On Wednesday, Dec. 1, Allen Temple Baptist Church will host its annual World AIDS Day event, to include music, barbecue and education about HIV and AIDS.
The gathering will kick off at 4 p.m. and feature comedian and founder of Lovelife Foundation Donald Lacy, testimonies from community members and music by the D’Wayne Wiggins’ developed singing group, Poplyfe.
In addition, the Bay Area Regional African-American AIDS State of Emergency Coalition and Cal-Pep will be on hand to provide information and rapid HIV testing.
Organizers said that along with providing good, free entertainment, the event will give the community an opportunity to meet neighbors, share food, be informed and learn how to take action to protect their health.
The event is part of Allen Temple’s groundbreaking AIDS Ministry. Since 1987, the East Oakland church has worked to raise awareness about the impact of HIV and AIDS both at home and overseas. This work includes providing medicine and education in Zimbabwe and sub-Saharan Africa. Temple church members travel to Africa several times a year.
The church also hosts a number of youth focused workshops and HIV education programs in Oakland and regularly participates in community health fairs.
“The local emphasis is as critical and as important as our mission in Zimbabwe,” said Gloria Cox-Crowell, who oversees the church’s AIDS ministry.
Cox-Crowell said this year, the church will emphasis HIV testing at its World AIDS Day event.
“We feel it’s critical that everyone know their status,” she said. “We also feel it’s critical for everyone to receive and get an HIV test.”
The church also sees this event as a chance to speak out on health rights, she said.
“This World AIDS Day, in addition to having an emphasis on human rights, we really feel like having medical rights is critical and really doing the HIV testing at every opportunity is critical,” Cox-Crowell said.
According to the latest Alameda County numbers, Oakland has the 21st largest number of cumulative diagnosed AIDS cases of any U.S. metropolitan area; and a cumulative AIDS caseload larger than that of 18 U.S. states. In addition, the city also has the 18th highest reported cumulative AIDS caseload out of 107 metropolitan areas listed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Senior Pastor Emeritus Dr. J. Alfred Smith Sr. said Allen Temple strongly believes in helping to tackle social issues like HIV and AIDS.
“As church people, our job is to be a part of the solutions to society's problems and not the cause of the problems,” Smith said. “If the African-American church does not seek to bring healing where there is disease, and to bring healing where there is hurt, and to bring hope where there is despair, who else? What other entity of society?”
The church will follow up its World AIDS Day event a few days later by hosting a World AIDS Day Concert at 5 p.m. Dec. 4. The concert will be held in partnership with the Cheryl Ward Ministries and include guest MC, Bishop Yvette Flunder.
For more information on World AIDS Day, click here.
For more information on HIV and AIDS, click here.