(Brooke’s generosity Blog)
December 1, 2019
World AIDS Day is today. Much of the awareness of AIDS in this region comes from ACCKWA (AIDS Committee of Cambridge, Kitchener, Waterloo and Area)
AIDS is less newsworthy today than it was 30 years ago. Today there are fewer deaths and there is more hope. Effective antiviral medications allow a fuller life expectancy for those who have this virus. A few decades ago it was much feared.
When we sold our home in Toronto to move to Waterloo Region, we sold it to a gay couple. Tragically, one of them discovered that he had contracted the HIV virus and it had turned to AIDS, a (then) 100% fatal disease. We spoke and offered what support we could, but it was devastating. One year later we learned that he had died.
Brian Johnston was organist in 1991 at Knox Waterloo and approached us to get support for a concert. The session quickly agreed. This was an AIDS Benefit Concert to support ACCKWA.
A wonderful Opera Gala was held in the sanctuary. Our choir participated, hosted, and made this happen. Sixty voices came together and practiced four times for two hours each. The result was a great concert with soloists, guests, small orchestra and of course singers. Together we proclaimed our support for all victims of AIDS. This event was well received and raised over $8,000 for ACCKWA. The first concert was in 1991, the second in 1992. The third concert needed to move to a larger facility because too many people wanted to attend.
I was astonished to discover criticism and harsh comments made about these concerts from some in the community. These comments represented a lack of compassion and an absence of knowledge around this disease. I am proud of what we accomplished.
Knox became involved in mission projects in Malawi including providing funds for a new building at the Chigodi Women’s Centre in Blantyre Synod. Barbara McLean helped in this project. Chigodi became a training centre for health care workers, with specific attention spent on HIV prevention and AIDS treatment.
In Malawi an entire generation was devastated by AIDS. We raised all the funds to build a new facility and the Presbyterian Church in Canada provided support for training. Thousands of lives were impacted.
In 2003 Knox agreed to raise $25,000 for A World Without AIDS. In 2007 we presented a cheque for $25,830.33 to Rick Fee from the Life and Mission Agency.
This congregation does amazing mission! Hundreds of projects over many years. All this happens because we care. We see a need, and brave people step forward to lead us in action.
All we do, all we offer, all we give, is in response to God’s grace in Jesus. Our Knox ministry gifts each month power all the mission we do here, and in the world. Please give to Knox this last month of 2019, if you are able. Thank you.