Category one: Community and Church Setting The community and church setting category

Category one: Community and Church Setting

The community and church setting category form a patchwork quilt for the ministry project because there is a great need for HIV/AIDS awareness programs. The Church also must become a voice against HIV/AIDS. The Church has a significant impact on the lives of its members. Its primary doctrine preaches against premarital and extramarital sexual relationships, discourages the use of condoms as a preventive measure, may stigmatize HIV/AIDS patients, and views the epidemic as punitive. The report Becoming an HIV and AIDS Competent Church:  Prophetic Witness and Compassionate Action was a collaborative effort produced under the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, U. S. A. (PCUSA). Individuals and representatives of various groups within the denomination working to address what at the time of the writing in 2010 was a 30-year-old disease compiled information that provided history, science, assessment, and a road map for the denomination. The road map was part of the charge that served as the thesis for Becoming an HIV and AIDS Competent Church: Prophetic Witness and Compassionate Action. The purpose of this report was to provide a basis for compassionate care. The report’s main argument is that the spread and persistence of HIV, especially in what is described as under-reported populations, is a social justice issue that persists because of an imbalance in power. A connectional church functions from the local Church shaping the denomination from the bottom up.

The HIV/AIDS pandemic raises complex theological issues concerning creation, human nature, the nature of sin and death, the Christian hope for eternal life, and the Church’s role as Christ’s body. Furthermore, the reality of AIDS raises human sexuality, vulnerability, and mortality, all of which stir and challenge us on a deeply personal level. Christians and churches grapple with these theological and human issues, and their responses to some of the challenges posed by HIV/AIDS differ, sometimes sharply. However, they must learn to confront the problems collectively rather than separately. They work toward a shared understanding of the fundamental questions – theological, anthropological, and ecclesiological – involved.

The report created by the connectional Church proposes that churches demonstrate HIV/AIDS competence internally and externally as best practice models for the denomination. The assessment of these churches and the framework for the denomination becoming HIV/AIDS competent is built upon the World Council of Churches’ publication by Sue Parry, Beacons of Hope: HIV Competent Churches – A Framework for Action. Another key in their proposal is the World Council of Churches benchmarks for becoming an HIV/AIDS competent church with detailed descriptions of each.

Weaknesses of the report

The report published in 2011 is a significant limitation because much has changed with HIV. HIV is a pandemic but is now a chronic illness. These conditions are not addressed directly in the 2011 report. The report does warn that the disease would begin to spread through heterosexual contact if not stopped. Unfortunately, that is the case. The information also presumes that the PCUSA’s work and rhetoric are practical. The number of HIV/AIDS competent churches across the denomination is not identified. There also is not a method for doing so or sharing the information about the work of various churches.

In addition, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) HIV Surveillance Report provides valuable information on the state of HIV in the United States through June 2014. The report is best viewed as an epidemiological study of HIV AIDS in the United States. The report is where the virus is present and whom the virus has infected. Therein lies a significant limitation. The report does not give any information regarding those affected by the illness. This is a crucial factor in the journey to becoming HIV competent and a weakness in a purely medical

view of HIV. The affected are those who care for the infected. The affected are the family members of the infected. The involved are explored in greater depth in Sue Parry’s works and the United Methodist Church material. This material is striking and informative about the progression and distribution of those infected by HIV. However, not addressing the collateral damage paints only a portion of the picture.

The report is essential in establishing a raison d’etre for the ministry project. Even with the message stating that the progression of the disease in most populations is stable, the level at which it is durable is unacceptable. The infection rates still serve as a call for the Church to lend its influence and presence to help fight against this pandemic. This report has no relationship to the ministry project.

Areas of further research

The report, however, does provide local links that offer information on the impact of the pandemic at the county level. This drilling down into the data provides a basis for arguing the need for the ministry project in Savannah, Georgia, because of the high incidence of HIV in Chatham County, the Church’s county. The achieving of inner and outer HIV competence requires more than data. It requires practical intervention based upon knowledge of the data using public health communications best practice models adapted to the particular context.

 Bainbridge, the author of The second decade of AIDS: A call for the Jewish and Christian communities of faith to respond and collaborate with public health, believes the Church within the community can be a significant influence. There is a need to reduce the numbers of those affected by HIV/AIDS and help those already affected. The rates of infection are increasing throughout Black communities of the United States. Therefore, education, ministry, and information on successful programs are needed. The author asked for faith communities to voice HIV/AIDS prevention education and minister to those already affected by the disease. African Americans and Jewish faith leaders are particularly suited because they have a more significant influence on their people. HIV/AIDS education and ministry to those with HIV/AIDS have benefits for Black and Jewish communities and society in general:

Faith communities’ adherence to a faith-based sexual ethic

Wholeness (meaning physical, emotional, and spiritual health)

An increased sense of community

The spread of God’s love throughout the world

Spiritual development.

 These advantages, including knowledge, education, and information from successful programs from faith communities, are needed in collaboration with public health to help decrease the numbers of those impacted by HIV/AIDS and assist those already affected. This article does not give several participants to show an accurate view. Hicks-Bennett, however, argues that there is a disproportionate number of African Americans that are affected by HIV/AIDS in the entire United States. However, Black churches profoundly influence their people, and the multi-case study explores how church leaders in Queens, Brooklyn, and Nassau counties support HIV/AIDS strategies. This report disclosed how they keep promoting HIV/AIDS awareness. Church leaders, reliable members of society, should have open discussions about HIV/AIDS. Church leaders also set examples that influence people to listen. Conveying messages of concern and love to the congregation and surrounding communities through supporting the vision of the ministry, the concepts should include HIV/AIDS outreach strategies from the pulpit. This will increase awareness, reduce stigma, and build cohesiveness between all of God’s

people.

On the other hand, Leong’s study of gay and ex-gay Christian men is challenged, but they meet a specific amount of success. Unity is not the only feasible ministry that serves people of color affected by HIV/AIDS. There are also increasing numbers of congregations, and they offer both spiritual and social services to persons with AIDS. The case study of Unity, the African American congregation, addresses the needs of sexual minorities and HIV/AIDS-affected members. The study gives how marginalized individuals are considered. This is by utilizing the tools that their religious community has provided them. Finally, Unity shows that black churches can address controversial issues without demeaning their community members. This analysis best serves as a model for other religious institutions. This gives an example of how to communicate and interact with community members. The interaction, however, is done in a practical, compassionate, and dignified manner. The person, practices, creed and beliefs, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, and HIV status are overlooked.

 Lastly, Presbyterian AIDS Network (PAN) requested the services of the Office of Research Services of the PCUSA to administer the 1996 Presbyterian Panel HIV /AIDS Issues. The purpose of the survey was “. . . to gather information on individual awareness of issues related to HIV/AIDS, to find out more about ministries to a person with AIDS and other involvement in AIDS issues in PCUSA congregations, and to assess familiarity with PAN and its resources.” The survey made the Church aware that members of the Church were not mindful of the work of PAN or the PCUSA involvement in HIV issues. Further, only a tiny minority of members knew that PCUSA produced HIV-related resources. It follows

that few congregations were aware of denominational policies related to HIV. However, knowledge about AIDS was found to be widely distributed. Participants in the panel also supported extending ministry to persons with HIV. The conference was conducted using a questionnaire. The respondents consisted of members (712), elders (726), pastors (851), and specialized clergy (444).

           The panel provides a baseline for comparison. The panel findings can add the level of competency, awareness, and compassion. Thus, a comparison can be drawn when the meeting is adjusted to reflect current science and knowledge. This comparison can further help the ministry site prioritize and address areas of ongoing inadequacy. The limitations of the panel have to be remembered. Those limitations are that the original survey will be almost twenty years old when administered at the ministry site. Science and culture have changed considerably in the subsequent years. The second is both a limitation and a bonus. No one at the ministry site that was asked has any memory of participating in the original panel. The bonus is that same factor, and the answers will not disseminate the results.

Conclusion

HIV/AIDS has been across the world for decades now. The community and the church have demonstrated great efforts in their quest to end the spread of this disease. All these efforts were championed by the position that African Americans were placed when the disease was mentioned. The racial disparity was a huge talking point, and it made the world to focus more on aspects that would reduce the disparity and segregation being enforced. The CDC report also pointed out how the disease had been rampant across the African Americans gene. Although most of them related to this infection, the disease can affect any one and any racial group.

The response to awareness has been different. Despite the differences in responses, one factor that all the groups maintained is having the infection reduce automatically. Various efforts have been carried out to enhance the awareness program and help people to combat this disease. The church has been on the forefront of creating lasting relationships that help make people live as one. The congregation has maintained its affiliation by emphasizing the importance of having sexual encounters when married. Also, extramarital affairs are being discouraged. The church is a great platform that individuals follow hence, if their message is passed on effectively, the impact would change so much that the society is witnessing. Also, the church has encouraged people to face the disease as a group instead of fighting alone. The value of association is concrete because it opens spheres that encourage people to fight on. Therefore, the church has demonstrated how its fight against HIV/AIDS is fully focused on enhancing the people of the community.

Example of how it should be

COMMUNITY AND CHURCH SETTING

There are many traditions of humankind, cultural identity, doctrines, theologies, interpretations and desired worship styles. They have all contributed to division, the split in Christianity of numerous denominations, worship wars, wounded leaders, and broken communities in the Christian Church. This section has resources that bring focus to the importance of worship in a religious corporate setting with the goal of impacting the larger community.

There is a growing trend of people who have either left the institutional church or have chosen to be religiously unaffiliated. According to Pew Research Center Polling, the highest percentage where that decline is taking place is found in adults 30 and under. Religious importance in that generation has decreased. In the ministry setting for my project, Church of the Living God Temple #203’s religious practices and beliefs are Christian.

The community that surrounds this ministry setting is around 51% Christian. However, cultural pressures have plagued the effectiveness of the church in that community. Some feel that the church is more concerned about money, power, rules, and politics rather than it being a house of worship and refuge. Others feel that the church does not help them grow spiritually and religion does not fit into their lifestyle. The resources in this section helped to deal with this reality that is continuing to increase and be visible in many churches, including Temple #203.

The attendance in corporate worship is continuing to decline. In Reggie McNeal’s book, Present Future: Six Tough Questions for the Church, he speaks to the trending realities that the church is not addressing. He provided six realities that the church must consider in order to be effective in an evolving culture where worship attendance is decreasing. These realities are:

The Collapse of the Church Culture

The Shift from Church Growth to Kingdom Growth

A New Reformation: Releasing God’s People

The Return to Spiritual Formation

The Shift from Planning to Preparation

The Rise of Apostolic Leadership

With the decline that is taking place in the church, one of the key areas that that I found beneficial is under the chapter “New Reality Number Five: The Shift from Planning to Preparation.” Preparation helps to shape our perspective into a place of readiness for what is ahead. That is what culture has done. Preparing conditions mankind for the future. That seems to be the issue of the church. The church is focused more on planning rather than preparation for the future. Therefore, fresh practices in worship must be done and the historic traditions of the church need to be shaken. Worship is the means where people connect with God and each other.

You cannot prepare without adequate knowledge and education on what is needed in this present culture in worship. Worship is more than just a program in the life of the church on Sundays. Mankind was created to worship, and God wants us to do it in spirit and truth, according to John 4:24. However, it is difficult to respond and lead in spirit and truth without knowing the truth about worship.

Gary Mathena contended that anyone who is leading in any area of worship must have a basic knowledge of the historical and biblical foundations of worship. In his book, One Thing Needful: An Invitation to the Study of Worship The worship done today has been built upon the heritage of worship which includes: the early church, medieval church, the Reformation era, modern Protestant worship, and many contemporary worship cultures. With the evolution of culture, leaders have to have more education and be more knowledgeable. They are valued assets for what is ahead. With it, appreciation and comprehension of the purpose and role that music and the arts have biblically and historically in worship are grasped.

Mathena discussed seven worship study disciplines which include: Introduction to worship, Theology of Worship, History of Worship, Tabernacle Worship, Music and Worship, the Heart of the Worship Leader, and Lifestyle Worship. I found that these seven disciplines were beneficial to my topic and ministry project. I found no limitations on the topic of worship. He gave an exhaustive study through different topics on worship that also included some biblical and professional insight. This resource caused me to have a deeper level of discipline and understanding on worship so that I would be able to teach effectively and influence during my ministry project.

When worship is not properly planned it will be ineffective. Vernon Whaley provided practical insight on how to plan an effective corporate worship experience in his book, The Dynamics of Corporate Worship. The information he provided in this book has been broken into three distinct sections: biblical definitions, examples of worship, and useful strategies for planning corporate worship.

Throughout the book Whaley provided some theological and biblical commentary. In his commentary, he argued that one of the reasons why corporate worship has become ineffective is because of the “pride, arrogance, and selfishness” of those leading in worship. This resource is one of the books that I used in Grad School for my Masters. Therefore, I do not feel that there was any limitation in it. I gravitated to this resource because the content was exceptional for my personal reflection. It also gave tools to properly plan effective corporate worship experiences. I say effective because each aspect of worship that he provided built off of each other with the intent to promote nurturing, developing, and cultivation of our relationship with Him in corporate worship experiences.

An effective corporate worship experience has power to draw and influence believers and non-believers with the right music. In Sally Morgenthaler’s book, Worship Evangelism: Inviting Unbelievers into the Presence of God, she speaks to this truth by stressing an importance of combining the best of traditional and contemporary musical practices in one worship service to make it inclusive for Christians and even non-Christians. Morgenthaler noted that there is a negative key change in attitudes concerning the average church-goer. Going to church has become less to do with an experience with God, which is the original intent and now has less to do with God. Worship has become a more market-driven activity for the church-going consumer. This is an unfortunate reality. The church has a greater focus on consumption rather than worshipping.

The average leader of a church desires growth. Focus on a consumer driven culture disengages the leader from their actual mission. I firmly believe that trying to be competitive and relevant in worship without the presence of authenticity will cause non-believers to continue to feel empty. Authenticity in worship transforms lives and encourages people to be more Christ-like. In other words, “quality must precede quantity.” She gave a comprehensive biblical analysis that included a study guide that I was able use as a model for the surveys, group discussions, and information for my ministry project. I did not find many limitations in this book. When I chose this resource, I was looking for answers on what kind of music is best to be presented in worship.

A worship service cannot be transformative in the lives of people without proper planning. In Ed Stetzer and Thom S. Rainer’s book, Transformational Church, they teach leaders how to be more effective in meeting their goals as well as converting vision into reality. “When God transforms lives, He doesn’t just build temples of the Holy Spirit in individuals, He builds His church by adding more lives to the body.” Intentional planning harmonized with prepared worship are powerful tools that God uses to foster transformation and growth in a church and community.

There are three principles that I took away from this resource that helped to shape this ministry project. When preparing worship, picking music styles, and being intentional about what we desire to achieve in worship fosters: People to live like Christ, Churches acting like the Body of Christ, and Communities Impacted by the Kingdom of God. My passion is to see God transform churches and communities. Worship has always been the means for me to achieve that goal.

Many churches have become adapted to being stagnate rather than pushing to become transformative. Stetzer and Rainer gave an overall picture of how powerful the church can be through the message of hope which can be communicated with relative and inclusive worship. This book had no limitations to it. Every part of the authors’ arguments had biblical backup. It was filled with passion. It intensified the passion that I have for this ministry project and in my personal ministry as well.

The literature in this section helped to bring greater clarity to the purpose and passion behind this ministry project. Clear understanding of worship, how it operates in the church, and the power it has beyond the church was grasped from the resources in this section. Knowing how the church and community fits and will benefit from worship is key.