By Jessica Brodie
Thanks to the fundraising efforts of the Africa University golf tournament, South Carolina achieved its goal of paying 100 percent of its apportionments last year to help the United Methodist university.
Located in Zimbabwe, Africa University serves as the foundation of United Methodist higher education on the continent of Africa. With 50 undergraduate and graduate programs, the 25-year-old university is home to students, faculty and staff from more than 30 African countries.
A South Carolina couple has the distinction of making the very first gift to Africa University: the late Jonas and Odette Kennedy, of Bennettsville. A core group of other committed education advocates helped guide the school along its way, constructing the Bishop J. Lawrence McCleskey Faculty of Theology building and endowing four full scholarships in perpetuity for theology students there.
And today, that core group continues in the form of “Friends of Africa University,” whose fall golf tournament raised funds beyond what United Methodist churches across South Carolina were able to contribute and enabled the conference to hit 100 percent of its giving goal to the university.
“Africa University is an educational institution producing Christian leaders in Africa, and it’s a great school we should be proud of,” said the Rev. John Culp, who chairs the golf tournament with Ron Friday. Culp thanked all those who participate in the tournament for their support.
The tournament has been held for the last several years to raise the additional funds needed to hit the 100 percent mark. In 2016, churches raised 93.7 percent for the university, and tournament proceeds raised the balance.
Beth Westbury, treasurer of the South Carolina Conference of the UMC, said she is proud of the Friends of AU for “identifying this mission and ministry as one deserving our full support and doing something about it.”
“I applaud them for their dedication, hard work and success,” Westbury said. “Without their efforts to raise funds beyond apportionments, we would not be paying 100 percent of our apportionments for Africa University.”
Jim Salley, associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement for Africa University, said he appreciates the leadership South Carolina is providing in getting to 100 percent of the Africa University Fund.
“The concept we use is we ask people to do the best that they can in supporting Africa University and then trust God to provide the increase or the rest,” Salley said.
Salley said the conference has increased apportionment giving by at least 20 percent since Bishop Jonathan Holston came in 2012.
“The 93 percent (from churches) is far more than what it was; I remember when the Africa University Fund was in the 70s!” Salley said. “To be at 93 percent and have the golf tournament provide the rest is simply a gift from God, and it shows that the South Carolina Conference supports Africa University in a phenomenal way.
“God has blessed the conference, and the conference has now blessed Africa University.”
For more about Africa University, visit http://www.africau.edu. The 2017 golf tournament details will be announced in a future edition of the Advocate.