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GLOBAL SUMMIT ON AIDS AND THE CHURCH
LAKE FOREST, Calif., Nov. 28, 2007 – The third annual Global Summit on AIDS and the Church hosted by pastor and “The Purpose Driven Life” author Dr. Rick Warren and his wife Kay will be held at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., beginning today through Friday, Nov. 30 with a Youth Summit on Saturday, Dec. 1.
“One of the most exciting things about this third conference is that we actually have progress to report,” Kay Warren said. “The first conference was about casting a vision; the second conference was about gaining momentum; and this conference is about reporting what has worked, what has really worked well, and what still needs to be done.”
The HIV/AIDS initiative of Saddleback Church is a key part of the P.E.A.C.E. plan, an overarching humanitarian strategy launched three years ago. This goal of this worldwide effort is to mobilize one billion church members to Promote Reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick and Educate the next generation. One session of the Summit will feature a report about the P.E.A.C.E. plan progress and the lessons learned over the past three years as a result of sending out more than 7,500 members to test the plan in 69 countries.
“The Bible commands the church to care for widows and orphans,” Rick Warren said. “With 143 million orphans in the world, I’d say that we have plenty of opportunity to make good on that mandate and demonstrate the love of Christ to children who have nothing to lose but hope. And we should never discount the power of hope.”
This year’s conference features more than 90 speakers, including Peter Piot, M.D., Ph.D., executive director of UNAIDS; Ambassador Mark Dybul, M.D., United States global AIDS coordinator; Her Excellency Mrs. Jeannette Kagame, first lady of Rwanda and co-founder of The Organization of African First Ladies Against AIDS; and Her Excellency Mrs. Maureen Mwanawasa, first lady of Zambia and president of The Organization of African First Ladies Against AIDS.
Additionally, Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., is the first candidate to accept an invitation extended to the presidential frontrunners to address the Summit attendees. Video messages are forthcoming from Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Barack Obama, D-Ill., John Edwards, D-N.C., and former Govs. Mike Huckabee (R) and Mitt Romney (R).
“We wanted to extend a platform for presidential hopefuls to offer their ideas and plans to either continue or raise the bar on the efforts already in place from the government, businesses, the medical community and now finally, the church,” Mrs. Warren commented.
Having come under fire in the past for engaging in conversation with organizations that are not necessarily aligned with the church’s perspective, Mrs. Warren is quick to say that while there are many issues on which they disagree, they are coming together this week to discuss how they can collectively work toward a solution to stem the overwhelming tide of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and care for the sick and dying.
An estimated 1,500 people representing local churches; para-church ministries; non-governmental organizations and legal and medical organizations are registered to attend the three-day conference. In addition to general sessions, participants will be able to attend break-out workshops to focus on specific areas of interest, such as how to start an HIV/AIDS ministry in their own church or community and overviews of the most current treatments and therapies.
Following the Global Summit, the first-ever Youth Summit will take place on Saturday, Dec. 1 – World AIDS Day – with video messages from Bono, Jordan Pruitt, the cast of One Tree Hill and a personal appearance by First Daughter Jenna Bush. This portion of the Summit will be simulcast to more than 200 churches nationwide.
“This week, there is nothing more important that we can talk about than the subject of HIV/AIDS and how the church can be a powerful force as we shed light on what has previously been a subject hidden in the dark,” Mrs. Warren concluded.
In additional to responsibilities with their respective ministries, Rick and Kay Warren are international advocates for the HIV/AIDS crisis. Kay chronicles her journey into the world of HIV/AIDS advocacy in her debut book “Dangerous Surrender” (Zondervan, November 2007). For more information about the Warrens and the 2007 Global Summit, visit www.AIDSandTheChurch.com.
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