From the Pulpit to the Pew: Serving as Agents of Change

For generations, the Black community has looked to the NAACP and the Black Church as leaders of change in critical issues of social justice. Together we have fought many battles, and won equality in areas including voting rights and employment opportunities. Today, we are faced with a different kind of issue. While progress has been made in the fight against HIV, the Black community remains disparately impacted, accounting for 44 percent of all new infections. If Black America were its own country, it would rank 16th in the world for HIV, ahead of Ethiopia and Botswana. Think about that statistic; it is staggering.

HIV influences every aspect of life for those infected and affected. We are affected as individuals, as families, and as a community. As we think about our community and the abundance of resources we draw from each other, we are reminded that the role of the church extends far beyond a place of worship. We turn to the church for healing, truth, mobilization, education and advocacy, among many things. The Black Church is a powerful instrument of support within the community.

On Sunday, July 20, the NAACP and pastors nationwide will unite in the Day of Unity to preach from the pulpit about HIV/AIDS as a social justice issue. Established in 2011, the third annual Day of Unity will bring together faith leaders from cities across the United States in a movement to stop the social injustices that have led to the unequal impact that HIV is having on Black America. It is never too late to join the fight and save future generations from this epidemic.

To participate in Day of Unity, we ask that Pastors commit to one or more of the following actions:

• Join Us – Make a pledge to participate in Day of Unity. You can sign the pledge here.
• Preach – From the pulpit to the pew with messages about HIV
• Share – On social media using the hashtag #DayofUnity, with local media, and in your community
• Act – Fight HIV with a testing drive or community event
• Pledge to join us here.

The Day of Unity is a cornerstone of The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative initiative, through which the NAACP, in partnership with Gilead Sciences, Inc., is harnessing the historic power of the Black Church to end the HIV epidemic in Black America. In 2013, the NAACP and Gilead Sciences, Inc. made a joint Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Commitment to Action to expand the pilot initiative from 12 cities to the 30 cities that make up nearly two-thirds of the nation’s HIV epidemic.

The initiative is working to overcome stigma and address HIV as an issue of social justice by conducting faith leader trainings; securing formal resolutions from 7 of 9 historically Black denominations to include HIV as a social justice issue in church activities; and integrating HIV-related coursework into the required curricula at predominantly African American theological seminaries. Learn more at here.