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The Social Impact of Aids in the United States
regarding risk behaviors, there appears to be some moderation of attitudes "when AIDS comes home" in the person of a family member or friend (Cathie Lyons, associate general secretary, Health and Welfare Ministries, General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church, personal communication, 1990).
Activities in Local Congregations
As official statements were being formulated at the national level of various denominations, more members of religious congregations became willing to discuss how the epidemic was reaching into their homes and within the walls of their sanctuaries. As members disclosed how AIDS was affecting them and called on their congregations for care and support, the magnitude of the epidemic became more difficult to deny, and harsh judgments tended to wane when the person infected or the family affected was loved or respected. Congregations and their leaders, thus, had to decide how to respond to the needs generated by an individual AIDS diagnosis (Amos, 1988). Some congregations have elected to say and do nothing, effectively denying the epidemic and the people affected by it. Others have responded to AIDS as they would to any other life-threatening disease and taken care of their own. Still others have developed specialized ministries and programs, often in cooperation with secular service agencies and on an interfaith basis, directed to members and nonmembers alike. By January 3, 1989, the Washington Post could run an article headlined, "AIDS Epidemic Is Slowly Gaining Attention in Local Pulpits" (Stepp, 1989).
The Second Presbyterian Church in Kansas City, Missouri, provides an example of local AIDS activities. The church organized an AIDS Ministry Group following a weekend seminar in the fall of 1989. Some members volunteer at secular AIDS agencies. Others make quilts for AIDS patients at a local hospice and collect materials for a quilt to be made by state prisoners to honor other prisoners who have died. The group educates the full congregation about the disease and how it should respond. It also helped a local nursing home establish an AIDS wing (William Tammeus, Elder, Second Presbyterian Church, Kansas City, Missouri, personal communication, 1990).
In Seattle, volunteer Catholic religious and lay persons created the Catholic AIDS Spiritual Ministry, a team of people trained to give spiritual assistance to individuals with AIDS. The group occupies office space in a parish and is funded by Dignity. Although it receives no financial support from the archdiocese, it is, says its director, "supported in spirit" (Health Progress, 1986:61).
Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco, led by a prominent African American pastor, has initiated AIDS projects to provide education, individual