Witnesses to AIDS

A new generation of AIDS advocates

by Leslie Woods.

leslie woods
Leslie Woods

In December, the Office of Public Witness (OPW) had the very great pleasure of working the Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary (Atlanta, GA) and the Presbyterian AIDS Network to promote the inaugural conference, “Becoming an HIV and AIDS Competent Church: Prophetic Witness and Compassionate Action.”  At the direction of the 219th General Assembly (2010), the OPW has been working to call the church to prophetic and compassionate action on HIV and AIDS policy, and to make advocacy an integral part of any comprehensive ministry to address the needs of people living with HIV and AIDS.
To that end, the OPW partnered with Johnson C. Smith’s new initiative, gave a workshop on advocacy at the conference, and offered scholarships to many participants.  Download our advocacy workshop Powerpoint.
We are proud of the scholarship program that brought such a diverse group of people together to brainstorm, envision, and plan the necessary steps to becoming an HIV and AIDS competent church. The Office of Public Witness awarded 76 scholarships to enable registration, accommodation, and travel to attend this important event.

  • Of these 76 recipients, 36 were seminary students representing ten different seminaries, including Johnson C. Smith, Columbia Seminary, and Princeton Seminary.
  • Of these 76 recipients, 39 were persons of color.
  • Of these 76 recipients, 36 were young adults.
  • Of these 76 recipients, many were HIV positive or living with AIDS.

It was a truly diverse group, bringing together those who would not only advocate “on behalf of,” but who are also committed to  living into a call to relational and connectional ministry.  Truly, they represent the new generation of justice leaders in the PC(USA).

Johnson C. Smith Seminary
Students from Johnson C. Smith Seminary

For us, the most exciting thing about this conference was the energy in the room – energy brought by people who are passionately committed to changing the way we isolate people in our communities.  The synergy was amazing, the commitment was fierce, and the relationships formed provide a lasting foundation for future ministry.
Many thanks to Johnson C. Smith Seminary for inviting us in as partners in ministry.

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