Megachurch Pastor Rick Warren of Purpose Driven and his wife Kay will host the second annual Global Summit on AIDS & the Church this month at their Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.
The Nov. 30 Dec. 1 summit will be held in conjunction with the Purpose Driven Network and coincides with World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.
An impressive roster of speakers and special guests are already lined up to attend the two-day summit including U.S. Senators Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), and U.S. Ambassador Mark Dybul the Global AIDS Coordinator and highest-ranking AIDS official in the nation.
The summit will be backed up by the leaders of four of the largest non-government organizations (NGOs) in the U.S.: Franklin Graham of Samaritans Purse and son of world renowned evangelist Billy Graham; Wess Stafford of Compassion International; Rich Stearns of World Vision; and Sammy Mah of World Relief.
This conference is not about ministry leaders getting together to wring our hands and fret about the horrors of the AIDS pandemic, said Kay Warren. This is about pulling together the best and brightest minds of those people on the front lines engaging in solutions and shaping policy. As ministries, yes, we want to be compassionate; but equally important, we want to be effective.
Leading authorities from health and relief organizations, government entities, international agencies and ministries will gather for the two-day summit to introduce pastors and church leaders to the necessary means for understanding and responding to the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
Particular emphasis will be placed on the impact of HIV/AIDS among women, orphans and vulnerable children. In addition, special focus will be placed on the effects of HIV/AIDS in the African American and Hispanic communities.
This global pandemic is the churchs greatest opportunity to serve, said Rick Warren. With more than two billion members worldwide, the church has the largest distribution network on the planet. If we can teach the church how to minister to those with HIV/AIDS and extend a helping hand in local communities and around the world, we can win this life-threatening battle.
Unique from every other conference on AIDS, the Global Summit on AIDS & the Church will explore six ways any church regardless of size can minister to people living with HIV/AIDS using the acrostic C.H.U.R.C.H.: Care for and support the sick; Handle testing and counseling; Unleash volunteers; Remove the stigma; Champion healthy behavior; and Help with nutrition and medications.
In addition to the C.H.U.R.C.H. strategy, the summit will also feature details regarding the progression of the P.E.A.C.E. plan, a worldwide effort to mobilize one billion church members to address the five biggest global problems, and how the HIV/AIDS ministry fits into this plan.
The P.E.A.C.E. plan is currently being tested in more than 80 countries on its effectiveness in planting churches, equipping servant leaders, assisting the poor, caring for the sick and educating the next generation.
AIDS is the fastest spreading pandemic in history and now the leading cause of death for people under 60 years of age in many countries around the world. More than 25 million individuals have already died from the virus, leaving more than 16 million orphans in Africa alone.
The reality is that even if we had enough medicines, nutrition, prevention programs and even a vaccine - the problems of distribution, manpower needed and local credibility for acceptance would still be huge challenges, Rick Warren said.
The only affordable solution to overcome these barriers is to mobilize the local churches that already exist in every city and village around the world. Churches have the most shoes on the ground where the pandemic is greatest.
For more information on the Global Summit on AIDS & the Church, visit purposedriven.com.