December 01, 2009 - An interview with the Rev. Patricia Sawo, a church leader and mother living with HIV in Kenya inspired Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams to entitle his World Aids Day Message A Space for Hope. Patricia says of her church "My congregation knows about my status and people in my church know that this is a place where, if they come with HIV, they can be loved." The Archbishop says "when the Church is doing its job, it is providing space for people to face themselves, to be themselves, and to cope with the future."
On my trip to Burundi in February, I saw numerous examples of that kind of space. Let me cite just two. In the heart of the city of Bujumbura there is an HIV/AIDS clinic. Above the main entrance of the administration building is a sign stating that the building was renovated though a gift of the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) of the Anglican Church of Canada. That gift inspired other churches in the city to make contributions to expand the services of this clinic which serves teens and young adults who have been orphaned through AIDS. Most of them live on the street and their life is very rough. The clinic is a haven where they can learn about HIV/AIDS, get tested and if necessary receive treatment and counseling. As the Archbishop says, they can "face themselves, be themselves, and cope with the future."
Up in the hills, "in the bush" as Burundians say, in the village of Bitare, I and Cheryl Curtis (Executive Director of PWRDF) and Maureen Bailey (Youth Council, PWRDF) were invited to assist local people in laying the foundation stone for a new HIV/AIDS clinic. It was very humbling to kneel down and share in that work as hundreds of people looked on and sang and prayed for God's blessing on this project. The building is now complete and providing services to hundreds of people in Bitare and a number of surrounding villages. Individuals and families are feeling support and care. Lives are being changed and hope is rising like the glory of a new day.
This coming Sunday, the second in Advent, I ask that throughout the Church, prayers of special intent for those living with HIV/AIDS be included in the Prayers of the People. Pray for their caregivers and for their doctors and nurses and clergy. Pray especially for the work of the Mother's Union in Africa and their deep and steadfast commitment to helping those who are living with AIDS and those who have been widowed and orphaned through AIDS, and those who are caring for their grandchildren. Pray for those engaged in education about healthy sexuality and the prevention of AIDS. And as we pray for the eradication of the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS, pray also for that "space" the Church is called to provide where people can be welcomed and free to face themselves and be themselves without fear of rejection; where through loving care and support they can cope with their future. This calling is after the very example of Our Lord who reached out and "touched" (Mark 1: 40-41) the sick with love and mercy.
I encourage one and all to pray, to support the continuing work with HIV/AIDS, and to stand with all those who are pressuring world leaders, in the words of one of the Millennium Development Goals, "to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases." I issue this call in the name of him whose Advent sets us free, whose love brings healing and hope to all.
The HIV/AIDS pandemic is the planet's greatest threat, Stephen Lewis, the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, told the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada meeting here.
In a passionate speech, he told the more than 300 delegates from 30 dioceses across the country that the numbers of infected people are `terrifying' with the death spiral continuing to increase.
With only limited treatment more than two million people die each year. And in sub-Saharan Africa, it's the women who comprise most of the victims.
Mr. Lewis was speaking at a special General Synod session on HIV/AIDS planned as part of the nine-day meeting.
Mr. Lewis noted that there are 26.6 million people between the ages of 15 and 49 living with HIV/AIDS in Africa and 15 million (58 per cent) are women. Of the 8.6 million people between the ages of 15 and 24 living with HIV/AIDS, 67 per cent are women and girls.
One devastating result is that there are now 14 million orphans in this part of Africa, leading to great numbers of `child-headed' families.
But the pandemic is not confined to Africa. He cited a growing number of cases in China, India, where there are three to five million victims, and now Russia is seeing a rapid increase in the incidence in the disease, which has spread to Ukraine and Belarus. Other areas of concern are Haiti, Jamaica and Brazil.
Mr. Lewis said he was hoping to enlist the churches and mosques in Africa to help in educating their people on prevention.
Asked how much money was needed to fight the pandemic, he said $10 billion would help this year, rising to $15 billion by 2007 and probably requiring $15 to $17 billion a year after that. That money could prolong lives, halt the proliferation of orphans, keep people in work and help improve nutrition, sanitation, and health care.
Churches could help by expressing their solidarity with churches in Africa, establish the twinning of dioceses and parishes to provide resources, and by the exchange of clerics and lay people who might respond to the call. The churches could also support non-government organizations that work in Africa.
Following the speech, a video and panel explained the work of the Primate's World Development and Relief Fund in assisting in the fight against against HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The morning session ended with General Synod unanimously passing resolutions calling on the federal government to lead the international community in increasing access to affordable medicines for the world's poorest and to triple Canada's contribution to the Global Fund to fight AIDS tuberculosis and malaria. A second resolution called on members of the church to help eradicate the stigma and discrimination in our church and society against people living with HIV/AIDS.
General Synod is the church's highest governing and legislative body, and meets every three years.
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For more information, please contact: Vianney (Sam) Carriere, Director of Communications, OR Brian Sarjeant OR Lorie Chortyk, Media Relations, at the General Synod Media Room: 905-984-4868. Mr. Carriere's cell phone is 416-540-3653; Mr. Sarjeant's cell phone is 613-558-5023
Stephen Lewis, Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa for the Secretary-General of the United Nations will address more than 300 members of the Anglican Church of Canada's chief governing and legislative body when they meet later this month in St. Catharines, Ont.
His presentation on AIDS, scheduled for the morning of June 2, will highlight a half-day session on the global pandemic.
Mr. Lewis has traveled throughout Africa in his capacity as special envoy on HIV/AIDS and has worked closely with African leaders, a United Nations team and local coordinators.
He has also set up a charitable foundation -- The Stephen Lewis Foundation -- to help local African agencies cope with the devastation caused by AIDS. (http://stephenlewisfoundation.org)
Before assuming his present duties, Mr. Lewis served as Canadian ambassador to the United Nations and later as deputy executive director of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). He was also a member of a panel of eminent persons that investigated the 1994 genocide in Rwanda for the Organization for African Unity.
Mr. Lewis, a former New Democratic Party Leader of the Opposition in Ontario, is one of several dignitaries who will be attending part of the Anglican General Synod.
Among Anglican Church of Canada partners who will also attend some or all of General Synod are Richard Schneider of the Canadian Council of Churches, Bishop Raymond Schultz, the Rev. Sonja Free and the Rev. Paul Johnson of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Rev. Bob Mills of the United Church of Canada, the Rev. Canon Stephen Lane of the Episcopal Church U.S.A., Archdeacon Taimalelagi Fagamalama Tuatagaloa-Matalavea of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and Anglican Communion Observer at the United Nations, and Bishop Duleep de Chickera and his wife Geetha of the Church of Ceylon, Diocese of Colombo.
The Anglican General Synod, which convenes at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., later this month (may 28 - June 5), is the church's chief legislative and governing body. It is made up of more than 300 members, including lay people, deacons, priests and bishops elected from each of the church's 30 dioceses. General Synod meets every three years.
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This is one of a series of official news releases that will be made before the Anglican Church of Canada's 37th General Synod. Between now and the end of May, releases will be issued about once a week.
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Canon on the primacy http://generalsynod.anglican.ca/handbook/pdf203_canon_III.pdf
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Mr. Matthew Kett presented the report of the Eco-Justice Committee. Speaking to the issue of HIV/AIDS:
- PWRDF Executive Director, Mr. Andrew Ignatieff, told of the work of the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund in responding to the call from our partners in Africa. The Fund is also interested in working with aboriginal communities in Canada.
- Dr. Eleanor Johnson, Director Partnerships, reported that the General Synod Planning Committee had been approached to invite Stephen Lewis to speak at General Synod. The Partners in Mission Committee would like to bring the issue back to Canada and have parishes look at their response to the disease.
-The Rev. Canon Allen Box spoke of his work HOPE Africa, a social development wing of the Diocese of Capetown [i.e. Cape Town], and of the project he is involved in, which raises funds for a community in Africa where 40% of people are HIV sufferers.
-Bishop Barry Hollowell stressed that Council not forget the situation in Canada where the disease is on the increase, particularly in the prison system and in aboriginal communities. Our awareness and our ability to inform and keep information in front of people are imperative.
That the Council of General Synod commend the HIV/AIDS document originating in Southern Africa for widespread distribution and action (see Appendix 1 of the PIMC Report to Council of General Synod).
It was noted that both EcoJustice and Partners-in-Mission recommended this motion.
The mover and seconder agreed to add the words "and support the request of Partners in Mission for an educational session on HIV/AIDS at General Synod 2004" to the motion. The motion now reads
That the Council of General Synod commend the HIV-AIDS document originating in Southern Africa for widespread distribution and action (see Appendix 1 of the PIMC Report to Council of General Synod) and support the request of Partners in Mission for an educational session on HIV AIDS at General synod 2004" to the motion. CARRIED #20-05-03