United Methodists Hold First Latino
Workshop on AIDS Ministries
New York, NY, October 17, 2007 -- The United Methodist Church is taking steps to come to grips with and stop the "devastating effect" that HIV/AIDS is having on the Hispanic/Latino community in the United States.
Twenty-one people from the Northeast gathered in New York City on October 11-13 for the first Latino HIV/AIDS Training Workshop. The goal was to mobilize Hispanic/Latino congregations to develop and strengthen ministries of AIDS education and prevention.
The workshop was sponsored by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, the denomination's National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, and the Latino Commission on AIDS. The latter is a non-profit organization dedicated to meeting health challenges in the Hispanic/Latino community.
"The AIDS/HIV epidemic is having a devastating effect on the Hispanic/Latino community," said the Rev. Dionisio Salazar of Global Ministries, whose office coordinated the workshop.
Statistics from the Centers for Disease Control indicate Latinos in the United States account for a greater proportion of AIDS cases than their representation in the total population. Of all racial/ethnic groups, they have the second highest AIDS case rate in the nation. Of the approximately 1.2 million people living with HIV/AIDS in the US today, some 200,000 are Hispanic/Latino.
"It is important that Hispanic/Latino churches recognize this reality and respond with ministries of care and compassion," said Salazar, who is an assistant general secretary in the Mission Contexts and Relationships unit of Global Ministries, the international mission agency of The United Methodist Church. He added that the board is "very thankful to the Latino Commission on AIDS for their work and leadership on this critical issue."
"We celebrate Global Ministries' leadership in this new ministry to the Hispanic/Latino community," said the Rev. Francisco Cañas, coordinator of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, a churchwide program administered by Global Ministries. The training event, he said, "was a visible action of God in resourcing the local church to serve those in need." Rev. Cañas played a key role in organizing the workshop and bringing the Latino Commission on AIDS into the picture.
Participants from Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania attended the two-and-a-half-day training event held at a guest house in New York City and the United Methodist Church of the Village.
The Latino Commission on AIDS provided in-depth workshops on the fundamentals of the AIDS disease and the stigmatism associated with the disease.
A panel of health experts and persons with firsthand experience of HIV/AIDS ministries included Patricia Magyar, a Global Ministries health and welfare executive, who spoke on the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund; Dr. Eduardo Campaña, a recently commissioned Global Ministries missionary, who provided an overview of his AIDS work in Latin America; Teresita Mann, HIV community worker with the Urban Ministries Council of Syracuse; and Daniel Leyva, facilitator and trainer with the Latino Commission on AIDS.
The training event began with a special worship service, with music and liturgy provided by Reverends Jorge Lockward of the Global Ministries staff, Irving Cotto of Camden, New Jersey, and Lydia Muñoz of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The service was designed to provide a biblical and theological foundation for AIDS ministry work at the local church level.
The training event ended with a commissioning service that challenged participants to return to their communities and develop health ministries that serve the least.
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Date posted: Oct 17, 2007