ELCA NEWS SERVICE
March 4, 2010
ELCA Joins National Week of Prayer for Healing of AIDS March 7-13
CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is among many faith groups participating in the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, March 7-13, according to the Rev. Andrea DeGroot-Nesdahl, coordinator for the Lutheran Malaria Initiative and the ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS.
Many ELCA congregations and members will pray for those affected by HIV and AIDS in their daily devotions and in worship prayers during that week, DeGroot-Nesdahl said.
"I hope the prayers of the church in worship lift this emphasis up by remembering those who are affected by HIV and AIDS, and those who love and care for them," she said.
The week of prayer is a project of The Balm in Gilead Inc., based in Richmond, Va., and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. For 20 years it has organized the "Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS" before expanding it to other faith groups this year.
The purpose of the observance "is to bring national attention to the AIDS epidemic in the United States and the extraordinary role faith communities can and are playing in AIDS prevention, education, service and advocacy," according to the organization's Web site.
"If we pray for people who suffer with AIDS for this period of time, they will become more real to us (and) in our consciousness as a church," DeGroot-Nesdahl said in an interview. She added that prayer can change things, including the person who prays, and "it invites God to change the circumstance about which we are praying."
There are 33.2 million people living with HIV and AIDS worldwide. Of that number, 1.2 million are living in the United States.
The ELCA has an HIV and AIDS strategy that was adopted at the 2009 Churchwide Assembly. One of the key components of that strategy is a call to prayer, DeGroot-Nesdahl said.
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, wrote a statement about the week-long observance.
"The ELCA anticipates participating with hope and joy in the Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS in 2010," he wrote.
The reality of AIDS in the 21st century demands strong action, Hanson wrote. "Indifference or a shallow response is not an option if the church is to be faithful to its calling. The ELCA's response is rooted in hope and joyful confidence that this church will be transformed and energized for this task not only through its ongoing encounter with the living Christ in Word and Sacrament, but also with those affected by HIV and AIDS, for in their faces this church recognizes the face of Christ," he wrote.
He said the ELCA "believes a world is possible where new cases of HIV are prevented and all individuals living with HIV or AIDS are able to live with dignity."
Hanson said the church seeks to halt the spread of HIV through prevention, treatment and care; to eliminate the stigma and discrimination experienced by people who are HIV-positive; and to reduce poverty and marginalization that contribute to the spread of HIV.
He added that realizing the ELCA's vision will require long-term, focused engagement by churches and host of other organizations, institutions and governments.
Information about the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, including Presiding Bishop Hanson's statement, is at http://www.nationalweekofprayerforthehealingofaids.org/ on the Web.
The ELCA Strategy on HIV and AIDS is at http://www.ELCA.org/aids on the ELCA Web site.
For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or email@example.com