Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Purpose Driven Bishops

Shrimp here. Well, if it's good enough for Rick Warren, it must be good enough for the ELCA Conference of Bishops. This just in from the ELCA News Service:
ELCA Conference of Bishops Agrees to HIV and AIDS Testing

CHICAGO (ELCA) -- In response to the development of an HIV and AIDS strategy by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the ELCA Conference of Bishops agreed to the presence of health screeners at its March 5-10, 2009, meeting for the purpose of providing HIV and AIDS testing to all members.

The ELCA Conference of Bishops is an advisory body of the church that includes the ELCA's 65 synod bishops, presiding bishop and secretary. Its March 2009 meeting is to be held in Itasca, Ill.

More than 1.2 million people are living with HIV in North America, while the number of people worldwide living with HIV is estimated to be 33 million, according to the 2008 report on the global AIDS epidemic by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS. More than 2 million people died from AIDS in 2007. Seventy-two percent of these AIDS-related deaths occurred in sub-Saharan Africa, the report said. It also noted that because of expanding life-saving treatment, the annual number of AIDS deaths globally has declined in the past two years.

The proposal for testing conference members was brought to the October 2008 conference meeting by its Ministry Among People in Poverty (MAPP) Committee. The action formally encouraged all bishops "to be supportive and involved with local events on World AIDS Day, Dec. 1." Under the umbrella campaign, "Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise," the theme of World AIDS Day 2008 is "Lead. Empower. Deliver."

In its action, the conference noted it has an opportunity to raise awareness about AIDS-related issues including prevention, testing, treatment, care, stigma and discrimination. "By personally engaging in and supporting actions on World AIDS Day … ELCA bishops can help encourage all people to 'know their status' by being tested and help break down the stigma surrounding the disease," the conference action said.

The Rev. Paul Stumme-Diers, bishop, ELCA Greater Milwaukee Synod, and chair of the MAPP Committee, said the conference acted because of the ELCA's work to develop an HIV and AIDS strategy, expected to be considered by the 2009 ELCA Churchwide Assembly.

"We wanted to do something concrete to help amplify that initiative," Stumme-Diers said. "Part of the message of doing this is to remind people of both the importance of being tested for HIV and AIDS and also the confidentiality that surrounds that whole process. That way it's more inviting for people to participate in that, and it ensures the health and welfare of society when those confidentialities are kept."

Because African religious leaders have been willing to state publicly that they have been tested, their actions have helped lessen stigma associated with the disease and have provided strong encouragement to others to be tested, said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, ELCA presiding bishop, and president, the Lutheran World Federation, Geneva.

"I believe ELCA bishops being tested will be a similar act of accompaniment and encouragement for ELCA members and global companions," Hanson said. "This decision by ELCA bishops is one more sign of this church's commitment to respond to the HIV and AIDS pandemic."

Stumme-Diers, whose synod maintains companion relationships with Lutherans in El Salvador and Tanzania, said education and testing are important topics for these global partners when it comes to addressing HIV and AIDS.

Information about the ELCA Conference of Bishops is at http://www.ELCA.org/cob on the ELCA Web site.

Audio of comments by Bishop Paul Stumme-Diers is at http://www.ELCA.org/audio on the ELCA Web site.

For information contact:
John Brooks, Director (773) 380-2958 or news@elca.org
ELCA News Blog: http://www.elca.org/news/blog
Shrimp is speechless.


Clam said...

With apologies to Rick Warren, I fail to see how the spectacle of 65 late middle aged clerics having a test for HIV is going to spur awareness amongst at risk populations of the need to be tested. I do see how it will enhance the progressive, politically-correct image (and self image?) of said clerics...

WI Pew Sitter said...

I see that the ELCA is wasting more money on yet another stupid symbolic gesture. Why am I not surprised to see the name of my bishop (Stumme-Diers) attached to this nonsense?

The good ship ELCA...

The good ship ELCA...
Or the Shellfish blog...