Tuesday, April 21, 2009

AIDS Quilt in St. Joseph

Friday night, I was privileged to give the invocation at the opening ceremony for the Names Project Memorial AIDS Quilt's second appearance in St. Joseph. In my prayer, I asked God not only to bless the weekend appearance of the quilt so that it would provide healing and hope for those in need of them, but I also offered words of repentance for my own faith tradition--Christianity--and its judgmental and/or indifferent response to people with HIV/AIDS.

I was very proud that one of the teams present to unfold the quilt panels came from First Christian Church. One of our youth who was present as a part of the team, Theo Tushaus, was quoted in the News-Press article about the quilt.
I spoke with some of the folks involved with bringing the quilt to St. Joseph back in the 90's who shared about how the community's response to people with HIV/AIDS has improved dramatically. Just a little over ten years ago, housing for people with HIV/AIDS was a difficulty and thee was real resistance from many directions. Today, we have people in the county health department dedicated to the care of people with HIV/AIDS and much more community support as well. That's not to say things are where they should be or that people in St. Joe with HIV/AIDS don't face some prejudice--just that things are better than they were.

I was struck by the number of sections with not only Missouri and Kansas connections, but also the ones with St. Joseph connections. It was also meaningful to see sections devoted to the likes of Freddy Mercury, Ryan White and Arther Ashe. Even ones made for the people unknown to me were quite moving to see--each is a reminder of our common humanity regardless or our gender, race, ethnicity, class, religion or sexual orientation. Each one of us is a child of God and no one deserves to die alone.

Grace and Peace,


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