Reverend Dr. Neil G. Thomas has been the Senior Pastor of Founder’s Metropolitan Community Church, Los Angeles, since 2002. A native of Bournemouth, England, he has been a member of MCC since 1981, joining the church on his fifteenth birthday! He previously served for 12 years as Pastor of MCC Bournemouth and has served in numerous denominational positions. Well known for his social activism, he has been instrumental in feeding programs for the homeless, night and day shelters, safer sex initiatives, establishing relations with police and LGBTQ communities, Over the Rainbow, (a drop in center offering counseling, support and information), LGBTQ youth services, as well as challenging laws that continue discrimination and intolerance. He also served as Chaplain to The Sanctuary (an HIV/AIDS hospice), five drug and alcohol rehab houses, Women’s Refuge, as well as Chaplain to the Mayor of Bournemouth. He also served as Chair of Relate (Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch) – a relationship counseling organization.
Rafael Arellano-Barrera was born in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico and came to the US when he was 19 years old to study English in the mid-west and then went to Oregon to do his ministry and theological studies in Mount Angel Seminary. While in the seminary he became a youth minister and graduated from Marylhurst University with a bachelor’s degree in Pastoral Ministries. He was a Youth Minister for 10 years. When he moved to Portland he worked as a Youth Minister in various parishes and later decided to change his line of work and started teaching Spanish in the various Community Colleges in the metropolitan area of Portland. He went back to school and finished his Masters program in Spanish Literature at Portland State University. His last position as a Spanish professor was at the University of Portland and in 2000 he founded a non-profit organization named Educate Ya in which he is the Executive Director, trainer, teacher and educator. For the last 20 years he has been working in HIV/AIDS prevention education programs in the Latino communities as well in the Anglo community. He has received a national certification from the Red Cross as a trainer of trainers for HIV/AIDS prevention health educators. At Educate Ya also they have a program in which they offer community presentations in Spanish on sexuality, gender issues and HIV/AIDS prevention work. He joined the MCC church in Vancouver, WA. four years ago and he is the lay delegate as well as a board member for the church.
Preben Babko Sloth is 49 years old and has been living with HIV for 25 years. He works as a social worker with people who are physically and mentally challenged and part time studies comparative religion at Copenhagen University. Preben joined Markens Liljer MCC, Copenhagen, Denmark, in 1989 and now is a member of Basisgemeinde MCC, Hamburg, Germany. He has worked as staff and volunteer in Danish and international HIV NGO’s and FBO’s since 1989, among others as a consultant on HIV issues to the Lutheran Church of Sweden. Preben has made exchange visits to various HIV projects in Southern Africa. Though many of us who have access to ARV’s are living physically well, HIV is still a challenge to the individual and to us as church – both spiritually and diaconal. Treatment has made HIV more invisible in our communities but for those who get a positive test result today it is still an existential shock with loneliness and despair as a result, and the silence, ignorance and fear surrounding HIV and those of us, who are living with HIV, must constantly be addressed. MCC has a lot to offer both individuals and our communities as well as ecumenical settings. HIV is also an opportunity for change and hope.
Revered Jeffrey H. Jordan-Pickett is the senior pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of Philadelphia A native West Virginian, Rev. Jeff moved to Pennsylvania after being outted and defrocked by the then Bishop of the 3rd Episcopal district of the AME Church. Jordan-Pickett, originally met MCCP when accidentally stumbling upon and attending his first pride parade in 1993. In October 1994, Pastor Jeff was installed as pastor of MCCP. Critically ill with pneumocystis pneumonia, Pastor Jeff was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1998, the same year that his preaching credentials were accepted by UFMCC. During this time of being bed-ridden, Rev. Jeff was brought back to full health through the love and support shown to him from the congregants at MCCP. Because of this love that he experienced, Pastor Jeff has accepted HIV ministry as a vital part of his calling.Rev. Jordan is an active member of ACT UP Philadelphia and on the executive committee of the University of Pennsylvania HIV Prevention Research Division Community Advisory Board. As an AIDS activist Rev. Jeff has spoken at events such as AIDS Watch in Washington DC and The Prevention Justice Conference held during the Center for Disease Control Meeting in Atlanta Georgia. Recently, Pastor Jeff led the congregation which he shepherds in a campaign demanding that Hersey Corporation allow a young man with HIV be admitted to the Milton Hershey School. Under the leadership of Pastor Jeff, MCCP Philadelphia quarterly sends money to support two AIDS orphans at Mother of Peace Orphanage in Zimbabwe, raised close to $2,000 to support women with HIV at MCC of the Substance in Nairobi Kenya and distributed over 75,000 condoms in Philadelphia communities at risk. The Bridge Over Trouble Water Support Group, One of Philadelphia oldest support groups for POWs, recently recognized Rev. Jeff for his work in AIDS advocacy with the Lawrence Taylor HIV community Service Award. Rev. Jeff is supported and strengthened by his husband and partner of 18 year David E. Pickett.
Carl Krysa, currently leads the HIV support group at Milwaukee MCC. He also chairs the ARCW (AIDS Recourse Center of WI) and CAB (Consumer Advisory Board). Carl also has served as a care taker in an AIDS hospice were he has offered compassionate care. He is a passionate activist because her believes that there still is a need especially in third world countries to understand, affirm and support persons with HIV/AIDS.
Georgia Lacy is a recent early retiree a former Public Service Administrator who worked in social services for more than twenty plus years. In that capacity she has had the privilege to serve many marginalized and vulnerable communities. While a member of some of those communities herself. She is a Christian and the proud mother of three productive adult children. Her affiliation with MCC started in the seventies at Good Sheppard Parish. Benefiting and participating in MCC local churches as well as serving as a former delegate for Church of the Resurrection MCC. This inclusive faith community had been her rock. AIDS and HIV issues have been a part of her life since it began in the US. AIDS severely impacted MCC in its early days. The pivotal point in the crisis for her came when her brother became positive in the 1980’s. The new face of AIDS/HIV in the US and Africa are of great concern to her. She states that currently HIV and AIDS disproportionally affects communities of color, women and residents of the south in the US. She Worked in the community with the BROTHERS, Stop AIDS Chicago and acted as an advocate in a professional setting with her employer and staff. She has also participated in many self help health movements: Emma Goldman Women’s Health Center, Mather Women’s Health Project, Mental Health first aider, suicide prevention, CPR and first aid training. It has been her privilege to spend early retirement in the south, traveling to many major urban areas in the US and travel abroad. Georgia is a graduate of Northeastern University in Chicago, Illinois. She currently resides in the Chicago area and attends A Church 4 me.
Dr. David Williams, M.D., M.P.H., was born in Kingston, Jamaica where he completed his primary and secondary school education. Upon immigrating to the United States he completed his undergraduate studies in biology/biochemical engineering. Since graduating from medical school he has worked as an emergency/trauma medicine physician and surgeon in the US and several overseas locales as well as a project/program director in employee health and safety for a number of major telecom equipment manufacturers and providers. Dr. Williams has more than 20 years of medical and engineering experience. He holds degrees in engineering, medicine and public health; and has extensive experience in managing complex development and deployment projects for large health care companies/organizations, and multinational telecom providers. A summary of Dr. Williams’ clinical qualifications is as follows: Practiced clinical emergency medicine and public health for over twenty years. Post-training clinical experience in a very diverse range of practice settings, (in the public, community and private sectors), including a number of foreign countries where he gained an understanding of national/local public health and emergency medical systems compared with those of the U.S.A. Studied, at the master’s level, qualitative and quantitative aspects of the U.S. healthcare system policy and politics, including epidemiology of, and comparison with international perspectives on, emergency medicine, public health and HIV/AIDS. Consulted for several years in administrative leadership positions within critical care, emergency medicine and HIV/AIDS. Trained medical and nursing students, nurses, residents, fellows, and allied health professionals in on-the-job, basic and advanced life support clinical skills. Dr. Williams resides and practices in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area, and travels extensively internationally lecturing on varied subjects in the fields of emergency medicine/trauma surgery and public health. He currently serves on the boards of the MCC Christ the Liberator and the New Jersey AIDS Partnership.