AIDS Interfaith Network

This profile was last updated in 2005

Research conducted by The University of Michigan-Dearborn Pluralism Project.

Mission of the Group

AIDS Interfaith Network, founded in December 1988, is a private, non-profit organization of volunteers from many different religious traditions whose mission is to offer compassionate and nonjudgmental spiritual support and care to anyone touched by HIV/AIDS, including family and friends. To accomplish this end, AIDS Interfaith Network provides speakers and information to religious centers and groups to address what they can do to serve those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. In addition, the agency serves as a liaison between congregations and HIV/AIDS service organizations to provide needed services. In 1997, the AIDS Interfaith Network became a program of AIDS Partnership Michigan, the largest HIV/AIDS service provider in the state. The mission of AIDS Partnership Michigan is to be an effective and powerful voice for those affected by HIV/AIDS, to provide leadership and education, and to offer support services and programs to those infected or affected by HIV/AIDS.

Leadership

The AIDS Interfaith Network was started in 1988 by Sister Marilyn Bergt, the first full-time Director of the project, and Rabbi Marc Blumenthal, along with a group of additional volunteers most of whom were ordained clergy. Within a few months the first training session were completed and pastoral volunteers were available to address the various needs of people with HIV/AIDS.

Description

The AIDS Interfaith Network has forty advocacy agreements with religious centers in metropolitan Detroit. The center signs a contract for a minimum of one year, and the congregation is to offer any or all of the following services to people with AIDS or their families: pastoral counseling, visitations, support groups, food programs, clothing, furniture, financial assistance, meal delivery, transportation, care givers, and education. A variety of religious organizations and centers are involved with the program. These include the Michigan Jewish AIDS Coalition, the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan, Southeast Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Muslim Center, Metropolitan Methodist Church, St. Paul A.M.E. Church, Gospel Against AIDS, among others. Efforts are being made to expand to other religious groups.

Demographics

Approximately sixty-six percent of those served by the AIDS Interfaith Network are males, the rest females. Eighty-two percent are African Americans, ten percent white, two and a half percent are Hispanic; five and a half percent are listed as other

Candlelight Memorial Service

The AIDS Interfaith Network sponsors an annual candlelight memorial service is held in May for those who have died of HIV/AIDS. Participants in the past years have included Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religious leaders. The service includes prayers, scripture, music, and a sermon, reflecting the various religions. An effort is being made to involve clergy from other religious groups.