Photo: Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the Commission on United Methodist Men, discusses Nothing But Nets and Strength for Service with Scouts visiting the United Methodist exhibition area. UMNS Photo by Neill Caldwell.
BOWLING GREEN, Va. –– Nearing the conclusion of the 10-day National Scout Jamboree At Fort A.P. Hill, some 5,500 Scouts attended an August 1 worship service where Pittsburg Area Bishop Thomas Bickerton spoke about the spirituality of persons in African nations and the Nothing But Nets program to eliminate malaria.
“We need to go to Africa to see people who are materially poor but spiritually rich while we are materially rich and spiritually poor,” said the bishop who chairs the church’s Global Health Initiative. He noted that every 30 seconds a child in Sub Saharan Africa dies of malaria. “In the half-hour we’ve been here, 60 children have died,” he said. The bishop challenged the Scouts to match the $10,000 raised for Nothing But Nets by a youth assembly.
Following the service, the Rev. Don Scandrol, superintendent of the Pittsburgh District and a jamboree chaplain, sent a text message to the bishop saying the challenge had been exceeded. Participants in the service contributed $12,432 to the Nothing But Nets program.
“That’s great news,” responded Bickerton.
An invitation to participate in the Nothing But Nets program was issued by Danielle Garrahan, a staff member of the United Nations Foundation, a sponsor of the effort to provide $10 nets to African nations;
“When I heard a child dies every 30 seconds of malaria, I decided I could save three children,” said Landon Svoboda, a 12-year-old Scout from Marion, Ill. Landon, an assistant chaplain of Troop 118 of the Greater St. Louis Area, dropped $30 in the collection plate.
Greg Pope, a former scouting ministry committee member, said he also witnessed another Scout empty his billfold during the collection. “He was saving lives,” said Pope. “I needed a box of tissues.”
An exhibit area staffed by 12 volunteers received an additional $4,600 for the anti-malaria campaign, bringing the total amount to over $21,000.
New Testaments and patches
Participants in the service received BSA Commemorative New Testaments and Nothing But Nets patches which featured “Mal,” a fierce-looking mosquito along with United Methodist Church cross and flame.
Nothing But Nets is the first annual BSA international “Good Turn” project.
Eighteen United Methodist clergy served as chaplains during the July 26-Aug 4 gathering of 48,000 Scouts and leaders at the military installation. The chaplains also helped distribute the elements during the Sunday Communion service.
Gil Hanke, top staff executive of the General Commission on United Methodist Men, told the Sunday gathering that they constituted the largest United Methodist worship service in the state of Virginia, and he expressed appreciation on behalf of the commission for the opportunity to plan a worship service with “fine men and women from across the nation.”
Alvin Townley, author of Legacy of Honor and Spirit of Adventure, briefly addressed the service as the celebrity spokesperson for United Methodist Scouting Ministries.