All Saints Lutheran Church in Novato, Calif., has been on a mission this year to make sure neighbors know about the ELCA Malaria Campaign. In fact, members made it their own, calling it the “Novato Malaria Campaign” and attempting to raise $53,301 — $1 for everyone in town.
“These folks aren’t going to stop until they’ve carried the message of malaria prevention and control to every one of their neighbors,” said Jessica Nipp Hacker, coordinator for the ELCA Malaria Campaign, who visited All Saints last November.
The 12 “apostles” (as they call themselves) on the church steering committee wrapped up their campaign on July 4 when they marched with a spruced up flatbed truck in the city’s parade. They fell short of their goal, making only about one-fifth of what they had hoped, but the money is still trickling in.
Members of All Saints Lutheran, Novato, Calif., marched in the local July 4th parade to remind citizens what they’d spent six months trying to teach them: malaria awareness and how the congregation is collecting money to help eradicate the disease.
Peter Quam chairs the apostles, who combined have belonged to All Saints for more than 150 years — from 37 (Brian Mattson) to 12 years (Donna Sanders). Some of them have taken a turn as council president, with Sanders currently holding the gavel.
The ELCA’s inaugural “God’s work. Our hands.” Sunday of service in September 2013 was a turning point for All Saints. Instead of the usual 70 to 80 at worship, attendance tipped the scales at more than 90 who served their community. Since their pastor, Annemarie Burke, arrived 1 1/2 years before that, they’ve felt revitalized. “Maybe not growth yet, but new life, new energy,” they told Hacker.
Members set out to analyze their community and research emerging generations and how best to reach out to them. Part of their repurposing campaign was to dream big about malaria awareness and fundraising (www.novatomalariacampaign.org).
All Saints began by hosting a community dinner attended by some 50 people, who learned about malaria research and parasites.
From that dinner, the Novato Malaria Campaign moved into the community to educate, gain partners and raise money. Knowing they couldn’t raise funds alone, they engaged schools, churches and organizations such as the Rotary Club and Soroptomists (an organzation that improves the lives of women and girls).
For eight weeks, they had a booth at the farmers market, sharing information on how to contribute to the campaign that would eventually give its money to four international malaria programs, including the ELCA Malaria Campaign.
One successful partner was Mary’s Pizza Shack, which gave 20 percent of its proceeds to the Novato Malaria Campaign during a “dine and donate night.”
Emphasis was always on a blend of awareness and fundraising, said Quam, who drove to the post office every day during the six-month campaign to pick up mailed checks.
All efforts came to fruition on July 4 because, as Quam explained, a short-term campaign is better in a small community because it’s labor intense. “We thought, ‘We’ll use our collective wisdom and not drag on forever,’ ” he said.
And indeed they did use wisdom and energy, now hoping other churches may do something similar in their communities.
At presstime, the ELCA Malaria Campaign had raised $12.5 million of its 2015 goal of $15 million.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers