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HIV-AIDS is not frequently mentioned during the Communion Sacrament; however, Pastor Taurus Myhand believes the topic connects with Christ’s commission at the Last Supper.
In his book, ‘Do This in Remembrance of Me,’ Pastor Myhand explains how the Lord’s statement is a directive to believers to engage in the incarnational ministry of mission to help those infected with HIV-AIDS.
“Incarnational, at its core, means that the Word became flesh through Jesus Christ. Incarnational ministry means that it becomes real, that it demonstrates the power and the presence of Jesus Christ. Our mission should become real, it should reflect Jesus in all that we do,” said the Rev. Myhand, pastor of Ward A.M.E. Church in Los Angeles.
“Black people are a minority in this country, but are now the majority of AIDS patients. Black women are the highest group of new infections in this country and seniors, 60 and above, are a rising group. It is a very, very big issue.
“We [in America] have very traditional views of what is appropriate to be discussed in the church. But at the same time, how many people do we watch die before we start to talk and say that this is something we need to address? How many people do we have to see infected before our alarms go off to say that we have got to do something?”
Determined to ‘do something,’ Pastor Myhand wrote ‘Do This in Remembrance of Me’ as a guide for congregations desiring to implement a program in their church. The contents are partially based on his experience and knowledge gained during a mission trip to Brazil.
“One of the things that made me want to research HIV-AIDS is that the areas I visited in Brazil – Rio, Salvador - had very high prostitution, but were not having nearly the problems we have with HIV-AIDS in the United States,” he noted.
“That made me wonder, ‘What are they doing?’ We have some of the most advanced technology; most advanced medical practices, yet we have an epidemic that’s raging out of control.
“What I found was that churches were so much more engaged in talking about HIV-AIDS, making sure that sex workers were protected. There was a much more relaxed atmosphere in talking about sexuality than there is here,” he recalled.
Pastor Myhand shared that one pastor in Salvador had Communion on one side of the altar and a basket of condoms on the other side of the altar.
“In her sermon, she talked about that there was as much life being passed in the condoms she was handing out as much as there was in the bread and wine she shared in the Communion,” he said.
While Pastor Myhand is not recommending that churches duplicate the Brazilian pastor’s actions, he is insistent that the Black Church should not ignore the HIV-AIDS epidemic.
“The book talks about the issue and how we can deal with the issue in the church, how we can start to model our ministries to be able to minister to people.
“Although it uses HIV-AIDS as the context, but it’s really all social issues that we wrestle with whether it’s homelessness, abuse, or domestic violence. This model of ministry seeks to address any social issue and how we can get more involved in the church in mission and not just so much the celebration of worship,” said Rev. Myhand.
“We all, clergy and laity, have a responsibility to engage ministry at our best level. ‘Do This in Remembrance of Me’ talks about a range of issues that would be of help to anyone who believes in Christ and working to build the kingdom of God.”
‘Do This in Remembrance of Me’ is available at Amazon.com and Ward A.M.E. Church by calling (213) 747-1367.