By Nathan Day Wilson, DisciplesWorld contributing writer
INDIANAPOLIS (8/1/09) — There’s a new first to add to the growing list of Disciple firsts — the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry is the first faith-based effort fully certified by the Indiana Department of Health. If commitment and consistency are criteria, there is little doubt the honor is well deserved.
In terms of commitment, the ministry is completely organized and administered by well-trained, impassioned volunteers such as Jody Grieb, a member of Central Christian Church in Terre Haute.
In terms of consistency, every day the ministry offers testing in Terre Haute. On Saturdays the ministry tests at Roberts Avenue United Methodist Church on the corner of Massachusetts and Roberts Avenue in Indianapolis. Every third Thursday of the month, testing takes place at the Walgreens at the corner of 16th and Meridian Streets.
As of this writing, 191 people were tested during the 2009 General Assembly. The oldest was 74 and the youngest 11. The 11-year-old, suggested Grieb, convinced as many as 40 more people to be tested.
One who was tested was Sharon E. Watkins, general minister and president.
“There are assumptions made about who should be tested and who doesn’t need it,” said Watkins. “But if we are serious about stopping this pandemic, we all have to take part.”
Watkins' statement is consistent with recent reports that the fastest growing infection rate in Indiana is among heterosexual women over the age of forty.
“Plus, maybe if I’m tested, they will start allowing me to give blood again,” she said in reference to the limitation placed on her by the Indiana Blood Center since she lived in Africa.
In addition to testing, the ministry offers crisis counseling and is able to make referrals for those who receive confirmatory tests.
Each test costs $10.28. The ministry receives no official financial support from the denomination. Volunteer administration significantly reduces operating expenses. Subsidies from Starbucks and Walgreens for material costs resulted in a combined financial gift of over $17,000 since October 2008. Finally, state-certification will make the ministry eligible for state funding of testing supplies.
To learn more about the Disciples HIV/AIDS Ministry, contact Jody Grieb at Central Christian in Terre Haute.
As printed in Disciples World online: