World AIDS Day focuses on healing ministry
|A 20-foot red ribbon on Hollywood (Calif.) United Methodist Church's tower demonstrates the church's hospitality to people living with AIDS.|
Twice a year the West Ohio Conference offers a weekend retreat for people living with HIV/AIDS and their loved ones.
"God helps us heal each other," said Sharon Thomas, facilitator of the West Ohio AIDS Ministry Healing Weekends.
Each month volunteers from Hollywood (Calif.) United Methodist Church prepare sack lunches for patients at a local AIDS clinic. It's part of the church's ministry of hospitality, which it proclaims with a 20-foot-high red ribbon on the church tower.
These are just two of the ministries offered by churches and annual conferences for people living with HIV/AIDS. Despite treatment advances, 1.2 million people in the United States are living with HIV/AIDS, according to the World Health Organization. Globally, a total of 39.5 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
Churches can support people living with HIV/AIDS by recognizing World AIDS Day on Dec. 1. Some churches recognize the day with a worship service at noon. The United Methodist Book of Worship has prayers and suggested scriptures for ministry with persons with AIDS on page 627.
"Educate your congregation about the disease," suggests a brochure about the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund. Authorized by General Conference 2004, the fund is Advance Special #982345.
Thomas also encourages churches to pray regularly for people living with HIV/AIDS and to invite a person with AIDS to give a testimonial.
"There is still a stigma," said Thomas, who has lived with AIDS since 1989. "One of the steps is to break the silence."
--Deborah White, associate editor, Interpreter and Interpreter OnLine