Florida: Assistant Pastor Urges Leaders, Congregations to Play a Bigger Role in Fight Against HIV/AIDS
December 16, 2010
Love and acceptance of people living with HIV in the black community was the theme of a World AIDS Day event in Gainesville.
The banquet service at the Eastside Recreation Center was led by Dr. Ruby Davenport, assistant pastor of Faith Tabernacle of Praise Missionary Baptist Church and executive director of FAITH (Finding Alternatives That Initiate and Transform Hope) Inc. The event was sponsored by the Florida Department of Health and FAITH Inc.
The Rev. Dr. Andrew McRae, pastor of Faith Tabernacle, initiated the church's quest to help prevent the spread of HIV and to show love and compassion to those affected by the virus. "There ought to be something inside of you that makes you want to do something, too," Davenport told attendees.
Davenport called on area churches to become more involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS. She expressed concern over the stigma the disease has in the black community, particularly in churches. It is only because of God's grace and mercy that many more in the church community have not been affected or infected, she said.
In 2009, FAITH Inc. received a three-year state grant to educate churches about HIV/AIDS and how they can help. It took one-and-a-half years for most local pastors to come around, Davenport noted.
Bobby Davis, HIV/AIDS program director at the Alachua County Health Department, discussed the epidemic and noted that the poor and uninsured typically are the worst-affected.
A moment of silence was held for those who have died from HIV/AIDS, during which a girl placed balloons in the center of the room as people called out the names of loved ones they had lost.
12.09.2010; Cleveland Tinker
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