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Local Methodists Host West African Choir, South African Leader at Historic Conference

HOUSTON, May 22 /PRNewswire/ -- The 39th gathering of the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church will feature a 60-member West African choir to help celebrate the success of the Nothing But Nets campaign and the groundbreaking partnership between Methodists in Texas and Cote d'Ivoire (Ivory Coast). The Woodlands UMC will host the event, Sunday through Wednesday, May 25-28.

A proclamation reading and signing on May 28 at 10:45 a.m., will affirm the covenant relationship - centered on healthcare, education and evangelism - that was forged between Methodists on the two continents in 2007. In the first year of partnership, local Methodists raised nearly $1 million to fight malaria in Cote d'Ivoire.

The Cote d'Ivoire Annual Conference is the newest and largest annual conference in the entire denomination, with 700,000 members. Together, the Texas and Cote d'Ivoire conferences are 1 million members strong. Last year, the Texas Conference pledged to provide every family in Cote d'Ivoire with treated mosquito bed nets in an effort to prevent malaria, which kills more than 1 million children per year. During the Wednesday event, a team of 35 area Methodists will be commissioned to deliver 250,000 nets to Africa in November in partnership with Nothing But Nets.

Why partner? One out of eight children in Africa is predicted not to live to the age of five because of Malaria. And, a child dies every 30 seconds from the disease. That, along with the fact that malaria is preventable, inspired the Nothing But Nets partnership between the United Methodist Church, the National Basketball Association's NBA Cares, Sports Illustrated, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, VH1, The Mark J. Gordon Foundation, AOL Black Voices, Major League Soccer's MLS W.O.R.K.S., the Wasserman Foundation, The Women's National Basketball Association's WNBA Cares, Rotarians' Action Group on Malaria and the United Nations Foundation.

"Risk-Taking Mission and Service" is the theme of this year's annual gathering. For the first time ever, participants will engage in hands-on mission projects (Tuesday at 3 p.m.), such as assembling health kits to be distributed to victims of disasters and poverty worldwide; sewing blankets for AIDS orphans and building Habitat for Humanity walls. These walls will be shipped from the Conference site to Habitat sites in Houston and added to Habitat Homes.

Another highlight of the event will be addresses by Rev. Peter Storey of South Africa (Monday at 7 p.m. and Tuesday at 3 p.m.). Storey, who was president of the Methodist Church in Southern Africa, also served as chaplain to Nelson Mandela during his imprisonment and helped select members of South Africa's Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Texas Conference has more than 290,000 members and spans Houston, Galveston, Beaumont, Texarkana, Longview, Tyler and College Station. Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, immediate past president of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church, leads the Texas Conference.

For more information or to arrange coverage of the event, contact Eleanor Colvin at, 713-533-3734.

SOURCE Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church
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