Faith news

To send in items for the Faith News, email information to news@wyandottepublishing.com.

The Evangelical Free Church of America will hold a youth challenge conference from July 6 to 10 in Kansas City, Mo. Nearly 5,500 youth are expected to attend. About 5 percent of the total attendees are expected to be from the Kansas City area. They have scheduled volunteer work while here.

Grandview Christian Church, 8550 Parallel Parkway, is collecting canned goods for Help 3:17, a local food pantry.

Grinter Chapel United Methodist Church Annual Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. June 28 at 7819 Swartz Road. The meal includes all-you-can-eat spaghetti, salad, bread, drink and dessert: Adults, $8; kids under 10, $4.

The International Body of the Church of God in Christ, headquartered in Memphis, will hold its Auxiliaries in Ministry convention June 30-July 4 in the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo. The convention will draw delegates from outside the region as well as church members from Kansas City, Kan., and Mo.

“Scripture Study, Bible Sharing and Reflection, Lectio and Journaling,” a regular weekly series facilitated by pastoral minister, Heather Neds, is offered from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesdays at Keeler Women’s Center, 2220 Central Ave., Kansas City, Kan. This weekly Bible study group is based on the upcoming scripture readings from the Common Lectionary. There will be time for reflection, sharing and journaling. Call 913-906-8990 to register.

Living Water United Methodist Church, 3001 N. 115th St., plans an evening Vacation Bible School July 13-17 for preschool through fifth grade children. The theme is “Weird Animals.” To enroll, visit livingwaterumc.net/vacation-bible-school/ or call 913-400-7203.

Stony Point Christian Church, 149 S. 78th, is planning a rummage sale July 16-19. The sale may include clothing, household items and tools.

An Italian dinner will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 28, at St. Patrick Catholic Church parish center, 94th and State Avenue. The dinner is sponsored by the Knights of Columbus. Salad, lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs, homemade Italian cookies with coffee, tea and lemonade will be available. Donations are $9, adults; $6, children under 10.

Members of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1300 N. 18th St., will observe the third Sunday after Pentecost June 29. Services in English will be at 10 a.m. with services in Spanish at 1:30 p.m. Members will be urged to invite guests using social media.

KCK church addresses AIDS with innovative program

LaTrischa Miles, left, and Yvonne Richmond are two organizers of the Taking it to the Pews AIDS awareness project at Mt. Carmel Church of God in Christ in Kansas City, Kan. (Photo by Mike Sherry, KHI News Service)

by Mike Sherry, KHI News Service

When activists worldwide marked three decades since the emergence of a mysterious immune disease, Kansas City, Kan., participants posted a timeline of key events in the fight against the AIDS pandemic in a building foyer in their community.

Yet this was no ordinary foyer; it was the main entrance to Mt. Carmel Church of God in Christ at 2025 N. 12th St. Not only that, but the display in the African-American church went up right around Christmastime to coincide with World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

“That was the first thing that you saw when you came through the front door of the church – was this huge bulletin board. So that was paramount, because it was not just Mt. Carmel folks who were seeing this,” says church member LaTrischa Miles, who helped coordinate the 2011 display.

Visiting churches were coming through at the time, mixing with Mt. Carmel congregants.

It was all part of a project known as Taking it to the Pews, a project spearheaded by Jannette Berkley-Patton, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. One of her main partners is the Rev. Eric Williams, pastor of Calvary Temple Baptist Church in Kansas City, Mo.

Church power
Years in the making, the project aims to leverage the credibility of the church in the black community to attack a disease that disproportionately affects African-Americans. A key component in helping to eliminate the stigma is making HIV testing available to the congregation during services – oftentimes with the pastor and his wife leading by example from the pulpit.

And now, Berkely-Patton and her colleagues are poised to take what could be the final step in what may become a tool for black churches across the country to address AIDS – as well as exploring whether the TIPS model can help reduce the prevalence of chronic diseases within the black community.

With a new five-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, project organizers are putting together a full clinical trial expected to include up to 14 churches across the metropolitan area. Researchers aim to engage about 1,500 adult African Americans.

“We will be knocking on a bunch of doors trying to get new churches involved,” Berkely-Patton says.

According to the U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, AIDS affects blacks more than any other racial-ethnic group. Citing data from 2010, the CDC says:

• African-Americans accounted for an estimated 44 percent of all new HIV infections among adults and adolescents (aged 13 years or older), despite representing only 12 percent of the U.S. population.

• African American women accounted for nearly a third (29 percent) of the estimated new HIV infections among all adult and adolescent African Americans. The estimated rate of new HIV infections for African-American women (38.1/100,000 population) was 20 times that of white women and almost five times that of Hispanic-Latino women.

• The greater number of people living with HIV in African-American communities and the tendency of African-Americans to have sex with partners of the same race-ethnicity means that they face a greater risk of HIV infection with each new sexual encounter.

Early in the AIDS pandemic, Williams recognized that black clergy were inadvertently contributing to the fear and stigma surrounding the disease by demonizing it from the pulpit. A defining moment for Williams came, he said, when a family could not find anyone to conduct the funeral of their gay son who had died from AIDS.

Touchy subject
“Most of our colleagues, if you were to ask them if they wanted to relieve human suffering, hands down, they would, ‘Yes, we believe the church should be equipped to relieve human suffering,’” Williams said. “Until you start talking about HIV. Then the waters start getting a little fuzzier.”

By the mid-1990s, though, Williams said, attitudes among black clergy began to soften as they witnessed the effects of the disease on sufferers and their families within their congregations.

Then, in 2005, Berkley-Patton arrived at UMKC as an adjunct faculty member.
A product of Kansas City’s urban core who grew up attending Second Baptist Church at 39th Street and Monroe Avenue, Berkley-Patton had left a job in the aerospace industry to earn a doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Kansas.

Upon her return to the city, Berkley-Patton became active with the Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS in Kansas City.

Her involvement came as Williams and others involved with a sister organization of his church, Calvary Community Outreach Network, were growing frustrated that clergy had not progressed on AIDS education initiatives suggested through the Black Church Week of Prayer. The clergy had not done much, he says, mainly because they didn’t know where to start or how to convey the information.

That formed the seeds of TIPS, which launched in 2006 with some local grants. It began with a series of focus groups and planning sessions involving about a dozen churches in the metropolitan area.

Patton then got an initial National Institutes of Health grant to conduct a four-church pilot, along with the outreach network, in 2011-2012. Mt. Carmel was one of the churches in the pilot, which showed promise in getting people tested.

Mt. Carmel experience
Mt. Carmel performed 179 tests during the pilot, Miles said. That’s a significant amount, given that community outreach events typically log no more than 10 or 15 tests.

Church leaders committed to holding at least two events per month, Miles said – whether youth activities, responsive readings, rallies or testimonials.
Medical staff only tested individuals between the ages of 18 and 64, but conversations were not limited to those age groups, said Stephanie Kimbrough, another church member involved with the pilot.

Kimbrough says it certainly opened lines of communication between her and her daughter, who was 12 years old at the time. The pilot also engaged older congregants as well, she says.

“Imagine talking to an 80-year-old woman about anal sex,” Kimbrough said. “That’s not always easy. Sometimes they didn’t understand. You had to explain what this was.”

Transferable process?
Berkley-Patton is hoping TIPS strategies work for other conditions afflicting the black community, including diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

She has termed that initiative Faith Influencing Transformation, an eight-month project scheduled to begin this fall with an $850,000 grant from the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

Berkley-Patton is working with the UMKC School of Nursing and Health Studies to perhaps have FIT provide hands-on experience to undergraduate health sciences students as preparation for public health careers.

At Mt. Carmel, Miles said, addressing other health issues might seem like a piece of cake after the discussion within the congregation about AIDS.

“If we could organize around an issue as complex as this, with the stigma and the lack of education,” she said, “then I think we can tackle anything.”

The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute. It is supported in part by a variety of underwriters. The News Service is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy-making environment. More about the News Service is at khi.org/newsservice or contact 785- 233-5443.
www.khi.org/news

Faith news

To send in items for the Faith News, email information to news@wyandottepublishing.com.

Edwardsville United Methodist Church Saturday Supper will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday, June 21. The church is at 302 N. 4th St., Edwardsville. Pork steak will be served along with salads, desserts, and drinks. A $7 donation is requested for adults and $4 for children.

Grandview Christian Church, 8550 Parallel Parkway, is collecting canned goods for Help 3:17, a local food pantry.

Grinter Chapel United Methodist Church Annual Spaghetti Dinner and Silent Auction will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. June 28 at 7819 Swartz Road. The meal includes all-you-can-eat spaghetti, salad, bread, drink and dessert: Adults $8, kids under 10, $4.

The International Body of the Church of God in Christ, headquartered in Memphis, will hold its Auxiliaries in Ministry convention June 30-July 4 in the Kansas City Convention Center, Kansas City, Mo. The convention will draw delegates from outside the region as well as church members from Kansas City, Kan., and Mo.

“Scripture Study, Bible Sharing and Reflection, Lectio and Journaling,” a regular weekly series facilitated by pastoral minister, Heather Neds, is offered from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Wednesdays at Keeler Women’s Center, 2220 Central Ave., Kansas City, Kan. This weekly Bible study group is based on the upcoming scripture readings from the Common Lectionary. There will be time for reflection, sharing and journaling. Call 913-906-8990 to register.

Living Water United Methodist Church, 3001 N. 115th St., plans an evening Vacation Bible School July 13-17 for preschool through fifth grade children. The theme is “Weird Animals.” To enroll, visit livingwaterumc.net/vacation-bible-school/ or call 913-400-7203.

The Soul Sisters book club at Open Door Baptist Church, 3033 N. 103rd Terrace, will meet at 10 a.m. June 21 to discuss the book, “Piercing the Darkness.”

Parkway Baptist Church,
12320 Parallel Parkway, will be the site of a Community Blood Center blood drive from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. June 23. The drive will be in the church classrooms. To schedule an appointment to give blood, visit savealifenow.org or call 816-753-4040.

Stony Point Christian Church, 149 S. 78th, is planning a rummage sale July 16-19. The sale may include clothing, household items and tools.

On June 21, parents of the St. Patrick Class of 2009 will commemorate Robert Zevenbergen, 20, with “Remembering Robert: A Luau with Love” to raise funds to construct a new emergency shelter for Wyandotte County children in crisis. The event is scheduled from 6 to 10 p.m. June 21 at the St. Patrick Parish Center, 94th and State Avenue, Kansas City, Kan. Tickets for the dinner are available at $25 a person. Call 913-328-4667 or email mclain_a@wmhci.org for more information or to make a donation. St. Patrick Catholic Church, 1086 N. 94th, will be the host for the National Pilgrim Virgin Statue of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Mass will be at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 21, at St. Patrick. A presentation on the Fatima message will be given by Deacon Bob Ellis after the Mass.