Mount Ennon Baptist Church held their annual HIV/AIDS awareness service on March 3. While most churches shy away from topics of sexually transmitted diseases, Pastor Delman Coates says it is important, as a Black church, to break the silence on HIV/AIDS.
Thousands of church members attended service dressed in black, with red accents, to bring awareness to the epidemic. During service Coates also brought out his cousin, Terence Grand, to give a testimony as a man living with HIV.
Coates had not seen his cousin in 22 years because after contracting HIV, his cousin moved away and tried to start a new life where nobody knew him. “I left because I didn’t want to deal with the stares and everyone talking,” said Grand. “… and for anyone who has HIV positive people in their life, treat that person like a person and not like a disease.
Coates dedicated the service to opening a dialogue about people being hurt in the church, along with people fearing that they will be judged in a place where they should feel love. During service, he shared a statistic that said most people who do not go to church say they do not go because of bad experiences they’ve had at church. His mission is to make sure that if someone is hurting, the person feels love and not judgment. “When you go to church, which is a spiritual hospital, you should not be hurt, you should be loved,” said Coates. “By judging them, you’re hurting them at the very time that they need to be loved.”
Source: Afro.com | Shannen Hill