News Hits applauds the Shrine of the Black Madonna for acknowledging what many African-American churches in Detroit choose to ignore: AIDS is devouring the black community. Throughout March the Shrine of the Black Madonna has been hosting a series of educational programs and prayer vigils about HIV-AIDS — the leading killer of African-Americans aged 25-44, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The project is an extension of the Black Church Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, a vigil that thousands of churches across the country took part in earlier this month, says Bishop Danny Brown.
The Shrine expanded the week of prayer to a full month of activities after congregation members said more must be done to address the health crisis, explains Brown. The church has a strong social mission and educating the public about HIV-AIDS is part of it, he says.
But Brown’s church is one of only a few black churches in Detroit that is confronting the issue head-on. According to Leon Golson, Midwest AIDS Prevention Project program director, many black churches refuse to talk about HIV-AIDS because they connect the virus with homosexuality, which they view as immoral.
Before pastors talk openly about the virus, says Golson, “I think it is going to take empty pews, which is going to affect collection baskets.”
Brown says that the Shrine asked other black churches to participate in the monthlong initiative. But all declined, except three that agreed to participate only in the prayer vigil, he says.
“There was real poor response,” says Brown. “I don’t want to be critical of other churches, but some things speak for themselves.” For more information call 313-875-9700.Ann Mullen contributed to News Hits, which is edited by Curt Guyette. He can be reached at 313-202-8004 or firstname.lastname@example.org