MCC was at the forefront of mobilizing the fight against HIV/AIDS from the very beginning of the AIDS crisis, when pastors and lay leaders were called on to minister to people living and dying with HIV/AIDS. Before any treatments became available, one physician said, “You in the church have more to offer people with AIDS than we do.”
1981, June – The first report of gay men dying of an unusual pneumonia, pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, was published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
1982 – I became the first member of the UFMCC clergy to be diagnosed with Gay Related Immune Deficiency, or GRID, several months before the term AIDS was first used.
1983 – the MCC General Conference passed a lengthy resolution on AIDS and AIDS ministry.
1984 – I was the first member of the UFMCC clergy to be diagnosed with full-blown AIDS, when I was diagnosed with Kaposi’s sarcoma (KS) and stage 4 lymphoma.
1984 – JOURNEY MAGAZINE, MCC’s denominational monthly, began publishing regular articles detailing my reflections on living with AIDS.
1985 – Tammy Faye Bakker was the first televangelist to interview a gay man with AIDS when she interviewed me on the PTL Network.
1986 – I recovered completely from a toxic drug trial that put HIV and my two cancers into complete remission. I began sharing my testimony of God’s miraculous healing power around Southern California MCC’s.
1987 – the Board of Elders created the UFMCC AIDS Ministry, and appointed Rev. Elder Don Eastman as Executive Director, and me as Field Director, of UFMCC AIDS Ministry.
1987-1997 – UFMCC AIDS Ministry accomplished many things:
MCC was at the forefront of mobilizing the fight against HIV/AIDS from the very beginning of the AIDS crisis, when pastors and lay leaders were called on to minister to people living and dying with HIV/AIDS.
MCC churches provided pastoral care and counseling to those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, and MCC churches everywhere did a disproportionate number of funerals and memorial services.
UFMCC AIDS Ministry conducted two HIV/AIDS Surveys during the 1990’s. All in all, we found that over one-third of our male clergy and around one-third of the men, as well as a number of women, in MCC churches worldwide died of AIDS complications between 1981 and 1997.
UFMCC AIDS Ministry ended on December 31, 1997, after the “cocktail” treatments began saving the lives of many people with HIV/AIDS.
In conclusion, MCC, having a large number of gay men in its membership and its leadership, was hit hard by HIV/AIDS. But during these years we also provided pastoral care and counseling to many people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS, particularly when families or churches-of-origin failed to step in and be present to those who were living and dying with HIV/AIDS, and we were at the forefront of AIDS Ministry throughout the world, providing resources and guidance to many denominations and non-governmental AIDS organizations beyond our local churches. As a result MCC had a lasting impact and became better known throughout the world because of our leadership in AIDS ministry.
ABOUT THIS MCC AUTHOR: The Rev. Dr. A. Stephen Pieters received a Bachelor of Science in Speech at Northwestern University in 1974, a Master of Divinity Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1979, an honorary Doctor of Ministry Degree from Samaritan College in 1989, and a Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University in 2003. He served as the Pastor of MCC Hartford from 1979-1982. In 1982, he moved to Los Angeles, where he served as Associate Pastor of MCC in the Valley, and taught at Samaritan College. In 1987 he was appointed Field Director of AIDS Ministry for the MCC denomination. Read More