

Neil Alexander, publisher and CEO of the United Methodist Publishing House, displays a mosquito net during an April 25 gathering of agency employees.

About 450 employees of United Methodist agencies and regional offices gathered April 25 to eat soup at United Methodist Publishing House and donate their lunch money to help save lives in Africa.

In observance of Malaria Awareness Day, the gathering called attention to the plight of children in Africa and rallied United Methodists around the Nothing But Nets anti-malaria campaign supported by the people of The United Methodist Church.

"This day, O God, we focus on malaria and we resolve to make a difference," said Bishop Robert H. Spain, chaplain of the Publishing House, as he led a special litany for Malaria Awareness Day.

"Praise God for a way to make a difference, particularly in making malaria history. It's infectious," said Neil Alexander, president and publisher of the denomination's publishing agency.

The people of The United Methodist Church are one of the founding partners in Nothing But Nets, a grassroots drive to prevent malaria in Africa through the purchase and distribution of insecticide-treated sleeping nets. Other partners include the United Nations Foundation, Sports Illustrated, the National Basketball Association's NBA Cares, Major League Soccer and Malaria No More.

A donation of $10 pays for the purchase and distribution of one net, which offers protection from mosquitoes that transmit malaria to people at night when they are sleeping. Since its 2006 launch, the campaign has raised more than $5 million -- enough to buy more than 500,000 nets.

"It's an exciting time," said The Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "It is a step of faith that the people of The United Methodist Church, in partnership with others, can make a difference. It's as simple as skipping a lunch, buying a net and saving a life."

Karla Taylor (left) sells T-shirts to support the anti-malaria initiative backed by The United Methodist Church.

Bishop Richard J. Wills Jr., of the Nashville Area, attended the event along with cabinet members of the Tennessee Area (regional) Conference. "With complicated problems, often simple things make a huge difference like a net for a child," Wills said.

In addition to filling a large jar with cash and checks, a steady stream of supporters bought "Buzzkill" T-shirts, watched a video about Nothing But Nets, signed a large banner, wrote notes to children who will receive the nets and wore buttons with images of children from Africa.

"It's very affordable for anybody to be able to contribute a net," said Bonnie Seay, who works as an editor in the children's department at the Publishing House.

Other workers echoed that sentiment and were impressed by the turnout from church agencies.

"I just wanted to do my part," said Sarah Beasley, a Publishing House employee who bought a T-shirt. "Little ones we need to make sure they grow up to be good citizens."

"What a wonderful way to be involved," said Tim Mabry, controller for the publishing agency. "We can save lives."

To learn more, visit www.NothingButNets.netor www.umc.org/nets.

*White is associate editor of Interpreter magazine.

News media contact: Deborah White, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or [email protected].

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