The Rev. Dr. A. Stephen Pieters is a long-term survivor of AIDS. Diagnosed with AIDS-related complex (ARC) in 1982, and AIDS/Kaposi's Sarcoma and Lymphoma in 1984, his remarkable story of recovery serves as an inspiring example of healing and hope.
Rev. Pieters was born on August 2, 1952 and was raised in Andover, Massachusetts, where his father chaired the Mathematics Department at Phillips Academy. Steve attended Phillips Andover in preparation for his theater studies at Northwestern University, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Speech in 1974.
In 1976, he joined Good Shepherd Parish Metropolitan Community Church in Chicago, where he decided to pursue a calling to the professional ministry. He received his Master of Divinity Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1979, at which time he accepted a call as Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Hartford, Connecticut.
In 1982, Steve resigned his position in Hartford, and moved to Los Angeles, where he began to experience a series of illnesses that were diagnosed as AIDS-related complex. In April, 1984, he was diagnosed with AIDS/Kaposi's Sarcoma and stage four lymphoma, and he was told by one health professional that he would not live to see 1985.
Not only did he live to see 1985, but during that year he became "patient number 1" on the first anti-viral drug trial, taking suramin for a total of 39 weeks. While on suramin, both cancers went into complete remission. Due to toxic side effects, the drug was discontinued for use against AIDS. However, Rev. Pieters continues to enjoy a complete remission of his cancers, according to his physician, Alexandra M. Levine, M.D., at the University of Southern California Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Since his diagnosis, Rev. Pieters has served on the Boards of Directors of AIDS Project Los Angeles, the AIDS Interfaith Council of Southern California, the AIDS National Interfaith Network (USA), and the first Los Angeles City/County AIDS Task Force, and was Field Director for the AIDS Ministry of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches from 1987 to 1997. He has written a series of articles for Journey magazine about his experiences with AIDS, which have been collected with other writings of Rev. Pieters' in the book, I'm Still Dancing.
Rev. Pieters was one of twelve invited guests at a Prayer Breakfast at the White House with U.S. President Bill Clinton, Vice President Al Gore, and National AIDS Policy Coordinator Kristine Gebbie prior to World AIDS Day 1993. The President talked about Rev. Pieters in his World AIDS Day speech on December 1, 1993.
He has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Sunday Times, Time magazine, Omni magazine, Life magazine, and numerous television talk and news shows including CNN, Headline News, Tammy's House Party (starring Tammy Faye Bakker), CBS This Morning, the Tom Snyder Show, America Talks Back, and Real Life with Jane Pauley. He was a featured speaker at an entertainment industry dinner benefit for AIDS Project Los Angeles (APLA) , given by Elizabeth Taylor and honoring former First Lady Betty Ford. In November, 1987 he presented the Buddy of the Year Award to Whoopi Goldberg at APLA's third annual entertainment industry benefit. In the summer of 1990, he appeared as himself in the hit play, "AIDS US/II." His story also appears in the books, Surviving AIDS by Michael Callen, Voices That Care by Neal Hitchens, and Don't Be Afraid Anymore by Rev. Troy D. Perry.
Rev. Pieters has received awards for his ministry in the AIDS crisis from the Board of Elders of UFMCC; Evangelicals Together, Inc.; the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles; West Hollywood Presbyterian Church; and the West Hollywood City Council. In 1989 he received an Honorary Doctor of Ministry Degree from Samaritan College, UFMCC's seminary. In 1990, he received the prestigious Sheldon Andelson Award from the Stonewall Democratic Club, and the Sandra L. Robinson Award from Community Unity in Dayton, Ohio.
Reverend Pieters currently serves as Staff Clergy at the Metropolitan Community Church of Los Angeles. Throughout the UFMCC and around the world, he has spoken sharing his belief in God's healing and sustaining power while living with HIV/AIDS.