“Then they cried to the Lord in their troubles, and he helped them and delivered them. He spoke, and they were healed—snatched from the door of death. Oh, that these men would praise the Lord for his loving-kindness and for all of his wonderful deeds!” - Psalms 107:19-21, Living Bible
Millions of people worldwide have been affected by HIV/AIDS, including the family members, friends, churches, and communities of those infected with the disease. In 2012, over 1,100 Ohioans were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS, bringing the total number of cases in Ohio to about 17,000. The United Methodist Church is active locally and around the world in bringing hope and healing to those struggling with HIV/AIDS. Here in the West Ohio Conference, the United Methodist Church’s annual HIV/AIDS Healing Weekends offer healing, spiritual support, encouragement and unconditional acceptance to those living with or affected by HIV/AIDS.
During these weekends, participants attend workshops on medical updates, dealing with grief and loss, healing through music and the arts, and more. Participants meet together in small groups of seven to eight people several times throughout the weekend, which provides opportunities for discussion, healing and growth, as well as an outlet for individuals to discuss fears, concerns, life circumstances and more that they might not otherwise feel comfortable talking about.
After the weekend, one of the planners remarked, “Believe me, the Healing Weekend experience is one of the positive results of being infected to me. We the committee thank God, the participants, and the members of their support systems for the hours of healing that take place during and long after the events that take place during the weekend. All of you too are greatly appreciated.”
The initial West Ohio Conference AIDS Ministry Committee was formed on March 1, 1990 at Riverside Methodist Hospital with an emphasis on education. As members and nonmembers alike learned more about the disease, they recognized that HIV/AIDS was already affecting the lives of persons in their church, their families and in their community. As a result, the committee held the first ever Healing Weekend in September of 1990.
“The Healing Weekends and WOC HIV/AIDS ministry is an excellent opportunity for the conference to demonstrate the church's compassion, open arms and desire to reach out to those who often feel outcast or disenfranchised. Christ's unconditional, all-encompassing love is truly made evident during the Healing Weekends,” states Brian Montgomery, chair of the WOC HIV/AIDS Task Force. To learn more about the Healing Weekends, email healingweekendumc [at] gmail.com.
Another way to be involved in ministry with those affected by HIV/AIDS is to ask your congregation to observe World AIDS Day on December 1. More information can be found on the West Ohio HIV/AIDS webpage or on the World AIDS Day website.