ELCA NEWS SERVICE
August 19, 2009
ELCA Assembly Votes to Raise $10 Million for HIV, AIDS Strategy
MINNEAPOLIS (ELCA) -- Members of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) voted 884 to 41 to raise $10 million dollars to support the ELCA HIV and AIDS strategy.
The churchwide assembly, the chief legislative authority of the ELCA, is meeting here Aug. 17-23 at the Minneapolis Convention Center. About 2,000 people are participating, including 1,405 ELCA voting members. The theme for the biennial assembly is "God's work. Our hands."
Planners hope to raise the money over the next three years (2009-2012). The $1 million goal encouraged by the 2007 Churchwide Assembly will be included in the $10 million goal.
Before the vote was taken, voting members shared support of the HIV and AIDS strategy through stories of personal experience with those with HIV and AIDS.
The Rev. Matthew D. Bode, Southeast Michigan Synod, said that he is heartened that the ELCA is addressing the issue of HIV and AIDS.
"It is a refreshing, amazing, powerful thing to see that this issue is coming before the churchwide assembly," Bode said. Bode is mission developer of of the Spirit of Hope Lutheran Church, Detroit, who works with Wayne State University to screen people for HIV in the community.
Bode said that the concept of the ELCA being an "HIV-positive church" is a big deal.
"It means that when we encounter others, we are affected by them, as when Jesus touched the leper," he said.
The Rev. Andrea Degroot-Nesdahl, coordinator of the Lutheran Malaria Initiative and the ELCA HIV and AIDS strategy, said the experience of HIV and AIDS is a global concern.
"The experience of HIV and AIDS in many of our global companion churches is so devastating," she said.
When ELCA bishops met in March, 56 were screened for HIV as a sign of solidarity with churches of the Lutheran World Federation, especially those in Africa. This gesture, along with the funding for the HIV and AIDS strategy, is to bear witness to the damage the HIV and AIDS wreaks on the leadership core of the global church, Degroot-Nesdahl said.
"(We're) saying we know that it’s a problem, and we are standing with you."
More information on the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly can be found at http://www.elca.org/assembly on the Web.
More information on the ELCA's HIV and AIDS strategy can be found at http://www.elca.org/Our-Faith-In-Action/Justice/Poverty-Ministries/HIV-and-AIDS.aspx on the Web.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog