Marshalltown churches unite in fundraising initiative

Two Marshalltown churches have joined forces in a fundraising project to provide clean water to a remote village in South Sudan, Africa.

And the churches are asking Marshalltown residents to join in the effort.

New Hope Christian Church and Trinity Lutheran Church are cosponsoring a dessert-tasting event, 4 to 6 p.m., May 5 at New Hope, 3901 S. Center St.

The public is invited.

Admission is a free-will offering.

More than 50 varieties of desserts, made by members of both congregations, will be available.

All proceeds will be used to offset the cost of installing wells in and around the village of Old Fangak, located in a remote part of South Sudan.

It is part of an ongoing effort to provide clean water to the village of more than 5,000. Villagers have historically drawn disease-laden water from a nearby swampy area or the Zaref River, which flows by the village.

Fatalities and debilitating illnesses result from consuming the contaminated water.

Although several wells have been installed, more are needed to serve the growing village and surrounding area, which numbers 50,000.

Old Fangak is also home to a medical clinic, which daily draws hundreds of patients, many who walk 50 miles to receive aid.

Parishioners from both churches traveled to Old Fangak in February, 2012 to repair one well and install another.

“A member of our church, Matt Streeter, went with the Trinity team and reported back to us,” Rev. Kerry Jech of New Hope said. “The clean water project is a good one … and when Rev. Gregg (Davison) of Trinity called about the dessert-tasting fundraising event, it seemed like a natural … we are happy to participate, and it will be fun.”

Davison echoed Jech’s remarks.

“The fundraiser will contribute to the success of our mission, started in 2009, of providing clean water that will bring health and hope to the folks of South Sudan. In the long history of Trinity’s ministry our well mission is certainly a highlight,” he said. “A number of Sudanese, who were attending Trinity at the time, told of us the desperate need for clean water. One, Dual Gony, returned to South Sudan to start a business to help his family and countrymen. Another Andrew Chuol of Ames, became a U.S. citizen and joined the Iowa team in 2012 to work in his home village.”

Part of the festivities will be a dessert “bake-off” contest between Davison and Jech. Attendees will have the chance to judge the best dessert.

“I’m a very competitive person,” said Jech. “And there is no way I’m going to lose. My desert will win out.”

Jech is hopeful the joint effort may inspire other initiatives.

“Churches in Marshalltown and the region should join forces when the need dictates and when we agree on things,” he said. “The dessert-tasting event demonstrates that two churches can work together, and I hope it motivates others.”

Saint Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Ames has previously donated funds to the effort, according to Greg Brown of Marshalltown, who chairs a committee made up of Streeter and Trinity members.

Ray Micheel of Trinity is a member.

“Whatever we can do to help the people of that area is important,” he said. “The installation of wells may help spark some democracy there. It will be good for them and good for us.”

Tasting desserts will be just be part of the activities. A video about Old Fangak, its people, and of work done by the seven-member Iowa team in 2012 will be shown.