November 25, 2002

Testing, Then Testifying

A Baptist minister took an HIV test in front of his congregation then implored parishioners to do the same after church as part of an effort to raise awareness about AIDS.

Of the 700 members of the True Bethel Baptist Church who watched the Rev. Darius G. Pridgen endure the needle prick, 105 stopped by a nearby charter school to be tested for the virus that causes AIDS, the Buffalo News reported.

Before lively hymns and scripture readings during Sunday worship, Pridgen warned dozens of teenagers in the church about the dangers of sex and promiscuity. ``Once you catch (AIDS), you don't just get rid of it. Do not let yourselves die for a few minutes of pleasure,'' he said.

The effort for mass HIV screening through a church is believed to be one of the first of its kind in the nation, organizers said.

Posted by ronn at November 25, 2002 11:33 AM

Can I hear an Amen! ... Interesting. There probably have been others but this is the first one to make the news. Posted by: Ray on November 25, 2002 02:59 PM
This is...interesting. Posted by: j. brotherlove on November 25, 2002 09:21 PM
Ray, I was somewhat reluctant to link the story because I know this isn't the first time it's been done. But it is important that a large pub like the Times reports it and hopefully, others will follow the lead. j., Indeed it is! I wonder if the church is an affirming church (kinda doubt it, but one never knows). Posted by: ronn on November 26, 2002 05:50 PM
Thanks for printing the article. We don't know if it's been done in the country, but we are thankful of the attention that it brought and hope that it will help to slow the spread. Sincerely, Pastor Pridgen Posted by: Darius Pridgen on November 27, 2002 11:22 PM
Rev. Darius: Thank you for having the foresight to do such a brave thing. If more churches followed True Bethel's lead, we would all be in a much better place -- spiritually and medically. Warmest Regards! Posted by: ronn on November 28, 2002 05:44 PM
Okay, Rev. Darius, do whatever you have to do to save your children, even if you have to resort to scare tactics, but I ask you to consider the people in your congregation who might have already contracted HIV. Your quote makes it seem that as soon as you contract HIV, you drop dead. You are responsible for disseminating this information as accurately as you possibly can - for everybody in your church, I hope. What happens if someone tests positive during your mass screening? How have you equipped your church to handle this? Posted by: Donald on November 28, 2002 09:37 PM
Donald, you make some very valids points. It has inspired me to call around and question a few groups and I will report back with my findings. Here's hoping that the answers will be enlightening and uplifting (and that Rev. Darius will stick around and offer some wisdom on the subject). Posted by: ronn on November 30, 2002 01:22 AM
It is just good to see that the churches are getting involved. This traditionally has been the toughest group to bring the AIDS message to. I agree with Donald that if someone in that church does test positive, it will be important to have a good support system and not just hand holding and lip service. Now, how will we get to our DL brothas? Posted by: j-notes on December 1, 2002 04:48 PM
j-notes: Well put — that's why I'm hoping to follow up on Rev. Darius' actions and reporting on other efforts. Let's not forget the groundbreaking work of Balm in Gilead. Posted by: ronn on December 2, 2002 11:36 AM
World AIDS Day: The Black Church Speaks? Let's be vigilant about how our churches and organizations serve us. Posted by: Donald on December 2, 2002 04:42 PM
Donald, It's always harder to create/make changes from without. If you don't like a particular church, find one that represents and respects all of you. But we all have to be vigilant when it comes to backwardsness. Silence should never replace active struggle. Posted by: ronn on December 3, 2002 08:37 AM