by Rev. Brendan Curran, Assoc. Minister         –          May 15, 2019

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. – John 10:10

We can think of “ministry” as being all acts of service. I have heard ministry defined by a member of this church as, “providing what is needed.” We have been sent out as Jesus’s church to do just that… provide what is needed. We are sent out to bring healing for the sick, freedom for the captives, comfort to the afflicted, light for those in darkness, nurture and love for those who are in pain or lonely, etc. Our ministry as a group and/or as individuals is where we enact Love, meet God, and discover fullness of life. I am inspired lately hearing all the ways individuals who are part of our congregation are engaged in, “ministry,” beyond our church’s open doors. Some of our church members volunteer at Amos house, which helps people get back on their feet after getting out of prison. Others help at Matthewson St. Church in Providence with their program that helps people find housing. Several others work or volunteer for the group, “Aids Project RI.” These are all wonderful ways that we are doing ministry in the world.

This coming June 1st, we all have an opportunity to support one of those ministries together as a church! On Saturday, June 1st at Roger Williams Park you are invited to come and be a part of the Barrington Congregational Church (UCC) team that will be walking (or running) the 2019 AIDS Run/Walk for Life that’s being organized by AIDS project RI. If you want to run or walk please gather at the Roger Williams Park Carousel at 8am. There are a few ways you can participate! You can walk or run the 5k with us. You can also help table for this event at our church’s booth. Whether or not you go to the event, you can sponsor our church’s team and support the cause by making a donation at this link:

Funds raised from the run/walk will help prevent new HIV infections and help the 2700 people currently living with HIV in RI get the care and services they need. Organizations like AIDS Project RI that provide services are currently being defunded, and people are suffering. It’s up to all of us now to “provide what is needed.”

Our participation in this event as a church is meaningful and important. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, which was a significant moment that catalyzed the fight for equality for LGBTQ people, a population severely impacted by HIV/AIDS. As of 2016, 675,000 people have died of HIV/AIDS since the beginning of the epidemic. Many of us are old enough, including me, to remember the negligent response rooted in anti-gay bigotry that allowed this number to climb as high as it did. In the early days of the epidemic, too often people living with HIV/AIDS were treated the way lepers were treated in Jesus’s time. Too often, in the name of our God of Love who embraced and healed the sick, even many Christians shamed and persecuted them. Too many served judgement and hate instead of providing the medicine and the loving presence that was so desperately needed by many.

Much progress has been made since that time because of those who acted up and showed up in a variety of ways. The medications available nowadays have the capacity to prevent the spread of the disease and allow people living with it to be healthy and live well. There is still much to be done. In 2019, we continue to live with the on-going public health crises of people not being able to afford access to lifesaving, infection-preventing medication because of our for-profit healthcare system that fails to “provide what is needed,” for working and low-income people. That’s many of us. New infections in RI continue to be on the rise among some groups, especially individuals 60 and older. For all these reasons, our “Being the Church” at this event has profound significance. We will be showing the real Christian witness by offering the affirming presence, hope, support, and care truly needed by many. In the wake of all the suffering, silence, and death of the HIV/AIDS crises and its legacy we can join each other on a resilient and beautiful walk/run for life.

See you at the carousel,
Brendan