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With panels from the AIDS Memorial Quilt surrounding the nave of the Washington National Cathedral, worshipers from many faiths mourned those lost from AIDS-related illnesses in an interfaith service on July 21, reports the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.
The service came on the eve of the 19th International AIDS Conference, taking place in Washington, D.C. from July 22 to 27. It recognized the inspiration and commitment of those who created a “path in the darkness when there was none” and who continue to act for compassion and justice to end the HIV pandemic.
Following the service’s theme, “From Darkness to Light,” Dr. James Curran, dean of the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, paraphrased the words of Winston Churchill and called upon the congregation to never give up the struggle against AIDS until its final defeat.
“We look back at how far we have come, but we look forward at how far we have to go. We are the survivors but others have passed on,” he said. “Much has changed over the last 30 years and we have had triumphs and disasters. In the words of Kipling, we must treat these two impostors just the same.”
The service began with music, followed by calls to prayer from the Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Muslim traditions.
Curran encouraged the congregation to renew their commitment to defeating AIDS. “Our greatest danger is complacency, we cannot declare victory prematurely. When the history of AIDS is written, our most precious contribution may be to say we did not hide,” he said.