Bishops undergo HIV tests to raise awareness

Bishops provide leadership in eliminating poverty and diseases of poverty

On Monday, May 3, Bishop Peggy Johnson was among 130 United Methodist bishops and spouses to be tested for HIV/AIDS.

This was day 2 of the week-long spring meeting of the United Methodist Council of Bishops* in Columbus, Ohio.  Many of the week’s strategic planning meetings, plenaries, and  workshops will revolve around two of the denomination’s four areas of focus: eliminating poverty and combating the killer diseases of poverty.

“One of the most important ways of controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS is for people to get tested,” said Bishop Johnson.  “If people find out they have HIV then can get medication and help. People that don’t know they have it not only can potentially spread the disease and the cycle repeats itself.”  Of her participation in the Council of Bishops awareness-raising effort, she said, “We need to encourage everyone to get tested and the best way to encourage is to do so by example.”

Bishop Johnson is pastoral leader of 250,000 members of the nearly 1,000 United Methodist Churches in The Philadelphia Area of The United Methodist Church.  Included in her duties as a bishop is to be a prophetic voice for justice in the church and the world.  To that end, she has created an HIV/AIDS Task Force in the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference to raise awareness of the disease and to encourage churches in their ministry with persons with HIV/AIDS.

The Church of the Open Door’s H.U.B. of Hope HIV/AIDS Ministry in Kennett Square, Rev. Dr. Anita Adams Powell, Pastor, coordinates Interfaith HIV/AIDS community conferences to inform, equip, and mobilize communities to respond.

This ministry also provides consultation and support to United Methodist Churches and other faith communities in developing HIV/AIDS ministries.  They encourage churches to createan HIV/AIDS information station, as well as to participate in community service, and to designate a mission offering to the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund and other local and global mission funds.

UM Church of the Open Door’s H.U.B. of Hope HIV/AIDS Ministry and Lincoln University’s Counseling Services and Women’s Center sponsored the Coatesville Interfaith HIV Community Interfaith Summit for Women and Girls on March 13th at Second Baptist Church, Coatesville, PA.  Participating HIV community service providers were, Family Service of Chester County-Project ONE and Camp Dreamcatcher.

Pictured planning the event are: (seated) Jane Lind, Grove UMC, Rev. Dr. Deborah Tanksley Brown, UM Church of the Open Door, Cheryl Miles, Lincoln University; (standing) Keith Burress, Family Service of Chester County-Project ONE, James Smith, Tabernacle Baptist Church, Rev. Michael Johnson, Christiana UMC, Christiana, DE., Rev. Dr. James L. Smith, Second Baptist Church, Coatesville, Gene L. Mc Gibboney, Second Baptist Church, Coatesville, Rev. Marvin T. Williams, Second Baptist Church, Kennett Square.

HUB of Hope has developed a list of Resources for HIV/AIDS Ministry.  Your church is encouraged to use this list in developing its own mission and ministry.

For more information on HUB of Hope, read its informative brochure.  Or, contact Deborah Tanksley-Brown, dtanksleybrown@verizon.net.

Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo, North Katanga Annual Conference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, participates in a blood draw for HIV testing at the Council of Bishops. A UMNS photo by James D. DeCamp . Accompanies UMNS story # 245. 5/3/10.

*The Council of Bishops is made up of 50 active bishops from the United States, 19 bishops from Europe, Asia and Africa, and 91 retired bishops.  These bishops lead the denomination’s worldwide ministry that includes 11.5 million members around the globe.   The United Methodist Church is the second largest Protestant denomination in the U.S.

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For more information or photos of Bishop Peggy Johnson