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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

October 10, 2006

 

Contact: Stephen Drachler

(615) 742-5411 office (615) 456-4710 cell

sdrachler@umcom.org

 

 

UN Foundation Grant Underwrites United Methodist Health Initiative Planning

 

NASHVILLE – The Foundation for United Methodist Communications has been awarded a $100,000 grant from the United Nations Foundation to help underwrite planning of a denominational global health initiative.

 

“We believe God is pushing us to move forward with this healing ministry,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, general secretary of United Methodist Communications. “We are bringing together United Methodist leaders to lay out a strategy to raise awareness of global health issues and mobilize United Methodists into action.”

 

The United Nations Foundation works in partnership with organizations around the globe to address the world’s most pressing problems. Health care is a key priority, Hollon said, noting that a child dies from malaria every 30 seconds in sub-Saharan Africa.

 

“We believe that the United Methodist Church is paving the way the way for others to join in addressing these critical health issues,” said Michael Madnick, senior vice president of the Washington, DC-based UN Foundation.  “This is an important partnership for the UN Foundation. We know and appreciate the role the faith community plays in working to solve major health challenges around the globe.”

 

United Methodist Communications is partnering with the General Board of Global Ministries and the UN Foundation on this initiative.

 

An important early step in the process leading to this plan came in November 2005 when Bishop João Somane Machado of Mozambique, and the Rev. R. Randy Day, general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries, joined with other leaders from the global community at the Global Health Summit in New York City to focus on health issues around the world.  Bishop Machado told of his personal experience with repeated bouts of malaria, and of watching members of his family and parishioners die from the disease. One way to save lives, he said, is to provide hand crank radios so people can listen to indigenous programs on health care and disease prevention. From that event, a number of conversations resulted in the contact with the UN Foundation.

 

Hollon said the broad goals of the initiative are to:

 

  • Mobilize the church in Africa, with assistance and support to develop and expand education, prevention and treatment programs that reduce illness and mortality related to major health concerns such as malaria, HIV/AIDS, and tuberculosis.
  • Challenge the church in the United States to develop and expand global health education, including advocacy and fund-raising programs that increase United Methodist participation and that support global health initiatives.
  • Create opportunities for congregations in the United States to partner with churches and individuals in Africa and with global health advocates around the world to save lives on that continent.

 

The next step in the process, Hollon said, is a meeting of an advisory council, comprised of bishops, pastors and key lay leadership from conferences, and staff from general agencies who work in the United States and Africa.

 

This advisory group will work to develop a denominational vision for a global health initiative, solidify support for it, and develop a fund-raising strategy. It will also explore the possibility of expanding the relationship with the UN Foundation, Hollon said.

 

Hollon said the advisory group’s work will complement efforts by a task force of United Methodist general agencies that are focused on health and wholeness issues. That group includes representatives of United Methodist Communications, the General Boards of Church and Society, Global Ministries, Discipleship, and Pensions and Health Benefits. In addition, the groups will work with Central Conferences Communications Initiative, which is focused on expanding communications capacity in Africa, the Philippines and portions of Europe.

 

 

United Methodist Office
of Public Information
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Diane Denton,
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