- August 27, 2017
Post submitted by Marvell Terry, former HRC HIV & AIDS Project Manager
HRC Foundation is excited to work with RAHMA and its many partners as they spearhead the inaugural National Faith HIV and AIDS Awareness Day. The goal is to rally all U.S. communities representative of different faiths to take a stand against stigma in their congregations and raise awareness on HIV and AIDS.
HRC sat down with Pastor Curt Thomas of the Renewed Church of Los Angeles to discuss the need to address HIV in his community and congregation.
How has faith played a role in your life?
Faith is probably one of the most artistic examples of God working in our lives. It's because of faith that we are able to secure dreams and experience realities on all levels. Faith is what has created liberation for me in my personal and public life. If we as believers could really grabble the true secret of faith our lives would benefit more. The sad thing about Christians today is our faith can sometimes be sabotaged by comfortability.
Places of worship have a role in addressing HIV. What ways have you seen that happen?
HIV can be a challenging subject in most churches. Currently, only a small percentage actually have visible and viable approaches to combating the disease and the social stigma related to eradicating it from our society. A number of churches around the world participate and bring awareness through several ways: one, community health fairs; two, national awareness days utilizing educational tools and community resources to get people tested; and, three, inviting speakers to Sunday morning services and including websites and information in announcements and bulletins.
What advice would you give others who are attempting to address HIV in a faith setting?
That's simple: find the tools, resources and educational materials and JUST DO IT! Find people in community to help.
How will you observe National Faith and HIV & AIDS Awareness Day today?
Today, I will make sure to challenge my congregation and the people around me to, one, get educated, two, get tested and, three, repeat the process with two or three people.
As a person within the LGBTQ community and of faith, what is one of the core values you believe the faith community need to address HIV?
It may sound rhetorical but the greatest thing we can do in the community to combat HIV is to erase social stigmas, hate and lack of knowledge associated with the disease and the people involved. We must also erase hate and homophobic approaches to marginalizing something that, honestly, doesn’t discriminate. HIV doesn't care about your color, creed or origin. It will fairly implode on anyone who does not educate, protect and remain watchful about how it's affecting communities across the world.
To learn more about National Faith HIV and AIDS Awareness Day, visit www.faithaidsday.com.
To learn more about the Human RIghts Campaign's work on these issues, visit www.hrc.org.
Curt D. Thomas, a native of Pasadena, California, began his ministerial journey at the age of nine. Curt D. Thomas serves as the Senior Pastor of The Renewed Church of Los Angeles. Under Thomas' leadership, Renewed L.A. has grown from a weekly Bible study meeting to a vibrant, growing, progressive congregation. Renewed L.A. is an affiliate of the United Progressive Pentecostal Church (UPPC), under the leadership of Bishop Oliver Clyde Allen III, the presiding prelate.