Christian HIV Resources and Programmes

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Christian Gender Resources

Christian Resources on HIV and gender can be found below and on our related website that deals specifically with geder and genderbased violence -

You can read more about advocacy and gender, including gender based violence, here.

News and resources that focus on gender but not specifically from  a Christian perspective can be found here.

This includes:

  • Gender Issues in the News
  • HIV and Gender-based Violence.
  • Gender Resources
  • Gender Mainstreaming and Programming Tools

Information about many more resources that deal with gender are available in the resource database

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Call to Action: Act Now for Children and Adolescents Living with HIV. 15/6/2017

Published by OIKOUMENE

To sign this Call to Action as a religious leader, please contact

About 1.8 million children under the age of 15 years are living with HIV. Every day, 400 children are newly infected, and 300 die. Fewer than half of the children needing treatment are receiving it. HIV is the second largest cause of adolescent deaths globally. In 2015 alone, 670,000 young people between the ages of 15 to 24 were newly infected with HIV. To make matters worse, children living with HIV are at serious risk of tuberculosis (TB). In 2015, 210,000 children died from TB. We must act now to ensure access to appropriate testing and treatment for children living with HIV.

As religious leaders and leaders of faith-based organizations, we remind governments of their commitments agreed in the June 2016 United Nations’ Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS that there should be “special emphasis on providing 1.6 million children (0-14 years of age) with antiretroviral therapy by 2018.”

We call on governments and the international community to take action in six key areas:

1.    Funded national plans: Ministries of Health and Finance must review their national and local plans and allocate sufficient funding to ensure that all children and adolescents living with HIV will have access to testing and treatment by 2018 and that by 2020 these children remain on treatment and are virally suppressed.

2.    Early diagnosis: Ministries of Health and Finance must prioritize HIV testing as soon after birth as possible for infants of women living with HIV, as peak mortality for babies living with HIV occurs within the first six weeks. Point-of-care pediatric diagnostics must be included in national scale-up plans and introduced as soon as possible.

3.    Appropriate medicines: Pharmaceutical and generic drug companies must develop formulations of their drugs that children can swallow, and are palatable, affordable and store well. For their part, Ministries of Health and regulatory bodies must ensure the speedy registration of WHO prequalified medications for children. Donors must support the Global Accelerator for Pediatric formulations (GAPf) which mitigates the risks faced by drug companies in producing medicines for such a relatively small market.

4.    Access to TB drugs: Ministries of Health and Finance must prioritize the national roll-out of quality-assured, affordable, child-friendly TB medicines in the correct internationally-recommended dosages that are now available. Pharmaceutical and generic drug companies must urgently develop paediatric formulations of selected drugs to treat multi-drug resistant TB.

5.    Eliminate stigma: Ministries of Education and Health must commit to ensuring that all children living with and affected by HIV are free from stigma and discrimination, paying particular attention to ensuring that schools are HIV stigma-free environments.

6.    Address food insecurity: Ministries of Health and Finance must commit to ensuring food and nutrition support to enhance treatment adherence and retention in care for children and adolescents living with HIV and TB.

We commit to:

1.    Speak out and engage with key stakeholders in support of the rights of children and adolescents living with HIV.

2.    Utilize congregational platforms for outreach to encourage community members to make full use of services for children living with HIV.

To sign this Call to Action as a religious leader, please contact

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Children, Adolescents and HIV. 18/5/2017

Published by OIKOUMENE

Globally about 1,800,000 children aged 0-14 are living with HIV, and only half of them are receiving the treatment they need to live a healthy and long life. Without treatment, about one third of children with HIV will die by their first birthday and half will die by their second.

One of the main reasons for the low treatment coverage is poor testing services for children. In 2015 less than half of HIV-exposed infants globally received early infant diagnostic services within the first two months of life as recommended. There is also an urgent need to develop fixed-dose-combinations (FDC) of pediatric antiretroviral formulations that are palatable and affordable. Finally, huge efforts are needed to retain children in treatment.

In addition, in 2015, there were also 1.8 million adolescents between the ages of 10 and 19 years were living with HIV. Adolescents represent a growing share of people living with HIV; in 2015, 250,000 adolescents between the age of 15 and 19 were newly infected with HIV. Only 13 per cent of adolescent girls and 9 per cent of adolescent boys aged 15 -19 in sub-Saharan Africa have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months and received the result of the last test.

If current trends continue, hundreds of thousands more will become HIV-positive in the coming years. Additionally, AIDS-related deaths among adolescents have increased over the past decade while decreasing among all other age groups. It is shocking that more adolescents die every year from AIDS-related illnesses than from any other cause except road accidents.

Political commitment and faith-based action

The June 2016 United Nations Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS describes treatment levels for children and adolescents “unacceptably low” and in response Member State governments agreed that there should be, “special emphasis on providing 1.6 million children (0-14 years of age) with antiretroviral therapy by 2018 and that children, adolescents and adults living with HIV know their status and are immediately offered and sustained on affordable and accessible quality treatment to ensure viral load suppression and underscore in this regard the urgency of closing the testing gap”.

These ambitious targets were achieved in large part by advocacy undertaken by civil society and faith based organizations (FBOs) working together with key UN partners and Member State governments. This includes the World Council of Churches - Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (WCC-EAA) which has been actively advocating for HIV treatment for children since 2006, raising awareness on the urgent need for HIV child-friendly and age appropriate medicines and by mobilizing faith-based advocacy on pediatric AIDS.

The WCC-EAA continues its effective advocacy for children and adolescents living with HIV at both global and national levels to ensure that the ambitious pediatric treatment and adolescents’ targets are to be achieved by 2018. This work is supported in part by the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).

The WCC-EAA is raising awareness among influential faith leaders and leaders of faith-run health and HIV services about the global 2018 HIV treatment targets for children and adolescents. With a focus on Kenya, the WCC-EAA will help partners identify and remove barriers to achieving the country pediatric testing and treatment targets.

FBOs play a very significant role in Kenya’s health service delivery, with faith-based health facilities comprising 11.3 per cent of all health care delivery and 70 per cent of the non-governmental facilities in the not-for-profit sector. The WCC-EAA has had a specific initiative in Kenya for several years called the Framework for Dialogue that provides practical steps to help faith communities and people living with HIV effectively address key issues of concern to those most affected at national levels. CIFF has also been working in Kenya for several years.

Together, WCC-EAA and CIFF bring partners and expertise that can ensure the youngest in our societies receive life-giving HIV treatment.

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HIV Education for Church and Community. 20/2/2017

Published by CCIHAIDS

The world is recognizing that without the involvement of the faith sector, it will not be able to achieve its goal of eliminating AIDS as a public health threat by 2030.

The faith sector has many strengths and advantages to bring to the global effort.

Now the question is, how will people of faith respond “in such a time as this”?

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Khutbah and Sermon Guides on Children and HIV for Religious Leaders. 2017

Published by USAID

These khutbah and sermon guides were developed to empower religious leaders with the tools and skills to reach their congregations with key messages on pediatric HIV transmission and prevention; stigma and discrimination; and treatment, care, and support; as well as male involvement in the HIV prevention and response continuum. Both guides were developed in collaboration with religious leaders.

You can access the resource here

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Educating Religious Leaders to Promote Uptake of Male Circumcision in Tanzania: A Cluster Randomised Trial. 14/2/2017

Published by THELANCET

Male circumcision is being widely deployed as an HIV prevention strategy in countries with high HIV incidence, but its uptake in sub-Saharan Africa has been below targets. The authors did a study to establish whether educating religious leaders about male circumcision would increase uptake in their village. They conclude that education of religious leaders had a substantial effect on uptake of male circumcision, and should be considered as part of male circumcision programmes in other sub-Saharan African countries. They think that the process of working through religious leaders can serve as an innovative model to promote healthy behaviour, leading to HIV prevention and other clinically relevant outcomes, in a variety of settings. 

You can access this resource here

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Engaging Religion and Faith – Based Actors in 2016. 12/2016

Published by UNFPA

This report provides an overview of the engagement with faith based actors and faith-related activities by the members of the United Nations Inter-Agency Task Force on Engaging Faith-Based Actors for Sustainable Development (short: UN Task Force on Religion and Development or IATF-FBOs). Covering the year of 2016, it continues to present the annual highlights of this work as it was done for the first time in 2015 through the first UN IATF report covering the period from 2013 – 2015 

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Tearfund Bridging the Gap Report. 2016


Tearfund’s Bridging the Gap: The Role of Local Churches in Fostering Local-Level Social Accountability and Governance forms part of a suite of resources that Tearfund produced to help demonstrate the impact of their Church and Community Mobilisation (CCM) advocacy work. Additional information on this work can be found on Tearfund’s International Learning Zone (TILZ) page.

Additional resources include:

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Affirming Persons, Saving Lives Learning Series. 2011

Affirming Persons, Saving Lives is the comprehensive HIV and AIDS awareness and prevention education curriculum published by the United Church of Christ.

The Introduction (PDF, 1.57 MB, 51pg)

The Intergenerational Learning Series (PDF, 1.52 MB, 34pg)

This series is designed for all generations in the church family. It gives children, youth and adults an opportunity to learn from each other and to share activities that build an awareness in the congregation that all ages can benefit from HIV and AIDS education.

The Adult Learning Series (PDF, 2.04 MB, 84pg)

This series helps adults assess their own degree of risk for HIV infection, strengthens personal understanding of the Christian community as a place where serious issues can be discussed, uses the knowledge of adults whose lives are affected by HIV or AIDS, and challenges adults to commit themselves to HIV and AIDS ministry.

The Parents Learning Series (PDF, 2.09 MB, 45pg)

This series encourages parents to talk with their children about HIV transmission, teaches practical communication skills to help parents discuss HIV and AIDS with their families, and helps parents see themselves as partners in the experience of teaching and learning about HIV and AIDS in the setting of the church.

The Youth Learning Series (PDF, 1.98 MB, 128pg)

This series for teenagers provides complete and factual information about HIV infection, transmission and infection, supports youth in making and keeping decisions informed by Christian values, and motivates youth to act with compassion and understanding towards persons living with HIV or AIDS. The series promotes healthy self-esteem, affirms abstinence, and underscores the value of intimacy and commitment in human relationships. Students learn how to say "no" to behaviors that transmit HIV, including unprotected sex and drug use.

The Grades 5 and 6 Learning Series includes necessary information on human sexuality, teaches effective ways to say "no" to unsafe or risky behavior, ensures a basic understanding of sexual intercourse and other forms of HIV transmission, stresses the importance of sexual abstinence, promotes the idea that sexual inte rcourse is an adult activity not appropriate for children, affirms that human beings have the freedom to make choices and teaches skills for making healthy decisions.

The Grades 3 and 4 Learning Series (PDF, 1.75 MB, 50pg)

This series nurtures children's self-esteem within a context of Christian values rooted in faithful discipleship, teaches important facts about HIV and AIDS, strengthens their ability to think about the consequences of their choices and teaches how to refuse pressure to engage in behavior that may be harmful to them.

The Grades 1 and 2 Learning Series (PDF, 2.46 MB, 45pg)

This series nurtures children's self-esteem within the context of Christian values and provides age-appropriate information about HIV and AIDS. The series helps children understand that their bodies are a wonderful gift from God and should be treated with care and respect, that Jesus teaches them to be kind and loving to all people, and that they can make kind, safe and healthy choices in their own lives.

The Preschool and Kindergarten Learning Series (PDF, 1.84MB, 41pg)

This series nurtures children's self-esteem within the context of Christian values, provides basic hygiene information and offers a simple, age-appropriate introduction to the subject of HIV and AIDS. Children learn that God loves everyone, including healthy and sick people, and that illness is not a divine punishment.

The curriculum includes handouts for students and a comprehensive package of Teacher Support Resources. The teacher's resources include a history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a guide to public speaking about AIDS education, a summary of the latest scientific research, a description of the pathology of HIV in the immune system, information about HIV antibody testing and statistics about sexual behavior among high school students.


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Clapping with Both Hands: 15 Studies of Good Practice in Promoting Gender Equality. 8/3/2012

Press release: A big hand for equality

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Gender equality is central to meeting the needs of the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people – men and women alike – concludes a new ACT Alliance report launched to mark International Women’s Day on
March 8.

“Clapping with Both Hands: 15 Studies of Good Practice in Promoting Gender Equality” celebrates innovative ACT programmes championed by brave women and men in 13 countries – from Guatemala to Indonesia, Mozambique to Nepal – that have enhanced the voice of women in workplaces, government and society at large.

“Gender equality and women’s empowerment are at the heart of ACT Alliance’s vision for a better and more just world,” said general secretary John Nduna. “While there has been progress on gender equality in some countries, women in many parts of the world suffer from violence, discrimination and under-representation in decision-making processes.

He said that when a humanitarian crisis occurred, gender inequalities were thrown into relief even more acutely.

The situation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a case in point. An estimated 1000 women a day are raped in the DRC, earning it the epithet of “rape capital of the world.”  Soldiers are some of the main perpetrators of the crime, instilling fear and mistrust in communities across the country.

The case study “Loving your enemies: working with soldiers to reform the army” describes how ACT member Christian Aid and the Central African Baptist Community trained the army, judicial system and communities on civilian rights and on ending sexual violence in order to put an end to impunity.

“I feel proud of myself for speaking out about what he did to me, and I feel much more at ease, to know he is being punished,” said one woman who was supported by ACT to press charges against her rapist.

By training soldiers, police officers, courts and community leaders, providing support to rape survivors and hosting symbolic reconciliation events, the innovative programme has started to build new, more accountable, relationships between soldiers and civilians. The result has been a dramatic decrease in the sexual harassment of women by soldiers.

Clapping with Both Hands highlights 14 other projects describing a range of programmes from peace-building to women’s political participation, sexual health campaigns to female-run micro-enterprises. In Senegal, young women who are taught safe sex and how to form healthy relationships are becoming mentors to girls in their neighbourhoods.

In Mali, campaigns to get more women on the election trail have resulted in the number of women candidates jumping by 42% in some regions. The report demonstrates how all aspects of life and all members of the community must have the will to change in order for real transformation to occur.

ACT hopes that the case studies will inspire development practitioners around the world and spark new energy for gender equality in different contexts. The report’s title, Clapping with both hands, signifies the need for women and men to work together on strategies promoting gender equality and gender justice: that’s when the applause can really begin.

About ACT Alliance

ACT Alliance is a global network of more than 125 member organisations working in long-term development, humanitarian assistance and advocacy. Its members work in 140 countries and employ around 30,000 staff and volunteers. Alliance members strive for positive and sustainable change in the lives of people affected by poverty and injustice.

Read the full gender equality report here:

For more information, please contact:
Jan Disselkoen
ph: +1 905-336-2920 ext 284

High resolution photos available from:
Sandra Cox
Communications Officer
ACT Alliance
ph: +41 (0)79 681 1868

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Created in God's Image - A gender transformation toolkit for women and men in churches. Sept 2014


Developed by PACSA, NCA and ACTAlliance

This is a revised edition of the booklet “Created in God’s Image: A tool for women and men in churches” produced in 2008. The structure of the tool has been changed to take the form of a toolkit.

Downlad the PDF Toolkit here 5,124KB / 5.00 MB

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Gender Justice, Ministry and Healing. A Christian Response to the HIV Pandemic. 12/2009

Published by Progressio December 2009

ISBN: 978-1-85287-332-5
Author: Nyambura Njoroge

In this Comment, theologian and ecumenist Nyambura Njoroge describes the experience of African Christian women in promoting gender justice, in the context of HIV, through a 'ministry of Bible reading'. It highlights the potential of Christian communities to tackle the gender discrimination and disempowerment of women that has been a key driver of the HIV pandemic.

-Introduction: fundamental problems of patriarchy and
-Healing, justice and life-giving reading ministry
-Let’s not reinvent the wheel

Download this document here (PDF, 124.22KB, 16pg)

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HIV, Women and Motherhood.

The Strategies for Hope Trust would like to inform you about a new initiative in the world of audio communication. 

'HIV, Women and Motherhood' is a collection of 14 interviews which explore the many and complex issues in relation to motherhood facing women living with HIV.  All these interviews are now accessible - in audio form only - via the Strategies for Hope website .

Twelve of the interviews are with women from many different parts of the world who are either mothers or want to become mothers.  Each woman describes how she learned of her HIV-positive diagnosis and what she has done with her life since then.  Some of the experiences of these women were deeply traumatic and many have faced prejudice and stigma.  But each displays great courage, resilience and a desire to change the world. 

The other two interviewees are leading international advocates for women's rights: Mary Robinson (former President of Ireland) and Dr Musimbi Kanyoro (Director of the Packard Foundation's Population Programme). 

The 14 interviews were carried out by Alice Welbourn, author of 'Stepping Stones' and herself a mother living with HIV, together with radio producer Rosemary Hill.  They contain many important lessons for law makers and law enforcers, government policy makers, health practitioners, faith-based organisations, advocacy groups and service providers.  

The interviews are designed as a means of raising public and official awareness of the hugely important issues of HIV and motherhood.  When played to a group, time should be allowed to discuss the policy recommendations which they make, rather than limiting the discussion to personal details. 

Broadcast-quality recordings are available, on request, to radio stations.  Please contact the Series Editor, Strategies for Hope.  Comments on these recordings would be greatly appreciated.

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In the Image of God: Sex, Power, and ‘Masculine Christianity’ 17/05/2013

Most of us are too familiar with this story: an Upper Midwestern Baptist minister claims that “God made Christianity to have a masculine feel [and] ordained for the church a masculine ministry.” Or a Reformed Christian pastor mocks the appointment of the first female head of the Episcopal Church, comparing her to a “fluffy baby bunny rabbit.” Or a Southern Baptist megachurch pastor in California says physical abuse by one’s spouse is not a reason for divorce. Or numerous young evangelical ministers brag about their hot wives in tight leather pants.

by Catherine Woodiwiss 05-15-2013


A woman stands alone on the stairs. Photo courtesy Kati Neudert/

Fewer of us are familiar with this story: Tamar is raped by her half-brother Amnon. Tamar protests her brother’s advances, citing the social code of Israel, his reputation, and her shame, to no avail. Their brother Absalom commands her to keep quiet, and their father, the great King David, turns a blind eye.

What do these contemporary statements above, delivered into cultural megaphones with conviction and certainty, have to do with the Old Testament rape and silencing of Tamar? The difficult answer is, quite a lot. The narrative dominance of these stories rests on power and control, which — whether intentional or not — speaks volumes about whom the church serves and what the church values.

In short, the stories that fail to treat women seriously are the kinds of narratives that lead to manipulation, devaluation, and sexual abuse of these very women.

There is too often a shameful culture of silence around rape and abuse in the church. But equally pressing is the confusion or silence in many evangelical communities around the pattern-forming behaviors that lead to it. For men and women alike, this brand of silence has roots in a sexualized view of women, and is given context in a power narrative that is built to protect and perpetuate male dominance in the church.

This kind of silence is incompatible with valuing women as made in the image of God.

In the American church today, men hold a significant proportion of narrative power. Though twice as many women as men join discipleship activities and greatly outnumber men in church attendance, a significant majority of men still hold the highest positions of leadership across denominations. Of course, if not from the pulpit, women may speak out in other forums (increasingly, for example, through publishing or online platforms, as notable evangelical women are doing). But it does not require rejecting a complementarian view of gender to recognize that the predominance of men in church leadership makes power a gendered issue for the church.

And the church’s unsettled relationship with gender and sex in the context of power does contribute to an ugly storyline that too often crops up in this framework: that a woman’s value is inextricably tied up in her sexuality.

The consequences of this view was starkly articulated last week by Elizabeth Smart, a Mormon from Utah who was kidnapped at age 14 and sexually assaulted during her 9-month captivity. She spoke of her hesitancy to flee her captors in damning terms for our faith communities’ discussions of purity.

"I was raised in a very religious household — one that taught that sex was something special that only happened between a husband and wife who love each other,” Smart said.

She continued: 

“So for that first rape, I felt crushed. Who could want me now? I felt so dirty and so filthy. If you can imagine the most special thing being taken away from you and feeling that — not that that was your only value in life, but something that devalued you — can you imagine turning around and going back into a society where you're no longer of value, where you're no longer as good as everybody else?"

The church's emphasis on young women, but not necessarily young men, remaining “pure” for their future spouse creates a double bind, Victoria Ferguson, founder of Kindred Moxie, a faith-based domestic violence advocacy network in Atlanta, Ga., said — one where women carry the burden of responsibility for sexual purity but have no power over the consequence.

“We are told every day, ‘boys will be boys. Your obligation is to not be raped.’ As if this is what just men do,’” she said.

This approach, Ferguson said, uncomfortably mirrors the broader cultural approach to rape and victim-blame.

“You don’t see the media discussing the impact or magnitude of intimate partner violence,” Ferguson said. “We are giving the perpetrators attention without accountability. We ask, ‘Why is she still with him? Not: ‘Why did he do that to her?’”

In the realm of sexuality and sexual violence, the media and the church share at least one frustrating commonality: the dominant voices are male, and their prominent focus and value judgments are directed at females.

“It’s the hyper-masculine kinds of comments that get the most publicity,” said Rev. Sharyl Marshall Dixon, associate pastor at the Presbyterian Church of Deep Run in Perkasie, Pa. “They’re louder and meaner, and make better stories. But they’re not making my job any easier.”

Donna Schaper, senior minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City, agreed.

“Nuns and Protestant women are also very much faith leaders. But the megaphone is captured by white Protestant men,” she said. “We need to say out loud whose voices are not being heard — and give women hope that they might be heard.”

Overt or systematic sexism and abuse is easy enough to name and denounce. What is more troubling is when sexism is perpetuated in the same breath as healing and empowerment. It is important to note, for example, that controversial megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll has in fact spoken out repeatedly on the specter of sexual abuse in church. On an issue shrouded in such silence, his outspokenness is commendable.

Unfortunately, Driscoll’s consistently demeaning language towards women makes his narrative on sexual abuse precarious. If anything, it makes his sentiments all the more harmful and open to misappropriation. How can a young man learn to properly respect a woman when his pastor insists that women are unfit for leading the church “because they are more gullible and easier to deceive than men?” How can young women learn true, self-respecting empowerment when their teacher compares an enslaved child-bride, Esther, to a sexy contender on The Bachelor (one who “allows men to cater to her needs, lands a really rich guy…and wows with an amazing night in bed”) — and calls her “simply a person without any character until her own neck is on the line?"

And what does it mean when otherwise-thoughtful and respected church leaders like John Piper and Rick Warren’s Saddleback co-pastor Tom Holladay insist that women have no right to leave their abusive marriages?

How can young men learn to not abuse women when they are simultaneously being modeled the behaviors that lead to it?

For those trying to foster a culture of respectful men, the trend among such male leaders toward masculine swagger and gender prescriptiveness is worrisome, and too closely mirrors the crisis of power at play in abuse.

“[Rape] is not about short skirts,” Schaper said. “It’s about fear of powerlessness. It’s a crisis of masculinity and social control.”

“Where I hear people crying out from abuse — it’s just so sad,” Marshall Dixon added. “That’s not the Jesus I find in scripture or preach on Sunday morning. Where are you finding that?”

In reality, “we, men included, are confronting a terrible despair,” Schaper concluded. “[Outbursts of violence] would not happen if boys and men could feel effective. We need to help men find a healthy power.”

How can we create better narratives in our faith communities?

Jackson Katz, Founder and Director of MVP Strategies, echoed Ferguson’s calls to shift the focus on sexual abuse back to those in power.

“We have to ask a different set of questions,” Katz said, adding:

“Not about women, but men. Include things like: Why do so many adult men sexually abuse little girls and little boys? Why do we hear over and over again about scandals erupting in major institutions like the church? And what is the role of the various institutions in our society that are helping produce abusive men at pandemic rates? Once we start asking those questions, then we can talk about how we can be transformative.”

And indeed, the ongoing media coverage of clerical abuse of children helps shift the narrative to the perpetrators, and, equally critically, to sexual abuse as a power act.

As people of faith, the stories we tell have spiritual and physical consequences. In order to salvage the good messages of church leaders like Driscoll, Piper, and Holladay from the ugly, marginalizing power dynamics, a richer vision of women as made in the image of God is desperately needed.

In looking at progress made for women’s voices in the church, “We’re maybe 25 miles down a 100-mile road,” Schaper said. “The change ahead may be slow, or it may be radically transformative. I’m just not sure yet.”

This is the second in a Sojourners series on sexual violence in Christian communities. 

Catherine Woodiwiss is Associate Web Editor at Sojourners. Find her on Twitter @chwoodiwiss.

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Love, Children and Family Planning: Seven Discussion Guides for Christian Small Groups, 2013


Publication Date: January 1, 2013

This resource contains a series of Bible discussion guides and information on family planning and related topics to be used with Christian audiences to inspire discussion on family planning. It is "meant to be used by small groups – in churches, in neighborhoods and in Christian nursing schools and health centers."

As stated in the guide, "churches can help their members, both older and younger, to understand why couples should make good plans for having children, and why spacing children is best for the health of the mother, baby, and the family."

The book is divided into two sections: The first contains the seven discussion guides, which are based on Bible passages, as well as suggestions for discussing them in small groups. The second section gives information about the many different family planning methods available from health providers.

"This book was a cooperative effort of Christian health workers, pastors, church leaders, youth, and members of churches. Contributions and comments came from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Tanzania, and the United States."

"This guide was published under the project, Mobilizing Faith-based Organizations to Expand Access to and Choice in Family Planning, supported by the World Bank under the 2011 Population and Reproductive Health Capacity Building Grant Program."


This version of the guide is best for electronic viewing and single page (8.5″ x 11″) printing. 

File Size: 3 MB


This version of the guide is formatted to be printed as a booklet with two pages per 8.5″ x 11″ sheet. To assemble as a booklet, fold the sheets in half and bind in the middle. 

File Size: 959 KB

Free to download
Languages: English
Number of Pages: 68


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Men, Women and Biblical Equality. 1989

Published by CBE International 1989

CBE's statement, "Men, Women, and Biblical Equality,” lays out the biblical rationale for equality, as well as its practical applications in the family and community of believers. The statement is available in 30 languages! Select a different language below to view the statement.

Download this document here (PDF, 47.85KB, 2pg)

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The Faithful House

The Faithful House is a unique curriculum centered on the couple and focused on fidelity within the relationship or marriage.

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The Faithful House Couple Handbook. Affirming Life, Avoiding Risk. 2010

Published by the CRS - Catholic Relief Services 2010

The Faithful House Couple Handbook is a picture based summary of The Faithful House couple training and formation. It is intended to be used after a couple has had the Faithful House Training. The pictures and accompanying text serve as a refresher course to supplement what the couple learned and experienced in their training.

Download this document here (PDF, 9.91 MB, 11pg)

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The Faithful House Operations Research Study on Attitudes and Reported Practices in North Cameroon. 10/2010

Published by the Catholic Relief Services October 2010

Subtitle: "Can a Couples-Centered, Faithfulness-Focused Curriculum Strengthen the Family Unit and Change Attitudes and Behaviors Related to HIV Risk and Multiple and Concurrent Partnerships?." The Faithful House is a unique curriculum centered on the couple and focused on fidelity within the relationship or marriage. Operations research was conducted to evaluate the impact of a 3-day version of the workshop. This study conducted in Kumbo and Bamenda, Cameroon, is the first phase of multi-country operations research study.

-Executive Summary
-Project Background
-Project Study Description

Download this document here (PDF, 767.37KB, 42pg)

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The Faithful House Couple Handbook. Couples Affirming Life and Love. 2011

Published by CRS - Catholic Relief Services 2011

This handbook is a picture-based summary of The Faithful House couple training and formation. By reviewing the pictures and the accompanying text, a couple can be refreshed as to what they learned and experienced in their training. If a couple is having troubles in their marriage, they may “sort through” the house and see where the problem lies. A couple can also use the handbook to share the Faithful House message with others.

Download this document here (PDF, 9.68 MB, 13pg)

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The Faithful House. A Couple’s Guide to PMTCT. 2011

Catholic Relief Services in Collaboration with Maternal Life International Maternal Life Uganda CRS Uganda 2011

This document has been developed as an educational and support resource for PMTCT teams. The program provides a framework for encouraging and supporting the couple during pregnancy.

-Note for Facilitators of the Faithful House PMTCT Workshop
-The Faithful House: a Couple’s Guide to PMTCT
-Welcome and Introduction
-Module one: The journey of pregnancy
-Module two: Building the faithful house
-Module three: Completing the faithful house
-Module four: Living in a faithful house
-Module five: Challenges to the faithful house

Download this document here (PDF, 4.92MB, 168pg)

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The Faithful House. Building Strong Families to Affirm Life and Avoid Risk. 4/10

Published by Catholic Relief Services in Collaboration with Maternal Life Uganda and Maternal Life International April 2010

2nd Edition. Subtitle: Core Manual Module.This manual contains five modules with eight sessions for use in training couples how to strengthen their marriage. The Faithful House underscores the importance of abstinence and faithfulness in building strong and committed marriages and healthy families. In turn, these marriages and families become foundational in creating “civilizations of love” which define authentic human progress. The Faithful House program is intended for young people and married couples

-Foreword to the First Edition
-1. Introduction to The Faithful House
-2. Module One: The Frame of The Faithful House
-3. Module Two: Completing The Faithful House
-4. Module Three: Living within a Faithful House
-5. Module 4: Challenges within the Faithful House
-6. Appendices

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The Faithful House. Training of Facilitators Manual. 1st Edition 2010

Published by Catholic Relief Services in Collaboration with Maternal Life International Maternal Life Uganda CRS Uganda 2011

The Faithful House Trainer of Facilitators secular manual is a curriculum for training master couples as facilitators for Faithful House workshops outside of the church context.

-Module 1: Three snapshots of Uganda
-Module 2: A future snapshot of Uganda
-Module 3: The example of faithful couples
-Module 4: Our roles in sharing the faithful house program
-Module 6: The center of the star
-Point 1 of the star: Preparation
-Point 3 of the star: Humility
-Point 4 of the star: Confidence
-Point 5 of the star: Participatory
-Learn, do, facilitate: Practicing facilitation
-Ready, set, go
-The Center of the Star Revisited

Download the first edtion here (PDF, 2.07 MB, 41pg)

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The Faithful House. Training of Facilitators Manual. 2nd Edition 2011

Published by Catholic Relief Services in Collaboration with Maternal Life International Maternal Life Uganda CRS Uganda 2011

This manual is written to provide training for couples who will be training facilitators for the Faithful House program. The manual you will be using in the Training of Facilitators workshop is designed to guide you on a “journey of discovery.” There are two parts to the manual: The first part, which we refer to as Exercises/Questions, contains exercises and questions that will guide you on this journey of exploration. The second part of the manual contains responses, answers and supplementary information about the topics presented in Exercises/Questions and is referred to as Answers/Responses. In order to challenge your powers of discovery, the answers and responses are given to you after the exercises and questions part of your “journey” is completed. In this second edition of the manual, we have added two appendices.


-Introductions and expectations
-Module 1A: Three snapshots of Africa
-Module 2A: Developing Faithful House personnel
-Module 3A: The example of faithful couples
-Module 4A: Qualities of a good facilitator
-Module 5A: Principles of adult learning
-Module 6A: Training methods for The Faithful House
-Module 7A: Practicing facilitation
-Facilitator feedback form
-Module 8A: Monitoring and evaluation
-Module 9A: The center of the star
-Module 1B: Three snapshots
-Module 2B: Developing Faithful House personnel
-Module 3B: The example of faithful couples
-Module 4B: Qualities of a good facilitator
-Module 5B: Principles of adult learning
-Module 6B: Training methods for The Faithful House
-Module 7B: Practicing facilitation
-Module 8B: Monitoring and evaluation
-Module 9B: The center of the star
-Appendix one: More faitful houses, improves faithful houses
-Appendix two: Our inner house
-Appendix two, part two: Temperament and mood
-Appendix three: Monitoring and evaluation forms
-The Faithful House 6-month post-test questionnaire
-Faithful House activity-tracking form

 Download the second edtion here (PDF, 948.78KB, 112pg)

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The Faithful House: Affirming Life, Avoiding Risk. 2009

Published by Catholic Relief Services in collaboration with Maternal Life Uganda and Maternal Life International 2009

Subtitle: "PMTCT supplement." The Faithful House PMTCT Supplement builds upon the information presented in The Faithful House program. Information for facilitators and counselors supporting pregnant women who are HIV positive are included in this supplement.

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The Faithful House: Challenging Gender Norms to Reduce Multiple and Concurrent Partnerships. 2010

Published by the Catholic Relief Services 2010

Written by Dr. Dorothy Brewster-Lee, Adele Clark, Mitiku Telilla

This paper describes results from pre- and postworkshop evaluations that explored what attitude and behavior differences occurred from participation in the Faithful House program and how men and women differed in reported changes. Background: The Faithful House (TFH) is a curriculum that encourages couples to “Be Faithful” by challenging social and cultural gender norms and building skills in interpersonal communication. From 2007 to 2009, Catholic Relief Services (CRS)-Ethiopia trained 1,618 people using TFH; in turn, they reached 8,542 other couples with the curriculum. Conclusions: Though these differences of age and education remain static in the marriage, the training was nevertheless able to positively influence other culturally determined values such as finances, childcare responsibilities, and communication.

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The Faithful House: Challenging Gender Norms to Reduce Multiple and Concurrent Partnerships. Poster 2010

Published by Catholic Relief Services-Ethiopia 2010

Written by Dr. Dorothy Brewster-Lee, Adele Clark, Mitiku Tellila

Gender differences in age and education are a common marital dynamic in Ethiopia and contribute to the gender inequity experienced in many of these relationships. This evaluation aimed to explore what attitude and behavior differences related to these gender roles were changed following participation in TFH, and how men and women differed in reported changes


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The Faithful House: Confronting Multiple and Concurrent Partnerships in the Church. 2010

Published by CRS - Catholic Relief Services 2010

Written by Dr. Dorothy Brewster-Lee, Adele Clark

Background: Reducing the number of multiple concurrent partnerships (MCP) is key to interrupting HIV transmission. The Faithful House (TFH) is a curricula uniquely focusing on fidelity. Facilitator trainees underwent a week of training in TFH in Rwanda (RW), Central Uganda (CU) and North Uganda (NU). Conclusions: The greatest changes resulting from TFH training are where the person exercises the most control; e.g., HIV testing, talking to kids about sex, and communicating with spouse about finance and sex. Parishioners seem willing to seek out church leaders to discuss infidelity, so leaders should be adequately trained to address these issues. These findings should be applied to the development of an HIV prevention strategy that addresses MCP practices in the faith setting through couples’ peer educators.

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The Faithful House: Couples Affirming Life and Love Program Manual. 2011

Catholic Relief Services in collaboration with Maternal life Uganda CRS Ethiopia Maternal Life International


The Couples Affirming Life and Love manual builds upon the success of the original Faithful House program. Like the original program, it uses the metaphor of building a house as a means of helping couples build a better marriage. It also specifically addresses challenges unique to couples who are discordant or who are both HIV-positive, such as adherence, stigma and discrimination, sex in marriage, planning for children and preparing one’s family for death and bereavement

-Module one: The frame of the house
-Module two: Completing the faithful house
-Module three: Living in a faithful house
-Module four: Challenges to the faithful house
-Closing of the faithful house program

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Audit of Gender Related Policies in Southern African Churches. 2008

Published by Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness 2008

The purpose of this research was to serve as a model reflective tool/device for churches when engaging with gender discourse and not to be an exhaustive academic analysis. By examining the relevant policies, doctrines and to some extent practices of each selected church, this report seeks to serve as a model that can be reproduced in other churches. 3 church and gender audits were undertaken in 2006-7 in three southern African countries - Zambia, Malawi and South Africa. The purpose of the audits was to assess the levels of gender consciousness in churches as well as how these are lived out in the work and teachings of these churches.

- Preface
- Summary of the reports of the Churches and Gender Audits Conducted in Zambia, Malawi, and South Africa
- Gender Audits in Churches in Zambia: An Assessments of church law, doctrines and policies as they affect women's righ
- Gender audit of the church in Malawi Phase Two: Gender and grounded realities in five churches in Malawi Audits of Gender Related policies and their implementation among selected South Africa Churches

Download this document from PACSA (PDF, 1.06 MB, 36pg)

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Gender HIV and the Church (2009) Tearfund.

  • A case study on Gender, HIV and the Church written by Mandy Marshall, Idrissa Ouedraogo & Maggie Sandilands and Edited by Maggie Sandilands. Tearfund, March 2009. The case study outlines the programme in Burkina Faso and Zimbabwe over the last 3 years in working through the local church to challenge and change culturally and Biblically based attitudes on gender and sexual rights in the context of HIV and AIDS. The local organisations took a relationship based approach to gender in engaging the local church communities. The case study gives stories of transformation along with Bible studies to engage the church. The programme has seen some amazing success and outlines key aspects of the programme for replication, challenges faced and future issues to consider. Download PDF (12p.; 305.42KB).

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Losing My Religion For Equality 24/01/2013

By: Jimmy Carter

Women and girls have been discriminated against for too long in a twisted interpretation of the word of God.

I HAVE been a practising Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention's leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be "subservient" to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women's equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices - as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy - and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: "The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable."

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world's major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place - and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence - than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn't until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had - and still have - an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions - all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.


Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

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Religion and Masculinities in Africa: Its Impact on HIV and Gender Based Violence. 2012

Published by Stellenbosch University 2012

By Ezra Chitando

This chapter utilises the emerging field of religion and masculinities to explore the opportunities for Africanization. The main argument is that African material will necessarily colour and influence the study of religion in Africa. This is rightly so: being located in Africa means that the study of religion should not be the same as it is elsewhere in the world. The chapter argues that the discourse on religion and masculinities in Africa provides a valuable opportunity for African scholars to be creative and illustrate the possibility of doing religious studies with an African flavour.

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Staan Saam Op Teen Verkragting En Geweld. 20/02/2013

Die onlangse brutale verkragting en moord van Anene Booysen het skokgolwe dwarsdeur die Suid-Afrikaanse gemeenskap gestuur wat wêreldwyd op internasionale nuuskanale weerklink het.

Geen mens, of te wel medemens, kan anders as om in jou wese geruk te wees deur hierdie gru-daad nie. “Hoe kan een mens so iets aan ’n ander mens doen?” wil ’n mens dit uitskreeu.

Maar terselfdertyd word ons met die realiteit gekonfronteer dat verkragting en geweld teen vroue ’n byna alledaagse verskynsel in ons land geword het. Anene se tragiese sterwe kom gooi die vergrootglas op Suid-Afrika se skokkende verkragtingsyfers.

Volgens amptelike statistiek was daar in 2012 na raming 65 000 seksuele oortredings in Suid-Afrika. Maar volgens die polisie word net een uit ongeveer elke 36 verkragtings aangemeld. (Outrage over teen’s gruseome rape, News24 2013-02-07)

In hierdie tyd waarin soveel stemme in protes weerklink het, kan en mag ons as Christene nie stilbly of wegkyk nie. Ons het ’n verantwoordelikheid teenoor mekaar en tot ons gemeenskap om ons stemme dik te maak... Om mekaar en ook ons kinders daaraan te herinner dat God ons almal net ’n klein bietjie minder as die hemelse wesens gemaak het. Dat Hy man en vrou na Sy beeld geskep het . Dat Jesus Christus duur betaal het vir ELKEEN van ons... Dat verkragting en alle vorme van seksuele geweld direk indruis teen ons God se hart van liefde. Mag ons onomwonde sê dat verkragting ONAANVAARBAAR is en ons dit nie langer wil duld nie.

Een manier om uiting aan ons protes te gee, is om saam met ander gelowiges die Thursdays in Black inisiatief van die Diakonia Raad van Kerke te ondersteun. In die Boland word die projek deur CABSA en Helderberg Uitreik se MIV projek ondersteun en in Gauteng deur die CARIS Kantoor. Ons wil jou aanmoedig – word deel van die “Thursdays in Black” inisiatief. Kom ons droom oor en werk na ’n wêreld sonder verkragting en geweld. Kom ons staan fisies op, stap na ons klerekas en kies elke Donderdag om swart aan te trek. Kom ons word ’n simbool van bewusmaking, solidariteit en protes. Maar terselfdertyd ook ’n simbool van wedersydse liefde en respek in ons verhoudings met mekaar.

Kontak CABSA of Diakonia as jy in speldjies belangstel.
Aneleh Fourie-Le Roux
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The Role of Religious Communities in Addressing Gender-based Violence and HIV. 8/2009

Published by USAID August 2009

This report summarizes the USAID | Health Policy Initiative, Task Order 1 project titled The Role of Religious Communities in Addressing Gender-based Violence and HIV, which was designed and implemented by Futures Group International and Religions for Peace. Recognizing the importance of collaborating to prevent and reduce gender-based violence (GBV) and HIV among women and girls, the Initiative partners formulated the project to improve the capacity of religious leaders and faith-based organizations (FBOs) to respond to GBV and its links to HIV. FBOs, religious communities and, in particular, religious leaders, are often key catalysts for positive social change. Religious leaders are key stakeholders in responding to health and social issues and can play an influential role in validating and promoting best practices for preventing and reducing GBV and related vulnerability to HIV in their communities

-Executive Summary
-Gender-based Violence and HIV
-Project Activities

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Three Models of Manhood: In Search of Real Men. 2009

Written by Prof TS Maluleke 2009

This Bible study proposes a medley of three Biblical passages as sites in which we may explore constructive models of manhood. But the Bible seldom provide us with ready made models, complete maps written to scale and answers invoking no further questions. Indeed, Biblical models of anything, can only emerge in dialogue, contestation, prayer and grappling. Simplistic, hasty and slavish adoption of stories about apparently successful men in the Bible as examples of model manhood may prove to be dangerous and counter-productive. As the medley of passages chosen for this study will show, there are some male examples not meant for imitation - even in the Bible. Some of the stories of apparently successful or unsuccessful men in the Bible are complex - yielding no easy answers - and therefore needing to be read both prayerfully and critically. Three models of manhood, derived from our readings are proposed below, namely, a) man of tombs, b) man but not main, and c) real man.

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‘How Far Is Too Far?:’ Sexuality and Sexual Violence on Christian Campuses. 8/7/2013

Last week, four football players at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., were suspended and banned from campus pending an investigation into possible on-campus sex crimes allegedly perpetrated by the players.

A young couple holds hands. Photo courtesy Peter Bernik/

The action on the case has been swift from both law enforcement and university officials, if tight-lipped. To date, police have not elaborated on the nature of the investigation, and the player’s coaches have refused requests for comment.

“Much like many sexual violence cases, [these] investigations are taboo and not openly acknowledged,” Nancy Hawthorne, interim director of Vanderbilt University’s United Methodist campus ministry, told Sojourners. “As more unfolds about this case I hope that both the victims of violence as well as those being investigated can get the help they need.”

Unfortunately, sexual violence on college campuses is a widespread reality. As many as 20-25 percent of women will face attempted or completed assault over the course of their college tenure. Contrary to popular myths about “stranger-danger,” 9-in-10 of those victims will know their attacker. 

For Christian college administrators, who take seriously the formation not just of mind but of spirit, the reality of campus-based sexual violence is challenging for many to admit. Yet it has serious implications for how students learn, understand, and develop self-respect and love for their neighbor.

In speaking with students, former students, and staff at Christian schools across the country, what’s revealed is that education about the realities and effects of sexual violence among college students remains anemic at best. There’s much to suggest that students are finding their way, but many — particularly at more sexually orthodox campuses — face frightening barriers to knowledge. When it comes to educating mind and spirit on sexual violence, Christian institutes of higher education still have far to go.

Abuse Happens

Maggie Gilman, Prevention Education Specialist at Clackamas Women’s Services in Portland, Ore., tells of an assault case at her alma mater, Goshen College in Goshen, Ind. Compounding the pain of the incident was the treatment of the case by administrators and students alike. Like many Christian schools, Goshen has sexual assault policies, and after the incident Goshen “revamped them to be more accessible,” Gilman said. Nevertheless, she was “taken aback” by the questions — from skeptical to naive and accusatory — asked about the case. 

“I didn’t feel like everyone had been well-educated about sexual violence — it was really hard to watch,” she said.

Indeed, the first step for many institutions is recognizing — publically and in private — that abuse happens.  

“Many Christian campuses pretend stats don’t apply to them,” Kate Davelaar, chaplain at Hope College in Holland, Mich., said. “It’s simply not believed.”

Deb Danielson, a counselor at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, Penn., agreed.

“We know so much more abuse happens than we ever hear about,” she said.

The National Justice Institute reports that across college campuses, fewer than 5 percent of sexual assault incidents go reported to law enforcement or school officials. The reasons for this are varied, but disbelief and confusion about the nature of sexual violence play large roles in Christian communities. 

“Simple awareness of sexual violence is the biggest shock,” Jeff Brown, a rising senior and member of the Sexual Assault Prevention Team at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., said. For the many educations programs SAPT organizes, “we’re really mostly telling folks that sexual assault happens at Calvin.”

Boundaries Crossed

The reality of campus assault was a surprise for Brown. As a freshman, “sexual abuse wasn’t on my radar,” he said. “I didn’t know anything about it.” But after hearing leaders at Calvin speak on how sexualized language can accelerate violence, “I wanted to sign up and find out more,” he said.

Brown is not alone in his experience. Counselors and chaplains, as well as former and current students, note the lack of awareness about sexual abuse among incoming college students. Equally troubling, they note, is the prevalence of personal confusion over healthy boundaries and what constitutes violence. 

“Young adults come in, few are exposed to partying, they have no framework for a responsible way to deal with sex and alcohol other than ‘don’t do it,” Gilman said. “It’s really dangerous.”

Davelaar suggested uneasiness with sexuality can reduce students' language around purity and dating to a formula.

"Students are willing to talk about sex, but the predominant question is 'how far is too far?'" she said, noting that fitting traditional notions of male and female roles to a campus setting can add to the confusion.

“The idea of having boundaries is clear. What that means is confusing,” she said. “Sex is often seen [by female students] as just stuff that happens to them. Or them trying to please their partner.”

As part of his work on abuse awareness and prevention, Brown helps host chapel presentations, monthly sessions, and regular dorm programming to instruct students in notions of healthy personal boundaries.

“We focus on: what is sexual assault? What is consent? Some students have come here with built up pain, and after hearing these definitions recognized for the first time that they’ve suffered assault,” he said.

Purity and Shame

Confusion about personal boundaries arises in part from confusion among Christian young adults about sex. And for more sexually conservative campuses, the inclination to relegate sexual violence under a broader taboo on sexuality can leave students ill-equipped, naive, or downright misinformed about healthy sexual interaction.  

And while a positive ethic of holistic purity does not itself equate to silence and blame, the rigidly simplified yet obtuse connotations that the term "purity" too often compounds the issue.

Davelaar pointed to one such brand of “purity culture” — one “that tells women they are ‘damaged goods’ for having sex” but “tells men they ‘made a mistake, and just do better next time’” — as a main culprit in distorted notions of sexual health and identity among Christian young adults.

“Most students who wear purity rings have sex,” she said. “But they still wear them. It’s hard to ‘fess up’ even to each other that they’re having sex. If they can’t talk about that, they definitely can’t talk about sexual violence.”

Danielson agreed. 

“Thoughtful sexuality is hard. I see students saying, ‘we want to have sex honorably and we don’t know what that looks like,’” she said.

When idealized notions of purity interact with gendered ideas of shame, the result for Christian couples can be grave. Amy Mashburn, a recent graduate of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill., noted a sobering trend among her engaged and married friends at Wheaton: the “vast majority” of women “could not label their own anatomy, much less did they understand the basics of sex”, she said; and she was “shocked” by the “total ubiquity of porn addiction” among men.

Mashburn added that a counselor had told her boyfriend “he was [literally] the only male student he had counseled in his five years at Wheaton who did not have that problem.”

“Needless to say, this causes a ton of problems in the marriage bed,” she said. “[Most] porn is seriously degrading to women. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that a sexually repressed wife plus a husband who is addicted to sexually deviant porn has to be an underlying cause in the sexual abuse we see in churches today.”

Gender, Power and Respect

For young adults grappling with sex, purity, and shame, gendered power also contributes to silence on sexual violence.

“The hard part about this stuff is it challenges a lot of what we treat as norms — about gender, sexuality, even the problem of sexual violence itself [being ‘man vs woman’],” Gilman said. “Every person has the right to say no to a date, to end a relationship without fear of retaliation. In religious communities with stricter ideas about what men and women are supposed to be, this is much harder to do.”

Davelaar agreed.

“We’re very male-dominated when it comes to gender and power in play,” she said. “Until we change that in the institution, we will continue to be a place where victims would rather take the road to silence.”

Indeed, Andrew Haas, a current student at Wheaton, observed a negative tendency of complementarian ideas playing out in overdrawn gender roles. While not objecting to the theology, the cultural expression of it “leads to a view that women are not as intelligent as men,” Haas said.

“There’s an assumption, ‘If they’re not teaching from the pulpit, they’re not capable in leadership.’ Men at Wheaton respect women — but the danger comes when they’re not seen as equals.”

As the only male member of the sexual assault prevention group at Calvin, Brown took on the role of talking with men about “rape culture”, and “what aspects of culture makes sexual assault more horrific for victims and more prevalent than it has to be,” he said. According to Brown, casual but intentional conversation has been highly effective in changing language among his peers.

“By the end of my sophomore year, no one on my floor was using ‘rape’ casually or as a joke because they knew I wouldn’t stand for it,” he said. “Even if they didn’t get why, they stopped saying it.”

Engagement and Healing

While in the intellectual incubator that is the college experience, Christian students are also cultivating their understandings of a faithful identity. Although many Christian schools are vibrant scenes of social justice and engaged activism, underlying subtexts of sexual confusion, disbelief, and shame contribute to a reluctance to discuss sexual violence. 

This is unfortunate, said Danielson, emphasizing that Christian campuses “are obviously the place to have these conversations.”

“The college age is just pivotal. It’s the transition period between states,” she said. “It’s really vital to provide a space to work through these issues in a healthy way. The way these experiences affect self, identity, self-esteem, relationship with God — we have to give students a chance to sort through that.” 

What can be done? Many who spoke with Sojourners stressed peer-to-peer engagement and bystander training, highlighting programs like those at Calvin, which bring together students, faculty, admissions, and staff for story sharing and building awareness. Peer-based programs like these encourage students to invest and participate in building a community of trust, understanding, and forgiveness.

Some, like Gilman, focused first on faculty and staff training.

“Regardless of department, I’d love to see the staff trained and aware of issues that go along with sexual violence,” Gilman said.  “A business major should be able to chat about these concerns with their business professor, and not have to search out the women’s studies department.” 

Others, like Davelaar, saw a critical need for chaplains and counselors to take a more active role in campus narratives about sex, power, and gender. 

“When I was a student in ‘96, chaplains were in the forefront on LGBT questions. Chaplains had a big pulpit, big platform. We need to re-insert ourselves into the conversation,” she said.

For most, it comes down to campuses stressing safety and belonging.

“One of the best things that could possibly happen would be for the environment to feel safe,” Haas said. “That we don’t blame victims of assault for not talking about it.”

All stressed that their institutions were trying to address the problem, even while saying they should be doing much more.

“How it’s handled at Calvin reflects how it’s handled around the country — the victim is just not given enough support. SAPT exists because Calvin still has to grow,” Brown said. “But we are having conversations a lot of others aren’t having. This is a function of our general attitude towards injustice and wrong in the world. Harm should not be buried, but should be brought to light.”

For Christian college students around the country, the campus serves as a critical, and critically vulnerable, space to develop one’s understandings of faith, sexuality, boundaries, and empowerment. 

“Faithful or secular, being able to have students thoughtfully sift through commitment and spirituality is a game changer” for ending sexual violence, Hawthorne, interim pastor at Vanderbilt University, said.

Catherine Woodiwiss is Associate Web Editor at Sojourners. Find her on Twitter @chwoodiwiss.

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Created in God’s Image. From Hegemony to Partnership

A Church Manual on Men as Partners: Promoting Positive Masculinities

Jointly issued by World Council of Churches and World Communion of Reformed Churches

Edited by Patricia Sheerattan-Bisnauth and Philip Vinod Peacock
ISBN 978-2-9700686-7-9
Published November 2010

This manual provides tools for workshops with men at the community level. “The idea is for men to recognize that patterns of male violence against women result from negative images of masculinity - images of men as warriors and gods,” Peacock says. “We want them to see that there are other images for men that see strength in partnership with women rather than dominance over them. We need to look to biblical teachings which present those alternate images of partnership between men and women,” says Peacock. The manual aims to strengthen men’s role in ending gender violence. It provides an inclusive approach for men to participate in transforming gender relations which produces male violence.

Download this document here (PDF, 3.4 MB, 229 pg)

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Gender Policy of the Catholic Church of India. 8/12/09

Published by the Catholic Bishops Conference of India Commission for Women

Publishing date: 8 December 2009
ISBN 978-81-907529-3-0

The Gender Policy took shape from the earnest desire of the women and men of the country to bring equality and harmony to all. It is based on the mutual understanding that both male and female are created in the image and likeness of the divine. It rejects all types of discrimination against women as being contrary to God’s intent and purpose. The Gender Policy underlines that equality and dignity of all human persons form the basis of a just and humane society. The Policy maintains that Women’s empowerment is central to achieving gender equality. The Gender Policy aims to address the concerns of women, who are doubly marginalized and oppressed. As followers of Christ, we are challenged to create conditions for marginalized voices to be heard, to defend the defenceless, and to assess lifestyles, policies and social institutions in terms of their impact on women

-Part I
1. Gender equality
2. Situation of women in India
3. Biblical and theological foundation of gender equality
4. Vision of Christ
5. Teaching of the church
6. Empowering catholic women
-Part II
7. Vision
8. Mission
9. Objectives
10. Guiding principles
-Part III
11. Areas of implementation: policies and strategies
12. Implementation mechanisms
13. Conclusion

Download this document here (PDF, 540.06KB, 72 pg)

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It will not be so among you! A Faith Reflection on Gender and Power. 2009

Published by the Lutheran World Federation 2009

This resource of biblical and theological reflections highlights global experiences within the framework of the Gender and Power program coordinated by the Women in Church and Society (WICAS) desk in the Department for Mission and Development. It is intended as a discussion starter and a catalyst for concrete action and the development of meaningful gender justice processes in the Lutheran communion.

-Introduction Gender Justice: A Communion Commitment
-Chapter I Rationale for a Gender Approach
-Chapter II Theological Reflection on Gender
-Chapter III Re-Visioning Power: A Biblical Perspective
-Chapter IV Implications of Being an Inclusive Communion

Download this document here (PDF, 1.32MB, 72pg)

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Christian Gender-based Violence Resources

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A Comprehensive Response: The Role of Nonstate Actors in the Global Plan. 1/5/2017

Published by JAIDS

Abstract: Nonstate actors—especially faith-based organizations, other nongovernmental organizations, groups of people living with HIV and AIDS, and private sector organizations—have been deeply committed to supporting governments reach the goals of the Global Plan Towards the Elimination of New HIV Infections Among Children by 2015 and Keeping Their Mothers Alive (Global Plan). This article highlights the role and contributions of select faith-based organizations and some private sector and philanthropic partners, as well as the work of other organizations. The success and impact of the Global Plan was in no small part a result of large-scale country-led collaboration in the provision of health care and implementation of programs. As the world grapples with meeting the ambitious United Nations Joint Programme on AIDS targets to end the AIDS epidemic by 2030—at a time when it also faces many other emerging health crises—the lessons learned from the Global Plan in harnessing the strengths of nonstate partners are the ones that should be replicated, enhanced, and taken to scale.

You can access the full text here

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Improving the Choices and Opportunities for Adolescent Girls. 2/2017


A Toolkit for Faith Leaders.

This toolkit was designed as a guide for religious leaders of both Christian and Islamic faiths in Nigeria as they address the challenges faced by adolescent girls on the issues of early marriage, education, reproductive health services and economic empowerment. It  is  an  initiative  of  Christian  Aid  Nigeria,  working  in  partnership  with  Gender Awareness  Trust  (GAT)  and Development and Peace Initiative (DPI) as part of the Collective Action for Adolescent Girls Initiative (CAAGI). CAAGI  seeks  to  improve  the  choices  and  opportunities  available  to  adolescent  girls  in  Northern  Nigeria  to enable them reach their full potential. The  toolkit  will  guide  faith  leaders  as  they  provide  training  and  share  messages/sermons  on  the  accurate Christian  and  Islamic  perspectives  on  issues  of  early  marriage,  education, reproductive  health  and  economic empowerment of adolescent girls.

You can access this resource here

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Abuse, Response and Prevention. 2012

This online resource from the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a worldwide ministry of Anabaptist churches, provides a comprehensive selection of resources for preventing, identifying and responding to abuse.

You can view all the resources at

Of specific interest is the worship resources. These worship resources have been written and compiled by MCC staff, survivors, pastors and others affected by abuse.  They include:

The section "Faith Teachings and Abuse" also provides a useful selection of resources.

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Gender Based Violence: Churches and Counsellors make a Difference! 2009

Published by Pietermaritzburg Agency for Christian Social Awareness (PACSA) 2009

ISBN 978-0-9814130-2-0

This is a booklet on gender violence and the different aspects of gender based violence.

-What is Gender Based Violence?
-Different forms of Gender Based Violence
-The cycle of violence
-What if it’s just all talk?
-Who are the perpetrators?
-What can a church leader do if a domestic Violence victim comes to you
-What about the children and the youth
-What can the church leader do if a victim comes to you?
-What not to do in a domestic violence situation?
-Responding to rape
-Signs and Symptoms of rape
-Supporting a rape survivor
-Emotional Support
-Practical Support
-The threat of HIV
-Referrals list
-Rape Crisis, Counselling Services
-Safety and Proctection of women and children
-Legal Services
-HIV Support Services
-About PACSA Gender and HIV and AIDS Programme
-References / Bibliography

Download this booklet here (PDF, 681.92 KB, 34 pg)

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Malawian Campaigner Calls Global Church to End Sexual Violence. 19/7/12

Watch the powerful new film to be shown at an Interfaith Pre-Conference side event on Friday, 20 July.

19 July 2012

Theresa Malila, Tearfund Inspired Individual and founder of Somebody Cares Ministries, will be speaking at the 20 July We Will Speak Out side event at the Interfaith Pre-Conference.

A new, short film of Theresa’s work with churches in Malawi will be shown at the event, which implores church leaders and individuals to make a stronger commitment to tackling violence against women by working with governments and communities. The film paints a painfully honest picture of the situation for women in the country, and urges the church to be a “threat to injustice”.

The film looks at the story of a survivor of sexual violence, Malawian mother, Rose. When she was three months pregnant, a man with a knife approached her and her husband outside their home. The man took Rose and sexually attacked her, subsequently leaving her and her unborn son HIV-positive.

Sexual violence exists in all societies as well as being endemic in a number of countries worldwide. In 2004, 55% of women in Malawi said that they had been raped or forced into sex.

Watch this video here

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Ending Domestic Abuse: A Pack for Churches. 2010

Enabling the church to address domestic abuse

Published by Restore Relationships 2010

The aim of this policy is to enable the church to address domestic abuse both within its own community and wider society. Also to work through how to deal with domestic abuse issues in today’s world. It is intended to raise awareness and to highlight some of the areas that need to be considered in making our churches safe place

-The Church’s Response
-Supporting those involved

Download this resource here (PDF, 1.6 MB, 29pg)

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Gender Justice, Ministry and Healing. 12/2009

Subtitle: A Christian response to the HIV pandemic

Author: Nyambura Njoroge
Published by Progressio December 2009
ISBN: 978-1-85287-332-5

In this Comment, theologian and ecumenist Nyambura Njoroge describes the experience of African Christian women in promoting gender justice, in the context of HIV, through a 'ministry of Bible reading'. It highlights the potential of Christian communities to tackle the gender discrimination and disempowerment of women that has been a key driver of the HIV pandemic.

-Introduction: fundamental problems of patriarchy and sexism
-Healing, justice and life-giving reading ministry
-Let’s not reinvent the wheel

Download this document here(PDF, 124.22 KB, 16 pg)

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Preventing Violence against Women: What Works and What Doesn't

 Resources from Anglican Diocese of Melbourne.

Violence against women is very common in Australian society. One in four women who has ever had a boyfriend or husband is likely to have suffered some form of violence at the hands of a man during her life. It’s important to acknowledge that there is hope for a future where no woman lives in fear.

The cornerstone of Christian belief is our example of the life of Jesus Christ, who respected the dignity of all persons, placed a high value on loving relationships and defended the sanctity of all life. Living Christian faith warrants ending all forms of violence.

Anglican leaders are well positioned to be powerful agents of prevention, education and advocacy to bring an end to violence against women. These resource materials below have been created to support Anglican leadership in the work of primary prevention that aims to stop violence against women before it occurs. Additional resource materials are in development and will be posted on the site as they become available. 


Preventing violence against women: what works and what doesn't



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Norwegian Muslims And Christians Condemn Domestic Violence. 10/11/09

A joint Muslim-Christian statement condemning domestic violence was published by the Islamic Council of Norway and the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations on 9 November 2009.



"Violence in families and in close relationships is a major social problem in Norway, which occurs at all levels of society and within all religious and cultural communities. Suffice to say that one out of four women is exposed to violence in the family and in close relationships," says the general secretary of the Church of Norway Council on Ecumenical and International Relations, the Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit.

Tveit was elected to be the next general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC) by the WCC Central Committee in September. He will take up his new position in January 2010. In Norway, he has been strongly engaged in inter-religious dialogue, among other functions serving as moderator of the church of Norway - Islamic Council of Norway contact group.

Read a press release of the Church of Norway

Full text of the joint statement

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A Call to Act: Engaging Religious Leaders and Communities in Addressing Gender-Based Violence and HIV. 8/2009

Advocacy guide for working with religious leaders

Published by USAID August 2009

While undertaking the GBV and HIV activity with religious leaders, the USAID | Health Policy Initiative discovered a lack of GBV information aimed specifically at this audience. There are more resources for HIV because religious leaders have begun to address this issue in a more vocal manner, due to its devastating impact on their communities. Recognizing this gap, the team decided to create an advocacy guide for working with religious leaders. The guide can be used by religious leaders, communities, and institutions to learn about GBV and HIV, why they should address the issues, and how they can address them through specific activities and approaches. Secular organizations working on GBV and HIV also can use this guide to find examples of how to collaborate with religious leaders, communities, and institutions. Thus, this guide helps to take an issue that traditionally is kept silent and private—particularly in religious communities—and places it on the agenda of religions throughout the world as they seek to address HIV in an effective and holistic manner.

-What Are the Issues?
-Advocacy and Social Mobilization
- Responding to GBV and HIV: What Can Religious Communities and Leaders Do?

Download this document here (PDF, 481.11 KB, 50 pg)

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Mobilizing Religious Communities to Respond to Gender-Based Violence and HIV: A Training Manual 10/2009

Designed to guide trainers in conducting workshop

Published by the USAID October 2009

This manual has been designed to guide trainers in conducting workshops for religious leaders and women leaders of faith on Gender-based Violence (GBV) and HIV. The overall objective of the training is to raise awareness of religious leaders and women leaders of faith about GBV as it relates to HIV and motivate action planning to address the issues in their own organizations or communities

-Day 1 Activities
-Day 1 Handouts  - Gender Definitions
-Day 2 -Session 2: Linking GBV and HIV
-Day 3 Handouts
-Consulted Documents and Other Resources

Download this resource here (PDF, 1.27 MB, 76 pg)

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How to use Positive Faith. 2017


Positive Faith is a website which can be used by you, for your own support, to support others or because you have decided as a Christian to ensure your church and community can make steps to create welcome for people living with HIV.

The videos are presented in a certain order but are distinct from each other, and can be used creatively. Our videos are honest but encouraging in tone.

  • Living with HIV – Pastoral videos directly addressed to people living with HIV, tackling a range of issues straight on that might be affecting someone recently diagnosed, or who may have been living with HIV for some time.
  • HIV and Faith Matters – formed of interviews with people living with HIV and theologians and church and lay leaders. People living with HIV may find these videos encouraging and useful, and for churches, schools, clinics etc, they offer an increased awareness the HIV journey for people of Christian faith.
  • Church, Community and HIV – these videos are also in the same format as the 'HIV and Faith Matters' but have Christians in mind. Not just for pastors and ministers, but also members of the congregation, parishioners, school teachers, youth workers, trainers and so on.

You can access the resource here

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Resources for Churches: Lets Listen to Those Living with HIV in Scotland.


“Open your ears and they will open your eyes”

It is estimated that 34 million people are living with HIV worldwide. In the UK there are nearly 100,000 people and in Scotland over 5,500  who are HIV positive. No matter who we are or where we live, it’s an issue that affects us all. 

Although we may be familiar with the images of HIV overseas, orphaned children in Africa perhaps, we may not be so familiar with HIV in Scotland.  It is well over twenty years since Scottish people were immersed in information about HIV and much has changed since then. Four people have come forward to bravely give us an insight into living with HIV in Scotland today. They remain anonymous due to the stigma of living with HIV and very real threat of harassment.

These are the people that Jesus would walk among today; the people that society has pushed to its fringes. We invite you to learn more about Him through them. Films, HIV factsheets and a website are available to accompany this resource. 

You can access the resource here

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Faith at AIDS 2016

The EAA is again coordinating a variety of Interfaith activities at the International AIDS Conference.

This includes a faithbased preconference open to all, a faithbased networking zone in the Global Village, a chaplains programme, an interfaith worship service and a media team focussing on faith activities.

Up to date information, including details on registration will be made available on the website as it becomes available.

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Caritas, UNAIDS, PEPFAR and Faith Organisations Make Roadmap to End Child HIV Infection. 15/4/2016

Published from CARITAS

Caritas and faith-based organisations (FBOs), launched a roadmap this week detailing what needs to be done by 2020 to prevent more children dying from AIDS-related illnesses.

Under a third of children living with HIV have access to treatment.  Caritas with UNAIDSPEPFAR (USA President’s Emergency Programme for AIDS Relief) and the Vatican’s paediatric hospital Bambino Gesù brought faith-based organisations from around the world together at a Rome consultation to analyse the success and challenges facing children living with HIV and to develop strategic plans in order to extend early diagnosis and life-saving treatment to all children living with HIV.

Msgr Bob Vitillo of Caritas Internationalis is presenting the roadmap to takle issues which prevent children to have the right HIV and AIDS treatment.

Msgr Robert Vitillo, Caritas Internationalis’ special advisor on HIV and AIDS said, “In 2014 2.6 children under 15 were living with HIV. Even though the number of children receiving anti-retroviral treatment increased from 14-32 percent between 2010 and 2014, the number of children on treatment is still notably lower than it is for adults.”

The roadmap outlined key areas which need to be addressed in the next four years to tackle the issues which prevent children from being diagnosed and put on treatment. These include ensuring reliable funding, producing a wider range of effective and well-tolerated medicines for children, ensuring early testing, involving men and boys in education and action related to HIV, making sure children and adolescents living with HIV stay in school, and investing in social services.

The complexities surrounding HIV infection in children mean that a multi-pronged approach needs to be developed, in accord with  the roadmap. This includes medical and nutritional support, education, economic empowerment and spiritual and emotional support.

Msgr. Vitillo thanked the co-sponsors and participants at the consultation and pointed out, “By taking such public health measures, HIV-positive children can be assured a life and future that is consistent with the God-given human dignity.”

Faith-based organisations are  key caregivers in many poorer communities where health structures may be weak and among poor and marginalised populations in higher-income countries as well.”

During the consultation, UNAIDS, Caritas and CHAN (Catholic AIDS Network) used as reference a research report entitled,  “Ending AIDS as a public health threat: faith-based organizations as key stakeholders,” which outlined the importance of FBOs work with people living with HIV.

For more information, please contact Michelle Hough on +39 06 69879712 / +39 334 2344136 or

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HIV and Gospel Justice. 8/3/2016

At the 2016 National Gathering, Bertram Johnson and George Kerr led a workshop entitled “HIV and Gospel Justice.” Below you will find the description of their workshop and a PDF of their Powerpoint presentation.

The HIV pandemic has been the most devastating health and social justice crisis of the last three decades. HIV is severely compounded by stigma, poverty, discrimination, restricted access to care, and criminalization. For too long many in the Church have remained silent and not responded to people living with HIV with Jesus’ love or justice. This interactive workshop offers theological reflection, biblical, and practical tools to address HIV in your community through compassionate preaching, teaching, and service.

Download HIV and Gospel Justice PDF

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Why Stigma and Discrimination Associated with HIV and AIDS Pose a Challenge Ending AIDS as a Public Health Threat? How has the Church Made Progress in this Regard? 27/11/2015


Dear Sisters and Brothers, 

I greet you in the grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of  the  Holy Spirit!  For  me  it  is  a  great  honour  to  join you  for  this  Tenth  Forum  of  the Fundación  Eudes,  which  is  organized  in  partnership  with  the  Coproación  Universitaira Minuto  de  Dios  (UNIMINUTO),  the  Pontificia  Universidad  Javeriana  de  Colombia  and  the Gobernación  de  Cundinamarca.  I  am  very  grateful  to  Fathers  Bernardo  Vergara  and  René Rey for their kind invitation to share the joy that you rightfully feel as a result of your loving, compassionate,  and  non-judgemental  service  significant  numbers,  some  25,000, of  the  most vulnerable and needy persons living with and affected by HIV and AIDS  here in Bogota and in four other cities of Colombia. In fact, more than twenty years ago, here in Bogota, I visited one of the houses of welcome opened by Fr. Bernardo and often have told others, during my visits Latin America and many other parts of the world, about the love and acceptance that I witnessed  there.  I  also  share,  however,  the  sense  of challenge,  even  of  frustration, that despite  our  progress  in  the  bio-medical  response  to  the  HIV  epidemics,  we  still  face  major challenges to resolve the issues of stigma and discrimination to those living with and affected by  HIV and  AIDS, both  within  the  Church  and  within  all  of  society. Finally, I beg your patience and pardon since I do not speak Spanish well; I learned this language while serving the needs of Cuban refugees  in  the  United  States  but  never formally studied Spanish in school.  

You can access the resource here

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Launch of "Ending HIV as a Public Health Threat". 15/10/2015

Published by Caritas

"Here at an impressive Castle Restaurant in Geneva , the not less impressive research report entitled 'Ending HIV as a Public Health Threat' was presented to a remarkable group of experts, researchers and government representatives."

You can view the video of the launch here

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New Friends Report Highlights the Role of the Faith Community in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. 21/01/2015

PDF icon Friends_FBO Manual.pdf905.59 KB

Published by Friends of the Global Fight.
16 December 2014
PDF-size 906KB - for download see attachment at bottom of the page.

Friends of the Global Fight Against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria today released "A Critical Partnership: The Lifesaving Collaboration Between the Global Fund and Faith-Based Organizations," a report which details the strong partnership between the Global Fund and the faith community and highlights opportunities for further engagement. "The faith community has been providing lifesaving prevention, care and treatment in many countries even before many bilateral and multilateral health institutions were established," said Deb Derrick, Friends' President. "Faith-based organizations have been integral partners to the Global Fund since its earliest days. Friends developed this report to recognize the role that they have played and to highlight opportunities for deepened collaboration." The Global Fund, the world's largest public health financier, was designed to pursue its mission against HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria through a partnership model, relying on local leaders, bilateral organizations, the private sector, technical partners, advocates of public health and civil society organizations - including faith-based organizations - to implement the programs it funds. Close collaboration with the faith community is particularly important to the success of Global Fund programs; churches, mosques, synagogues and other faith-based organizations (FBOs) play a role at all stages of its operations. In addition to identifying opportunities for collaboration between FBOs and the Global Fund, Friends' report quantifies current levels of engagement. For example, through mid-2014, 61 Global Fund grants had been signed by FBOs as Principal Recipients in 28 countries. FBO grants account for more than $900 million in cumulative disbursements since the Global Fund's inception in 2002. Since 2010, the last time this data was collected, there are 17 new faith-based PRs and an additional $520 million in disbursements to FBOs. In recent years, the Global Fund has created expanded opportunities for the meaningful involvement of civil society organizations, including FBOs, in designing, monitoring and implementing programs. There are many roles for FBOs to play: as implementers, technical advisors and advocates, among others. "To ensure its investments have long-term impact, the Global Fund is committed to continuing a strong partnership with the faith community," said Derrick. "No matter the religious affiliation, members of the faith community have always been, and will continue to be, critical to Global Fund operations." FRIENDS OF THE GLOBAL FIGHT AGAINST AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS AND MALARIA Friends of the Global Fight works to end the worldwide burden of AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. We educate, engage and mobilize U.S. decision-makers to support the Global Fund, the world's largest public health financier. For more information about Friends of the Global Fight, visit

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A Firm Foundation. The PEPFAR Consultation on the Role of Faith-based Organizations in Sustaining Community and Country Leadership in the Response to HIV/AIDS

Executive Summary

This moment in time presents unprecedented opportunities and challenges in the ongoing effort to defeat AIDS globally. Drawing on their established networks, capacity to reach rural and hard-to-reach populations, and respected and trusted status in local communities, faith-based organizations (FBOs) are well positioned to leverage the work of local, national, and international donors. In May 2012, The U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) convened The PEPFAR Consultation on the Role of Faith-based Organizations in Sustaining Community and Country Leadership in the Response to HIV/AIDS. This East African regional forum was held to examine the critical capacity of FBOs for HIV prevention, care, and treatment and to generate recommendations for collaborative, sustainable impact. Based on the dialogue and outputs from the Consultation, this report summarizes the insights and on-the-ground experience of 98 leaders from 58 different FBOs in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda, joined by partners from government agencies in these countries and the United States.


With a legacy of providing health, education, and social services in East Africa for more than a century, FBOs already play a central role in caring for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC), preventing transmission of HIV from mother-to-child and among adults, and ensuring that people with HIV receive the treatment and care needed for living healthy lives. FBOs can be a powerful force to prevent HIV transmission by making information relevant to community members and replacing stigma and discrimination with acceptance, love, and commitment.     

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The Season for Change: An Advent Study on HIV/AIDS and Social Justice Advocacy. September 2014



This Advent Bible Study is intended to give churches, Sunday school classes, small groups, intentional faith communities, college ministry programs, etc. the opportunity to learn about the HIV epidemic and how it affects and is affected by other social issues.

The topics for each week of the study are as follows:

  • Week 1: HIV 101 and Addressing Stigma
  • Week 2: Poverty and the HIV Health Disparity
  • Week 3: Incarceration and HIV
  • Week 4: Gender-Based Violence and HIV

Study Guide Resources



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2012 Media Guide. The End of the AIDS Epidemic is in Sight with Prayer, Education, Testing & Treatment

Published by the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS 2012

This guide will assist you in reaching out to your local media outlets to inform them of the good work you are doing during your week of prayer.
- Get Noticed!
- How to Publicize Your Week of Prayer
- What is The National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS?
- Contacting the Media
- Samples
- About the Balm in Gilead

Download this document here (PDF, 338.58 KB, 13 pg)

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30 Ideas for Your Church Becoming Engaged in Combating the HIV and AIDS Epidemic

Over 30 million people are infected with HIV and AIDS around the world

We have been experiencing the global AIDS pandemic for 30 years, now moving into the 4th decade

Yet most churches and most people are unwilling to spend 30 minutes discussing the topic or to promote education, prevention, care, and treatment.

Will you help make a difference:

1.        Recognize World AIDS Day (December 1) in your church.

2.       Host a World AIDS Day Event.

3.       Invite an HIV and AIDS leader to speak at your church.

4.      Place HIV and AIDS educational materials in a display in your church. There are good factual materials and good materials available.

5.       Educate yourself about HIV and AIDS

6.      Collect some information for your pastor to read.

7.       Set aside some prayer time at your church during National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS (the first full week in March)

8.      Partner with a local AIDS service organization to provide assistance to people living with HIV and AIDS in your community.

9.       Challenge your church to set aside some funds to provide assistance locally to people living with AIDS. (gas vouchers, food cards, utility bill assistance), as well as being involved in global projects.

10.    Host an HIV/AIDS Support Group.

11.     Make your building available to the AIDS community for meeting space. Provide snacks!

12.    Teach your congregation about HIV and AIDS.

13.     Pray for people who live with HIV and AIDS both overseas and within your own community.

14.    Mention HIV and AIDS in your church bulletin or newsletter (World AIDS Day or National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS or specific projects).

15.     Host an HIV testing event at your church.

16.    Include HIV and AIDS information whenever to do a health fair or missions event.

17.    Call the Executive Director of a local AIDS service organization and find out how your church can provide support.

18.    Send someone from your church to a local HIV and AIDS community planning meeting. Faith-based groups need to be

a part of the community!

19.    Find out what your church denomination is already doing to help people who live with HIV and AIDS.

20.   Ask your pastor to pray about HIV/AIDS from the pulpit.

21.    One of the best ways to become involved is to become educated. Learn more about HIV. Take the Samaritan Ministry HIV Quiz.

22.   Do a service project for people who have HIV and AIDS.

23.    Talk to your pastor about starting an HIV ministry in your church.

24.   Include HIV and AIDS materials in your youth group studies.

25.    Talk about HIV and AIDS in your bible study group or Sunday school class.

26.   Find out what HIV resources are already available in your community and explore how your church can fit in. What gaps exist? What does your church already do well?

27.   Host an AIDS Memorial Quilt display.

28.   Distribute copies of the special Upper Room “Prayers of Encouragement” designed for persons infected and affected by HIV and AIDS.   Available in almost 20 languages.

29.   Ask your pastor to preach a sermon about HIV and AIDS.

30.   Make a financial commitment to help an AIDS ministry locally or globally.


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AIDS is Real and it's In Our Churches.

The full book AIDS Is Real and It's in Our Church by C Jean Garland and Dr Mike Blyth is available free through this site in two formats.






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The Beauty (Aesthetics) of Human Sexuality within the HIV & AIDS Discourse. 2/12/2011

Presentation by Prof D J Louw, Faculty of Theology, University of Stellenbosch at the PACANet Pre-ICASA Conference held in Addis Abeba from 1-2 December 2011.

The issue at stake within the public discourse on gender, the gay debate, the HIV pandemic and its relatedness to human sexual activities, and the problem of sex before marriage, is promiscuity. In order to make a constructive contribution to the debate, theology should first get clarity on the meaning of human sexuality within Christian spirituality. In order to move from a negative and often skeptic approach regarding human sexuality and erotic desires to a more constructive approach (sexual health), the thesis is investigated whether an eschatological approach can help a Christian anthropology to provide a constructive theological framework for the assessment of the value and meaning of sexuality. In this regard one should start with aesthetics in order to address many ethical questions in a practical theological approach. The article introduces in this regard a very specific dimension of practical theology, namely the dimension of aesthetics, beauty and creative imagination: fides quaerens imaginem.

Download the paper below

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Becoming an HIV and AIDS Competent Church: Prophetic Witness and Compassionate Action. 2011

Published by the Office of the General Assembly Presbyterian Church 2011

This report, approved by the 219th General Assembly (2010), develops a comprehensive study that identifies issues impacting people living with HIV and AIDS, both in the U.S. and globally, and recommends to the PC(USA) a response of compassionate action and prophetic witness. For the church to respond more creatively and comprehensively to the HIV and AIDS global pandemic is to become an ‘HIV and AIDS competent’ denomination.

-Letter from Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons
1. Development of a Pandemic and the Church’s Response
II. Current Context of the HIV and AIDS Pandemic
III. Where Scripture Calls Us to Be: Compassionate in Action, Prophetic in Witness
IV. Marginalizing Social Forces
V. Underreported U. S. Populations
VI. Dynamics of Power and the Persistence of HIV and AIDS
VII. Becoming an HIV and AIDS Competent Church
VIII. Conclusion
-Appendix A: Two Biblical Questions
-Appendix B: Gender Inequality and the Persistence of AIDS
-Appendix C: Resources
Study Questions for Discussion

Download this document here (PDF, 1.15MB, 56 pg)

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Catholic Responses to AIDS in Southern Africa - 16 Feb 2014

The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC) AIDS Office and St Joseph's Theological institute have collaborated on "Catholic Responses to AIDS in Southern Africa" launched recently during the plenary session of the bishops of the SACBC in Manzini, Swaziland, and in several centres in South Africa.

The book looks at the response of the Church over the past thirty years, outlining the programmes to address home based care of the sick and the dying, antiretroviral treatment which helped turn the tide, prevention, and the care of orphans and vulnerable children.

Cardinal Napier's paper takes a critical look at the response of an urban diocese to the pandemic, Bishop Dowling's details the response of a rural diocese. Fr Michael Czerny SJ from the office of Cardinal Turkson in Rome examines the Church's global response to AIDS. Different papers examine the theology of sin in the context of AIDS, the tricky question for the Catholic Church regarding the use of condoms, the issue of whether or not there should be HIV testing for candidates to seminaries and religious life, how a particular theological institute has addressed the issue of AIDS, AIDS as a theme in spiritual direction, and AIDS and inter religious dialogue.

The book brings together the work of AIDS activists and theologians, and makes details of the Church's response available to a wider public. The papers were originally presented at a theological conference held at St Joseph's Theological institute in Cedara, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa in January 2013.

Cost R 100, plus postage and packing from the SACBC AIDS Office.Tel: +27 012 323 6458)

Available also at the Paulines Bookshops in Johannesburg and Durban, the Catholic Bookshop in Cape Town, and from Mariannhill Mission Press.

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A Call to Act: Engaging Religious Leaders and Communities on Addressing Gender-Based Violence and HIV. 08/2009

A Call to Act: Engaging Religious Leaders and Communities on Addressing Gender-Based Violence and HIV was co-produced by USAIDS and Religions for Peace

"Religious leaders possess an ordained role of leadership in their institutions and communities, serving as role models of care and compassion. As religions around the world speak to the inherent sacredness of human life, religious leaders and their communities have the moral authority to raise awareness about GBV and a moral responsibility to prevent violence, provide support and care, and strive to transform societal or religious norms or practices that perpetuate such violence and vulnerability to HIV. While leaders can call upon these communities to assist women who are facing GBV and at risk for HIV, they also can offer support, counseling, and guidance to those who perpetrate violence as the voice of accountability in communities. Leaders also can take advantage of faith networks and work across faiths to remind communities that GBV violates dignity and human rights and that their faiths call upon them to be merciful, caring, and loving toward all."

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Champions of Hope. A Collection of Stories. 2009


World Vision(2009)

This is a collection of real life stories of otherwise unheralded heroes and heroines who are working to make the world a better place in the face of HIV and AIDS.  The book is an illustration of the work supported by WV's Hope Initiative, promoting a community-led response to support the many people affected by HIV.

Download PDF (5.91 MB, 40p)

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Running to not away from God

Running to not away from GodLiving with HIV & AIDS, Reclaiming Faith, Hope and Mission, Seven Days of Inspiration 

By Dr Nontando Hadebe (used with permission)

Download the seven day devotional here.

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Christian Aid’s HIV Unit Replaces ABC With SAVE In Its Comprehensive HIV Programmes. 21/03/06

The doctrine of ABC has long been used as shorthand by many HIV non-governmental organisations as the foundation of comprehensive HIV prevention programmes. The ‘ABC’ stands for ‘Abstinence; Be faithful; and use Condoms.’ ABC has been presented as: abstain; if you can’t abstain, then be faithful; and if you can’t be faithful, then use a condom.

Recently, in a conference of Christian Aid (CA) HIV partners from around the world, CA became aware of problems implicit in the ABC approach. Some of the messages given to mitigate the spread of HIV have had the unfortunate consequence of adding to the stigma surrounding it; ABC is one such message.

ABC as a theory is not well suited to the complexities of human life. If you or your partner have been tested positive for HIV and still have unprotected sexual intercourse, then this puts the other person at risk of HIV infection. While abstinence may be appropriate at some stages of life, faithfulness is for many people the preferred choice, but unfortunately is not a guarantee against infection. According to these definitions, the use of a condom automatically puts a person in the category of one who can not be faithful or does not want to abstain. This fuels stigma and precludes safer sexual practices.

CA partner ANERELA+ (the African Network of Religious Leaders Living with or personally affected by HIV and AIDS) has developed a new model for a comprehensive HIV response, called SAVE.

Safer practices

Available medications

Voluntary counselling and testing (VCT)

Empowerment through education.

In discussions with our partners from around the world, CA has decided to adopt SAVE as the basis for a comprehensive approach to HIV. HIV is a virus, not a moral issue. The response to HIV should therefore be based on public health measures and human rights principles.

HIV prevention can never be effective without a care component. The SAVE model combines prevention and care components, as well as providing messages to counter stigma

S refers to safer practices covering all the different modes of HIV transmission. For example: safe blood for blood transfusion; barrier methods for penetrative sexual intercourse; sterile needles and syringes for injecting; safer methods for scarification; and adoption of universal medical precautions.

A refers to available medications. Antiretroviral (ARV) therapy is by no means the only medical intervention needed by people living with HIV or AIDS (PLHA). Long before it may be necessary, or desirable, for a person to commence ARV therapy, some HIV associated infections will have to be treated. Treating these infections results in better quality of life, better health and longer term survival. Every person needs good nutrition and clean water, and this is doubly true for PLHA.

V refers to voluntary counselling and testing. Individuals who know their HIV status are in a better position to protect themselves from infection; and if they are HIV-positive, from infecting another. Someone who is HIV-positive can be provided with information and support to enable them to live positively. People who are ignorant of their HIV status, or who are not cared for, can be sources of new HIV infections.

E refers to empowerment through education. It is not possible to make informed decisions about any aspect of HIV or sexual behaviour without access to all the relevant facts. Inaccurate information and ignorance are two of the greatest factors driving HIV- and AIDS-related stigma and discrimination. Correct, non-judgmental information needs to be disseminated to all, inside and outside churches. This will assist people to live positively – whatever their HIV status – and to break down barriers which HIV has created between people and within communities. Education also includes information on good nutrition, stress management, and the need for physical exercise.


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Church and Advocacy

Advocacy is seeking with, and on behalf of, the poor to address the underlying causes of poverty, bring justice and support good development through influencing the policies and practices of the powerful.

This section explores specifically how local churches can be involved in the task of advocacy.

What is advocacy?  This section explores what is involved in advocacy, different approaches to advocacy, and the potential roles of an advocate.

Why involve the church in advocacy?  This section explores the biblical basis for Christian involvement in advocacy.

Strategic roles of the church in advocacy. This section explores the strengths, challenges and potential roles of both both local churches and church structures (eg, denominations) in advocacy.

Case studies of church involvement in advocacy. This section provides a number of inspiring and informative stories of how churches have engaged in advocacy.

In addition, click on the following links for:

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Church Involvement in Programmes for the Prevention of Vertical Transmission of HIV. 06/08/07

“Focused Church Based Action for PMTCT Case Studies of Tearfund Partner PMTCT Programs in Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe” (Oct 2006) is a report that highlights opportunities and challenges faced by Christian organizations and churches in scaling up prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV in Africa.

Good practice recommendations from this report include:

  • testing parents for HIV (highest rates occur if routine testing of both parents is promoted. It requires a process of group counselling followed by same day testing and couple or counselling when giving results);
  • involving men,
  • issuing Nevirapine for mothers and infants;
  • clarifying infant feeding messages;
  • accessing CD4 counts;
  • supplying Cotrimoxazole (together with provide supportive policies, training and supplies);
  • ensuring safer delivery;
  • integrating prevention activities with community activities;
  • monitoring PMTCT program for program performance;
  • sensitizing church leaders to PMTCT;
  • scaling up; and
  • communicating what the church is doing and achieving

The report (1.2MB) is available here

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Collaboration between Faith-Based Communities and Humanitarian Actors when Responding to HIV in Emergencies. 5/10

By Samuels, Rena Geibel and Fiona Perry

Distributed by Reliefweb

Abstract: "Faith-based Communities (FBCs) may be the first port of call for local people in a crisis, and often continue to provide HIV-services for the duration. Humanitarian agencies, however, may overlook the potential of FBCs when it comes to HIV responses in emergencies, amid concerns that FBCs may push a religious agenda, and that they lack the skills and capacity to mount an effective response. This Project Briefing draws on lessons learned in Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Kenya, arguing that humanitarian actors need to help FBCs build up their emergency capacity on HIV services. Equally, to work effectively with humanitarian actors, FBCs should address stigma, theological misunderstandings and discrimination."

Download this document here (PDF, 261.87 KB, 4pg)

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Combating HIV and AIDS Related Stigma, Denial and Discrimination

Subtitle: A Training Guide for Religious Leaders

Published by Religions for Peace 2008
Edited by James Cairns.

This training guide contains both a training manual and a handbook on HIV and AIDS. The training manual and handbook were designed to provide religious leaders and facilitators with a comprehensive information pack on HIV and AIDS and related stigma, denial, and discrimination, as well as strengthen their commitment and skills to combat HIV and AIDS related stigma and discrimination.

Modules include:
-Module 1: Introduction
-Module 2: Understanding HIV and AIDS
-Module 3: Combating HIV and AIDS Related Stigma, Denial, and Discrimination

Download this documetn here (PDF, 1.47 MB, 57 pg)

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Fikelela AIDS Project. Youth and Sexuality Research. Ages 12-19 Years in the Diocese of Cape Town South Africa.

The research Fikelela conducted into youth sexuality in the Diocese of Cape Town is now complete. It makes for sobering reading. They conducted a survey in order to understand the gravity of the challenge, and to identify ways in which the Anglican Church might become more effective in dealing with issues of the sexuality of young people. The field research involved a detailed questionnaire, with 1,306 responses analysed, and three different focus group discussions. Respondents were between 12 and 19 years of age. Research reveals that church-going young people are not excluded from the risks faced by others in society. Of the respondents 30.5% have had sex (40% Male and 21% Female).

Read more and Download the full report here…
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Inspiring Hope: Helping churches to care for the sick. A palliative care handbook from Africa.

Inspiring Hope

42% of countries do not have any palliative care services and 80% of people globally lack adequate access to pain medication.

The church is ideally placed to change this, to serve their communities by bringing people comfort and practical support.This handbook is a resource for church leaders, volunteers and members to support the delivery of palliative care in their communities.

EMMS International are please to announce the publication of Inspiring Hope: Helping churches to care for the sick. A palliative care handbook from Africa.

To receive a digital copy of Inspiring Hope please click here.


Inspiring Hope was launched on Wednesday 18th September 2013. The handbook is being distributed to all delegates at Spanning Diseases, Crossing Borders 2013 - the annual conference of the African Palliative Care Association.

James Wells (EMMS International Chief Executive) and Dr Jane Bates (Author) will also be showcasing the handbook in a workshop at the conference entitled Spirituality in palliative care, finding a common definition and lessons for the wider health agenda.


Rev Thabo Makgoba, Archbisop of Capetown:

“This handbook is a wonderful guide to how we can communicate Christ’s tender compassion and care, which circumstances cannot diminish, to those who are coming to the end of their lives.

“In clear, tangible, down-to-earth, ways, it assists church communities, leaders and members to understand more about palliative care, and how we can best contribute. It helps us review what we are currently doing and provides resources so that we may be more effectively engaged.“

About the Handbook

Written by Dr. Jane Bates, the handbook draws on her 15 years of experience as a medical doctor in South Africa and Malawi. It also incorporates the knowledge of EMMS International's partners and others working in palliative care.

The book is designed to be a practical resource. It is layed out in an accessible format, ideal for group discussion and individual study. It contains five key sections:

    Palliative care and the church - What is palliative care and what is the role of the church?
    Inspiration - Reflection, teaching and motivation for involvement.
    Stories to make us think - Examples of what the church is already doing.
    Resources for action - Tools to help you apply what you've learned.
    References, contacts and tools - Signposts to further reading and useful contacts.


-          The handbook is freely available via in a digital format, and can be printed for personal/organisational use but not paid for distribution. Please inform us of how you are using the book so we can monitor its impact and effectiveness. To receive the hanbook click here.

-          The handbook is designed for use by organisations/individuals who are actively engaged in palliative care work in resource-poor settings. As such we will consider distribution partnerships for hard copies in such scenarios – please contact us to note your interest and proposed use of the handbook.

-          Hard copies are available for a donation of £5 plus postage for other interested parties.

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Faith Untapped. Why Churches can Play a Crucial Role in Tackling HIV and AIDS in Africa. 2006

 Published byTearfund 2006

This report highlights 3 key points about the impact of HIV and AIDS on the worst-affected continent, Africa:

1. Churches in Africa are a hidden and powerful force in tackling the HIV and AIDS crisis. They need international recognition, support and funding.

2. Many churches contribute to the HIV and AIDS crisis through stigma and discrimination. Action is needed to overcome this.

3. One of the single most effective areas into which churches could expand their HIV and AIDS work is preventing the virus being passed from mothers to children.

-Executive summary
-Section 1: the HIV and AIDS crisis
-Section 2: the untold story of the churches
-Section 3: case studies of the church in action
-Section 4: why funding is missing its target
-Section 5: why donors ignore churches
-Section 6: churches’ untapped potential
-Section 7: challenges for churches

Download this document here (PDF, 648.47 KB, 35 pg)

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Framework for Dialogue: A Tool for Religious Leaders and Networks of People Living with HIV. 08/2013

From EAA

Why a Framework for Dialogue?

The active and meaningful participation of people living with HIV (PLHIV) is an undeniably central component of responses to HIV at national, regional and global levels. At the same time, the active and informed involvement of religious leaders is also a critical part of an effective and comprehensive response to HIV - as is the contribution of faith-based organisations as key providers of HIV treatment, care and support services.

However, while dialogue between PLHIV and religious leaders is not new and happens organically at the community level as well as the national level, such dialogue is often bilateral and ad hoc in nature. Furthermore, stigma and discrimination against PLHIV persists in communities at large as well as within faith communities; and PLHIV networks are increasingly aware of the necessity to meet the faith-related needs of their constituents.

Therefore, the Framework for Dialogue provides a way to increase systematic and sustained collaboration and dialogue between PLHIV and religious leaders at the national level - including religious leaders living with HIV – in order to boost the capacity of each stakeholder in responding to HIV, as well as forging or strengthening active partnerships for new and more effective approaches to treatment, prevention, care and support.

Faith and Stigma

--Evidence from the PLHIV Stigma Index in many countries shows

--Stigma and discrimination continues to be faced by PLHIV within their faith communites

--Stigma and discrimination experienced by PLHIV in their wider communities is something that PLHIV believe faith-based actors can help address

--Addressing internal stigma experienced by PLHIV is a specific area of work that faith communities and religious leaders can enable positive change and offer support

--Faith is continuous importance in the lives of people living with HIV

The Framework for Dialogue offers one way in which faith communities and PLHIV can talk and work better together to address the issue of stigma.

What is the Framework for Dialogue?

The Framework for Dialogue methodology uses evidence as a basis of all dialogue to develop joint actions between religious leaders, faith-based organizations and networks of people living with HIV.

In particular, the methodology starts where the PLHIV Stigma Index has been implemented by the national network of PLHIV, and then uses this evidence in parallel with other evidence emerging from the country context as a basis for guiding participating stakeholders from ad hoc to systematic discussions and actions, and from bilateral to comprehensive and inclusive dialogue and collaboration at decision making and national levels.

The Framework for Dialogue process in each country is overseen by a small working group of partners at the national level who oversee the implementation of the following six key steps:

  • Step 1: Initiating the dialogue
  • Step 2: Preparing for a face-to-face dialogue consultation
  • Step 3: Understanding the evidence and perceptions
  • Step 4: Holding for a face-to-face dialogue consultation
  • Step 5: Planning, executing and monitoring longer term dialogue and collaborative actions
  • Step 6: Continuing dialogue, reviewing work and learning from experiences

How the Framework was developed

Four international partners, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA),Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), International Network of Religious Leaders Living with or Affected by HIV or AIDS (INERELA+) and UNAIDS came together in early 2011 to move the concept for the Framework for Dialogue - which emerged from the Summit of High-Level Religious Leaders held in The Netherlands in March 2010 - from an idea to a reality. Key stages of development have included:

  1. evidence gathering and analysis to inform the drafting of the Framework, including a multi-country faith-based lens analysis of PLHIV Stigma Index reports and an online survey to assess perceptions and expectations of dialogue stakeholders towards each other.
  2. testing of the Framework methodology in three national contexts (Malawi in June 2012, Myanmar in November 2012 and Ethiopia in April 2013).
  3. adaption and finalization of the full Framework for Dialogue text and methodology.
  4. development of a roll-out strategy.

Key Principles of the Framework for Dialogue

  1. Country-owned. The dialogue is driven by country partners and country priorities.
  2. Evidence-based. All actions and dialogue are based on evidence, both quantitative and qualitative.
  3. People-centred. The dialogue is not about what faith institutions are doing on HIV, but how that work or other actions of faith institutions and its representatives affect the lives of people living with HIV.
  4. ‘Do no harm’. All participants in the dialogue process agree to a ‘do no harm’ approach, especially in areas of disagreement.
  5. Equal and meaningful participation. All stakeholders enter into the dialogue as equal partners, allowing full participation and involvement in decision-making throughout the dialogue and emerging joint actions. In particular this means ensuring the meaningful, and not tokenistic, participation of PLHIV throughout the process – from development to implementation.
  6. Innovation. New partnerships are formed, and ‘out-of-the box’ thinking and solutions are encouraged.
  7. Action-oriented. The focus of the process is to move beyond dialogue to collaborative and constructive actions.
  8. Safe spaces. The methodology and facilitation of the dialogue aims to create a space where all entering into dialogue can be sure that they will not meet discrimination or judgement.

Using the Framework for Dialogue

The Framework for Dialogue is intended for national networks of people living with HIV, networks of religious leaders living with HIV, religious leaders, faith-based organisations, and an inter-governmental body/development agencies working on related issues, such as UNAIDS country offices.

If you are interested in initiating the Framework for Dialogue process in your country, please email Ruth Foley or contact one of the four organizations on the international steering group. Please note that the implementation of the PLHIV Stigma Index is a prerequisite for using the Framework for Dialogue tool.

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Grace, Care and Justice. A Handbook for HIV and AIDS Work

Compassion, Conversion, Care – as a campaign motto an inspiring call to action, but how does this translate into daily life?

Published by the Lutheren World Federation 2007

Abstract: Compassion, Conversion, Care – as a campaign motto an inspiring call to action, but how does this translate into daily life? How can individuals and local churches go about preventing HIV, providing treatment, supporting persons living with HIV and AIDS, and building inclusive communities? The LWF handbook for HIV and AIDS work, Grace, Care and Justice, brings together Lutheran theological and pastoral understandings on accompanying persons living with and affected by HIV and AIDS in order to empower leaders at all levels of the church. Further, it acts as a basic primer on medical aspects, prevention, home-based care, gender concerns and advocacy.

1. Introduction: Why Local Churches Must Be Involved
2. Medical Facts and Prevention
3. Gender, Sexuality and Truth Telling
4. Responding to Questions of Faith
5. Ministry of Care and Counseling
6. Home-Based Care
7. Advocacy

Download this document here (PDF, 808.82 KB, 112 pg)

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HIV and AIDS Advocacy & Media Relations: Handbook and Training Manual for Religious Leaders

Strengthening the advocacy and media relations skills of religious leaders at both national and community levels

Authors: James Cairns (ed.) ; Jane Gaithuma (ed.) ; Andrea Louie (ed.)
Published by Religions for Peace January 2006

This training manual and handbook were produced to be used together to strengthen the advocacy and media relations skills of religious leaders at both national and community levels. According to the publication, the manual and handbook are designed to expand religious leaders' advocacy efforts on behalf of children orphaned and made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS, with the goal of bringing greater priority to their needs and expanding the response.

The training manual is designed to guide trainers in conducting both Training of Trainers (TOT) workshops as well as workshops for religious leaders on HIV and AIDS advocacy and media relations. The training workshop covers such topics as skills in HIV and AIDS advocacy, training approaches, message development, media relations, coalition building, and community mobilisation. The manual provides detailed training modules, while the handbook offers background information for facilitators, corresponding to each module

Modules include:

Module 1: Overview of Training
Module 2: HIV and AIDS
Module 3: Introduction to Advocacy
Module 4: Building Advocacy Alliances through Coalitions and Networks
Module 5: Strategic Communication, Message Development, and Delivery
Module 6: Working with the Media
Module 7: Preparation of Action Plans

Download the Manual here (PDF, 1.27MB, 62 pg)

Download this Handbook here (PDF, 850.51 KB, 53 pg)

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HIV Prevention: A Global Theological Conversation. 12/02/09

 Theologians open conversation on HIV prevention

Keep the Promise: HIV and AIDS Campaign

Press Release 10 February 2009

A groundbreaking book that wrestles with the complex and sometimes controversial intersection of belief and HIV prevention is now available from the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. HIV Prevention: A Global Theological Conversation comes out of a remarkable consultation held in early 2008 of 35 leading Christian theologians and practitioners, including people living with HIV, from five continents and many church traditions.  The book is an essential resource for church leaders, theologians, teachers and strategists who are committed to a positive, informed and compassionate engagement with HIV prevention.

“This ‘conversation’ explored in a loving and enlightening way one of the most difficult challenges of the AIDS pandemic, that of prevention,” states Enda McDonagh, Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology, St. Patrick’s College, Ireland.

Prevention messages coming from organized religion have often been ambivalent, moralistic, stigmatizing, or divorced from the realities of people’s lives. By contrast, participants in the consultation and resulting publication sought to identify areas of common understanding by sharing, from diverse traditions, the moral, theological and ecclesiological challenges raised by HIV prevention. This ‘common ground’ forms the basis of Part One in the book. Part Two recognizes the need to maintain deeply held convictions and consists of essays by distinguished individuals from the consultation, among them Margaret A Farley, Yale University Divinity School and Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha, co-founder of ANERELA+, who set out their own distinctive and challenging positions. Part Three proposes a range of practical measures available to churches, their leaders and their members.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in recommending the publication, emphasizes, “Every church leader, pastor, preacher, theologian, should take the first step towards joining A global Theological Conversation by reading this groundbreaking new volume on HIV prevention. Then take the second step…begin your own theological reflection and engage others in the discourse of life.”

As Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS states, “The more religious communities can openly and respectfully discuss the faith and realities that effective HIV prevention has to address, the more progress we can make in reducing the spread of HIV and envisioning a world without AIDS.”

HIV Prevention: A Global Theological Conversation, edited by Gillian Paterson, 168 pp., is available in English, French and Spanish. The book can be downloaded or single print copies can be ordered for free.

For more information contact Sara Speicher, +44 7821 860 723.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Hope is Vital

Hope Is Vital” – a Wellness course for living positively with HIV & AIDS

A five-part interactive Training of Trainers’ course for those involved with programmes for HIV positive people; focusing on:

1. HIV and the Immune System
2. HIV and nutrition
3. Stress and disclosure
4. Preparing for the future
5. HIV and Antiretroviral (ARV) therapy

Based on material used at Helen Joseph Hospital (CDC) and developed further by Dr Liz Thomson (Director, Medecins Sans Frontiers; formerly of Edendale Hospital, Pietermaritzburg) and Janine Ward (Community Builder, formerly of SOS Children’s Villages and turn the tide 4 children)

The course begins with a Facilitator’s Guide, giving practical training on how to train in an informal, participatory way.

It can be used in various ways:

-       by hospital or clinic staff as part of HIV awareness courses in VCT (voluntary counselling & testing) or PMTCT (mother-to-child-transmission) programmes;
       PWA (people living with AIDS) support groups;
-        Communities – as part of home-based care or community awareness programmes;
-       Faith-based organisations – as part of HIV & AIDS outreach;
-       Business companies – as part of in-house employee wellness programmes.

The Training of Trainers’ course takes 3 days, assuming the trainees have some previous HIV & AIDS or training experience

(minimum of 10 trainees and maximum of 20 trainees per training event) 

Training Costs: (per 3-day event)

Cost of training material per trainee                                                                R75.00

Training cost per trainee – for group of 10 – 15 trainees                               R750.00

                                     - for group of 16 – 20 trainees                               R600.00

Costs for venue, travel, accommodation and catering not included. These additional costs which will vary depending on location of training.

For bookings or further information on this training opportunity, please contact Janine Ward.

Mobile 082 956 0048
Tel       011 792 7934
Fax      086 556 6239
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Is there any Hope at All for the Poor? 2/11

Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference Annual General Meeting

Address of COSATU General Secretary, ZwelinzimaVavi, to the SACBC Justice and Peace AGM held on 26 February 2011

Opening statement: Thank you very much for your kind invitation to address this important meeting. COSATU and the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference are life time allies. We were side-by-side and shoulder-to-shoulder in the trenches in the fight against apartheid and for justice. We have remained close to the SACBC for the past 17 years most recently at the very representative Civil Society Conference last October and I am sure that we shall work together even more closely in the future.

Read the full article here


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Let’s make HIV powerless - Become a Champion for Children and Adolescents Living with HIV. 30/6/2017

Published by OIKOUMENE

The World Council of Churches - Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is looking for Religious Leaders and representatives of faith-based organizations who are willing to become Champions for Children and Adolescents Living with HIV!

Children, Adolescents and AIDS: A justice issue
5 million children aged 0-14 have died from AIDS-related illnesses since the start of the HIV epidemic. 91% of them lived in Sub-Saharan Africa. The majority of these deaths were preventable! The problem is that of the 1,800,000 children aged 0-14 who are now living with HIV, only half are receiving the treatment they need to live a long and healthy life. Without treatment, half of children with HIV will die by their second birthday. A critical reason for the low treatment coverage is the low detection rates. Globally in 2015, only 47 percent of HIV-exposed infants received the recommended diagnostic test within the first two months of life.
Adolescents and young people represent a growing share of people living with HIV worldwide and HIV is the second largest cause of adolescent deaths globally. In 2015, 250,000 adolescents aged 15-19 were newly infected with HIV. Only 13 percent of adolescent girls and 9 percent of adolescent boys aged 15-19 in sub-Saharan Africa have been tested for HIV in the past 12 months and received the result of the last test. No test result means no access to treatment!
Speak out for children and adolescents
People of faith cannot remain indifferent to the 400 children who are newly infected with HIV each day and to the 300 children who die of AIDS-related causes daily. We cannot remain silent knowing that many adolescents do not receive proper information about HIV and AIDS and knowing that all these infections and deaths are entirely avoidable!
To change this situation, the WCC-EAA is mobilizing faith leaders, representatives of faith-based organizations and faith-based media representatives to speak out for and with children and adolescents living with HIV and HIV/TB co-infection. Unless concrete action is taken now, hundreds of thousands more will become HIV-positive and die needlessly in the coming years.

The faith contribution to the Start Free, Stay Free and AIDS Free Framework

This initiative is one of the faith contributions to the Start Free, Stay Free and AIDS Free Framework launched by UNAIDS and PEPFAR in 2016.
We want children to be born free from HIV; children and adolescents to remain free from HIV; and children who are HIV-positive to have access to timely testing and quality treatment.
Be a Champion for Children and Adolescents Living with HIV
Champions will inspire political change and inform their faith communities about children and adolescents’ issues related to HIV.
We count on your powerful voices as religious leaders to make and shape national policies, call for justice, protect the rights of children and adolescents, address stigma and discrimination, and mobilize people to take up testing, prevention, treatment and care.
We count on journalists and editors to inform the public about children, adolescents and HIV and raise the level of the debate.
Together, champions will be powerful agents for action to make sure that 1.6 million children and 1.2 million adolescents living with HIV will be provided with treatment by the end of 2018 – as agreed by all United Nations Member States in the 2016 UN HIV High Level Meeting on Ending AIDS.
Champions for Children and Adolescents Living with HIV are asked to support at least one of the following actions:

  • Religious Leaders to sign the WCC-EAA Call to Action “Act now for children and adolescents living with HIVand promote it
  • Share information on children, adolescents and HIV within your faith community, including through sermons. Get inspired by the Khutbah and Sermon Guides on children and HIV for Religious Leaders from IMA Health World, INERELA+ Kenya and AIDSFree
  • Advocate with key decision makers to address paediatric AIDS bottlenecks (government officials; pharmaceutical and generic companies; diagnostic companies, donors) at global level and in your country; and set up meetings with them!
  • Issue a video message on paediatric AIDS testing and treatment for adolescents
  • Organize events to raise awareness about children, adolescents and HIV for instance during occasions such as: Universal TB Day (24 March); Universal Health Day (7 April); Universal Children Day (20 November); Universal Human Rights Day (10 December); World AIDS Day (1 December).
  • Write articles, open editorials for your local or national newspapers, your website, or make a contribution to the WCC Pilgrimage blog and share them with us!
  • Work with radio stations and media outlets, as well as on social media to share all that you do. The WCC-EAA will be honoured to highlight your advocacy actions on the Live the Promise Campaign Facebook page, twitter feed and on the WCC Pilgrimage blog!

To become a Champion for Children and Adolescents Living with HIV, please contact

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HIV Programming in Church Institutions. 12/2012

The 2012 edition of Pharmalink is now out

Pharmalink is a annual publication of the Ecumenical Pharmaceutical Network (EPN). The 2012 edition on HIV programming is now out. The electronic version can be downloaded here, prints are being distributed to various health institutions and professionals through EPN members, partners and friends of the network.

Pharmalink focuses on advocacy issues that EPN is involved in at a particular time. Every edition tackles a different subject.

Pharmalink 2012 EN (3.78 MB) - NEW!
Focus: HIV programming in Church institutions

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HIV, Health & Holiness. A Guide for the Episcopal Church. 6/2012

Published by National Episcopal AIDS Coalition June 2012

In 2009, The Episcopal Church (TEC) recognized that after nearly 30 years, the pandemic has entered a new phase: one in which the danger of death has lessened, but the costs of AIDS as a chronic illness prove insurmountable for many. As a result of this recognition, General Convention urged the Executive Council with the assistance of the Committee on HIV/AIDS and National Episcopal AIDS Coalition to convene a domestic strategy meeting for the purpose of developing a comprehensive response to the HIV/AIDS crisis by The Episcopal Church. While the current funding climate made a strategy meeting impossible, this document is a response to that request. The document four vision statements developed for the purposes of creating focus and organizing various initiatives to be undertaken by the church:

-Advocacy and Communication

Vision: The Episcopal Church, through NEAC and other communicators, will regularly bring attention to not only the current state of HIV and AIDS, but also offer ways in which parishes can participate in bringing spiritual comfort to those affected by the disease.

-Education and Prevention

Vision: The Episcopal Church will make available reliable, culturally- and age-appropriate HIV and AIDS prevention materials, with an emphasis on the role of behavior in reducing risks for HIV infection.

-Spirituality, Hospitality and Engagement

Vision: The Episcopal Church will continue to claim its role of prophetic witness by affirming the humanity of all persons including those living HIV and AIDS; and recognizing and proclaiming their dignity and worth, through actions as well as words.

-Fighting Stigma

Vision: The Episcopal Church will be a leader in fighting stigma in our communities, striving to make every parish a welcoming, loving place to those who are in need, especially those affected by HIV and AIDS.

Download this document here (PDF, 2.17MB, 15 pg)

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How to Talk about HIV Prevention in the Church.

For over two decades AIDS has led to the deaths of millions of people and devastated families, communities, and the social and economic fabric of many countries. Today we know how to treat HIV and AIDS and how to prevent the transmission of HIV. And yet the virus continues to spread because so many of us don't talk about it.

AIDS touches on many issues that we - particularly in the Church - find uncomfortable to discuss openly and realistically, such as sex and injecting drug use. But because we don't talk about HIV and AIDS, we perpetuate myths about the disease - how people get it, whom it affects, how it can be treated. If people don't learn about the disease, then we can't change any of its root causes.

This guide aims to help people in churches to talk openly, accurately and compassionately about why HIV spreads and what we as individuals and communities can do to help stop it in its tracks.

  • Dialogue and conversations about HIV prevention
  • The Church's role in the response to HIV
  • No longer cymbals nor silent: dialogue as a matter of faith
  • What is dialogue?
  • How to start dialogue
  • Ground rules for dialogue on HIV prevention
  • Outcomes and next steps
  • Determining and framing the sessions
  • Suggested themes for dialogue groups
    • Theme I: Dialogue, Stigma and HIV Prevention
    • Theme II: HIV Transmission and Prevention
    • Theme III: Vulnerability and HIV Prevention
    • Theme IV: Sex, Sexuality and HIV Prevention
    • Theme V: Testing, Counseling and HIV Prevention
    • Theme VI: Promoting Life
  • Success looks like?
  • Appendix A: HIV transmission and prevention
  • Appendix B: Reflection questions on sex, religion and HIV prevention
  • Appendix C: Resources for more information
You can order or download this resource in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish from the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance website (English PDF 500KB)

For more information contact Sara Speicher,, +44 1524 727 651

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'Let Your Light Shine' Video-Based Training Series. 2007

CABSA Comment: We regret that these links no longer seem active. We will follow up and try to find a new download site.

 In sub-Saharan Africa, there are now more than 15 million orphans who have lost one or both parents to AIDS.  By 2015, there will be over 25 million.  Two million children are currently infected with HIV.  Yet, there are many things you can do to respond!  The "Let Your Light Shine" training kit can help you get started helping affected children and mobilizing and training others so that help is more effective.  

The "Let Your Light Shine" video-based training series was developed by ARCA ASSOCIATES and ten organizations (World Vision, Compassion International, Tearfund UK, World Relief, Kindernothilfe, MAP International, VIVA Network, Norwegian Church Aid, Kids Alive, and the Moravian Church) to help caregivers, communities, faith communities, and individuals in Africa and around the world learn how to respond to the needs of children affected by HIV. Training material is based on real, practical, replicable examples of what is working, and was filmed in ten countries of Eastern and Southern Africa over a two-year period.  The training series is intended for organizations, communities, faith groups and individuals (especially frontline child care workers) interested in working with children affected by HIV.

The full curriculum, now available for the first time for free download below, is composed of a short introductory user's guide, an extensive course facilitator's book with content developed by a team of African experts and practitioners, two fifteen-minute introductory documentaries, and twelve ten-minute educational video modules. 

The curriculum, completed at the end of 2007 and in print and DVD format until now, has been in wide use in Africa and around the world. sketch boy 2.jpgIt has drawn strong reviews:

Fullness of life remains a mirage for many children in Africa.  In the midst of almost insurmountable suffering, the Church plays a defining role. However, tools for an effective response are wanting.  Now, "Let Your Light Shine" materials are here. The materials are dynamite, empowering families, child caregivers, and faith groups, and they will make a lasting impact in the lives of our children. - Dr. Peter Okaalet, MAP International

Many community and faith based organisations in Africa struggle to find meaningful ways to address the impact of HIV and AIDS on children in their communities. This video based training pack brings to life best practices in Africa, by Africans. It equips community members to both understand the issues and act to transform the lives of their most vulnerable children. - Paul Stephenson, Senior Director Child Development and Rights, World Vision International

Children have been the missing face of the AIDS pandemic.  An estimated 15 million children around the world have lost one or both parents to AIDS. These children need support, education, and protection. - Ann Veneman, Executive Director, UNICEF

Course materials are initially available in English, French, and Swahili (Kenya dialect).  (Live links in the text are to the English versions.  English, French, and Swahili versions of all materials can be found and downloaded from the file list at the bottom of this page.  Videos available in all three languages - written materials in English and French only).  However, due to widespread demand for multiple additional translations, new language video versions are currently in production in Lingala, Congolese Swahili, and Tanzanian Swahili (and will be added to this site as soon as they are available).  We hope to add many more language versions in the future.  If you are interested in ensuring production of the materials in an additional language version not listed here, please contact Dr. Peter Clark, executive producer of "Let Your Light Shine" at:  In the interim, if your preferred language version is not yet available, please feel free to download and use the English and French user's guide and course facilitator's book, and the English, French, and Swahili videos now on this site.

Download Instructions:  We recommend you download and read the short "User's Guide" first, which will give you a short overview of all materials available in the "Let Your Light Shine" kit and suggest how best to use them.  Second, download the longer "Facilitator's Book".  This will give you much wider and deeper ideas and information about how to use the course materials in a training context.  Finally, you can choose to download and use one, several, or all of the 14 videos in the series depending on your particular interest and needs. We recommend you start viewing the two documentaries in order first.  Then, you can pick and choose to view one, several, or all of the 12 educational video modules by topic in the order you wish.  

All of the videos are in mp4 format which means you must have Apple Quicktime software on your computer in order to view the videos.  Quicktime normally comes pre-installed on all Apple computers.  If you do not have Quicktime on your computer, you can download it for free for use on your PC or Apple (if it did not come pre-installed or was removed from your Apple) at this link:  Be sure you download the right Quicktime version (for PC or Apple) based on what type of computer you have, and that it is also the Quicktime version that is for the version of the operating system currently installed on your computer.  

OK, time to download.  A menu of all downloadable files is available at the bottom of this page.  Immediately following is a description of all video content:  

Documentary 1: "The Candles Dim"  This powerful documentary presents the many ways HIV is affecting children in sub-Saharan Africa.  It is intended to stir a general audience to action based on a raised understanding of the dimensions, causes, and origins of the crisis.  

Documentary 2: "The Candles Burn Bright"  This documentary presents four case studies of "candles burning bright" - African organizations and individuals who are responding to the crisis, visibly demonstrating that there are many things people can do to care for children even in difficult circumstances.  This documentary serves to mobilize a general audience to respond to the needs of children affected by HIV and, among other things, to seek more training, such as that offered via the rest of this course.   

Module 1: "The Healthy African Child"  This introductory module presents a positive picture of what everyone is aiming for - a healthy African child (physical, mental, social, and spiritual health), and suggests that this goal should also apply to children affected by HIV.  

Module 2: "Facts About HIV and AIDS"  This module presents local responses to several basic questions everyone has about HIV and AIDS, including: What is HIV and AIDS?  How is HIV transmitted? What are some cultural myths about HIV and AIDS?

Module 3: "Children and HIV: 0 to 5 Years"  This module addresses issues affecting parents and children from prior to birth till five years old, and touches on issues like parent to child transmission, medication, breastfeeding, proper nutrition, etc.

Module 4: "Children and HIV: 6 to 12 Years"  This module addresses primary school related concerns, and focuses especially on the role teachers can play in creating a suitable educational environment for children affected by HIV.  

Module 5: "Preparing for a Healthy Future"  This module addresses the special needs faced by adolescents, with an emphasis on prevention education, and developing attitudes that help prepare teens for a healthy future.

Module 6: "Reaching the Top: Overcoming the Challenges of HIV and AIDS"  This module illustrates two proven methods of working with teens - promoting peer-to-peer discussions, and facilitating challenges.  Most of the module documents a mountain climb by six teens from difficult backgrounds who set out to conquer Mount Kenya, the second highest summit in Africa.  

Module 7: "Building Hope: Resiliency in the Community"  This module focuses on how to help meet children's psychosocial needs so that thy are able to cope with parental loss.  

Module 8: "Loving Our Neighbors: Reducing Stigma and Discrimination in Our Communities"  This module, in cartoon format, tries to help viewers see how stigma and discrimination can hurt people affected by HIV, and shows things faith groups and communities can do to make people in their community affected by HIV feel loved and accepted.  

Module 9: "Caring for the Caregiver"  Caring for children affected by HIV can be quite stressful and traumatic and can lead to burnout.  This module, directed at caregivers, helps them recognize the symptoms of stress, and presents some things they can do to reduce its impact.

Module 10: "Celebrating the Heroes Among Us"  Many individuals across Africa are responding heroically to the challenges of HIV and AIDS - some of them living with the virus.  This module introduces six inspirational heroes.  

Module 11: "Let's Make a Difference: Church and Community Responses to HIV and AIDS"  This module presents the inspirational examples of three faith groups and one community caring for children.  

Module 12: "Pulling Together to Change Lives"  What can be done when the need seems so great and the resources so limited?  This module encourages people to unite and work together to stretch resources to bring hope to all children.

Final Acknowledgement:  Course content development has been supported through generous contributions from World Vision, Compassion International, Tearfund UK, World Relief, Kindernothilfe, MAP International, VIVA Network, Norwegian Church Aid, Kids Alive, and the Moravian Church. 


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Inspiring Hope: Helping Churches to Care for the Sick. 17/9/2013

 EMMS International are please to announce the publication of Inspiring Hope: Helping churches to care for the sick. A palliative care handbook from Africa.

42% of countries do not have any palliative care services and 80% of people globally lack adequate access to pain medication.

The church is ideally placed to change this, to serve their communities by bringing people comfort and practical support.This handbook is a resource for church leaders, volunteers and members to support the delivery of palliative care in their communities.


Inspiring Hope was launched on Wednesday 18th September 2013. The handbook is being distributed to all delegates at Spanning Diseases, Crossing Borders 2013 - the annual conference of the African Palliative Care Association.

James Wells (EMMS International Chief Executive) and Dr Jane Bates (Author) will also be showcasing the handbook in a workshop at the conference entitled Spirituality in palliative care, finding a common definition and lessons for the wider health agenda.


Rev Thabo Makgoba, Archbisop of Capetown:

“This handbook is a wonderful guide to how we can communicate Christ’s tender compassion and care, which circumstances cannot diminish, to those who are coming to the end of their lives.

“In clear, tangible, down-to-earth, ways, it assists church communities, leaders and members to understand more about palliative care, and how we can best contribute. It helps us review what we are currently doing and provides resources so that we may be more effectively engaged.“ 

About the Handbook

Written by Dr. Jane Bates, the handbook draws on her 15 years of experience as a medical doctor in South Africa and Malawi. It also incorporates the knowledge of EMMS International's partners and others working in palliative care.

The book is designed to be a practical resource. It is layed out in an accessible format, ideal for group discussion and individual study. It contains five key sections:

  1. Palliative care and the church - What is palliative care and what is the role of the church?
  2. Inspiration - Reflection, teaching and motivation for involvement.
  3. Stories to make us think - Examples of what the church is already doing.
  4. Resources for action - Tools to help you apply what you've learned.
  5. References, contacts and tools - Signposts to further reading and useful contacts.


This handbook was made possible through funding by the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund.

If you are interested in having copies of the handbook to support international palliative care please contact us for further information.

The handbook is available to download here.

Interested in using "Inspiring Hope"

If you are interested in having copies of the handbook to support international palliative care please contact us for further information.

The handbook is available to download here.

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Keep the Promise: HIV and AIDS Campaign. 10/02/09

Theologians open conversation on HIV prevention

A groundbreaking book that wrestles with the complex and sometimes controversial intersection of belief and HIV prevention is now available from the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. HIV Prevention: A Global Theological Conversation comes out of a remarkable consultation held in early 2008 of 35 leading Christian theologians and practitioners, including people living with HIV, from five continents and many church traditions.  The book is an essential resource for church leaders, theologians, teachers and strategists who are committed to a positive, informed and compassionate engagement with HIV prevention.

“This ‘conversation’ explored in a loving and enlightening way one of the most difficult challenges of the AIDS pandemic, that of prevention,” states Enda McDonagh, Emeritus Professor of Moral Theology, St. Patrick’s College, Ireland.

Prevention messages coming from organized religion have often been ambivalent, moralistic, stigmatizing, or divorced from the realities of people’s lives. By contrast, participants in the consultation and resulting publication sought to identify areas of common understanding by sharing, from diverse traditions, the moral, theological and ecclesiological challenges raised by HIV prevention. This ‘common ground’ forms the basis of Part One in the book. Part Two recognizes the need to maintain deeply held convictions and consists of essays by distinguished individuals from the consultation, among them Margaret A Farley, Yale University Divinity School and Rev. Canon Gideon Byamugisha, co-founder of ANERELA+, who set out their own distinctive and challenging positions. Part Three proposes a range of practical measures available to churches, their leaders and their members.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in recommending the publication, emphasizes, “Every church leader, pastor, preacher, theologian, should take the first step towards joining A global Theological Conversation by reading this groundbreaking new volume on HIV prevention. Then take the second step…begin your own theological reflection and engage others in the discourse of life.”

As Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS states, “The more religious communities can openly and respectfully discuss the faith and realities that effective HIV prevention has to address, the more progress we can make in reducing the spread of HIV and envisioning a world without AIDS.”

HIV Prevention: A Global Theological Conversation, edited by Gillian Paterson, 168 pp., is available in English, French and Spanish. The book can be downloaded or single print copies can be ordered for free.

For more information contact Sara Speicher via e-mail  or +44 7821 860 723.

The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is a broad international network of churches and Christian organizations cooperating in advocacy on food and HIV and AIDS. The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance is based in Geneva, Switzerland.

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Key points from the NSP for Churches. 04/03/08

Office presentation icon DRCandNSPforSA.ppt1.92 MB

Developed by the Dutch Reformed Church office for the Family of Dutch Reformed Churches' AIDS Forum, this PowerPoint highlights key aspects where churches can play a role in the achievement of the targets of the NSP. 

Download PowerPoint (1,255KB)

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Lazarus and the Dogs: Hope and the Poor in South Africa Today. 2/11

Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference Annual General Meeting

26 February 2011, Southern Africa Catholic Bishops Conference Annual General Meeting of the Justice and Peace Department. Sacred Heart College, Observatory, Johannesburg

Opening Remarks: It is great honour and privilege for me to address a gathering of the Justice and Peace Department of the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference (SACBC). Few religious bodies have done more in terms of prophetic and constructive witness in this country than the SACBC. I am truly privileged to address this gathering of members and observers at the SACBC‟s Justice and Peace Annual General Meeting. One of the reasons I agreed to come is the fact that I will be sharing the podium with someone I have great respect for, namely, Mr Zwelinzima Vavi, General Secretary of the South Africa Congress of Trade Unions (COSATU).

Download this document here (PDF, 326.51 KB, 10 pg)

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Millenium Development Goals Toolkit for Religious Leaders

Millenium Development Goals Toolkit for Religious Leaders

Religions for Peace, with the support of the UN Millennium Campaign, has developed a toolkit to engage and equip religious leaders and their communities to become front-line actors in the fight against poverty and disease.

The UN Millennium Declaration was signed by 189 nations. The declaration outlined eight Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015, including:

  • eradicating extreme poverty
  • achieving universal primary education
  • promoting gender equality
  • reducing child mortality and hunger
  • combating HIV/AIDS and other diseases

Faith communities are well placed to help achieve these goals. The MDG toolkits were developed, field tested, and launched with UN partners to assist religious communities in raising awareness, advocating, training, and conducting outreach to address poverty and disease.  

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Multiple Concurrent Partnerships and the Church: Assessing the Attitudes and Perceptions of Community Leaders of Faith

Download PDF (101.15 KB; 15p)
Authors: Chinyelu K. Lee; Dorothy Brewster; Rose A. Nesbitt from the Pan African Christian AIDS Network (PACANet)
Publication Date; January 1, 2009
This 15-page report, published by the Pan African Christian AIDS Network (PACANet), shares findings from a survey that sought to access churchgoers' perceptions about multiple concurrent partnerships (MCPs) and the church's response to these relationships, with a view that church leaders must understand the attitudes and perceptions surrounding these relationships in order to develop effective interventions. The study, which collected data from religious leaders and faith-based organisations in western, southern, and eastern Africa and across denominations, found that evangelicals were less likely to perceive MCPs as a problem within their congregations. Additionally, most tended to explain MCPs by drawing on gender stereotypes, saying that women participated in such partnerships for economic reasons while men's "natural and social impulses" drove them to seek multiple partners.
Members of evangelical churches were significantly more likely than those from other faiths to report that MCPs were not a major problem in their congregations, with more than half reporting that less than 10% of men and women engaged in MCPs. They also estimated that slightly more men may be engaging in MCPs than women. According to the report, these figures were similar for those who, although not evangelical, reported attending or holding church services multiple times a week. These respondents were also more likely to say that their churches were actively addressing the issue of MCPs through activities promoting fidelity and strengthened marriages. Researchers point out that this perception of increased MCP programming may be more a reflection of frequent attendance than actual programming levels.
According to the report, when participants were asked why women and men chose to engage in MCPs, their responses largely reflected gender stereotypes. About 30% reported that most women engaged in MCPs in order to gain income for essential needs. Conversely, respondents indicated that men within the church looked to these relations most often to fulfil psychological needs, and that men in the community often engaged in these relationships due to peer pressure or to gain social status. No mention was made of previously cited reasons for MCPs among both men and women, such as sexual fulfilment. Researchers suggest there may be a need for greater candour about sexual behaviour within churches.
The report recommends that more research be done to ascertain the level and effectiveness of MCP programming within the religious sector. The researchers also recommend that health and demographic surveys begin to include questions that may help link HIV prevalence to religious denomination as well as church attendance. They argue that greater attention needs to be given to the role of the church and potential differences between churches in order to design effective faith-based programming.
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New EAA Resource for Faith Communities on Travel Restrictions. 07/11/08

Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance. 

This resource and action guide has been developed by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance to assist people of faith at community level to understand the issues around HIV-related travel restrictions and take action. The information and action ideas it presents can provide relevant and useful tools for anyone who wants to learn and campaign against such restrictions.Download PDF (396.22 KB, 12p) Contents:
  • Introduction
  • A faith perspective on travel restrictions
  • Holistic approach needed
  • Nature of HIV and AIDS-related travel restrictions
  • Exclusionary policies and legislation in other countries
  • Travel restrictions and discrimination
  • What is being done and said so far
  • What can you do?
  • For more information
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PDF icon OnsGemeenteenMIVenvigs.pdf650.42 KB

Hierdie dokument is ontwikkel deur die Vigstaakgroep van die GKD van die NG Kerk (Wes- en Suid-Kaap) en die VG Kerk (Kaapland) in samewerking met CABSA. Dit help gemeentes dink oor MIV onder die volgende opskrifte:

- DIE MIV-PANDEMIE – “Wat is die situasie tans?”
- DIE VIGSPANDEMIE – Wat gaan hier aan? (Oorsake en dryfvere)
- DIE VIGSPANDEMIE – Wat gemeentes kan WEES en DOEN ...
- WAAR GEMEENTES KAN BEGIN – Die proses van betrokke raak

Laai hierdie dokument af.

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Part of the Solution: Faith-Based Responses to HIV and AIDS in Africa. 2009

Published by Family AIDS Caring Trust and Ministry of Health, Zimbabwe 2009

By Geoff Foster

Peter Piot, head of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), recently stated that the new face of AIDS is an African woman, given that three-quarters of all young Africans living with HIV are female.1 But bearing in mind the significance of faith-based HIV/AIDS responses, it might be more appropriate to assert that the new face of AIDS is an African woman of faith. Women and men of faith and the faith-based organizations (FBOs) to which they belong are increasingly establishing support and prevention initiatives to assist people affected by HIV/AIDS, especially in the most rural and impoverished regions of Africa.

Driven by compassion and a devotion to their faith, churches, mosques, and other faith-based groups and individuals in sub-Saharan Africa have responded to HIV/AIDS with spontaneous, homegrown solutions to the pressing problems lying at their doorsteps. The solutions vary wildly in scope and scale. Some are professionally run projects coordinated by large religious organizations. Many are community-level projects implemented by congregations serving a small number of beneficiaries. Individuals are also responding as a result of their faith—a person sharing food with a neighbor who is dying in a nearby hut or a traditional healer advising a client on how to avoid HIV infection. For the most part, the work of FBOs and individuals continues unnoticed by governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and international organizations.

This chapter outlines the dimensions of and describes the characteristics of FBO HIV/AIDS initiatives, utilizing where possible evidence from published studies. It explains why FBO initiatives remain poorly understood and receive insufficient support from government sectors and development organizations. The chapter concludes with lessons learned in mainstreaming FBO HIV/AIDS initiatives, suggesting ways in which external agencies can strengthen faith-based HIV/AIDS initiatives and help them align with accepted best practices and public-health strategies.

Read this article here or download it here (PDF, 395KB, 22pg)

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Perceptions of Rewards among Volunteer Caregivers of People Living with AIDS Working in Faith-Based Organizations in South Africa. 14/6/10

Subtitle: A Qualitative Study

Written by Olagoke Akintola

Published 14 June 2010 by Journal of the International AIDS Society
ISSN 1758-2652

Abstract: Background: Volunteer caregivers are a critical source of support for the majority of people living with HIV and AIDS in southern Africa, which has extremely high HIV/AIDS prevalence rates. While studies have shown that volunteer caregiving is associated with negative health and socio-economic outcomes, little is known about the positive experiences of volunteers in the home-based care context in South Africa. The purpose of this study is to explore the perception of rewards among volunteers working in home-based care settings. Conclusions: Insights into volunteer caregiver rewards provide opportunities for policy makers and programme managers to develop a model of home-based care that facilitates the accrual of rewards to volunteers alongside volunteers’ traditional duties of patient care. Programme managers could employ these insights in recruiting and assisting volunteers to identify and reflect on rewards in the caregiving situation as a means of reducing the burden of care and sustaining volunteer interest in caregiving

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Prayer Alone is Not Enough. People’s Stories of HIV and Faith

Interviews of people with a story to tell in El Salvador, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Published by Progressio April 2011

ISBN 978-1-85287-338-7
Written by James M Matarazzo, Jr.

This report aims to highlight the lessons from our work with faith-based partner organisations responding to HIV. To do this, we interviewed people with a story to tell in El Salvador, Yemen and Zimbabwe. These stories show the experiences of individual human beings affected by or living with HIV, and also those working alongside them, as perceived through the lens of faith. All three countries are places of high religiosity where participation in a faith community is almost universal. Thus, these are stories of the human spirit amidst the challenges of the HIV pandemic.

-El Salvador

Download this resource here (PDF, 1.86 MB, 44 pg)

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Prescription for Life. 12/01/09

Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance

The vast majority of children living with HIV around the world lack access to HIV testing and treatment. We can do something about that. The Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), in collaboration with partners around the world, are embarking on a year-long action with governments, pharmaceutical companies and media to improve access to medicines for children with HIV. Children and young people are invited to take action with their school, faith community or family to help make this happen.

This action guide builds on the EAA’s teaching resource on advocacy and HIV and AIDS, which is available for fuller information about teaching children about AIDS and advocating for progress in prevention, treatment, care and support.

Available to download in English, French and Spanish.

Download English PDF

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Religious Community Working Toward Zero Infections in Children. 24/4/12

Published by UNAIDS

24 April 2012

This brochure was developed by UNAIDS and was shared with Pope Benedict XVI When UNAIDS Executive Director was briefly received by the Pope on 11 April 2012. It offers suggestions on how FBOs could engage in the Global Plan to Eliminate new HIV Infections among Children by 2015 and to Keep Their Mothers Healthy

Download this brochure here (PDF, 196.47 KB, 4pg)

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Restoring Dignity: A Toolkit for Religious Communities to End Violence Against Women.

Religious leaders and communities of faith have the moral authority and the responsibility to work together, in a spirit of multi-faith collaboration, to promote and protect the inviolable dignity of women and girls. People of faith have a unique and unparalleled potential, as moral and spiritual leaders, to be powerful agents of prevention, education and advocacy to end violence against women.

This toolkit was designed by WCRP in collaboration with religious leaders from countries around the world for women and men of faith working at the community, national, or international level.

Attachment Size
Restoring Dignity Toolkit 1571 KB
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Share your Experiences of Dialogue between Religious Leaders and People Living with HIV. 12/1/12

Survey to gather information to develop and strengthen opportunities for dialogue between networks of people living with HIV and religious leaders, faith-based organisations, and faith communities at country level.

12 January 2012

Today, a survey has been launched to gather information to develop and strengthen opportunities for dialogue between networks of people living with HIV and religious leaders, faith-based organisations, and faith communities at country level. The survey has been developed by the Strengthening Religious Leadership Multi-Faith Working Group convened by the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (EAA), in collaboration with the Global Network of People Living with HIV (GNP+), the International Network of Religious Leaders Living with and affected by HIV (INERELA+) and UNAIDS.

The survey is part of the follow-up to the High Level Religious Leaders' Summit on HIV held in March 2010. One of the desired outcomes of the Summit was to build bridges between the religious leaders and different sectors – including people living with HIV (PLHIV) and key populations as a foundation for new and strengthened collaboration in the response to HIV. Therefore, the concept of developing a framework for dialogue between religious leaders and PLHIV networks at the national level has emerged as a first step in creating further such safe spaces for dialogue.

To inform the development of this framework, this survey aims to gather:

-priorities for joint action
-details of past or current collaborations/dialogues and lessons learned
-Recommendations for future work
-Other related information or thoughts

How to respond to the survey

Please click here to fill out the survey. It should only take 20 minutes of your time. Please note that the survey is intended especially for:

-People living with HIV
-Religious leaders
-Religious leaders living with HIV
-Members and staff of networks of people living with HIV
-Staff or representatives of faith-based organisations
-Members of local faith communities and organisations
-Those with practical experience in the role of religious leaders and faith communities in the response to HIV

Please share this survey with appropriate individuals and networks and encourage them to complete the survey.

All information gathered will be kept confidential and anonymous.

We apologise in advance if some of the questions make you uncomfortable. The intention is not to cause discomfort, but rather to assess - as objectively as possible – the prospects for dialogue and the points where dialogue may be more difficult.

Regrettably, the survey is only currently available in English. The survey will be online until 17 February 2012. 

Background on the High Level Religious Leaders' Summit on HIV

In order to engage religious and spiritual leaders from many of the world's major religions in stronger, more visible and practical leadership in the response to HIV, a Summit of High Level Religious Leaders on the Response to HIV was held in The Netherlands on 22-23 March 2010.

During the Summit, participants affirmed in their concluding statement the "renewed sense of urgency" to prioritize and strengthen the response to HIV. Such a response includes "holistic prevention" in addition to reaching universal access to treatment, care and support. The statement called for the "universal respect for the human rights of all people living with and affected by and at risk of HIV infection" and the "respect for the dignity of every human being". Please click here for more information.

Summit participants also drafted and signed "Together We Must Do More: My Personal Commitment to Action" , which not only detailed a series of commitments but set out a timeline for periodic reporting every 18 months on how each signatory has sought to fulfil the Personal Commitment.

To support and oversee the follow-up to the Summit, including the development of a framework for dialogue between religious leaders and people living with HIV, a Multi-Faith Working Group on Strengthening Religious Leadership in the Response to HIV has been set up under the facilitation of the EAA. For more information on the working group, click here.

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Sikia Kengele Interpersonal Communication Training for Religious Leaders. 6/2/2014

Publication Date: November 1, 2010


This guide was produced to guide a one-day training to teach religious leaders how to communicate important information about HIV and AIDS. The one-day training focuses on giving religious leaders tools they will need to effectively communicate HIV information so that it is most likely to be taken to heart by the people they are trying to reach – and therefore more likely to change their behaviours. "The training describes four basic interpersonal communication skills needed during HIV prevention conversations: active listening; asking questions and probing; speaking simply; and using support materials to help deliver information."

The guide includes background information, session notes, and activity ideas. "The interactive methodology encourages participants to discuss and contribute to everyone’s learning experience, and provides opportunities for participants to practice the four basic skills so that they feel empowered to do them on their own when they return to their communities."

According to the guide, "as highly respected members of their communities, religious leaders are in a unique position to reach individuals and families face to face with information on how they can reduce risky behaviours (and adopt healthy behaviours) that will help prevent them from getting HIV. Strengthening the interpersonal communication skills of religious leaders will help them to deliver these sometimes-difficult public health messages more effectively."

This manual was developed for the Tanzania Marketing and Communications for AIDS, Reproductive Health, Child Survival and Infectious Diseases (T-MARC)project, a six-year (2004-2010) United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded project, led by the Academy for Educational Development.

Free to download

English, Swahili

Number of Pages: 


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Strategies for Hope

Since 1990 Strategies For Hope has produced a series of study books, each focusing on a different aspect of the HIV epidemic in Africa and Asia. The new series is the 'Called to Care' toolkit, which consists of practical action-oriented booklets for Church leaders

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Called to Care Toolkit

PDF icon CtoC.pdf117.51 KB

 The CALLED TO CARE toolkit consists of practical, action-oriented booklets and minimanuals on issues related to HIV and AIDS, designed for use by church leaders, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. The purpose of the materials is to enable pastors, priests, religious sisters and brothers, lay church leaders and their congregations and communities to:

- Reflect on and understand the spiritual, theological, ethical, health, social and practical implications of the HIV epidemic and the Christian call to respond with compassion.

- Overcome the stigma, silence, discrimination, denial, fear and inertia that inhibit church and community action to address HIV and AIDS-related issues more effectively.

- Guide their congregations and communities through a process of learning and change,leading to practical, church-based actions to help individuals, families and communities reduce the spread of HIV and mitigate the impact of the HIV epidemic.

CALLED TO CARE is an initiative of the Strategies for Hope Trust, which produces books and videos that promote effective, community-based strategies of HIV and AIDS care, support and prevention in the developing world, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.

CALLED TO CARE is implemented through a process of international, ecumenical cooperation involving churches, other faith-based organisations, international church bodies, publishers, distributors and other partners.

More info on the attached document.


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'Called to Care’ - a Vital Anti-AIDS Resource. 07/11/2011

PDF icon a-CtoC_eval_full.pdf1.41 MB
PDF icon a-CtoC_eval_summary.pdf212.79 KB

“AIDS is not a punishment from God.” This is one of the many messages of the ‘Called to Care’ toolkit, which is enabling growing numbers of church leaders in Africa to respond more positively and effectively to the challenges of HIV and AIDS for their communities.

A new, independent evaluation has found that ‘Called to Care’ - a collection of 10 workbooks on topics related to HIV and AIDS - is helping pastors, priests and lay church leaders to better understand the spiritual, medical, moral and practical implications of the AIDS epidemic.

Published by the Strategies for Hope Trust, the Called to Care workbooks cover topics such as the basic facts about HIV and AIDS, pastoral and community responses to the challenges of the epidemic, theological issues, food security, parenting and the relevance of the Bible to the AIDS epidemic.

The evaluation used a variety of techniques to assess the impact of the toolkit. These included a review of project documents; analysis of 680 feedback forms, letters and questionnaires; focus group meetings in Kenya, Malawi and Uganda; and structured workshops with users of the workbooks in Malawi. 

The Called to Care workbooks are designed primarily for use in activities such as training workshops, study groups, confirmation classes and other church-based activities, but they are also used to help prepare talks, sermons and Sunday School classes.

The evaluation found that the Called to Care workbooks “have helped to break the silence around HIV, especially within faith communities. In particular, the fact that the materials are well grounded in reality and introduce a ‘human face’ to HIV, through the inclusion of real-life personal testimonies, has been very powerful and has helped people to connect with the messages”.

The evaluation also found evidence of increased commitment by participants to delay sexual debut and/or abstain from sex until marriage, to remain faithful to one’s partner, to use condoms during sexual intercourse, and to view marriage as a respectful partnership, in which both men and women are equal.

Although designed primarily for use by churches, the Called to Care workbooks have also been welcomed - and are used - by many secular development organisations.

The ‘Called to Care’ evaluation report is available below

The Called to Care workbooks can be ordered from TALC ( in the UK; from the Christian Literature Fund ( in South Africa; and from Africa Christian Textbooks ( in Nigeria.


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Parenting: A Journey of Love. Called to Care no.10

Published July 2011 by Strategies for Hope

By Fulata Lusungu Moyo
ISBN 978-1-905746-19-4

Knowledge and skills for parents and guardians

Focuses on the knowledge and skills which parents and guardians need to provide their children with protection against threats to their health and wellbeing, and to give them the best possible start in life. Uses stories, poems, quotes, Bible studies, games and participatory exercises.

Register to Download this document here (PDF, MB, 58pg)
Price R39.50. Available from Christian Literature Fund. Email Christian Literature Fund at

This booklet is also available at CARIS
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More and Better Food: Called to Care No.9

More and Better FoodSubtitle: A Guide to help your congregation do HIV/AIDS work

Published March 2011 by Strategies for Hope

By Anne Bayley and Mugove Walter Nyika
ISBN: 978-1-905746-16-3

More and Better Food is an essential guide for food security in the age of climate change and the AIDS epidemic.  It presents basic information about food and health, managing soil and water, and improving productivity through organic farming methods which help to address the challenges of climate change.  Written in clear, simple language, the book contains numerous participatory exercises for teaching and learning new farming techniques through practical activities, and is well illustrated with line drawings

Register here to download PDF version
Price R39.50. Available from from Christian Literature Fund. Email Christian Literature Fund at
This booklet is also available at CARIS
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My Life - Starting Now: Called to Care No. 8

Knowledge and skills for young adolescents.

Personal identity - making decisions - peer pressure - values - HIV and AIDS - love - sex ….  These are just a few of the topics covered by ‘My Life - Starting Now’.  This 80-page manual, no. 8 in the Called to Care toolkit published by the Strategies for Hope Trust, focuses on knowledge and lifeskills for young people aged 10 to 15. 

The manual takes a participatory approach to teaching and learning, using role plays, case studies, games, stories, quizzes, Bible study and artwork to promote discussion and explore critical life skills for young people. It also includes sessions for parents and guardians on their roles in guiding, supporting and educating young people. 

The co-authors of the book - Lucy Steinitz in Namibia and Eunice Kamaara in Kenya - have combined their vast experience of training young people in lifeskills and producing educational materials on HIV, gender, sex and sexual behaviour.  Illustrations are by the Namibian artist, Marika Matengu, and the Zambian artist, Danny Chiyesu. 

By Lucy Steinitz with Eunice Kamaara. 80 pages; published November 2010; price £2.60 from TALC (;  ISBN 978-1-905746-15-6.  Download on  For further information, contact the Series Editor:


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The Child Within

y Judy Rankin, with Rev Renate Cochrane and the Khulakahle Child Counselling & Training Forum; 68 pages; published August 2008; ISBN 978-1-905746-08-8.

The Strategies for Hope Trust is pleased to announce the publication of 'The Child Within: Connecting with Children who have Experienced Grief and Loss'. This 68-page workbook, containing numerous illustrations, was developed in collaboration with Masangane ('to embrace' in Xhosa), an orphan care project supported by the Moravian Church in South Africa's Eastern Province. 

'The Child Within' arose out of a need expressed by volunteer caregivers who were experiencing serious difficulties in looking after orphaned children. The book breaks new ground in promoting resilience in children who have suffered grief and personal loss. It does so by enabling adults who are child care-givers - as parents, guardians, volunteers or professionals - to rediscover and appreciate their own 'child within'. Through structured workshop sessions, participants learn how to communicate more openly and effectively with children. 

The book incorporates a Christian approach to children as 'a gift from the Lord' (Psalm 127:3), but can be used by a wide variety of community groups and organisations. Although based on professional research on child and adolescent development, the book is written in clear, simple language, and is easily accessible to non-professional child caregivers. 

During the process of developing and testing the book, the Khulakahle ('to grow well' in Xhosa) Child Counselling & Training Forum was established, in order to carry on the work of training child caregivers.

'The Child Within' is book no. 6 in the Called to Care toolkit, published by the Strategies for Hope Trust in Oxford, U.K. To order copies, please contact TALC: e-mail: Website: Tel.: +44 1727 853869. 

In South Africa, please contact the Christian Literature Fund. Contact Amanda Carstens or; . Tel.: +27 21 873 6964.

Organisations based elsewhere in sub-Saharan Africa that cannot afford to purchase the book may request a free copy from the Strategies for Hope Trust by email

The book can also be downloaded on the Strategies for Hope website.


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Feedback Required on 'The Child Within'.

Dear Colleague, 

Greetings again from the Strategies for Hope Trust.  A few months ago we sent you one or more complimentary copies of 'The Child Within', no. 6 in our 'Called to Care' toolkit.  We hope you have found this book useful in the course of your work with families affected by the HIV epidemic and other causes of grief and suffering.

As you may have noticed, there is a yellow feedback form, combined with an order form for SFH materials, in the centre of the book.  We would be enormously grateful if you would please complete this form, detach it from the book and return it to us by post.  (The address of the SFH Trust is 93 Divinity Road, Oxford OX4 1LN, U.K.)  Your feedback helps to inform us how our materials are being used and how communities are responding to them.  It is therefore very important to us. 

If you would prefer to send us your feedback by email, please be kind enough to provide answers to the following questions:

1. With whom have you used 'The Child Within'?
2. How exactly did you use the book?
3. To what extent has the book been useful?
4. What 'messages' does the book contain for your community?
5. What comments have local people made about the book?  (Please try to recall their exact words.)
6. Do you have any other comments or suggestions about the book?

Please bear in mind that, if you need additional copies of 'The Child Within' or other Strategies for Hope materials, you should contact us accordingly.

With best wishes,

Glen Williams

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New HIV Training Materials for African Independent Churches.

by Glen Williams

The Strategies for Hope Trust is pleased to announce the publication of two new training materials on HIV and AIDS, designed especially for use by African independent churches and community groups.

Both books are based on 12 years of experience by the Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), based in Nairobi, Kenya. The author, Nicta Lubaale, is an ordained pastor who has been involved in faith-based and community responses to HIV and AIDS since 1991. Since January 2007 he has been General Secretary of the OAIC.

The new books are nos. 4 and 5 in the Called to Care toolkit, produced by the Strategies for Hope Trust. Book no. 4, 'Pastoral Action on HIV and AIDS', contains guidelines for training pastors and lay church leaders in addressing the pastoral challenges of the AIDS epidemic. These challenges affect churches in their teachings about sickness and healing, their forms of worship and their pastoral ministries.

Book no. 5, 'Community Action on HIV and AIDS', is designed to help church leaders in dealing with social, cultural and economic issues related to the AIDS epidemic at community level. It contains sections on topics such as the sexual abuse of children, domestic violence, widow inheritance and property grabbing by relatives - issues which have been exacerbated in many African countries by the AIDS epidemic.

Both books include case studies of the work of several African independent churches which, with the support of the OAIC, have responded in particularly innovative ways to the challenges of the AIDS epidemic. These stories are drawn from OAIC member churches in Kenya and Uganda, but they are relevant to churches throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and beyond.

Both books contain numerous role plays, discussion guidelines, Biblical references, individual case studies and illustrations by African artists.

To order copies of either or both of these books:

Organisations in Kenya, please contact: OAIC, Junction of Riara/Kingara Roads, PO Box 21736, Nairobi 00505, Kenya

. Email: Tel.: +254 20 387 8419.


Outside Kenya, please contact: TALC, P.O. Box 49, St Albans AL1 5TX, U.K.

Tel.: +44 1727 853869. Email:


Publication details:

Called to Care no. 4: 'Pastoral Action on HIV and AIDS', by Nicta Lubaale, Strategies for Hope Trust and OAIC, March 2008, ISBN 978-1-905746-04-0;

Called to Care no. 5: 'Community Action on HIV and AIDS', by Nicta Lubaale, Strategies for Hope Trust and OAIC, March 2008, ISBN 978-1-905746-05-7; 

From: Glen Williams, Strategies for Hope Trust, 93 Divinity Road, Oxford OX4 1LN, UK. Tel.: +44 1865 723078.


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‘Stepping Stones PLUS’ - Supporting Women in Their Quest for Safe Motherhood . 03/04/2012

A powerful tool to address stigma in communities.

Strategies for Hope Trust

When Jane Awino suspected she was pregnant, she went to the local hospital for a check-up.  Her pregnancy was confirmed, and she was asked to bring her husband to the clinic, where HIV testing has been made routine.  Jane recalls:

“After much prodding, he agreed to accompany me, but he refused to be tested.  After the test, it turned out that I was positive.  When my husband heard about it, he just turned violent and beat me senseless, and chased me from the home, together with the children.” 

Community elders attempted to save the marriage through mediation, but all their efforts were in vain.  Jane and her five children now live with her mother.

This is a true story.  It happened in Western Kenya, where a survey found that 95% of pregnant women did not disclose a positive HIV diagnosis to spouses and relatives for fear of stigma, discrimination and violence.  Similar stories occur throughout the world.  The fear of rejection, discrimination and violence prevents hundreds of thousands of HIV-positive women from accessing the health care they need to prevent passing HIV on to their children.  And every year, 370,000 children - mostly in sub-Saharan Africa - are born with HIV. 

In June 2011, world leaders met at the United Nations headquarters in New York to launch a global plan with an ambitious objective: to reduce the number of children born with HIV by 90% by the year 2015.  It is technically possible to achieve this objective.  Providing pregnant women living with HIV with antiretroviral medication and appropriate support helps them to have babies born free of HIV - and in safety for them both. With these measures in place, the likelihood of a child being born free of HIV can thus now be more than 95%. 

Governments, UN agencies, private philanthropic organisations and international NGOs have the capacity to provide the financial resources and the technical know-how to produce an HIV-free generation. 

Yet many obstacles still block the path to achieving this objective.  Chief among these are deeply entrenched, discriminatory attitudes, held at many levels, towards people living with HIV.  The stigma, discrimination and denial which still accompany HIV have the effect of deterring millions of women worldwide from accessing the simple, low-cost health services which would protect their unborn children and also keep them alive and safe.  These are issues which communities themselves also need to address. 

A 140-page manual - ‘Stepping Stones PLUS’ - aims to support communities in tackling HIV-related stigma, discrimination and denial and promoting the care, respect and support for people with HIV which is the crucial missing ingredient.  Produced with support from UNICEF and three international NGOs, ‘Stepping Stones PLUS’ is a supplement to the internationally renowned ‘Stepping Stones’ training manual, published in 1995 by the Strategies for Hope Trust and ActionAid. 

Designed for use after groups have completed the original ‘Stepping Stones’ manual, ‘Stepping Stones PLUS’ contains new sessions and additional exercises for existing sessions.  Lead co-author, Dr Alice Welbourn, says:

“The contents are designed to promote a whole-community response to the epidemic through appropriate care and support and the involvement of people living with HIV in all aspects of programmes.  It will be particularly useful in working with community groups to support women with HIV in their quest to have babies born free of HIV, in safety for both mothers and their children.”   

Previously available only as a CD, ‘Stepping Stones PLUS’ has now been produced - in English and French - in printed form.  \Selected pages can be viewed on the Strategies for Hope website: .  To order copies, please contact TALC:;; tel.: +44 (0) 1727 853 869. 

For additional information about ‘Stepping Stones’, please contact  For all other enquiries, please contact the Series Editor, Strategies for Hope Trust:

(With thanks to IRIN/PlusNews: ReportId=81054.)



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Stepping Stones PLUS. 23/02/09

Aisha Ellis 

The Strategies for Hope Trust is delighted to announce the availability of
'Stepping Stones PLUS', a supplement to the 'Stepping Stones' workshop
manual originally published in 1995.   

'Stepping Stones PLUS' consists of numerous new exercises for existing sessions, and new sessions to follow the completion of the original workshop.  These are designed to promote a whole-community response to the HIV epidemic through appropriate care and support, and the involvement of HIV-positive people in all aspects of programmes. 

As with the original manual, 'Stepping Stones PLUS' addresses the issues of gender and generation, but also focuses on additional issues, including safe motherhood with  discordant couples, male circumcision, the female condom, voluntary and confidential counselling and testing, and other related issues.  It presents a comprehensive approach to both the containment of HIV and to love, care, treatment and support of everyone with HIV in a community.  

'Stepping Stones PLUS' is available only as a pdf file, either on CD or online; it is not available as a hard copy.  It can be ordered from TALC either online or by email.  

Organisations in developing countries that cannot afford to purchase
'Stepping Stones PLUS' may request a free copy from the Strategies for Hope Trust.  Please introduce your organisation, and describe your activities, the groups with whom you work and how you plan to use 'Stepping Stones PLUS'.  Please mention also which information and training materials on HIV, gender and related issues you currently use.  

Publication details: 'Stepping Stones PLUS', by Alice Welbourn, Florence Kilonzo, TJ Mboya and Shoba Mohamed Liban; 140 pages; published 2008 by Strategies for Hope Trust; ISBN 978-1-905746-09-5. 

Glen Williams

Series Editor

Strategies for Hope Trust

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Free Copies of Stepping Stones Training Manual Available.

The Strategies for Hope Trust is pleased to announce that, thanks to a grant from a donor organisation, we are able to offer one free copy each of the 'Stepping Stones' training manual (in English, French or Portuguese) and the workshop video (in English or French) to organisations based in sub-Saharan Africa that cannot afford to purchase them but need them for their work with communities.

To request free copies, please write to introduce your organisation, explaining in full your aims and objectives, describing the activities you carry out and specifying which sections of the community you work with. Please inform us also which information and training materials on HIV and gender issues you currently use. Let us know your full postal address, and please specify also whether you are requesting a printed version of the manual, or a copy on CD. Due to financial constraints, we cannot provide both you with both a hard and a soft copy.

This offer of free copies applies only until our funds for this purpose have been spent. It does not apply to Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, and the whole of Latin America, where 'Stepping Stones' is distributed by local partner organisations.

After you have used 'Stepping Stones' and sent us feedback, we can provide you with a copy of 'Stepping Stones PLUS', which consists of new exercises and sessions designed to promote a whole community approach to the HIV epidemic.

Organisations such as international NGOs, UN agencies and large local NGOs that wish to use either 'Stepping Stones' or 'Stepping Stones PLUS' should please purchase copies from our distributor, TALC, either by email or online. Please note that income received from the sale of Strategies for Hope materials is used to help cover the cost of reprints and additional free distribution to organisations in sub-Saharan Africa that cannot afford to purchase them.

To learn more about 'Stepping Stones, please visit us.

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The Religious Community Working Towards Zero New HIV Infections among Children. 13/4/12

Transcribed below is the text of a UNAIDS brochure addressing the role religious communities can play to eliminate new HIV infections among children. For additional resources to reduce child infections, click here

13 April 2012

“Thanks to the universal access movement, my three children were born HIV-free and I am able to see them grow up because of treatment access.”

--Rebecca Awiti, AIDS activist and mother living with HIV

“No child should be born with HIV; no child should be an orphan because of HIV; no child should die due to lack of access to treatment.”

--Ebube Sylvia Taylor, an eleven year old born free of HIV

“All children born free of HIV and their mothers living healthily to see them grow—this is our hope and it can be our reality.”

--Michel Sidibé, Executive Director, UNAIDS

Every year 390 000 children are born with HIV. HIV transmission can be prevented, and every child can be born free of HIV.

If a woman is living with HIV, the virus can pass to her baby during pregnancy, labour, birth, or when breastfeeding. But if she has access to comprehensive care, the risk of transmission can be reduced to less than 5%.

In high-income countries, the number of new HIV infections among children has been virtually eliminated thanks to effective HIV testing and counselling, access to antiretroviral therapy, safe delivery practices and safe infant feeding.

However in the low- and middle income countries 1000 children are born with HIV every day. Only half of all mothers living with HIV in the developing world receive antiretroviral therapy to stop their children from becoming infected with HIV.

UNAIDS believes that no child should be born with HIV and, with our partners, have launched a Global Plan to eliminate new HIV infections in children by 2015 and keep their mothers alive. It is an achievable goal. But it requires leadership, passion and sustained commitment.

The involvement of the faith community is critical to achieving this goal. A significant proportion of health care for people living with HIV is provided by the faith community. Their active engagement and support for the plan is essential to its success.

Five steps religious communities can take to stop new HIV infections in children and keep their mothers alive.

1. Support women to avoid HIV infection. A mother free from HIV cannot pass on the virus to her children

2. Provide information in local faith communities encouraging and supporting couples to go together for HIV testing.

3. Support access to antenatal care and HIV testing and counselling for pregnant women and provide linkages to related health facilities and care.

4. Strengthen programmes to prevent new HIV infections in children––in line with national policies and protocols––in religiously affiliated hospitals and medical centres, particularly in rural areas.

5. Ensure coordination with national health systems addressing HIV prevention and treatment to enable pregnant women living with HIV to access the best possible antiretroviral therapy—for their own health and for their baby’s health.

Key facts:


The number of children newly infected with HIV.

3.4 million

The number of children living with HIV.


The number of HIV-related deaths among children.


The number of countries that account for 90% of all new HIV infections among children.


The percentage of mothers living with HIV who receive antiretroviral therapy to stop their children from becoming infected with the virus. 


The estimated number of mothers who die due to HIV-related causes each year.

--Data from end 2010


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The Role of Faith-Based Organizations in HIV Prevention and Care in Central America. 2010

Written by Kathryn Pitkin Derose, David E. Kanouse, David P. Kennedy, Kavita Patel, Alice Taylor, Kristin J. Leuschner, Homero Martinez

Abstract: Faith-based organizations (FBOs) have historically played an important role in delivering health and social services in developing countries; however, little research has been done on their role in HIV prevention and care, particularly in Latin America. This study describes FBO involvement in HIV/AIDS in three Central American countries hard hit by this epidemic: Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. Summarizing the results of key informant and stakeholder interviews with health and FBO leaders and site visits to FBO-sponsored HIV/AIDS clinics, hospices, programs, and other activities, the authors describe the range of FBO activities and assess the advantages of FBO involvement in addressing HIV/AIDS, such as churches' diverse presence and extensive reach, and the challenges to such involvement, such as the unwillingness of some FBOs to discuss condom use and their lack of experience in evaluating the impact of programs. The authors conclude with a discussion of possible ways that FBOs can address the HIV epidemic, both independently and in collaboration with other organizations, such as government ministries of health.

ISBN/EAN: 9780833049537

Published 2010

Download this document here (PDF, 663.50 KB, 123pg)

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The Umoja HIV and Your Community Facilitator's Guide. 2011

Bill Crooks
Jackie Mouradian
Veena O’Sullivan
Publication Date: 
January 1, 2011

The HIV and Your Community HIV Facilitator's Guide was added to the Umoja guides in 2011 (see Related Summaries, below). This resource seeks to "equip Umoja facilitators with basic information about HIV, as well as provide some simple tools for gathering and analysing information. It enables the facilitator to help churches and communities identify HIV-related issues, discuss them and think about the right response."

Umoja ("togetherness" in Swahili) is a programme to  help church leaders and their congregations work together with the community to bring about positive changes for the whole community by building on the resources and skills they already have. It is a process designed to inspire and equip local people with a vision for determining their own future with their own resources.

The document discusses stigma and discrimination and how it might impact the potential for people to choose healthy behaviours, for example testing and taking antiretroviral therapy. It suggests step-by-step discussions rooted in the Bible to bring congregations and communities to the point of seeking health information and adopting actions to prevent the spread of HIV, including: offering space for testing and counselling; offering a treatment buddies programme, analysing the effects of migration on the community; working with pregnant women and mothers to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV; and working with those who are ill and with the families of the dying, as well as orphans, especially around livelihood possibilities and needs.

The guide carries through with action planning, implementation, and evaluation steps and concludes with a list of resources.


English, French, Portuguese

Number of Pages: 


Contact Information: 

Tearfund website, November 7 2013.

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Unsettling the Christian Church

Written by Musa W Dube

Accra 2004

"Woe to you...hypocrites...for you have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, mercy and faith" (Mt 23.23).

Preaching to the converted

When I was still a secondary school student and an active member of the Student Christian Movement, I met a zealous Christian girl who asked me, "Have you received the Lord Jesus as your saviour? Are you born again?" I said, "Yes." As if she had not heard me, she began to preach to me. She told me to repent, to accept Jesus as my saviour, to be born again. You can imagine my response. I can tell you for sure that I was looking at the wall, trying to tell my undeterred preacher girl, "Shut up. Go and find non-believers and preach to them, if you really want to preach a message of repentance."

Preaching a message of repentance to the converted is difficult. The converted feel uncomfortable. They feel insulted, judged and undermined. They say to themselves, "We are believers. Tell us a message fitting for our faith, not a message of repentance." Instead of bringing God's people together, we run the risk of disintegrating them.

Yet we must ask: why are believers so intolerant of evangelists who bear the good news? Why is the message of repentance so difficult for us the converted?

I invite you, then, to try to hear again the message of repentance as a message that is fitting for us - a message that should bring the church together rather than divide us in our fight against HIV/Aids. Allow me, therefore, to elaborate on three images: John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness; Jesus' harsh sermon in Matthew 23, and the image of my mother - a mother to thirteen children, whom I immediately link with the wailing voice of Rachel.

John the Baptist preaches in the wilderness

In the first image, I see John the Baptist standing in the wilderness and screaming, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near!" I see many people coming out of Judea, repenting and getting baptized, confessing their sins. I see Pharisees and Sadducees coming from Jerusalem to repent and to get baptized and I hear John the Baptist saying to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you of the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say, "We have Abraham and Sarah as our ancestors'; for I tell you, out of these stones God is able to raise up children to them" (Mt 3.7-9).

John was preaching to the Jews, a people who knew and lived according to the law of God. He was preaching to the converted. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were the spiritual and political leaders of Israel, the holy nation of God.1

The Sadducees were priests, men of the collar, who administered the holy sacraments in the temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. The Pharisees were committed men of God who spent their time learning the law, interpreting the law, teaching the law and taking care to keep the law. They spent their lives agonizing over the question "What does the Lord require of us?"

At a time of national crisis for the Jews, when Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed in the Jewish-Roman war of 63-70 CE, it was the Pharisees who managed to keep the faith of God's people together, for they had always practised a spirituality that flowed into all aspects and moments of their lives - a spirituality that did not revolve around the temple and Jerusalem. They were able to show their fellow Jews that it was still possible to know and to do what the Lord required of them.

John looks at these spiritual and political leaders of the nation and says to them, you "brood of vipers, who warned you of the wrath to come?" (Mt 3.7). It takes courage to speak like that to your superiors, your bosses, your bishops and your priests. The picture we get from John the Baptist is that the spiritual and political leaders are in fact the worst sinners - they are a brood of vipers. But if he spoke harshly to them, they did not protest. The story shows us that the converted do listen to the message of repentance. They do need to confess their sins and to get baptized.2

Now I know that among my audience there are many national and international spiritual leaders. What if I say to you, come down from Jerusalem, come down from the temple, come down to the wilderness, to Jordan - listen, confess your sins and be baptized? Will you be willing to see yourselves as a brood of vipers? Will you be willing to hear the command that you need to bear "fruits that are worthy of repentance"? What if I tell you: do not presume that you are the Christian church, do not count on your traditions, your various Christian ancestors, your Jerusalem cities? What if I tell you that "God can raise up children outside your churches"? What if I look you in the eye and tell you, as Jesus said, "Prostitutes and tax-collectors will enter heaven before you" (Mt 21.28)? Will you repent? You must.3

Jesus repented and confessed his sins

Jesus also responded to the message of John the Baptist. Jesus, whom we Christians hold highly as the Son of God, as one without sin, heard the message of repentance and came seeking to undergo the baptism of John. Of course, this is not agreeable to many Christians, who think of Jesus as holy; yet Jesus himself said, "Why do you call me good? No one is good but God" (Mk 10.18).4 The text tells us that John could have prevented Jesus from undergoing the baptism of sins as he protested (v.14), saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?"5

The move of Jesus is instructive. If Jesus responded to the message of repentance, we are certainly not above our master (Jn 13.13-14). We need to reflect seriously as Christian leaders, as people of faith, as the church. Do we regard ourselves high up there, as holy? Or do we acknowledge we need a message of repentance? Do we hold that we know it all and people have to learn from us that they must get baptized by us? Or do we believe there are moments when we must come down from the thrones of our power and learn from people who are lower than us? How does our self-understanding play itself out in the age of HIV/Aids? How does it inform our response and our impact?

The church and its leadership must repent of theological mediocrity

I suspect that we, the Christian church, and our leaders in this HIV/Aids era are hindered from hearing the message of salvation. More often than not, we claim that those who are infected and afflicted by HIV/Aids are being punished by God for their sins. Instead of fighting HIV/Aids, we begin to fight the victims. Instead of doing away with the stigma associated with HIV/Aids, we add to it. Many of us are not ready to say that we all need to repent, Christians and non-Christians alike, for both are failing to abstain, to be faithful. If Christians are not failing, then how else do we explain the fact that "churches are themselves living with HIV/Aids," that our church "members fall ill, become incapacitated, die and are buried"?

To say, "Those who are dying of HIV/Aids are being punished by God; they are paying for their immoral lives," reflects our theological immaturity. It is our theological understanding that needs to change, for it does not explain the children who are born with HIV/Aids infection. It does not confront the problem of married women who are married to unfaithful partners. It cannot address the situation of those women and girls who are raped in their homes, on the roads, in their offices and in their churches. It does not account for sex workers, who have to choose between dying of hunger and selling sex.6 Neither does it address the question of loving mothers, old women in rural areas, or nurses who get infected in the process of caring for the sick. Is God punishing these groups of people? Have they sinned?

A theological shift is needed in an HIV/Aids context

That Jesus went around healing the sick signifies that health is God's will for all people. If Jesus did not care to ask his patients, "how did you get your illness?", but restored them to full health, this shows the need to shift our theological focus and concentrate on the healing of God's people without judgements. We need to operate from a theological standpoint that holds that health is a God-given right of all people and that HIV/Aids is an epidemic that violates God's creation and kingdom and therefore cannot be sent by God.

One of the debates that seems to consume energies in the church and its leadership, and, in my opinion, indicates an urgent need to shift our theological focus, is the condom debate. Many argue that condoms promote promiscuity. Other church leaders point out that condoms are not one hundred per cent safe - as if to abstain and to be faithful have proved to be 100 per cent safe in the church or outside. If there are voices in the church leadership that advocate the use of condoms as one of the viable preventative intervention strategies, they are way too few and most of the time they remain silent, perhaps, to facilitate unity amongst the churches.

The sensibilities surrounding the condom debate in the church are connected to what we regard as Christian sexual values of holiness. As church leaders we are afraid to talk about the condom for, if we do, we might be heard to be promoting sex outside marriage. We are also afraid to advocate condom use among married couples because, if we do, we may be too close to tolerating unfaithfulness among married couples, we may be admitting that unfaithfulness happens amongst married couples. As church leaders, we thus insist on preaching abstinence for the unmarried and faithfulness for the married. Our fears, though, are ungrounded for they seem to imply that unfaithfulness did not happen prior to the condom and HIV/Aids. Our fears blind us to the fact that unfaithfulness and lack of abstinence does happen today with the deadly HIV/Aids epidemic. We have forgotten that Jesus said, "I desire mercy, not sacrifice" (Mt 9.13). Our fears and our insistence on abstinence, be faithful or die with HIV/Aids, seem dangerously to equate the gospel Christ and Christian salvation with sexual purity. We forget that we are Christians because we are forgiven, not because we are perfect; that we are saved by faith, not by our works. Our debates are, more often than not, naive, for they turn a blind eye to the structures that make abstaining, being faithful and condomizing, not as easy as ABC! When our relationships are based on gender, race and class inequalities, fighting HIV/Aids is more than just abstaining, being faithful and condomizing.

Confronting patriarchal sins in the fight against HIV/Aids

Like the biblical world, our churches and our societies are still patriarchal. Our societies in Southern Africa still marginalize women from access to property and decision making. Consequently, many women still need to dress like Tamar and to work as sex workers for life to go on. Many who are married or in relationships fear to insist on safe sex lest their providing husbands/partners desert them and leave them without food or shelter. Further, male violence has escalated in the HIV/Aids era so much that many girls, women and elderly women are raped both in the home and in public. In such a setup, the formula of "be faithful" does not work for many married and unmarried women. The formula of abstinence is defeated by our underlying social ways of distributing power unequally.

Indeed, our churches in Southern Africa are, more often than not, the guardians of patriarchal power and other unequal relationships. HIV/Aids studies, however, show that a major factor in the spread of HIV/Aids is the powerlessness of women: their incapacity to make decisions about their lives due to the lack of material ownership and decision making powers. (UNAIDS 2000, pp.45-54) That is, as long as men and women are defined as unequal, the control of HIV/Aids will prove to be a challenge. As long as we are living in families, churches and denominations that promote the inequality of men and women, then we are a significant part of the problem in curbing the spread of HIV/Aids. This is a factor that calls the church and its leadership to repent from baptizing patriarchal relationship and to struggle with propounding a theology that affirms both men and women as made in God's image and equal before God (Gen 1.27). Jesus set precedence for us when he disregarded patriarchal power and called into being a church that recognizes the equality of men and women (Mk 5.24-43; Mt 15.21-28; Lk 7.36-50; 10.38-42; 18.1-8; Jn 4; 8.1-12; 12.1-8, 19-20; Acts 2.14-21). As Facing Aids (1997, p.16) correctly tells us, "Wherever gender discrimination leaves women under-educated, under-skilled and unable to gain title to property or other vital resources, it also makes them more vulnerable to HIV/Aids infection". Do we really want to uproot HIV/Aids? If our answer is yes, then we must uproot patriarchy from amongst us. We must develop and implement a theology of gender justice.

Care-giving is good but not enough

There is no doubt that as a church we pride ourselves in our care-giving roles. But the problem with our excellent "care" programmes is that they lack equally effective prevention programmes. This unbalanced approach suggests that the church and its leadership focus on symptoms. We only come in to manage a crisis, but we do not deal with the root problem. What is even more problematic with this care-oriented picture, is that it puts our theology of respect for life in doubt. If we really respect all life as sacred, if we really regard every human being, Christian or non-Christian, as made in God's image, shouldn't we demonstrate this theological stance by designing programmes that make us effective instruments in the prevention of HIV/Aids as well?

Prophetic/radical church

Another theological problem that confronts us in the struggle against HIV/Aids is that we have failed in our prophetic role. Our response remains bound to the traditions, to the boundaries of our ancient practices. The HIV/Aids epidemic, unfortunately, requires more from us. It requires that we deliver a new and prophetic message to our churches and society. It requires prophets who are willing to act, hear and see outside the comfort of tradition. We need a prophet who is willing to say:

"You have heard that you must abstain, but I say to you, 'Avoid all relationships that deny the human dignity of all people, be they women, children, blacks, ethnic minorities, indigenous people, people of different sexual orientations or illegal immigrants.'

You have heard that you must be faithful, but I say to you, 'Be honest to confront and do away with all the inbuilt oppressive relationships of men and women in marriage, in church leadership and all other social relationships.'

You have heard that you must condomize, but I say to you, 'Confront all factors that destroy human life and creation as acts of your worship.'

You have heard that you must abstain and be faithful, but I say to you, 'Whenever you have sex condomize.'"

Scribes disciplined for God's kingdom

The prophets of the Old Testament were individuals who were socially connected and well informed. A prophet was an individual who was a social analyser, one who delivered criticism on the prevailing oppressive social structures and called for a new social order. In our efforts to become active prophets in the struggle against HIV/Aids, we need constantly to scrutinize our theological frames of reference, to be fully informed about the latest best practices on HIV/Aids, and to revisit our policies and the structures of our councils and churches. Do we have an HIV/Aids policy for our employees and for all our programmes? Have we trained our officers and project officers on mainstreaming HIV/Aids in all their development projects? Have we trained our members on gender awareness, gender planning and gender mainstreaming in all the projects and programmes of our councils. If we have answered "No" to the above questions, then we need to start by holding workshops for our own education, for we cannot afford at this point to become blind guides.

Woe to you, hypocrites!

My second image is that of Jesus preaching to the crowds and to the disciples in Matthew 23. He acknowledges that what the Pharisees teach is correct and instructs the disciples to keep their teaching. But he faults the scribes and Pharisees for their practice. Jesus' harsh castigation of the scribes and Pharisees indicates the serious responsibility attached to being spiritual leaders, to being preachers, interpreters, theologians or ordained clergy. The crux of Jesus' unhappiness with their leadership is in verse 23. Here Jesus says, "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint, dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith."

In this age of HIV/Aids, are we as church leaders, sitting responsibly in our seats of power? Can both our teaching and practice be trusted or are we hypocrites? The message I see in this image of Jesus is that all of us who are entrusted with the task of interpreting should responsibly hold to our positions without, as Jesus tells us, neglecting the weightier matters of the law; namely, justice, compassion and faith. These, I believe, should be an integral part of our theology in the fight against HIV/Aids.

Rachel is wailing for her children

My third image is the image of my mother, a mother to thirteen children. I remember my mother's fear of not knowing which child would be sick next, which one would be hospitalized next, which one would be dying next and how long she would be nursing and burying, and then again nursing and burying. Thirteen times, not counting the grandchildren. I try to imagine how such a woman sleeps. How does sleep come to her eyes with such a heavy shadow of death hanging around her children? How does she eat? The scripture that came to my mind to articulate her situation was the words of the Prophet Jeremiah, (as quoted by Matthew) when he said,

"A voice was heard in Ramah,
wailing and loud lamentation,
Rachel weeping for her children;
she refused to be consoled, because they are no more." (Mt 2.18)7

Last year, when two of my mother's siblings were in and out of the hospital, my mother made a confession. She said a long time ago, when she had just got married (1948) and had to leave her maiden church and attend the Vapostoro, which was her mother-in-law's church, a prophet said to her: "I see a vision that you will have many children, they will all grow up and then they will all die." My mother has just told this story for the first time - her eldest child is now 54, while her youngest is 24. Obviously, she told this story in realization that this HIV/Aids era may be the beginning of the fulfilment of an old prophetic word. I have wondered why she never ever told any of us this prophecy before. It could be that she dismissed this prophecy as empty babbling. Yet the fact that she never forgot this half-a-century-old prophecy suggests otherwise; she most probably did not wish to articulate such a word, for it almost amounts to putting a death curse on all her children. And yes, indeed, I have had a good time reflecting on this prophecy - I have asked myself, "so am I going to go down with the HIV/Aids scourge? If so, when? I am sure that each one of us who has heard this old prophecy has immediately feared that they are walking in the valley of death. But beyond my family, many of us who live in HIV/Aids front zones harbour the same concern; we constantly ask ourselves this question and worry about the fate of our children. We in Southern Africa are plagued by an uncertain future; we are walking in the long valley of death.

But what about her: the old woman who fears for the death of thirteen children and now we can add the grandchildren too. And here I invite you to imagine the nightmares of many mothers, many parents, who fear for the death of their children. I invite you to hear the wailing voices, the loud lamentations of the mothers of Southern Africa weeping for their children. Like Rachel, they refuse to be consoled because their children are no more.

HIV/Aids is worse than war

Commentators tell us that the image of a wailing Rachel was referring "to two significant defeats of Israel by imperial powers: the exile of people... defeated in 722 by Assyria... and [those] defeated in 587 by Babylon... These events...meant great suffering caused by imperial powers" (Carter, 2000, p.86). It was the wars that brought the mothers of Israel to wail and to lament loudly for their dead children. Yet if war caused this much wailing, we now know that "in sub-Saharan Africa HIV is now deadlier than war itself." Statistical evidence holds that, whereas "in 1998, 200,000 Africans died in war, more than two million died of Aids." Does this enable you as church to hear the loud and wailing voices of my mother? Can you hear Mother Africa weeping for her children? Can you hear the sound of her tears? Do you understand why she refuses to be consoled?

I do not know what your answers to these questions are, but I say to you, Let those who have ears hear. I say to you, Let the church know that they cannot afford not to repent, for the kingdom of God is violated in your families, in your congregations, in your denominations and in your societies. I say to you, Let the church know and understand that they must repent from judging the sick, by saying those who contract HIV/Aids are punished by God for their sins, hence fuelling the stigma of those living or dying of HIV/Aids. I say to you, Let the church know, understand and repent of the patriarchal structures embedded in your families, in your churches and in your societies which are sentencing millions of women and girls to death by HIV/Aids. Yes, let the church know and understand that every human breath is sacred to God; every human being is made in God's image - and that we, as church, are in the business of respecting all creation. I repeat, Let the church repent, for we have neglected the weightier matters of justice, compassion and faith (Mt 23.23). Yes, let the church bear fruit worthy of repentance (Mt 3.8) in the struggle against HIV/Aids.


- Buckenham, Karen, ed., Violence against Women: A Resource Manual for the Church in South Africa (Natal: PACSA, 1999).

- Carter, Warren, Matthew and the Margins: A Sociopolitical and Religious Reading (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 2000).

- Dibeela, Moiseraele P, What does the Lord require of us? (Nottingham: United Reformed Church East Midland Synod, 2000).

- Dube, MW, Postcolonial Feminist Interpretation of the Bible (St Louis: Chalice Press, 2000).

-Dube, MW, "Healing where there is no Healing: Reading the Miracles in a HIV/Aids Context," in Essays in Honour of Daniel Patte (Philadelphia: Trinity Press, 2001).

- Lerner, Natan, Religion, Beliefs and International Human Rights (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 2000).

- Maluleke, TS, "Towards a New Theological Education Curriculum for the Twenty-First Century in Africa: HIV/Aids and the New Kairos." A paper presented at HIV/Aids Curriculum for Theological Institutions in Eastern Africa and Southern Africa. Map International, Nairobi, June 26-30 2000.

- Allen, Hon L & Pamela Scharffer, "Reports of Abuse: Aids Exacerbates Exploitation of Nuns", National Catholic Reporter, March 19 2001.

- Norwegian Church Aid, The Global HIV/Aids Epidemic: Understanding the Issues, November 2000.

- Newsom, Carol & Sharon Ringe, eds., The Women's Bible (Louisville: SPCK, 1992).

- Nyambura, Njoroge, Kiama Kia Ngo: African Christian Feminist Ethic (Legon: Legon theological Studies Series, 2000).

- Rakoczy, Susan, ed., Silent No Longer: the Church responds to Sexual Violence (Natal: Natal Witness Publishing Company, 2000).

- Roetzel, Calvin, The World that Shaped the New Testament (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985).

- Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth & Mary Shawn Copeland, eds., Violence Against Women, Concilium 1994/1 (London: SCM Press, 1994).

- Theissen, Gerd, Sociology of Early Palestinian Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977).

- UNAIDS, Report on Global HIV/Aids Epidemic, June 2000.

- UNDP, Botswana Human Development Report: Towards an Aids-Free Generation (Gaborone: UNDP, 2000).

- WCC, Facing Aids: the Challenge, the Churches' Response (Geneva: WCC Publications, 1997).

- WCC, "The Ecumenical HIV/Aids Initiative", Southern African Regional Consultation, Johannesburg, March 26-28 2001.

- Welbourn, Alice, ed., Stepping Stones: A Training Package on HIV/Aids Communication and Relationship Skills (Herts: ACTIONAID, 1998).

- West, Gerald & Musa W Dube, The Bible in Africa (Leiden: Brill, 2000).

This article is adapted from a paper entitled, "Preaching to the Converted: Unsettling the Christian Church! A Theological View: A Scriptural Injunction," presented to the Southern African Regional Consultation: "HIV/Aids: Together We can Make a Difference," Johannesburg, March 26-29 2001.


1. For detailed descriptions of the various Jewish groups see, for example, Calvin J Roetzel, The World that Shaped the New Testament (Atlanta: John Knox Press, 1985) and Gerd Theissen, Sociology of Early Palestinian Christianity (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1977).

2.Perhaps the African Independent Churches have grasped an important theological point, for they baptize their members several times. See I Daniel, The Quest for Belonging (Gweru: Mambo Press, 1987).

3. Some of us may be thinking, "Hai mane [no], do not tell us anything about Pharisees and Sadducees. They were sinners and they needed to repent." The strongly negative image of the Pharisees in the gospels has indeed misled many of us to overlook the historical fact that they were holy men who spent minute moments of their lives seeking the face of the Lord. But a close reading of the gospels indicates that Jesus closely engaged with the Pharisees and the Sadducees, because the issues of the law and the keeping of the temple were in their hands.

4. Indeed, the Matthean parallel of this verse (Mt 19.16-30) indicates that the first-century church was already uncomfortable with Mark's human portrait of Jesus. Hence in Matthew this statement is redacted to read, "Teacher, what good deed must I do..." The denial by Jesus that he is good is safely tucked away. Luke maintains Mark's version (Lk 18.18-30).

5. Redactional analysis indicates that Mt 3 is already involved in a major apology for Jesus' act of undergoing a baptism of sins. Hence it is only in Matthew that we find an extended discussion of Jesus and John prior to his baptism, which is really an explanation of why he had to undergo a baptism of sins. In Lk 3.21, we find some similar manoeuvring. Luke separates the baptism of Jesus from the rest. He does not describe it, but reports it in one sentence, with John the Baptist removed from the scene. In Mk 1.1-11, the first gospel to be written, which was also used by Matthew and Luke to write their gospels, we do not have such explanations. Jesus simply goes to John the Baptist and undergoes his baptism, which was a baptism of sins.

6. For example, a Zambian widowed mother says, "How else do I feed my children except by having sex with men?" (NCA, Global HIV/Aids Epidemic: Understanding the Issues, November 2000.)

7. Scholars hold that this quote is drawn from Jer 31.15, from the Greek LXX, but Matthew does not follow the exact text of Jeremiah. See Warren Carter, Matthew and the Margins, p.86.



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What Religious Leaders can do about HIV/AIDS. Action for Children and Young People. 2003


This book by UNICEF is a resource that religious leaders can use to explore ways of responding to HIV/AIDS.

The idea for this publication grew out of the African Religious Leaders’ Assembly on Children and HIV/AIDS in June 2002, at which religious leaders called for tools and resources to use in responding to the crisis. UNICEF, the World Conference of Religions for Peace and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) have collaborated to prepare this workbook, which draws from information sources of various faith communities. The workbook has been tested and reviewed by religious leaders in Africa and Asia as well as by others representing faith-based organizations and networks worldwide.

Available for download in English and French here

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What’s Faith Got To Do With It? A Global Multifaith Discussion On HIV Responses. 2/2011

This multi-faith book, developed by INERELA+ and CUAHA and launched late in 2010, includes responses from different faiths responding to HIV and engaging in discussions related to sex, sexuality and gender.

It wass compiled by Carolyne Akinyi Opinde and edited by Prof. Ezra Chitando and Peter Nickles.

In the foreword, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu writes:
“This book is an inspiration to faith based organisations who are living their faith in this world, and not just the next. Read it and your hopes will rise. God is responding to HIV and AIDS. I pray that all those who will read this book will be guided by the Holy Spirit to speak the truth in love and to pour balm on wounds – and that the stories in this book will bring hope and healing to a broken world.”

Essays by a variety of authors include:

  • What does God think about HIV and AIDS.
  • Sikhism and HIV.
  • What does God think about HIV?
  • Human Sexuality.
  • Does “God still hate Fags.
  • Can Faith Communities really ignore sexuality?
  • Demythologizing African conceptions of human sexuality.
  • A Faith-based Approach to HIV Prevention and Care: Perspectives of a Muslim.
  • How do we Provide care within our Faith in the field of HIV and AIDS?
  • Pastoral care of People living with HIV and AIDS in Zambia.
  • Christian Faith compels religious leaders and their communities to work in the field of HIV and AIDS.

Download the PDF (1.49 MB)  below. (Provided with permission from INERELA+)

Read more about INERELA+ and the work they do on.

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Witnessing to Christ Today. 2010

Published by the DIFAEM, German Institute for Medical Mission and the World Council of Churches

Publishing date: 2010

Subtitle: "Promoting health and wholeness for all." The study group on mission and healing has compiled this publication, which offers a summary of the rich ecumenical discussions on health, healing and wholeness that have taken place (Part I), and case studies on health and healing (Part II)

-Part I: The foundation: ecumenical insights into health, healing and the nature of the healing community
-Part II: Case studies

Download this document here (PDF, 389.76 KB, 166 pg)

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Working Together

Subtitle: Ten Bible studies inspired by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)

Published by ChristianAID August 2011

The 'Working Together' series of Bible studies provides individuals and church groups with an opportunity to discuss the topics of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) from the perspective of faith.

-Study 1 The Bible and the Church today
-Study 2 MDG 1: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
-Study 3 MDG 2: achieve universal primary education
-Study 4 MDG 3: promote gender equality and empower women
-Study 5 MDG 4: reduce child mortality
-Study 6 MDG 5: improve maternal health
-Study 7 MDG 6: combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
-Study 8 MDG 7: ensure environmental sustainability
-Study 9: MDG 8: develop a global partnership for development
-Study 10 Life before death

Download this booklet here (PDF, 619.80KB, 52pg)

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Working on the Margins. Unexpected Church-based Responses to HIV. 2008

The vital role that faith-based organisations are playing in responding to the AIDS pandemic is now widely recognised.

Published by TearFund 2008
Author: Maggie Sandilands

Abstract: Case studies from Democratic Republic of Congo, India and Uganda which demonstrate the comparative advantages - and inherent challenges - the church has in working with marginalised groups in response to HIV.

-The case studies
-Reaching marginalised
-Transforming attitudes: addressing stigma Gender and justice
-Building relationships
-Universal access
-Working together to address challenges

Download this document here (PDF, 479.40 KB, 20pg)

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