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Diverse speakers headline upcoming conference on AIDS

United Methodist Global AIDS Fund Committee

For Immediate Release
June 9, 2014

Diverse Speakers Headline Upcoming Conference on AIDS in Denver
Four United Methodist bishops, an international medical AIDS specialist, two seminary professors from Zimbabwe and Kenya, local United Methodist pastors, a Muslim woman, and persons living with HIV will be among the keynote speakers at the upcoming equipping conference for HIV and AIDS ministries scheduled for Denver, Colorado, September 11-13. 

Sponsored by the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund (UMGAF) Committee, with the support of the Connectional Table and various church boards and agencies, the conference theme will be “Countdown to Zero: Just Save One.” The emphasis will be on preventing HIV infections and preventing deaths from AIDS. The motto of UNAIDS is “Getting to Zero:  no new HIV infections, no discrimination, and no new AIDS deaths.”

In announcing the conference, the Committee noted that, “Just as Jesus pointed out in his parables the importance of saving just one sheep, finding one coin, or welcoming home one son, so in AIDS ministries we reach out to help persons one by one by one.” Chairing the event are Rev. Youngsook Kang and Rev. Donald E. Messer, both of Denver. Messer serves as Co-Chair of the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund along with Linda Bales Todd of Dayton, Ohio.

The conference is designed to include not only plenary speakers and panelists, but also workshops along four tracks:  Latina for Life, Native American youth and sexuality, Annual Conference training the trainer, and general information.  Attendees will also hear about the UMGAF new initiative: Just Save One, which, for the next year, is focusing on funding projects eliminating the transmission of HIV from pregnant moms to their newborn babies.

"United Methodists are at a critical tipping point. Are we going to help eliminate AIDS in the world or simply pretend that we can't do anything to stop children from getting infected and mothers from dying?" says Donald E. Messer, UMGAF Co-chair.

Bishop Cynthia Harvey of the Louisiana Conference will preach the opening service.  She will be joined in emphasizing the importance of addressing the global AIDS crisis by three other United Methodist episcopal leaders:  Bishop Elaine J. W. Stanovsky of the Mountain Sky Area, retired Bishop Ann Brookshire Sherer-Simpson of Lincoln, Nebraska, and Bishop Warner H.  Brown, Jr., of the San Francisco Area.

As President of the Council of Bishops, Brown will also speak on “The United Methodist Global Health Initiative and the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund.”  He will be joined by the General Secretary of the Board of Church and Society, Rev. Susan Henry-Crowe, Washington, D.C., and the General Secretary of the Board of Global Ministries, Thomas Kemper, and New York City. 

Providing the latest up-to-date medical information, statistics and research will be Benjamin Young, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for the International Association of Providers of AIDS Care and Adjunct Professor at the University Of Denver School Of International Studies.

Biblical and theological insights will be presented by two theological professors—Zimbabwe native Edward P. Antonio of The Iliff School of Theology, Denver, and Kenya native Anne K. Gatobu of Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. Other keynote speakers include Rev. Joan Carter-Rimbach of Hyattsville, Maryland, and Rev. Kent Millard of Indianapolis, Indiana. 

An African-American Muslim woman, Imani Latif, Executive Director of It Takes a Village, Aurora, Colorado, will chair a panel of persons living with HIV, who will speak about identifying and mitigating stigma and discrimination.

Registration for the event to be held at the Renaissance Hotel in Denver can be found at Registration deadline is August 15th.  Partial scholarships are available for three of the tracks. For information and deadlines about scholarships, contact Linda Bales Todd, For general questions, email: