Austin, TX (PRWEB) March 02, 2012
In anticipation of the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, Ezra House Publishing, a niche Christian publishing house in Austin, Texas has launched a classroom-based set of training curriculum designed to train pastors, lay leaders, and congregation members in the process of developing churches capable of demonstrating compassion toward people living with HIV/AIDS and able to develop effective HIV ministries.
“Churches are the greatest untapped resource in the fight against HIV/AIDS”, stated Joseph Collins, publisher at Ezra House and a Christian minister. HIV/AIDS has been a major public health disaster in the United States and around the world for 30 years. While the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and other religious organizations have been active for many years in delivering quality clinical and support services to people living with the virus internationally, many American churches have been slow to embrace the concept of HIV ministry. As the level of faith-based support increases domestically, it is becoming clear there is a need for a comprehensive training curriculum that will guide pastors and congregations in the art and process of developing churches that are welcoming and compassionate toward people living with the disease, their families, and loved ones.
The need to develop welcoming churches is particularly critical in African American and Latino communities which tend to be more religiously conservative than the broader society yet suffer the greatest burden of new HIV infections and AIDS-related deaths. AIDS is now the leading cause of death among young African American men. African American women are 15 times more likely to be infected with HIV than white women and Hispanic/Latina women are three times as vulnerable, according to statistics issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov).
The curriculum titled, HIV Ministry Transitions: Steps to Develop an HIV-Compassionate Church, gives pastors and lay leaders an easy-to-follow training tool they can use in the delivery of six-hours of classroom training, discussion, journaling, and self-assessment exercises for class participants. The Participant Guide consists of 136 pages while the Facilitator Guide runs 269 pages. Both products are available for purchase at http://www.hivministrytransitions.com.
The launch of HIV Ministry Transitions curriculum coincides with the 2012 National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS which runs from March 4 – 10 (http://nationalweekofprayerforthehealingofaids.org). This internationally recognized week of faith-based awareness is commemorated by thousands of churches in the United States, Europe, and Africa who understand the importance of faith and prayer in addressing a chronic condition as devastating as HIV/AIDS. These churches put faith into action by coordinating and preaching sermons on compassion toward people living with HIV/AIDS, celebration services, prayer vigils, and workshops.
At Simpson United Methodist Church in Austin, Texas, ten (10) pastors and ministers will publicly take an HIV test in front of media and documentary cameras on March 6th to demonstrate the importance of people becoming aware of their HIV status and to openly declare the unconditional love of God for people of all health conditions, lifestyles, and circumstances. The same week, 16+ African American pastors will deliver HIV sermons of compassion and healing to their congregations and sponsor free HIV testing after services in collaboration with AIDS Services of Austin and other aids service organizations. The curriculum offered by Ezra House Publishing is an evidence-based training product based on years of successful HIV ministry efforts in Austin and across the United States.