Stephanie Morris leads the AIDS ministry at Medina's Second Baptist Church, whose plans for National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day included an open house with other community supporters: the Medina Health Department, Medina Hospital (a Cleveland Clinic site), Violet's Cupboard, the AGAPE Program, and the Akron AIDS Collaborative.
The testing and education event was designed to raise awareness of HIV/AIDS' impact on the black community. "The African-American community is disproportionately affected. Sixty-four percent of the women diagnosed are black women. We need to know our status," said Morris.
The motto of Morris' ministry is "When we know better, we do better." She and the Rev. Cornell Carter, the church's senior pastor-elect, said it perfectly captures the ministry's goal of empowering people. "Ministry should be judgment-free, because the very act of judging pushes people away," said Carter. "This ministry is in place to allow the love of Jesus to come through and embrace people where they are."
"We are not here to judge and get into people's business," said Morris. "We want people to know their status because when you know your status, you can take care of yourself and not put others at risk," she said.
"This is an epidemic in our community, and the church has a responsibility to bring the issue to the forefront," Carter stressed. "We have to step up and educate people and support those who are affected by HIV and AIDS."
For more information about Second Baptist and its programs, telephone 330-722-0073 or visit www.sbcmedina.org.