Rush UMC hosts mosquito golf fundraiser for Africa 360
February 9, 2016 / By the Rev. Cathy Hall Stengel
On Jan. 27, more than 100 children and adults showed up at the Rush United Methodist Church to help eradicate malaria and support Africa University. We played nine holes of what we called “Mosquito Golf,” the non-official name of our nine-hole miniature golf course. The holes were all made by the congregation, some incredibly elaborate and others simple but fun. Between this and another fundraiser, we exceeded our initial pledge of $1,000 to Africa 360.
Two women were instrumental in developing this fundraiser – our Mission and Outreach Chairperson, Erma Perkins, and our Christian Education Coordinator and Director of Promiseland Childcare, Cindy Grey.
“I visit South Africa every year in support of Zululand Hospice so am aware of the vast gap between our ways of life,” Perkins said. “I feel strongly that we need to share of our abundance with those who have inadequate food, medical care, education, housing, and security. I welcome those who want to travel with me each year. I hope we have fun, but most of all an increased awareness and concern for our sisters and brothers whose lives are at risk because of difficulty accessing healthcare, clean water, and a safe environment.”
Perkins also offered this suggestion for how members of at the Rush UMC and other churches can raise awareness of the needs in Africa.
“Nothing accomplishes this goal like traveling, not as a tourist but as a pilgrim open to learning and witnessing the living conditions,” she said. “After all, Jesus left the glory of heaven and spent time with us perhaps because there is nothing like being there."
Yes, Africa is far away, but our neighbors live there. If we refuse to "come near," as the Good Samaritan did, we are like the priest and the Levite who stayed on the other side of the road.
Perkins invited Grey to be part of a brainstorming group for the Outreach Ministry Team, which comes up with ideas for fundraisers for Africa 360.
“My goal was to come up with fundraising ideas that would be fun, unusual, and could involve the whole family,” Grey said. “I googled ‘fundraising ideas’ and skimmed through lists, then saw an article of a business that did a mini-golf event in their offices to raise money. Doing something similar in the church seemed like a great idea – and the group agreed.”
Perkins directed the team to the information in the Africa 360 issue of the Advocate and explained that she wished for the Rush UMC to make a pledge of $1,000 to the fund, preferably through fundraising. My work and volunteer activities are all focused on children, and this program could potentially save the lives of millions of children. The mini-golf format allows children to have fun and raise money at the same time.
My goal for the event was for families in the church, community, and our child care center to come together in fellowship to raise funds for an incredible need. We joined in a simple meal and then spread throughout the church building on a cold winter night, playing a variety of creative mini-golf holes. One of the exciting things about this event is that it brought out some unknown talents in our church members. Our windmill hole stands 9-feet tall in the middle of the church lobby, as a promotion tool. Its creator, and those people who built the other holes, had fun bringing their imagination to life and are looking forward to seeing their creations in use. People have donated golf balls, putters, and cookies to make this event happen. Their time and talents are working together to bring help to people they will never meet, but can now feel a kinship with.
I think we need to start with the children in order to raise awareness of the needs of Africa. In working with children to help them understand that everyone is part of God’s family, they can grow up to share that knowledge and understanding with others. When a child grows up both hearing and seeing that God’s family includes everyone and everyone is responsible to do what they can to help others, then they become adults who act on that belief – and they in turn teach it to their children.
The Rush UMC will host mini-golf events for various causes – or simply for fun – the last Wednesday of each month. For more information, contact the church’s office at (585) 533-2170, or visit the website.
The Rev. Cathy Hall Stengel is the pastor at the Rush UMC.