AIDS National Interfaith Network Newsletter


National Skills Building Conference ('96 NSBC)

Have you called your travel agent today? Imagine nearly 750,000 AIDS activists and NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt panelmakers in Washington, D.C. over Columbus Day weekend 1996. Better yet, why imagine when you can be there? Once again, it is time to start making preparations to hone your management skills at the sixth annual National Skills Building Conference ('96 NSBC). A collaborative effort of the AIDS National Interfaith Network (ANIN), National Association of People With AIDS (NAPWA), and National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), the National Skills Building Conference, will be held October 10-13, at the Washington Hilton and Towers. Over 2,000 people are expected to attend this years meeting which will feature over 150 workshops and seminars. As customary, day-long Critical Issues Institutes will kick-off '96 NSBC on Thursday, October 13. Adding poignant remembrances of all those we've lost and as a charge and reminder of the work that we must continue to do, the NAMES Project Foundation will display the entire AIDS Memorial Quilt on the grounds of the Washington Mall that same weekend. Certainly, there are many of us who remember what this weekend was like in 1992 when NSBC and the Quilt convened in Washington over the same weekend. It was busy, busy, busy! So make your hotel reservations today!

The National Skills Building Conference is dedicated to enhancing the effectiveness of front-line community-based organizations to respond to the needs of HIV-infected individuals and individuals at risk for HIV-infection by providing technical management training to staff and volunteers associated with those organizations. The Conference is the winner of the 1994 American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) Award of Excellence in Education for Best Community Service Education Program and the 1995 ASAE Award of Excellence in Education for Best Convention Education Program. The American Society of Association Executives is an individual membership organization comprised of more than 23,000 association executives managing leading professional, trade ad voluntary organizations across the United States and in 44 countries around the world.

Confirmed keynote speakers include the author of numerous book titles, including Be Here Now and Compassion in Action, internationally renowned spiritualist Ram Dass. Past NSBC speakers and guests have included: AIDS activists Mary Fisher, Sallie Perryman, Cleve Jones, George Melton, Sally Fisher and Dr. Nicholas Hall; President and CEO of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Change, Mrs. Coretta Scott King; President, National Council of La Raza, Raul Yzaguirre; former United States Surgeon General, M. Joycelyn Elders; actors Bruce Davison, Nell Carter, Judith Light, Kathy Najimy, an Beth Broderick; comedienne Karen Williams; United States members of Congress, Hon. Luis V. Gutierrez and Hon. Maxine Waters; playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein; National AIDS Policy Coordinator, Patricia Fleming; spiritual teacher and caregiver, Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati; screenwriter of the Academy Award winning film "Philadelphia," Ron Nyswaner, and many others.

If you have not received the most recent NSBC brochure, or if you need additional ones, please do not hesitate to call 202-483-1124.

Credit: Danny Linden, NSBC Conference Manager

A Commitment on HIV/AIDS by People of Faith: "The Council Call"

We are members of different faith communities called by God to affirm a life of hope and healing in the midst of HIV/AIDS. The enormity of the pandemic itself has compelled us to join forces despite our differences of belief. Our traditions call us to embody and proclaim hope, and to celebrate life and healing in the midst of suffering.

AIDS is an affliction of the whole human family, a condition in which we all participate. It is a scandal that many people suffer and grieve in secret. We seek hope amidst the moral and medical tragedies of this pandemic in order to pass on hope for generations to come.

We recognize the fact that there have been barriers among us based on religion, race, class, age, nationality, physical ability, gender and sexual orientation which have generated fear, persecution and even violence. We call upon all sectors of our society, particularly our faith communities, to adopt as highest priority the confrontation of racism, classism, ageism, sexism, and homophobia.

As long as one member of the human family is afflicted, we all suffer. In that spirit, we declare our response to the AIDS pandemic:

  1. We are called to love: God does not punish with sickness or disease but is present together with us as the source of our strength, courage and hope. The God of our understanding is, in fact, greater than AIDS.

  2. We are called to compassionate care: We must assure that all who are affected by the pandemic [regardless of religion, race, class, age, nationality, physical ability, gender or sexual orientation] will have access to compassionate, non-judgmental care, respect, support and assistance.

  3. We are called to witness and do justice: We are committed to transform public attitudes and policies, supporting the enforcement of all local and federal laws to protect the civil liberties of all persons with AIDS and other disabilities. We further commit to speak publicly about AIDS prevention and compassion for all people.

  4. We promote prevention: Within the context of our respective faiths, we encourage accurate and comprehensive information for the public regarding HIV transmission and means of prevention. We vow to develop comprehensive AIDS prevention programs for our youth and adults.

  5. We acknowledge that we are a global community: While the scourge of AIDS is devastating to the United States, it is much greater in magnitude in other parts of the world community. We recognize our responsibility to encourage AIDS education and prevention policies, especially in the global religious programs we support.

  6. We deplore the sins of intolerance and bigotry: AIDS is not a "gay" disease. It affects men, women and children of all races. We reject the intolerance and bigotry that have caused many to deflect their energy, blame those infected, and become preoccupied with issues of sexuality, worthiness, class status, or chemical dependency.

  7. We challenge our society: Because economic disparity and poverty are major contributing factors in the AIDS pandemic and barriers to prevention and treatment, we call upon all sectors of society to seek ways of eliminating poverty in a commitment to a future of hope and security.

  8. We are committed to action: We will seek ways, individually and within our faith communities, to respond to the needs around us.

Portions of the text of this document were taken, with permission, from "The African American Clergy's Declaration of War on HIV/AIDS," (The Balm in Gilead Inc., 1994), and from "The Atlanta Declaration," (AIDS National Interfaith Network, 1989).*

Un Compromiso sobre VIH/AIDS por todas las personas de Fé: "El Llamado del Concilio"

Somos miembros de diferentes comunidades de feligreses llamados por Dios para afirmar una vida de esperanza y curación en medio del sindrome HIV/SIDA. La enormidad de la pandemia nos ha obligado a unir nuestras fuerzas a pesar de nuestras diferentes creencias. Nuestras tradiciones nos llaman a englobar y a proclamar la esperanza, y a celebrar la vida y curación en medio del sufrimiento.

El SIDA es una aflicción de toda la familia humana, una condicion en la cual todos participamos. Es una vergüenza que tanta gente sufra y se lamente en secreto. Nosotros buscamos la esperanza en medio de las tragedias médicas y morales de esta pandemia a fin de transmitir la esperanza a futuras generaciones.

Reconocemos que entre nosotros han habido barreras. Estas barreras de religión, raza, clase social, edad, sexo y orientación sexual han generado miedo, persecución y hasta violencia. Hacemos un llamado a todos los sectores de nuestra sociedad, particularmente a nuestras comunidades de feligreses, a adoptar como prioridad, la lucha contra el racismo, el clasismo, la discriminacion contra personas de edad avanzada, el sexismo y la homofobia.

Basta con que un solo miembro de la familia humana padezca este mal para que todos suframos. En ese espíritu, declaramos nuestra respuesta a la pandemia del SIDA:

  1. Estamos llamados al amor: Dios no castiga con mal o con enfermedad. El está presente con nosotros como fuente de fuerza, valor y esperanza. Nuestro Dios es más grande que el virus del SIDA.

  2. Estamos llamados a cuidar con compasión: Debemos asegurar que todos aquellos que están afectados por la enfermedad [a pesar de la edad, raza, sexo, nacionalidad u orientación sexual] tengan acceso a un cuidado con compasión y sin prejuicios, al respeto, al apoyo y a la asistencia.

  3. Estamos llamados a ser testigos y a hacer justicia: Estamos comprometidos a transformar las actitudes públicas y la política, apoyando la ejecución de todas las leyes locales y federales que protegen los derechos civiles de todas las personas con SIDA y otras incapacidades. Nosotros además nos comprometemos a hablar públicamente sobre cómo prevenir el SIDA y tener compasión con toda persona.

  4. Promovemos la Prevención: Dentro del contexto de nuestras respectivas creencias, aprobamos la información correcta y comprensiva al público sobre la transmisión del VIH, y las maneras de prevenirla. Prometemos desarrollar programas completos sobre la prevención del SIDA dirigidos a la juventud y los adultos.

  5. Reconocemos que somos una comunidad global: Mientras la aflicción del SIDA ha sido devastadora en los Estados Unidos, es mucho mayor en otras partes de la comunidad mundial. Reconocemos nuestra responsabilidad de fomentar la educación sobre el SIDA y una política de prevención, especialmente en programas religiosos de la comunidad global.

  6. Lamentamos los pecados de intolerancia y fanatismo: El SIDA no es una enfermedad de "homosexuales." Afecta a hombres, mujeres y ni¤os de todas las razas. Rechazamos la intolerancia y el fanatismo que han llevado a muchos a desviar su energía, a culpar a las víctimas y a preocuparse por los temas de sexualidad, dignidad, condición de clase o dependencia de drogas y alcohol.

  7. Retamos a nuestra sociedad: Porque la disparidad económica y la pobreza son los mayores contribuidores a la pandemia del SIDA, así como barreras a la prevención y el tratamiento, hacemos un llamado a todos los sectores sociales para buscar formas de eliminar la pobreza, en un compromiso hacia un futuro de esperanza y seguridad.

  8. Estamos comprometidos a actuar: Buscaremos formas, individualmente y dentro de nuestras comunidades de fé, para responder a las necesidades que nos rodean.

Partes del texto de este documento fueron tomadas con el permiso de "The African American Clergy's Declaration of War on HIV/AIDS," (The Balm in Gilead Inc. 1994), y "The Atlanta Declaration," (AIDS National Interfaith Network, 1989).

Enhancing Partnerships: 96 Prevention Conference Features Religious Response

The role of the religious community in HIV prevention activities was featured at a workshop at the 1996 Prevention Summit held in Atlanta, Georgia on March 7th to 9th. The event is co-sponsored by the National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors (NASTAD), the National Minority AIDS Council (NMAC), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Over 675 people from all the states in the union, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia attended.

The Summit, with the theme "The Power of Prevention," is an annual meeting of the co-chairs who guide over 220 state and regional HIV Prevention Community Planning Groups. These groups prepare an annual HIV prevention needs assessment for their area and present it in an annual application to the Centers for Disease Control in order to receive prevention resources. The co-chairs of each community planning group is composed of a health department representative and a representative from a community based AIDS organization.

A workshop entitled "Enhancing Partnerships: Working with the Religious Community" was presented by two of the CDC Religious Initiative "502" Partners, ANIN and Emory University's AIDS in the Black Church program. The workshop attracted over 50 participants and became, for some, a moving personal experience. Rev. Adora Lee from AED (the Academy for Educational Development) coordinated the workshop which included presentations from Rev. Ken South of the AIDS National Interfaith Network, Dr. Steven Thomas of the School of Public Health of Emory University, Rev. Yvette Flunder from the Ark of Refuge Church in San Francisco, and Ms. Pernessa Seele from the Balm in Gilead of New York City.

Dr. Thomas described the two programs featured as part of the Emory Black Church program that includes the replication of the Harlem Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS program founded by the Balm in Gilead and a special outreach program to the Gospel broadcasters by Rev. Flunder's ministry. Pernessa Seele described how over 2,500 African American Churches participated in this years "National Day of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS." During the week of March the 3rd, hundreds of congregations came together for a week of worship, seminars, and fellowship to raise the AIDS consciousness and action of the African American church. Rev. Flunder described the dramatic impact Gospel radio had on the African American community and how a growing number of these broadcasters have committed themselves to present AIDS awareness and prevention messages through their media.

Rev. South set the context of the response of religion in America by describing the work of the AIDS National Interfaith Network. Included in his presentation was a description of the national prevention programs of seven of the twelve members of Council of NATIONAL RELIGIOUS AIDS NETWORKS. These CDC funded projects, subcontracted through ANIN, include the Many Threads, One Weave Parish Training Program of the National Catholic AIDS Network, the HIV/AIDS Prevention Video for mainline African American Churches Project of the Presbyterian AIDS Network, the Computerized AIDS Ministries (CAM) program of the United Methodist AIDS/HIV Ministries Network, the HIV Prevention Initiative of the United Church AIDS/HIV Network, the Parish based HIV/AIDS Curriculum Project of the Lutheran AIDS Network, the Jewish Response for AIDS Video Project of the UAHC/CCAR AIDS Committee, and the PEP (Peer Education Program) of the AIDS Ministry department of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches. A lively question and answer session followed. The group was so moved by what they heard and experienced that a spontaneous call for prayer and an enthusiastic singing of "We Shall Overcome" ended the workshop.

AIDS Ministries Support AIDSWatch '96

AIDSWatch '96 is a cooperative program of several national and local AIDS organizations to bring people from across America to Washington to lobby their member of Congress for a better response to AIDS.

Last year ANIN participated by advertizing AIDSWatch to AIDS ministries, by participating in the planning committee for the event, and by providing the meeting space and hospitality in the Methodist Building which is strategically located on Capitol Hill. Over 500 AIDS activists came to Washington and conducted over 400 visits to Congressional offices to lobby for greater AIDS awareness and funding for care, research, prevention and housing. During the event participants also joined hundreds of local Washingtonians for the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial & Mobilization ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.

AIDSWatch '96 will be held from Sunday, May 19th, to Tuesday, May 21, 1996. ANIN will again provide hospitality and the headquarters for the event at the Methodist Building with the assistance of the General Board of Church and Society, The United Methodist Church. All AIDS ministries are invited to Washington to participate.

ANIN Launches Historic CDC Funded Collaboration -

"The National AIDS Ministry Capacity Building for Prevention Project"

In 1993 ANIN created the Council of NATIONAL RELIGIOUS AIDS NETWORKS (CNRAN), bringing together -- for the first time ever -- 12 national HIV/AIDS networks affiliated with national congregations/denominations. The Council presently includes representatives from the AIDS Ministry Network of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), The Balm of Gilead, the Lutheran AIDS Network, the National Catholic AIDS Network, the National Episcopal AIDS Coalition, the Presbyterian AIDS Network, the Seventh Day Adventist North American Division, HIV/AIDS Ministry, the Union of American Hebrew Congregations/Central Conference of American Rabbis Joint Committee on AIDS, the United Methodist HIV/AIDS Ministries Network, the United Church AIDS/HIV Network, the Unitarian Universalist AIDS Resources Network, and the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches AIDS Ministry. In 1995, working with the Council, ANIN formed a unique and historic collaboration. Seven different CNRAN member organizations are working in partnership with ANIN in a CDC funded program to conduct a variety of important AIDS education and prevention programs across the country.

A number of important efforts were funded. The Lutheran AIDS Network (LANET) will survey Lutheran HIV/AIDS programs, upgrade its database, locate and recruit HIV prevention educators in parishes and jurisdictions, and develop and test a parish-based prevention model. The National Catholic AIDS Network is conducting a parish HIV prevention pilot project, conducting a parish survey to identify specific parish-based prevention programs, and conducting a training workshop for parish workers to design effective prevention programs. The Presbyterian AIDS Network will produce a video documentary on HIV/AIDS including prevention programs targeted to African Americans within "mainstream" Christian denominations. The Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches AIDS Ministry produced a video, training manual, reference manual and "train the trainers" program focused on providing high-risk gay male youth the knowledge and strategies to reduce transmission of HIV/AIDS. The Union of American Hebrew Congregations/Central Conference of American Rabbis Joint Committee on AIDS will produce a video documentary which includes prevention models and a leadership guide targeted to synagogues, Jewish community centers and other Jewish agencies, and will develop a newsletter and speakers bureau. The United Church AIDS/HIV Network is working to increase the number of UCC members who have direct access to HIV prevention information, identify UCC HIV/AIDS advocate/educators within congregations, provide technical assistance to UCC congregations starting HIV prevention programs, and create and distribute an HIV Prevention Training Module. The United Methodist HIV/AIDS Ministries Network is expanding HIV prevention activities among youth, young adults and women through the Computerized AIDS Ministry (CAM) resource network electronic bulletin board system.

ANIN, as the lead agency, is providing technical assistance, administrative support and evaluation services to coordinate and assess the efforts of these subcontracting organizations. According to ANIN's Executive Director, Rev. Ken South - "This new program not only will provide increased, targeted HIV prevention messages to thousands at risk, but is in itself a dynamic new way for the public health community and religious community to work together."

ANIN Expands Successful Regional AIDS Interfaith Seminar Program

ANIN continues to expand its successful Regional AIDS Interfaith Seminar (RAISE) Program. Perhaps the best example of "ANIN on the ground in communities," the RAISE Program assists AIDS ministries, community-based AIDS service organizations and the religious community at large to develop local systems for greater cooperation and collaborative action on behalf of people affected by HIV/AIDS. With support from the Aetna Life and Casualty Company, in February, 1995, ANIN conducted its inaugural Regional AIDS Interfaith Seminar in Orlando, Florida. Funding to expand the program has been provided by the National AIDS Fund and The Philip Morris Companies. ANIN plans to conduct three more programs, and is considering California, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, Illinois, North and South Carolina or Texas. In each of the three new programs being planned, ANIN will work with local participants to design seminar content and formats tailored to local needs and then, after the seminar, work with local organizations to develop strategies and processes that enhance opportunities for improved collaboration and progress in meeting local needs.

AIDS Interfaith Mobilization (AIM) Program Is Launched To "AIM" Grassroots Ministries' Message At Federal Policy Makers

"ANIN's leadership in distributing information and follow-up for the fight for AIDS/HIV programs has proved successful. I salute Rev. Ken South and the staff of ANIN for spearheading this battle in Congress. ANIN is quintessential among our religious organizations."
- Jack H. Plimpton, Ed.D., The Bishop's Commission on AIDS Ministry
in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

In a further effort to better connect ANIN's advocacy efforts in Washington to AIDS ministries' impact at the grassroots level, ANIN launched the AIDS Interfaith Mobilization (AIM) Program in August, 1995. AIM is a special initiative, funded through a generous grant from the George Gund Foundation, to dramatically improve ANIN's AIDS ministry communication network, enroll AIDS ministries across the country in the AIM Program, and use this communications network to both educate AIDS ministries about important federal AIDS legislative issues and to support their advocacy efforts (mail and telephone campaigns, FAX trees, face-to-face lobbying efforts, etc.).

AIM has already assembled a team of AIDS advocates from the ranks of AIDS ministries across the country and will provide them with regular briefings and the communications link they need to respond rapidly to legislative issues. ANIN will next increase communications between AIDS ministries by expanding ANIN's FAX tree network. And AIM will provide travel support for AIDS advocates to come to Washington in May, 1996 to join hundreds of other AIDS activists participating in AIDS Watch 1996. AIM is an important new component of ANIN's efforts to ensure that policy makers understand and respond to the AIDS ministry movement's commitment to transform public attitudes and policies about HIV/AIDS while supporting the enforcement of all local and federal laws to protect the rights of all persons with HIV/AIDS and other disabilities. If you would like to join this important effort to take AIM at Congress, contact ANIN at (202) 546-0807.

The Red Ribbon Partnership

In order to expand partnerships throughout the faith community, even beyond the scope of CNRAN, in 1995 ANIN launched The Red Ribbon Partnership. This initiative is a very structured and targeted effort to nurture existing partnerships and develop new ones in the religious community. Linkages are developed with key staff of national religious bodies and religious organizations in order to gain access to persons at the national level with over-all responsibility for mission and/or ministry. ANIN's goals are to: (1) better educate top leadership about the efforts of AIDS ministries so that they can positively influence their members, and (2) develop collaborative programs with national groups focused on provision of HIV/AIDS prevention and care services.

Sarah Payne Naylor is directing the Red Ribbon Partnership program for ANIN. She has had extensive experience working with national religious groups. With Sarah's help, ANIN hopes to direct more attention to ministries of caring (such as caring for people living with HIV/AIDS), support for family members, friends and professional providers, and HIV/AIDS public policy issues. The Red Ribbon Partnership is made possible, in part, through a grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

ANIN Co-Presents 5th National Skills Building Conference

In collaboration with the National Minority AIDS Council and the National Association of People with AIDS, ANIN the 1995 National Skills Building Conference was convened at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, October 19 - 22, 1995. Over 1,500 front line HIV/AIDS workers from 47 states and territories, as well as other nations, attended. This premier conference is the only management training conference exclusively designed to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of individuals and organizations engaged in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Keynotes speakers included: Dr. Nicholas Hall, Director of the Division of Psychoimmunology at the University of South Florida, College of Medicine; Mary Fisher, well-known author, artist and founder of the Family AIDS Network; and actress Judith Light, best known for her work in "Who's the Boss?" and long-time supporter of the fight against HIV/AIDS.

The program featured 12 Critical Issues Institutes, over 130 training workshops, 12 seminars, 7 talk shows, 4 plenary sessions, an interfaith service of hope and remembrance and a number of social functions. Over 180 faculty offered training and information in such important areas as strategic planning, fund raising, financial management, organizational development, program planning and public policy. A wide variety of special topic seminars were also offered in areas such as AIDS ministry, AIDS and the Black church, cause related marketing, executive directors' study program and AIDS housing.

ANIN sponsored the Interfaith Service of Hope and Healing at Temple Isaiah and conducted its annual Awards Reception, honoring Mr. Tom Brokaw of NBC News with its National AIDS Awareness Award and The Night Ministry of Chicago and the Rev. Roger Miller of the AIDS Pastoral Care Network of Florida with Outstanding AIDS Ministry Awards.

Next year's National Skills Building Conference is already planned to be held in Washington, DC October 10 - 13, 1996. Plan on attending! Call (202) 483-1124 for more information.

ANIN Leads Interfaith Service In Washington, DC To Mark World AIDS Day

ANIN has worked throughout the year with the American Association for World Health and the World AIDS Day Advisory Committee to plan activities for World AIDS Day, held on December 1, 1995. On November 30, on the eve of the world-wide event, ANIN sponsored a local Interfaith Service of Remembrance, Hope and Healing in Washington, DC. Event planners were very pleased with the day's program. "It was a grace-filled time," remarked Rev. Stephen Taylor, Chair of the World AIDS Day planning committee for the Interfaith Service of Remembrance, Hope and Healing in Washington, D.C. "This year was our first attempt at planning and holding an interfaith service marking World AIDS Day in Washington. It was very successful and our hope is that next year even more of our faith community will participate and mobilize in prayer and action against this pandemic." The two-part service, connected by a silent candlelight procession, started at the Metropolitan A.M.E. Church and continued to the National City Christian Church. The first portion of the service honored those who have lost their lives to AIDS; the second portion celebrated, in hope, those affected and infected with the virus. The service reflected the traditions of many faiths. Sacred music was provided by the Sikh Kirtani Jatha Group and The Gospel Choir of the Metropolitan Community Church of Washington, The Rev. Dr. Vashti M. McKenzie, pastor of the Payne Memorial A.M.E. Church of Baltimore delivered the sermon. Joining ANIN in sponsoring the Washington vigil was the Council of NATIONAL RELIGIOUS AIDS NETWORKS, Episcopal Caring Response to AIDS, the Interfaith Conference of Washington, The Union of American Hebrew Congregations, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, Damien Ministries and Metro TeenAIDS.

On December 1, ANIN led a national commemoration of the 15 years of the epidemic by calling on churches to ring their bells 15 times and maintain a 15-second silence. The World AIDS Day Advisory Committee advised the American Association for World Health on the production of a resource booklet to help local communities plan World AIDS Day events. Over 40,000 booklets were distributed across the nation.

ANIN was one of several sponsors of a World AIDS Day luncheon held at the National Press Club where Metro TeenAIDS honored several people, including actress Kim Fields, Olympic Gold Medalist Greg Louganis, and "Philadelphia" screenwriter Ron Nyswaner. Speakers at the event included Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala and Academy Award winning actress Lynn Redgrave.