Faith Inc. has received the first-ever state grant to teach pastors how to start HIV/AIDS ministries in their churches. The three-year, $159,000 Florida Department of Health grant will allow Ruby Davenport, Faith Inc.'s executive director, and the Rev. Dr. Andrew McRae of Faith Tabernacle Baptist Church to travel across the state and provide HIV/AIDS education and training on how to administer HIV tests.
"We include all churches," said Davenport. "We want churches to start talking about this issue in the pulpit and in Sunday School."
Davenport and McRae, both longtime HIV/AIDS advocates, said the need for a stepped-up response is great: One in every 46 African Americans in Florida is infected with the disease. "If you are a pastor, and you have 46 people in your congregation, statistics say you have someone living with AIDS who attends your church," said Davenport.
Davenport said she had the idea to write the grant proposal after discussing the epidemic with McRae and the Rev. Dr. Henry J. Lyons, president of the General Baptist State Convention of Florida. "Rev. McRae told President Lyons that it is time to tell it from the pulpit that AIDS is real," she recalled. "Who can tell the story about AIDS better than a pastor?"