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"Our Vision, Our Hope" The First Step

Posted on: August 22, 2001 5:41 PM
Related Categories: Southern Africa

All Africa Anglican AIDS Planning Framework

 August 2001

Johannesburg

1. Vision

We, the Anglican Communion across Africa, pledge ourselves to the promise that future generations will be born and live in a world free from AIDS.

2. God's call to transformation

We are living with AIDS. As the body of Christ, confronted by a disaster unprecedented in human history, we share the pain of all who suffer as a result of AIDS. Faced by this crisis, we hear God's call to be transformed. We confess our sins of judgement, ignorance, silence, indifference and denial.

Repenting of our sin, we commit ourselves to:

  • Breaking the silence in order to end all new infections
  • Educating ourselves at every level within the Church
  • Confronting poverty, conflict and gender inequalities
  • Ending stigma and judgement, and
  • Holding ourselves accountable before God and the world.

Only then can we live out the Good News of the all-embracing love of Christ.

3. Our mission

Our mission is to respect the dignity of all people by:

  • Securing the human rights of those infected by HIV/AIDS, and giving unconditional support
  • Improving the health and prolonging the lives of infected people
  • Accompanying the dying, those who mourn and those who live on
  • Celebrating life
  • Nurturing community, and
  • Advocating for justice.

We acknowledge that we cannot do this alone. We are sustained by the love of God and emboldened by the Holy Spirit. We are inspired by the compassionate efforts of the faithful in attending to those affected by HIV/AIDS. We accept the responsibility of our leadership. We invite the wider community into creative, life-giving partnership.

4. Our commission in the context of AIDS

We believe we are created, in the image of God, as physical and spiritual beings. We are created to be in relationship to God, the community and ourselves. We believe that we are given the freedom to make choices, to love, to celebrate, to live in dignity and to delight in God's creation. We believe that suffering and death are neither punishment from God nor the end of life and that we are called to an eternal union with God.

Stigma is a denial that we are created in the image of God. It destroys self-esteem, decimates families, disrupts communities and annihilates hope for future generations. We commit in all our efforts - personal and corporate, programmatic and liturgical - to confront it as sin and work for its end.

Given who we are, and who we are called to be by God, we have defined and embraced a six-fold commission of ministry in response to AIDS.

These six calls in our commission are:

4.1 Prevention

The Church's commitment to prevention recognises that all life is sacred. Because we love our children, we speak and act to protect them from infection. Sex is a gift from God. We are accountable to God and one another for our sexual behaviour. Christian communities have a special responsibility and capacity for encouraging and supporting loving, just, honest relationships.

4.2 Pastoral Care

Pastoral care supports spiritual growth with the aim of sustaining whole and holy relationships with God, each other and community. This is achieved by affirming the dignity and worth of each human being and making clear the claim of God in our lives.

4.3 Counselling

Christian counselling equips people to live into God's invitation to wholeness, freed of the burdens of the past, and capable of moving in freedom toward the perfection promised in Christ's example with confidence and determination.

4.4 Care

In caring for all who suffer, we fulfill God's purpose by restoring dignity and purpose to people's lives. Christian care, therefore, seeks the fullness of life, in the context of the community, by the restoration of body, mind and spirit.

4.5 Death and dying

Death is a rite of passage in our spiritual journey and into eternal life. The call of all Christians is to uphold the dying by our love, as well as those who live on and those who mourn.

While death brings suffering and loss, our faith can make it a time of enhanced relationship and growth for individuals and communities. We are a resurrection people and our relationship with God does not end with the death of physical bodies.

4.6 Leadership

All authority is accountable before God. All people of the church are stewards of God's creation. We have a unique responsibility to speak truth to power, to act without fear, and to embody Christian values of love, compassion and justice.

5. Our Response

5.1 Prevention

Out of love for our children, one another and our communities, we commit to speak openly and with moral authority about responsible sexual behaviour, and to support one another, embracing and adopting behaviours that avoid the transmission of HIV.

5.2 Pastoral Care

As the embodiment of the merciful Christ in a suffering world, we commit to equip our clergy and laity to support all people, especially those living with HIV, in life-sustaining relationships with their God and their community.

5.3 Counselling

We commit to promote voluntary counselling and testing for HIV by our own examples and as a ministry of the Church. We call for the establishment of support groups and other counselling services for those who are orphaned, ill, afraid, dying or bereaved.

5.4 HIV Care

We commit to being central to networks of community support, to meet the health care and basic needs of those who are orphaned, ill or excluded due to HIV, freeing them to productive life as long as their health permits.

5.5 Death and Dying

As death transforms the body, AIDS calls us to transform those traditions and practices, by which we care for the dying and honor our dead, that consume scarce resources and contribute to denial.

We commit to:

  • Training the Church to provide holistic care for the dying and prepare families for living on
  • Offering rituals that honor the dead and promote the well-being of those who survive
  • Training the clergy to counsel and protect the rights of those who survive, especially women and children.

5.6 Leadership

Silence permits inaction and is the breeding ground of stigma. We call for bold, compassionate community and institutional leadership at every level, to prevent infection and care for the ill and dying. We invite similar leadership by government, and all sections of society and international partners.

Because leadership must address power, culture and morality, we call on our government leaders to be accountable for health expenditures and to declare an 'HIV state of emergency', in order to combat AIDS and mobilise resources. We further declare that all people have the right to health, which includes access to basic health care.

HIV calls for bold and creative approaches by our leaders, which recognizes the reality of power and gender patterns at community levels, and mobilize resources and facilitate development of new models of leadership, particularly among laity and women.

5.7 Education and training

Nothing in our educational systems equips us to deal with this catastrophe. In achieving the strategies outlined in this document, it is essential to assess needs and establish education and training capacity, in order to assure that sufficient numbers of clergy and laity:

  • Have current and accurate basic information on the science of HIV, standards of home-based care, and the rudiments of treatment.
  • Have both the technical information and the interpersonal communication skills to effectively teach and counsel regarding human sexuality.
  • Are knowledgeable of local laws and practices regarding inheritance and equipped to impart that information.
  • Receive practical training in community organisation and development, so that they may assist in establishing care and support which is needed.
  • Are trained and available to meet exploding demands for pastoral care necessitated by HIV/AIDS.

5.8 Theological reflection

As the Church, it is uniquely our task to gather for study, for prayer and for worship. Therefore we must engage in constant theological reflection, seeking discernment on the issues of sin, guilt, grace, judgement and forgiveness. To this we commit ourselves, our families and our friends.

Amen!