Bruce set up a display in the lobby of the meeting room that included Integrity USA's tri-fold back drop, an assortment of brochures and a couple of baskets of buttons. He also included a sign-up sheet for anyone who might be interested in being the contact person for their
Province IV with a much greater proportion of infections than the rest of the country and church. (His co-facilitator was Lola Thomas, who chairs the Planning Committee and is Executive Director of a semi-rural AIDS service provider.)
"Of the ten cities in the US with the highest HIV incidence rates, six of them are in Province IV. Of the 20 highest, 12 are in Province IV. And of the 50 highest, 19 are in Province IV. The fourth ranked city for incidence rates is Jackson, Mississippi. These figures were eye opening to those at the synod....as well they should be.
The sad reality is that The Episcopal Church has essentially abandoned domestic HIV/AIDS ministries. As far as I know, the Kanuga Retreat is the only major HIV/AIDS activity undertaken as a Episcopal event anywhere in the church, beyond a handful of parish and diocesan ministries. We have gone from being on the cutting edge to dragging up the rear. Yet infection rates continue to rise with the fastest growing group being young men in their 20's and 30's, about half of whom are African American. Most Episcopalians do not see many folks of color in their pews and thus do not realize we still have a problem."
The National Episcopal AIDS Coalition provides some resources for individuals and congregations who seek to include HIV/AIDS concerns in their ministry. The Welcoming Parishes Initiative provides guidance on how to become better educated about prevention, treatment and pastoral care, ideas for community involvement, and media for making your intentions known.