Historically black churches in D.C. and throughout the country highlighted the impact of HIV and AIDS on the black community in their Sunday sermon on July 23 in a Day of Unity, which is part of an NAACP initiative called the Black Church and HIV.
“Day of Unity brings together Washington, D.C. pastors to preach about HIV as a social justice issue in conjunction with the first Sunday of the NAACP Annual Convention,” according to an NAACP statement.
“These pastors will work to inspire action and stop the social injustices that have led to the unequal impact of HIV on Black America, which comprises 12 percent of the U.S. population, but 41 percent of all people living with HIV,” the statement says.
Among the D.C. churches participating in Day of Unity is Christ Temple Ministries Church, a United Progressive Pentecostal Church located in the Anacostia section of Southeast D.C.
The church’s pastor, Rev. Peter Simmons-Scie, said he planned to note in his sermon that his church is an official welcoming and affirming church for all people, including members of the LGBT community.
“Being that I am a black LGBT pastor and a pastor of a predominately black church, I believe that it is very, very important that issues of sexuality be open and discussed so we can drop the stigma,” he said.
“If you’re dealing with it and this is your spiritual home, why not talk about it here?” he asked. “Why not get your spiritual health? No, God did not condemn you because you have HIV.”
In keeping with the NAACP’s Black Church and HIV initiative, Simmons-Scie said Christ Temple Ministries Church believes people with HIV and LGBT people must be made to feel welcome in the church. For those who might be coping with a recent HIV diagnosis or a family member of someone with HIV, Simmons-Scie said he would have this message:
“Find somebody and talk,” he said. “You’re not alone. And of course I would recommend Christ Ministry Temple Church. If you just want to come and talk, we’re here.”