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FAITH Coalition commemorates National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS

KNOXVILLE – The FAITH Coalition will mark the 2018 National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS, March 4 - 10, with education, prayer and HIV testing. The coalition joins thousands of communities across the country observing the week in an effort to bring attention and awareness to the AIDS epidemic, as well as to encourage a national dialogue on prevention, treatment and care.

The coalition will commemorate the week with a prayer breakfast on Saturday, March 10 at 8:30 a.m. at the Community Evangelistic Church, 2650 Boyds Bridge Pike. The keynote speaker is John R. Faison Sr., senior pastor of Watson Grove Baptist Church in Nashville. Faison serves as an HIV/AIDS National Ambassador with the NAACP and is a recognized voice at conferences and events throughout the country. His address, “Decreasing the Stigma, Increasing the Care: The Church and HIV,” will challenge people of faith to do more to combat the HIV/AIDS epidemic in our community. Free, confidential HIV testing will be offered following the program. The prayer breakfast is free and open to faith leaders, but organizers ask that attendees RSVP by March 2 at 865-215-5170.

According to the Tennessee Department of Health, 17,489 Tennesseans were living with HIV in 2016. The black community particularly has been hard hit by the epidemic in Tennessee, accounting for more than half (56.4 percent) of those infected. “Together our faith leaders and church communities can have a tremendous impact, eliminating the stigma, educating the community and hopefully eradicating this horrible epidemic,” said Rev. Dr. John A. Butler, chair of the FAITH Coalition.

The National Week of Prayer also includes:
Ecumenical Prayer Vigil
Sunday, March 4 at 6 p.m., Wesley Foundation, 1718 Melrose Place

Various campus ministries will host an ecumenical prayer vigil. The event is free and open to the public. Faith leaders will pray for courage and inspiration to respond to the HIV/AIDS epidemic with compassion. Samaritan Ministry will offer free HIV testing at the event.

Church Prayer Chain
From March 4 to 10, area groups will begin a prayer chain that lasts throughout the week. Visit County - National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS to participate in the prayer chain.

HIV Stigma
Thursday, March 8 at 6 p.m., Clinton Chapel AME Zion Church, 546 College St.

Faith and health professionals are invited to attend a dinner and educational program with Patrick Lee, executive community liaison for Gilead Pharmaceuticals. The dinner is free, but registration is required by March 2 by calling 865-215-5170.

The FAITH Coalition (Faith-based Approaches and Initiatives To help reduce HIV/AIDS) is a local alliance of people of faith concerned about HIV/AIDS. The coalition’s mission is to create and foster positive community relationships that promote and enhance HIV/AIDS awareness and education through faith-based and other initiatives. The Knox County Health Department provides staff support and facilitation to the FAITH Coalition as part of its HIV prevention and awareness outreach efforts. Gold and Silver Level Sponsors for the National Week of Prayer for the Healing of AIDS in Knoxville include: The Episcopal Diocese of East Tennessee, Tennessee Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, The East Tennessee AIDS Fund, East Tennessee HIV Planning Council, Gilead Sciences, HOPE Center of Covenant Health, Knox County Health Department, Knoxville District AME Zion Church, Orasure Technologies and Samaritan Ministry.

Published March 2, 2018

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