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August 2012—In this Issue:
Faith and the AIDS Crisis
At the end of July, 2012, over 20,000 delegates gathered in Washington, D.C., for the 19th Annual International Conference on AIDS. Among the physicians, nurses, researchers, social advocates, care givers, politicians, and entertainment professionals present for this historic conference were members of the world wide religious community. Hindu, Christian, Muslim, and Jewish communities gathered for a pre-conference meeting entitled “Taking Action for Health, Dignity, and Justice: The Interfaith Pre-Conference on HIV.”
Historically, religious communities have not always been seen as allies in the fight against HIV/AIDS. In the U.S. and abroad, many religious bodies have stigmatized and demonized victims of HIV/AIDS and helped to perpetuate myths, misinformation, and even discrimination in their communities. Here in the U.S., AIDS was initially characterized as a disease limited in scope to the gay male population. At the onset of the U.S. AIDS crisis, the medical community branded homosexuality as an illness and religious bodies condemned gays as aberrant and sinful.
Today, religious communities see that they have a key role in bringing the scourge of AIDS to extinction. Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA) Executive Director Peter Prove said at the preconference, “This battle will not be won by pharmaceuticals, but by communities themselves, communities that are marginalized and discriminated against. This is our special role—our presence in those communities, at a grass roots level, and in a leadership role, in forming opinions.” What we say from the pulpit, in public statements, and in our interpretation of God’s word makes a difference. When the church stands in solidarity with those infected with HIV/AIDS and acts with justice and mercy to prevent the further spread of AIDS, we send a message to the community that this is important spiritual work. But how is our church responding?
Amazingly, the ELCA has an AIDS Strategy. One of the first commitments listed under the “Action” section is:
The ELCA will fully live into 1) its identity as a church that is HIV-positive and 2) its calling to become an HIV and AIDS-competent church. This requires all expressions of this church to become engaged and to build their capacity to respond, with a particular emphasis on congregations. In order to accomplish this, the ELCA will implement a comprehensive sustained HIV and AIDS campaign.
What an amazing statement. The first thing we must do is to understand that the ELCA is an HIV-positive church. Lutheran Church of Honolulu is an HIV-positive church. HIV/AIDS is not a disease someone else has—we have it. God’s call to care for those in need and to stand with those in need of justice becomes even more acute when we understand HIV/AIDS from the inside out. Our faith calls us to love the world like God loved the world—without reserve. There is no room there for our judgment, condemnation, bigotry, or apathy. The church has a role in HIV/AIDS not only as a matter of social responsibility but as a core matter of faith.
When the delegates leave Washington there will still be millions of persons living and dying with AIDS. African Americans will still be among the fastest growing groups of new infections, people will still question helping sex workers and drug addicts, and some religious communities will still caution their faithful against the use of condom. But some of us will understand that, as a matter of our faith, we are called to undertake the fight against AIDS and bring mercy to those living with AIDS.
How can you help?
Council met Tuesday, July 17. Here are some of the highlights of the meeting:
During the month of August, In Stitches, the LCH craft group, will meet the August 5 and 26 after service in the courtyard. Look for our table and join us to work on church projects or your own craft.
We have tentatively scheduled several topics and presenters for our 2012–2013 year. Dr. Steve Miller will present a series on C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, short letters from a senior devil on how to lead people to the dark side. The letters are sarcastic, insightful and full of fun. Fred Benco will present a series on Letters From Prisons, powerful letters written in or about prisons by Martin Luther King and other Christians, which still resonate today. Wayne Gau will present a short series of discussions on the Athanasian Creed, named after the great 4th-century theologian and used in Christian churches since the 6th century. Stay tuned!
Wednesday, August 8 @ 6:30
For those interested in dreaming and planning for ministry on and to the campuses here in Honolulu, come and meet with Pastor Angela. We’ll pray, dream, discuss, and plan. The UH semester begins on August 20. Come and be a part of the action! Please RSVP to Pastor Angela if you are able to come or if you can’t come but want to be involved.
Please plan on attending Angela Freeman’s installation as associate pastor of the Lutheran Church of Honolulu on Saturday, August 18, 2012. During the service, which begins at 4:00 PM, Bishop Murray Finck and Pastor Jeff Lilley, along with invited clergy, will install Pastor Angela into her new position.
A potluck dinner reception will be held in the Hörmann Courtyard following the installation ceremony. We anticipate a large gathering and invite congregation members and friends to contribute to the evening meal accordingly by your last name:
The kitchen will be open for food drop off before the 4:00 PM service and after the ceremony. Look for a further announcements on how you can help out for this event.
Those headed into junior high and high school are invited to lunch Sunday, August 26, after worship. Remember, there is only one worship service until Sept. 2! Come and get to know one another and Pastor Angela. We’ll munch on yummy lunch (send Angela food requests!) and dream about how we’d like to spend out time the coming months. Also, bring a friend! This is an open group—invite someone to come along for the food and fun! Email your questions or RSVP via <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
The July One Pot One Hope will be on July 28. Come and join the LCH “caravan” leaving the church at 9:15 AM and returning by 1:00 PM. Please bring your food donations to the church by Sunday, July 21.
How good it is to be here with you! Michael and I, along with our 2 four-legged babies, arrived on Monday, July 16, and were greeted by a smiling group of our new brothers and sisters in Christ. Thank you to them and to everyone else who has worked to make us feel at home! We are all settling into our new surroundings and slowly starting to feel more acquainted. We look forward to getting to know you all.
If you should need to reach either one of us you can email or call. We do not have a home phone but you’re welcome to call our mobile numbers. Please note, if it is my day off and the call or emails are not emergency in nature, I will typically only return the email or call when I am back in the office. Thank you for your patience as I balance my ministry and personal time.
Angela’s contact: <email@example.com>
So, I’m wondering—what do you think of when you think “Young Adult” ministry? Do you automatically think high school students? Let’s stretch our brains for a minute to say that young adult ministry has nearly nothing to do with age. It has everything to do with a “way of being” or a personality of a generation.
When we talk about reaching out, connecting with, and ministering to the “young adult” population, I’d like us to think out of the box a bit. The way I see it, we are called to develop relationships and foster the faith of a unique generation of folks who have particular behaviors, opinions, and values. Pew Research Center describes this Millennial Generation (those who are born 1981 and after) as “confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.” But note: This generation does not only include those born after that date. There are some young people who have “old” personalities and others who are born well before 1981 that may have many of the characteristics of the Millennial, and even though they’re “old,” they fit well into this generation.
Check out this link from Pew Research to take a quiz to find out how millennial you are: <pewresearch.org/millennials/quiz/>. I, your new pastor, with my tattoos, piercings, and love of social media, received a score of 80 on the scale of 1–100 (high score being within the millennial generation). I was born before 1981 but I’m still high on the scale! Don’t only pay attention to your score but ponder the questions and what they say about the generation.
The new school year is quickly approaching. As we prepare ourselves to develop a young adult ministry let’s begin to seriously reflect on who this population is and what that means for our work.
ELCA News Service • July 20, 2012
CHICAGO (ELCA) - The presiding bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and the Episcopal Church welcome the 20,000 people traveling from 200 countries to the United States for the 2012 International AIDS Conference taking place July 22–27 in Washington, D.C.
In a letter to participants, ELCA Presiding Bishop Mark S. Hanson and Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori commended the Obama administration for lifting the travel constraints “that for more than two decades prevented HIV-positive persons, including Lutherans and Anglicans, and all others living with HIV or AIDS, from traveling to the United States.”
They wrote that it is faith-based advocates who played a key role in facilitating this change. A group of members of The Lutheran World Federation will attend the conference. The ELCA is the federation’s only church member from the United States.
“AIDS 2012 can be a defining moment for the history of engagement with HIV and AIDS. Promising new scientific advances and global investments now make it possible to turn the tide on HIV and AIDS, with new hope for a cure and the end of AIDS within our reach,” the presiding bishops wrote.
“Yet the pandemic is far from over,” they wrote, since 34 million people around the world are living with HIV or AIDS and infection rates are growing in many parts of the world. Each year 50,000 new cases of HIV infection are reported in the United States alone.
“HIV infection is part and parcel of the harmful cycles of poverty, which include homelessness, malnutrition, sexual violence, and incarceration,” the leaders wrote.
“Vulnerable populations, including low-income communities, ethnic minorities, adolescents and youth, girls and women, sex workers, injected drug users, and men who have sex with men continue to face higher rates of infection and often have less access to affordable, life-sustaining treatments. This makes them even more susceptible to the debilitating effects of poverty,” they wrote.
Hanson and Schori urge the United States to continue its effort “to turn the tide on this pandemic. Our government must redouble efforts and strengthen funding for strong, comprehensive HIV and AIDS programs.”
They said such programs include the global President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief and domestic programs that provide affordable access to antiretroviral treatments, palliative care, health services, nutritious foods, HIV testing and counseling, and harm-reduction programs for drug users.
“God also calls us, as members of the global body of Christ, to serve those who are suffering with HIV and AIDS with respect, support, and compassion,” Hanson and Schori wrote.
“Our churches must work to shatter the silence, stigma, and discrimination that perpetuate the invisibility of HIV-positive Lutherans and Episcopalians in our denominations, and continue to push them into the shadows of their own congregations,” they said, adding that they will join in “unflagging work toward effective prevention, treatment, and care for all living with HIV or AIDS, tailored to the unique needs, culture, ethnicity, and identity of any given group.
“We praise God for this global opportunity to turn the tide on AIDS—in our pews and our communities, in our denominations and in our state governments, in our Lutheran and Anglican global church bodies and with our interfaith partners—that the body of Christ may, within our lifetimes, be HIV-free,” Hanson and Schori wrote.
The ELCA and the Episcopal Church have been full communion partners since 1999. The relationship allows both churches to keep their autonomy and structures yet work together in mission, witness and the interchangeability of members and clergy.
Bill Potter, Webmaster
With people traveling and regular groups taking a break, summer is usually a relatively quiet time at LCH, so it’s only natural that the church website has not changed much in last couple of months. However, there are a few items to report.
In late June, a photo from the monthly One Pot One Hope visit to Wai‘anae to prepare food for the homeless was added to the Congregation Life page, and several other pictures were posted on our Facebook page. In July, the page featured photos and short articles Pr. Angela’s arrival at Honolulu International Airport, a baptism on July 22, and Pr. Angela’s first Sunday worship service on July 29.
Now that the landscaping for the new parking lot has been completed, a new page has been created to document the project. The page outlines the principles that guided the committee as they put together the plans for the landscaping and describes the trees and plants used. Descriptions include common and scientific names, appearance, and uses of each plant, along with photos. Because many of the plants are just beginning to develop, new photos will be taken as plants grow and mature. To keep the size of the page under control, the individual photos are fairly small. However, clicking on any of the photos and it will be enlarged so you can see what the plant really looks like. The page also lists the names of donors for the four large trees along Poki Street.
November 2–4, 2012 • Ayers Hotel & Suites, Ontario Convention Center, CA
Registration deadline for this event is October, 15, 2012, with an early bird discount available if postmarked by September 9. A “Love Gift” collection of hygiene items will be received at this event to be distributed to Central City Lutheran Mission and One Pot One Hope in Hawai‘i.
For more information on this event please contact Betty Flom at St. John Lutheran at 261-5795.
Attendance and Offerings for Sunday, July 29, 2012, were not available at time of publication.
Next HeartBeat Deadline is Tuesday, August 21!
Bloopers that gnash the teeth
Preaching his first sermon, a seminary student intended to say, “God called me to heal the sick, raise the dead, and cast out the devil.” But what came out of his nervous tongue was, “God called me to heal the dead, cast out the sick, and raise the devil.”
—via Pastor Dale Schoening
Signs & Wonders
Sign outside South Seminole Church of Christ, Winter Park, FL:
“Redemption Center – no coupons needed.”
—via Bobbe Lyon, Maitland, FL
Copyright © 2012 Lutheran Church of Honolulu
1730 Punahou Street, Honolulu, HI 96822 • 808-941-2566
Comments welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org