From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ACNS - South Africa celebrates AIDS Awareness Day

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Fri, 06 Dec 2002 18:29:58 -0800

ACNS 3212     |     SOUTHERN AFRICA	|     2 DECEMBER 2002

South Africa celebrates AIDS Awareness Day

Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane will celebrate an AIDS Awareness Day service
at St James Anglican Church in Soweto, South Africa, on Sunday 1 December.

Confirming his decision to preside at the inter-denominational worship he
said, "We need to shout from the roof-tops that AIDS is not Gods punishment
of the wicked. It is a virus and not a sin, and the stigma that society has
created around the epidemic is causing people to die instead of living
positively. Societys ignorance and judgmental attitude is discouraging
people from testing early enough to manage the disease and creating a hell
on earth for families who are too ashamed to seek the help they need."

The Revd Charles May, rector of St James Church said that representatives of
several Christian denominations, including Apostolic Faith, Methodists and
Lutherans, would be taking part.

The Diepkloof Interdenominational Churches, from Soweto, kicked off the AIDS
awareness campaign on 16 November with a march through the streets to
Diepkloof Police Station where they handed over the following declaration on
behalf of the community:

We, of the Christian faith in Diepkloof hereby affirm our commitment to the
people of God suffering from AIDS. We are gravely concerned for all our
people because we acknowledge that AIDS has become a human emergency in our

We confess our silence, which has led to stigma and despair for our people.
We confess that we have been too slow to respond to the crisis. We confess
that we have not lived the fullness of the demands of God upon our lives and
we offer our humble apology for silence, in-action and shame.

Therefore, we humbly repent and ask Gods forgiveness and mercy upon all his
people and upon ourselves. The silence has ended. Action has begun and we
declare that God is with us in this struggle.

We pledge never again to allow our people who are infected or affected by
AIDS to suffer through our lack of teaching and example.

We declare that AIDS is a not a punishment from God, it is a disease.

We declare HIV is a virus, and not a sin.

We denounce all forms of discrimination, especially stigmatisation of people
living with AIDS and declare that such discrimination is sinful.

Never again must our people be too fearful of stigma to be tested for HIV
and AIDS so that they may live positively instead of dying untreated, in
shame and in silence.

Never again must we fail our people by not teaching them Christian values
with regard to sexual behaviour.

Never again must we fail to show compassion through practical support for
those needing home based care, counselling, education and non-judgmental
Christian love.

We commit ourselves to sharing responsibility with government, business and
civil society by lending support to, educating people about AIDS, relieving
the plight of the infected and affected, and encouraging shared leadership.

We commit ourselves before God and the world. We are accountable for our
actions; measured by our words, and hopeful in our faith.

God give us strength to practice in our lives, what we have said with our
lips, and give us the grace and power to do it.

The ACNSlist is published by the Anglican Communion Office, London.

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