Wow! What a Lazarus Sunday weekend! After months and months of preparation, getting the word out and mobilizing churches to lift their voices, we’re reflecting back on a tremendous campaign.
Nearly 1800 churches across the country signed up to celebrate Lazarus Sunday with ONE, raising awareness about the issue of AIDS in Africa and seeking to engage people in the fight against the pandemic.
Everyone from Evangelicals, Catholics, Mainline Protestants, campus ministries, youth groups and small groups participated in a number of different ways, including Sunday sermons, Sunday school, bulletin inserts and screenings of the entire “The Lazarus Effect” documentary.
One of the churches highlighted in the CNN article was Northpark Community Church:
“We never have petitions in our courtyards against gay marriage or abortion,” Ryan Townsend said, a pastor on staff at Northpark Community Church in Fresno, California. Each Sunday, Townsend said, about 700 people attend worship services there. The church, a part of the Assemblies of God denomination, has signed on for Lazarus Sunday.
Townsend said that in 1988 the church took a deliberate step away from politics. But the issue of HIV/AIDS seems to transcend politics at Northpark. “It’s not a political agenda. It’s a moral command to love our neighbor,” he said.
One of Townsend’s priorities as pastor has been to reach out to those who are suffering from HIV/AIDS. “For us, we’ve screened the film before on World AIDS Day,” he said. “To be frank, we’ve had less-than-stellar attendance when we’ve done a film screening but we’ve had great participation when we do something in the service.”
This Sunday they will detail how far contributions can go and encourage attendees to write or call their members of Congress to encourage them to support legislation and budget priorities that provide foreign aid.
Here are a few of the other stories we’ve received in the wake of Lazarus Sunday:
Temple Lutheran Church, Haverton, PA
The members of Temple Lutheran Church were encouraged by the great progress that has been made and amazed by the dramatic changes that can happen in as little as 40 days. Many added their voices to the fight against HIV/AIDS by becoming ONE members on Lazarus Sunday. Prayers for the poor and efforts to fight poverty were taken to an important new level as congregation members came to realize that one of the greatest ways to serve the poor is through offering their voice through advocacy. As people of faith across the country had equally important experiences on Lazarus Sunday, it becomes joyfully clear what is possible when we come together as ONE.
-Pastor Matt Staniz
Winthrop University, Rock Hill, South Carolina
More than 50 Winthrop students and faculty attended a screening of HBO/RED’s The Lazarus Effect Tuesday night at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina. The ONE Campus Chapter at Winthrop hosted the event as a part of National Volunteer Week.
After the screening, several students and faculty asked questions and were very engaged in discussion on antiretroviral medication, public health education and the programs ONE advocates for, including the new agriculture and vaccination programs.
Highlands Presbyterian Church, Schooley’s Mountain, NJ
We used the Call to Worship and the responsive Prayers of Intercession printed in the bulletin. Then we had the bulletin insert with the powerful picture and facts. I spoke personally in my sermon about a friend of mine from college who died from AIDS and used some of your sermon preparation ideas as quotations in the sermon as well. I am sure this helped raise awareness in our mostly blue-collar, farming faith community in western New Jersey.
-Rev. Amy Lincoln
Riverside United Methodist Church, Fulks Run, VA
We had a great Lazarus Sunday morning at Riverside UMC in rural Fulks Run, Virginia. Our pastor, Rev. Joel Robinette, led us through the Lazarus story in the scriptures during his sermon. Then he talked about the ONE Campaign, the problem of HIV/AIDS in Africa, and the United Methodist Church’s participation. The youth and young adults watched “The Lazarus Effect” during Sunday school, and I shared some stories about my own time in short-term missions in Africa. We discussed sharing our views with our elected officials as one way to be the hands and feet of Jesus.
We still want to be sure to hear from you if your church participated in Lazarus Sunday! Share your videos, pictures and stories with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and get ready for more campaigning later in the year to beat back hunger, disease and poverty.