Commitment to Raising Awareness and Reducing Stigma
Sukamakmur, Indonesia/Geneva (LWI) – The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) member churches in Indonesia have committed themselves to respond to HIV and AIDS with an action plan aiming to raise awareness and reduce stigma.
“HIV and AIDS is a very serious national problem and therefore the church must take concrete steps to address [it],” say church leaders in a statement outlining concrete steps for youth, seminaries, synods, congregations and national leadership.
The statement lays out a way forward following consultations of the LWF National Committee in Indonesia held 6-11 November in Sukamakmur, North Sumatra, under the theme, “Embracing Life: Our Common Responsibility.”
More than two dozen church leaders, including ten bishops and four youth delegates, took part in the conference on HIV and AIDS, which was preceded by a separate youth consultation.
In the action plan, the church leaders underline the need for the twelve LWF member churches in Indonesia to create deliberate structures for HIV and AIDS involvement.
Every church should have a committee on HIV and AIDS covering the synodal to congregational levels to coordinate with the National Committee on campaigns to sensitize church members, the statement urges.
The church leaders also emphasize the importance of including HIV and AIDS in theological seminary curriculum as well as confirmation and Sunday school materials, with special training for teachers.
“Integrating HIV and AIDS concerns into the totality of theological education is essential to transform our faith communities into inclusive communities of compassionate care,” noted consultation speaker Rev. Dr George Zachariah, associate professor of theology and ethics at Gurukul Lutheran Theological College and Research Institute in Chennai, India.
Further, synods are encouraged to facilitate discussion on HIV and AIDS at different levels from Sunday sermons to church assemblies, and to raise funds for related work.
Rev. Basa Hutabarat, executive secretary of the National Committee, promised support as church leaders look to engage their members with the action plan commitments.
“It is not easy homework [for] every church. We as the National Committee will…help the churches to play their role [to combat] HIV and AIDS,” she stated.
“Mainstreaming [HIV and AIDS] is key and the church is strategically positioned,” commented LWF AIDS Desk Coordinator Rev. Dr Veikko Munyika, adding that the statement furthers the global Lutheran campaign against AIDS.
The statement “links the Indonesian churches to the other churches in the communion in their response to the HIV and AIDS pandemic,” he affirmed