We held our first District Rally for Africa University on Sunday in the NE District, and it was a success. We had great music, a new DVD about AU and our Indiana campaign, and a passionate message from Eric Mulanda, a graduate of Africa University, in which he thanked us for helping to provide an education which transformed his life. We also heard from Rev. Bill Keith, who is chairing our AU Campaign Committee, and several persons from the NE District shared about their commitment to AU, and we even had four churches which shared their plans to support the campaign. It was a great afternoon.
I look forward to similar District Rallies for AU in the other districts this fall, and I urge every congregation to send a team to support their district rally -- or perhaps go to another district rally if that is better for your calendar.
Why did our Indiana Conference vote to support Africa University with this campaign to raise $1.6 million?
- our Indiana Area has a history of supporting many ministries in Africa, including Operation Classroom in Liberia and Sierra Leon, and now many of those youth are going on to attend African University for advance training.
- the United Methodist people of Indiana believe strongly in education, missions, and leadership development, which is what AU is all about.
- this is the 20th anniversary of AU, and when we asked how we could support them now, they asked for support for an endowed chair of Agriculture and Natural Resources, along with additional endowed scholarships for students.
- this campaign is our first as the new Indiana Conference, and it provides us with a way of celebrating our connection and accomplishing a project which none of our individual churches could do alone.
So, how will this all work? Right now we are developing a list of names of individual donors who might offer "lead gifts" to launch the campaign, typically gifts of $10,000 or more. Rev. Mark Fenstermacher and Mr. Jim Shaw are chairing that part of the effort. Beginning now and leading up to the 2014 Session of the Indiana Conference, we are inviting local churches and groups within those churches (United Methodist Women groups, United Methodist Men groups, Mission Committees, youth groups, and even children's groups) to add Africa University to the list of those mission projects they support. These local church "pledges" to the AU campaign will be brought to the 2014 Session of the Indiana Conference, collected, celebrated, and blessed.
Giving to this AU Campaign, which is officially listed for the years 2014-2015-2016, has already begun! The "Friends of Africa University" has pledged the first $100,000 to support the effort. I am also very proud that 100% of our District Superintendents and Conference Directors have pledge to the AU Campaign -- and their gifts will pay for the costs of the campaign (printing brochures, DVD's, covering speakers, etc.) which are estimated to be about $60,000. So that means every local church and individual gift to the AU Campaign will go directly into the Endowed Chair of Agriculture or the Endowed Scholarship Fund. Those endowed funds will be collected by our Foundation and then sent to the AU Foundation in Nashville, Tenn., so that these gifts are held in perpetuity in an account which is not vulnerable to the ups and downs of economic and political situations in Africa.
The giving has already begun. And the blessings have already begun. It was so powerful to hear an AU grad share in person how his life was changed by getting a scholarship to attend AU where he not only got an education, he also gave his life to Christ, was baptized, and later felt a call to ministry. Those stories are multiplied over and over again -- so that our giving is already producing blessings. We often talk about "transforming the world" and this campaign is doing that. As the AU Choir sang at our 2013 Session of the Annual Conference, "Then Africa Will Be Saved."
See you at one of the future District Rallies for AU.