AIDS is not something the church in general talks about. Yet, in 2009 there were a recorded 33.3 million people living with and suffering from the disease worldwide. But what if the church did take it upon themselves to do something about the ravishing disease claiming the lives of thousands and impoverishing millions more suffering alive with the disease? Well, you guessed it, a team of people from numerous churches, denominations and backgrounds are doing that and calling for area churches and supporters to join them. The concept? Reach out to the AIDS community of Western New York with a no strings attached event, speakers, concert, art showing and gift of love to those suffering with the devastating effects of AIDS with the hopes of building bridges between two estranged communities.
The meeting place? Buffalo’s Elmwood Village. The host church? Lafayette Avenue Presbyterian Church at the intersection of Elmwood Avenue and Lafayette. The historic church led by progressive urban pastor DrewLudwig whose non-traditional approach is getting a lot of attention from churches and ministries with a heart to reach what some say is the center of Buffalo culture—The Elmwood Village. Ludwig has opened the doors of his church to numerous community groups and Christians wanting to reach out to the community. The AIDS initiative headed up by visionary Mark Schnitzer who works as a Prevention Counselor at AIDS Community Services of WNY and Brothers McClurg frontman Chris Hoisington say this event is something that the church needs to get behind. Taking place at 6:00PM December 2, a day after World Aids Day, Mark explains that it was the death of a 24 year old man he knew suffering from the disease that broke his heart for reaching the AIDS community, “I felt that the evangelical church in America hasn’t done enough to help. I want to help people to change their attitudes to the sickness and get churches involved.”
AIDS not only physically affects its victims, who range from the gay and lesbian community to drug users and others, but the disease obviously presents a large social stigma and leaves many victims in poverty. The event founders hope this will be the start of a united Christian outreach of love to those suffering with the disease.