This fall, a lot of people are running.
Well, yes, with elections coming up there are a lot of races with people “running”.
But I’m talking about the physical running that many of us do -- quickly moving the legs, pounding the pavement, covering a few miles. If you’re a runner who gets out several times a week, you know what I mean. If you’re not, perhaps you’ve seen people, maybe early in the morning, seeming to wear themselves out for no apparent reason. Running, not jogging. Sometimes several hundred at a time in a race that covers 3.1 or 6.2 miles, 13.1, even 26.2 miles or more. A lot of fall “races” even have several thousand people running!
You may know that I’m one of those -- a runner. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that I’m one of the more serious (or crazy) ones. As I get older, my faster races and times are in the past, But I still like getting out to enjoy the changing seasons of God’s world, the physical conditioning, the social aspects of large running events, and of course the competitive sense of accomplishment in finishing a race.
So, what does running have to do with laity, leadership, and the church?
Well, in many races now there is a worthwhile “cause” involved. A charity or even a church ministry that helps people. I’ve run in several of those, where the proceeds over cost go to any of dozens of causes from Boy Scouts to campus ministries to cancer research. I’m especially impressed with those runners who raise funds for the causes – often several thousand dollars! I’ve done a couple of those, but most of my races don’t involve a special “cause” – they’re just running.
I’d like to change that with an upcoming race. On November 4, I’ll be running the Bass Pro Marathon in Springfield. I’ve been training some for this, as it’s been awhile since I last ran a full marathon, which is 26.2 miles (although it’s my 31st marathon, so the legs know what’s coming).
The reason I’m writing about this here is that the cause is “Imagine No Malaria”, which is a major emphasis of the United Methodist Church. You might remember the very successful “Nothing But Nets”. This cause takes further the fight against the killer disease of malaria, to actually envision eliminating it altogether. Our Missouri Conference is particularly interested in this due to our relationship with the church in Mozambique. The conference is planning to emphasize “Imagine No Malaria” in 2013 and we’ll be encouraged to practice extravagant generosity, raising a lot of money for it. So, I’d like to get a jump on that by running this marathon for the cause.
I’d simply like to raise $2,620, which would be $100 per mile. It will just take 100 people or congregations giving or pledging $26.20 (a dollar a mile) to “Imagine No Malaria”. If you or your congregation would like to help, simply send a check or pledge to the conference office in Columbia. Checks should be made to “The Missouri Conference” with a notation “Imagine No Malaria” or “Marathon”. There’s not much time as the marathon is November 4, so checks / pledges need to come in quickly.
We’ll hear a lot more about “Imagine No Malaria” in the coming year. It’s an important effort and ministry outreach to save thousands of lives each year. Perhaps some of you will join me in 2013, raising funds through running in races. I’d like to hear about your ideas sometime. Maybe we can even have several thousand United Methodist Christians “running for a cause” in 2013 to “Imagine No Malaria”. Imagine that!
Thanks again for your leadership!
Brian Hammons, Lay Leader
MO Conference of the UMC