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.
"Twelve grandmothers from the diocese of Ontario have taken off their clothes for a 2009 calendar to raise funds for Grandmothers to Grandmothers, which helps support African grandmothers who are taking care of their grandchildren orphaned by HIV/AIDS". "The grandmothers who call themselves Quinte Grannies for Africa are selling 4,000 of these calendars at $20 each".
"Special Edition". "Working with some of the most marginalized people on the continent, PWRDF partners in Africa integrate gender, human rights, peace building, and HIV and AIDS work into their poverty reduction programs. All health programs implemented by partners have a strong HIV and AIDS component. The focus of partners' work is prevention, education and fighting stigma; care through home-based care services or hospices; and support of people affected and infected by AIDS such as orphans, low-income families, and AIDS patients". PWRDF is currently working with partners in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Sudan and Tanzania.
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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- A draft agenda is available at: http://gs2004.anglican.ca/delegate/agenda.html
Canon on the primacy http://generalsynod.anglican.ca/handbook/pdf203_canon_III.pdf
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"Moving towards life without AIDS is possible, but there is much to do. As we seek to follow Christ, let us work together so that one day we can all rejoice that we live in a world without AIDS. Our church supports partners around the world working for life without AIDS. Let us follow the lead of all who struggle with HIV/AIDS and support partners by using this worship service to raise awareness of the HIV/AIDS pandemic in corporate prayer and worship. This worship service has been produced ecumenically by The Anglican Church of Canada, The Presbyterian Church in Canada, and The United Church of Canada." -- Intro., p. 4.
Contents: Introduction to Worship Service -- Partnership for Life Worship Service -- Prayer of Intercession -- Reflection : Towards Life Without AIDS.
Andrew Ignatieff reported to the November 2003 Council of General Synod meeting about the AIDS campaign of PWRDF. "The campaign called `A Partnership for Life -- A Generation Without AIDS', aims to raise $1 million from parishes, foundations and government sources." PWRDF already provides close to $500,000 in program support to HIV/AIDS work, principally in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa, according to a report prepared for the fund's annual meeting Nov. 1. . The fund has also developed a liturgy booklet in connection with World AIDS Day, Dec.".