Rev. Boon’s and Phineas’ Chinese Wedding Banquet held at Dragon Dynasty Restaurant in Kuala Lumpur on August 4th. About 200 people were in attendance. Although many predicted there would be government or police interference, perhaps in an attempt to scare people away, the banquet went off without a hitch. Rev. Boon’s family, including his mother and sister, were in attendance.
Faith communities have long been on the front line of many responses to the challenges of HIV. At an interfaith pre-conference leading up to the 19th International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C., people from many of the world’s major religions, including Christianity, Hinduism, Islam and Judaism, will be exploring how their communities can further contribute to building health, dignity and justice in the context of HIV, and how they can fight stigma, rather than contribute to it.
The interfaith pre-conference, titled “Taking Action for Health, Dignity, and Justice”, will take place 20-21 July at Howard University, Washington, D.C. Speakers will include Rabbi David Saperstein, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (USA); Maria Ziwenge, a young woman living with HIV from Zimbabwe; Ambassador Eric Goosby, United States Global AIDS Coordinator, and many other religious leaders and representatives in the global HIV response. Around 400 participants are expected to attend.
Three plenary sessions and numerous workshops will explore ways faith communities can use both advocacy and on-the-ground responses to address the root causes of vulnerability to HIV and promote more just, equitable and inclusive societies.
Many other faith-based organizations are preparing events in advance of AIDS 2012, demonstrating the diversity and active engagement of people of faith in responding to the HIV pandemic. An interfaith prayer service at the National Cathedral will be held Saturday, 21 July, in conjunction with the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt display. A pre-conference for Roman Catholic participants will follow the interfaith pre-conference. Side events on ending sexual violence and exploring sexuality, justice and HIV will be featured on Friday evening, 20 July.
Details are below. More information on faith-based events held before and during AIDS 2012 can also be found at: http://iacfaith.net/interfaith
Interfaith Pre-Conference plenary program and speakers
All sessions below held at the Cramton Auditorium, Howard University.
Friday, 20 July
Opening Session, 9-10am
Peter Prove, Executive Director, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance
Pernessa Seele, CEO and Founder, The Balm in Gilead
Paul De Lay, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS
Rabbi David Saperstein, Director and Counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, USA
Maria Ziwenge, Young Women’s Christian Association, Zimbabwe
Plenary 1: Dignity, 10:30-12:00
[Focuses on inclusive religious and community responses which treat all people with respect and examines some of the social and legal barriers that prevent inclusion in HIV programs.]
Nick Stuart, President and CEO, Odyssey Networks (Moderator)
Swami Advayananda, International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Affected by HIV or AIDS (INERELA+), Réunion Island
Pablo Torres Aguilera, dance4life, Mexico
Bishop Yvette Flunder, United Church of Christ City of Refuge, USA
Faghmeda Miller, Positive Muslims, South Africa
Rev. MacDonald Sembereka, INERELA+, Malawi
Special Lunchtime Session: The President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) and Faith-Based Organizations: Partners in Sustaining Community and Country Leadership on Global HIV/AIDS, 12:45-1:30 pm
Ambassador Eric Goosby, United States Global AIDS Coordinator
Dr Thomas Frieden, Director (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Saturday, 21 July
Plenary 2: Health, 9:00-10:30am
[Examines the challenges in scaling-up anti-retroviral treatment and highlights opportunities for faith-based organizations to help increase access to treatment, both through advocacy and practical hands-on involvement.]
Canon Gideon Byamugisha, INERELA+, Uganda (Moderator)
Esteban Burrone, Medicines Patent Pool, Argentina
Pacem Suzen Kawonga, Community of Sant’Egidio – Dream Program, Malawi
Dr Ronald Lalthanmawia, Christian Medical Association of India
Ruth Messinger, President and Executive Director, American Jewish World Service
Plenary 3 and Closing Session: Justice, 2:00 – 3:30 pm
[Explores the attitudes, policies, social inequalities and practices that continue to make people on the margins of society most vulnerable to HIV and challenges participants to address these issues.]
Moono Nyambe, Global Network of People Living with HIV, Zambia (Moderator)
Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Centre, USA
Rev. Nyambura Njoroge, Programme Executive, World Council of Churches, Kenya
Dr Rosalee Velloso Ewell, World Evangelical Alliance, Brazil
The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is the lead international sponsor of the interfaith pre-conference, working in partnership with The Balm in Gilead as the lead national sponsor. Additional co-sponsors include INERELA+, Religions for Peace, Asian Interfaith Network on AIDS, Catholic Medical Mission Board and the American Jewish World Service.
Other faith-based events in advance of AIDS 2012
Catholic Pre-Conference on AIDS
20 July, Welcome reception, 4:30-6:30 pm, Catholic Charities USA
21 July, 2:30-6:00 pm Catholic University of America
22 July, 8:00 am – 2:00 pm
Plenaries will address Faith, Spirituality and Pastoral Care in the midst of HIV and the Future Sustainability of Church-Sponsored HIV Programming: Holding on to Hope in the Face of Funding Cutbacks and Flat-lining. Workshops will address a youth-led, person centred response to HIV; HIV responses developed for different cultural and geographic contexts; examples of best practices in the Americas; men’s involvement in prevention of mother and child HIV transmission, religious efforts towards zero new infections among children. See http://www.catholiccharitiesusa.org/page.aspx?pid=2544
We Will Speak Out Coalition Event
Friday, 20 July, 6:00-8:00 pm, Ballroom, Blackburn Center, Howard University
Testimonies from faith leaders and survivors of sexual violence and community organizations who wish to engage and inspire participants to seek an end to sexual violence across communities around the world through a faith-based community response. See www.wewillspeakout.org
Sexuality, Justice and HIV, a Faith Roundtable
Friday, 20 July, 7.30-9.30 pm, Cramton Auditorium, Howard University.
Bishop Yvette Flunder will moderate a conversation focusing on the dynamics of sexuality, sexual orientation and gender identity, engaging affirming faith perspectives at the intersections of justice and HIV. The community is invited to participate in the conversation with an international panel of faith leaders. See http://faithinactioncoalition.org/ntl-fia-hiv-aids/
“From Darkness to Light”: An Interfaith Service of Hope and Commitment
at the time of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt display
Saturday 21 July, 7:00 pm, Washington National Cathedral
This interfaith service of worship calls upon us to remember those we have lost and those who continue in the struggle to live with dignity and worth in the face of HIV and AIDS. Throughout the service faith leaders and faithful persons from around the world will give witness to their faith which has supported them in their journeys while we consider who we are and whose we in the midst of this pandemic. Tickets for those not registered for the interfaith pre-conference (handling fee only) available at: http://www.nationalcathedral.org/events/Quilt20120721.shtml
Background for Editors
International AIDS Conferences (IAC) are the peak forum for those working in the field of HIV and AIDS, including scientists and researchers, policymakers, health professionals, people living with HIV, civil society activists and faith-based organizations. They are held every two years and often attract over 20,000 participants. AIDS 2012 is the 19th IAC, and the first time in 22 years that the conference has been held in the United States, following the lifting of entry restrictions for people living with HIV. See also www.aids2012.org.
Media interested in arranging interviews or attending one or more sessions of the interfaith pre-conference should contact Sara Speicher,
For more information on the interfaith pre-conference and other faith-based events at AIDS 2012 visit www.iacfaith.net .
Twitter @e_alliance or #iacfaith.
Facebook: Live the Promise Campaign: https://www.facebook.com/Livethepromise
Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance: https://www.facebook.com/ecumenicaladvocacy
The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is the most inclusive international advocacy network of churches and Christian organizations, with members representing Roman Catholic, Evangelical, Orthodox and Protestant traditions. Our members are committed to speaking and acting together on issues of common concern, currently HIV and AIDS and Food. As an alliance of 80 churches and church-related organizations located around the world with members and constituents in the tens of millions, we are called by our faith to stand for justice, peace and a sustainable world. www.e-alliance.ch
U.S. CONGRESS TO ADDRESS MURDERS OF LGBT HONDURANS YOU CAN HELP!
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED! Contact the Foreign Policy Staffer in Washington DC Office of Your U.S. Representative!
On Monday, June 11, 2012, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) began circulating a House sign-on “Dear Colleague” letter (found below) addressing the murders of 70 gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) Hondurans since the June 2009 coup. It highlights the recent murder of GLBTI leader and candidate of the resistance LIBRE party Erick Martinez, seeks specific information on the 2009 murder of LGBT coup resistance leader Walter Trochez, and requests the outcomes of the 10 cases that have been “closed” through the U.S. assisted Special Victims Unit in Honduras.
Initial signers of the letter include Equality Caucus co-chairs Reps. Polis (D-CO), Cicilline (D-RI), Frank (D-MA), and Baldwin (D-WI) – and also Reps. Berman (D-CA), and Schakowsky (D-IL). The deadline to sign on to this letter is Wednesday, June 20.
We need your help in securing the signature on this letter of your rep and reps from your state. If your rep is a member of the Equality Caucus in the House of Representatives (see attachment) – even if they have never signed a letter on Honduras – your rep will likely want to join in to sign on to this letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
The Congressional Switchboard number is (202) 224-3121
If you do NOT know you rep, type in your zip code this website: http://www.house.gov/representatives
Ask to speak with the aide who handles foreign policy. Use the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide does not recall seeing the letter, ask for his or her email address so that you can send a copy of the letter (below).
If the foreign policy aide is not is not available, ask to leave a message on his or her answering machine. Be sure to ask for the name foreign policy staffer so you can follow up.
Script:“My name is _____. I am a constituent in (town / city neighborhood). I am calling to ask Rep. _____ to join in signing the Polis letter in seeking information from the State Department about the 70 murders of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Honduran since the 2009 military coup in Honduras. Has Rep. ____ seen this letter? Can I count on him/her to sign on? The deadline to sign on is March 20. Please call me this week at (your phone number) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Rep_____ will sign it.”
To sign on to the letter, your reps’ foreign policy staffer must email Rafael Reyneri in Rep. Polis office to inform him.
Gary L. Cozette
Honduras Solidarity Network – Congressional Action Team
Program Director, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)
June 13, 2012
Open Letter of Gratitude to Rev. Dr. Frederick D. Haynes III,
Senior Pastor, Friendship-West Baptist Church
Dear Dr. Haynes:
I want to offer a note of gratitude for your willingness to step up and out by honoring and showing respect not only for President Obama in a recent sermon you gave, but also for affirming the dignity of all human-beings, specifically the marginalized and “outcast”, and even more specifically same-gender loving people. Just as President Obama has used the highest office of our country to call for inclusion of all in our democracy, you have used the highest platform of the church, specifically that of the Black church, the pulpit, to give voice to what too often remains unspoken. Thank you for using your position and the pulpit in a manner that reminded me of our roots in finding in spirituality a call to do justice and an obligation to challenge the system and status quo at all levels. I trust that your witness to the gospel as you understand, and apparently live into it, will be an example for others to add their voices to a call to do right by all and for all. Your affirmation of the sacred value of lesbian and gay persons is courageous, righteous, and inspiring. And I, for one, want to thank you. As an out gay minister with the Metropolitan Community Churches on staff at the Sunshine Cathedral in Fort Lauderdale, FL and former Baptist, your words touched a part of my spirit that reminded me of what the Baptist church was and can still be – a courageous, autonomous, prophetic voice crying out and answering the call “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6.8 Please know that I believe that the mustard seeds of your words will and have already had an impact not just on you and your local congregation but also on our nation. Your voice was needed for such a time as this! Thank you and may God continue to bless you, your family and your ministry.
Rev. Dr. Robert Griffin
Ft. Lauderdale, FL
Moderator of Metropolitan Community Churches
Statement on First Transgender Witness Appearing Before the U.S. Senate
Office of the Global Justice Institute
Metropolitan Community Churches
The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries
For Immediate Release 12 June 2012
Today Metropolitan Community Churches worldwide applauds the U.S. Senate (USA) for scheduling the first openly transgender person to testify before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP), regarding the need for employment protections. The Senate hearing is on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which would change federal law to prohibit employment discrimination against LGBT persons. While both chambers of the U.S. Congress have previously held hearings on ENDA, no Committee in the Congress has ever taken testimony from a transgender person.
MCC Moderator Rev. Elder Dr. Nancy Wilson said, “God is truly doing amazing things, in the face of those who devalue the dignity and worth of LGBT people. We congratulate Kylar Broadus for his brave and life changing work in employment law and business practice. His testimony today is nothing short of historic and his life’s work bears witness to the opportunities all people deserve regardless of gender identity and expression.” MCC also applauds Senate HELP Committee Chair Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) for scheduling the hearing and selecting Professor Broadus to testify.
Kylar Broadus is the founder of the Columbia, MO-based Trans People of Color Coalition and was among five witnesses who testified before the HELP Committee. He is an Associate Professor of Business at Lincoln University of Missouri. An attorney and activist, he has served as counsel to the Human Rights Campaign and sits on the Board of Directors for the National Black Justice Coalition.
MCC calls for a full vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, inclusive of protections for transgender persons, before both chambers of Congress. Central to our core values, MCC believes that all persons are created to reflect the image of God, and should be afforded all the protections of the law regardless of gender identity/expression or sexual orientation. We believe that there is dignity in work and that no barriers should be placed on those willing to enter the labor force. MCC churches worldwide know all too well the pain suffered by LGBT people and their families when workplace discrimination prohibits them from earning a living. Congress must act to ensure that all people, but especially LGBT people, have clear and proper federal protections from workplace discrimination. Passage of ENDA would make it so.
This statement prepared in conjunction with The Global Justice Institute, a partnership of Metropolitan Community Churches and The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries,
The Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Executive Director,
Mr. Kareem Murphy, Public Policy Team Member.
For more information about Metropolitan Community Churches, Marriage and Adoption Equality or the Global Justice Institute, contact The Rev. Dr. Jim Merritt: RevJim@RevJim.org or 407-722-1401.
Guide to the 2012 International AIDS Conference July 22-27, 2012
Washington, DC, USA
Walter Washington Convention Center
The International AIDS Conference, held every two years, draws more than 20,000 people working in the field of HIV, as well as people living with HIV, policy makers and others committed to ending the epidemic. It provides extensive opportunities for sharing and networking across all levels of care and response to the epidemic. The 19th International AIDS Conference will take place in Washington DC from 22–27 July 2012. It is the first time it will take place in the U.S. in 22 years.
Below Are Events Highlighted Specifically for MCCers and Other Faith Leaders
Faith and AIDS Pre-Conference, July 20-21
“Taking Action for Health, Dignity and Justice: The Interfaith Pre-Conference on HIV” will take place from 20-21 July at Howard University. The conference brings together some 500 religious and community leaders, faith-based representatives, young people and people living with HIV under the common theme of health, dignity and justice. Linked to each plenary will be eight workshops. The Fellowship’s Bishop Yvette Flunder will be one of the plenary speakers. More information, including the schedule, is available at http://www.iacfaith.net/preconference
MSM Pre-conference, July 21
The Global Forum on MSM and HIV (MSMGF) is organizing the fifth MSM Pre-Conference Event to the International AIDS Conference. The MSM Pre-Conference will provide a platform for up to 500 participants to exchange the most recent research, best practices, and advocacy strategies that advance the overall goal of universal access. The event will also include networking opportunities and skills building sessions focused on the changing research, programmatic, and policy landscapes in the AIDS sector. It is held in partnership with FHI 360, with the National Black Gay Men’s Advocacy Coalition serving as the local host. The conference will take place on Saturday, July 21st, from 9am to 6pm. You can get more information, register, or sign up to volunteer at http://www.msmgf.org/index.cfm/id/266/Home/.
AIDS Quilt and Interfaith Prayer Service, July 21
There will be an interfaith worship and prayer service at the National Cathedral on Saturday July 21 at 7pm. The NAMES Project Foundation, AIDS Memorial Quilt will be displayed during AIDS 2012. The display will be launched with an interfaith service of prayer and healing commemorating the Quilt and those who have died from HIV/AIDS. You will need tickets for this event, but they will be free. Information on securing them will be provided in June.
National Faith in Action HIV &AIDS Coalition, July 22
This workshop and rally will take place on the afternoon of the opening ceremonies for AIDS 2012. The rally will include a public witness for the important role of faith in the AIDS response and faith’s active presence during the AIDS 2012 conference. Organizers expect over 300 clergy and faith leaders present. The event will culminate in clergy, in their vestments, processing out of the Mount Vernon Place United Methodist Church and over to the Convention Center (one block away) to enter the conference in a statement of solidarity. It begins at 2pm on Sunday, July 22nd.
Gospel Concert, July 23(tentative)
Bishop Flunder is still planning a major Gospel Concert on Monday, July 23rd in the evening. Details about location and time are forthcoming.
2012 We Can End AIDS March, July 24
The march will take place on Tuesday, July 24th, noon to 2 pm. There will be five “fingers” that will start in different places in the City and take different routes to the rally point (Lafayette Square across from the White House). The routes will be designed to protest injustices in each of the five areas. The fingers each have a theme: Pharmaceutical Companies, Policy and Resources (politics), Women’s Health, Human Rights and Harm Reduction, and Wall Street/Financial Industry Tax. The Pharmacutical arm will call on companies to provide low cost drugs to those in need. The Policy arm will call on the federal government to increase resources domestically and internationally for prevention, treatment, and cures. Human rights and harm reduction will address the criminialization of HIV and the rights of sex workers. The Wall Street arm will call for a financial industry tax to pay for more treatment and services. The goal is to get turnout of 20,000 or more. Buses are being hired and filled from most major urban areas in the mid-Atlantic, Northeast, upper South, and mid-west. Check out website for transportation options: www.wecanendaids.org. MCCers can select which arm of the march they would like to join.
AIDS CONFERENCE – Global Village Faith Zone, July 22-27
The Global Village is open to the general public as well as AIDS 2012 participants and is expected to attract thousands of visitors each day. The Faith Zone will provide an inclusive, innovative and informative space where faith-based visitors can exchange ideas and experiences, and where all visitors to the Global Village can experience the breadth and depth of faith communities’ work in response to HIV. There will be a podium for various events and speakers and comfy sofas for networking and relaxing.
In Russian @ http://vimeo.com/41912894
In Hungarian @ http://youtu.be/_Andb1HVZ7w
In Hebrew @http://youtu.be/oEnhEfhX0jE
In Portuguese @ http://youtu.be/bGPKN7to__I
In Serbian/Montenegrian @ http://youtu.be/V_5E27FeKfE