Local and Community News
Churches Take AIDS Fight Personally; Disease Hits Massachussetts' Black Community Hard
March 6, 2003
AIDS activists joined hands with churchgoers Sunday at the Union United Methodist Church in Boston and the Charles Street A.M.E. Church in Dorchester, Mass., to mark the start of the 13th annual Boston Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS. More than 30 churches participated in workshops, prayer services, a youth night and a gospel concert on Saturday to remember those who died of AIDS and to raise awareness.Adapted from:
Calling AIDS an epidemic within their community -- blacks make up 5 percent of the state's population but account for 25 percent of HIV/AIDS cases, according to recent state figures -- church leaders stressed the need to offer compassion to those with HIV/AIDS while at the same time preaching personal responsibility to those most at risk.
Members of the Black Minister's Alliance, hailing from more than 80 Boston-area churches, pledged to make the fight against AIDS a top priority, said the Rev. Martin McLee, pastor of Union United. During Sunday's service, McLee asked church members to call out the names of those in the community who have died from AIDS. More than a dozen names were called.
"Several of us have family members who have passed on from AIDS. All of us at least have friends," said Jack Drewry, an attorney and 24-year member of the church.
McLee then asked whether anyone in the church was HIV-positive. A few moments passed, then, a few individuals stood, telling stories of loved ones who live with HIV. One woman in her 40s who contracted the virus from her late husband then spoke of her own experience. "This is a beautiful day. I'm alive," she said. As McLee asked a final time whether anyone in the church was living with AIDS, Gilbert White stood up. "We're all living with AIDS," he said.
03.03.03; Peter DeMarco
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.