by Jessica Carreras
Reverend Kevin Kinsel is the associate pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Detroit. Rev. Kinsel and his sister, Mary Beth, will be hosting a World AIDS Day service and hours of events, informational tables and HIV testing at the Zion Lutheran Church in Ferndale on Dec. 1.
1) Why is planning activities for World AIDS Day important to you?
As a licensed master social worker and minister, it saddens me to witness societal apathy toward the spread of HIV/AIDS and the neglect of those whom are afflicted. What once was a significant social cause has become moderately acknowledged by celebrities, missionaries and people of the GLBT community even though this disease has become a pandemic event around the world and in the United States. Most are unaware that incidents of seroconversion are increasing and that the disease continues to spread and become more insidious by mutating and regenerating.
On a more personal note, this disease has infected and affected many of my friends.
2) What is different about this year’s line up of events?
In past, there has only been an Ecumenical Service sponsored by either People Who Care about People with AIDS or, for the last five years, the World AIDS Day foundations. This year we have reached out to other agencies and will be hosting a full day of events.
There will be two panel discussions: one led by respected medical personnel from Henry Ford Health Systems’ Division of Infectious Diseases and a panel of those whom are living with HIV/AIDS. There will also be anonymous rapid testing for HIV from 4-7 p.m. We are hoping that there will be a large gathering for the Fifth Annual World AIDS Day Ecumenical Service at 7 p.m. with a reception to follow. Please come and join us at Zion Lutheran Church on Albany and Woodward.
3) What impact do you hope this local event will have?
It is our greatest hope that this year’s events will not only pay homage to those who have died of HIV/AIDS but also acknowledge that their battle with the disease propagates future research, treatment and hope. It is our hope that the Worlds AIDS Day events will assist with closure and healing to those who have lost loved ones.
In addition, we support and believe that with prevention lay our greatest hope. If the events on Dec. 1 allow us to reach even one person for testing, preventing infection or from spreading HIV/AIDS, our energy and hard work has been a worthwhile endeavor. It is our intention that by offering support for all whom choose to be tested, or comfort for those effected by HIV/AIDS, that we are, in fact, coming together as a human family.
4) What do you think is the most important thing that can come out of World AIDS Day?
It is vital that everyone understand that this disease is not cured, even though public presumptions believe that HIV/AIDS is a chronic disease from which people no longer die. It is still fatal and although there are many effective treatments, these are treatments, when in fact, the disease process claims lives every day.
5) Why do you think it’s crucial to have clergy involved in HIV/AIDS prevention, education and support?
As a Christian minister, this is what we are called to do! By living out our faith, we are better able to live as true followers and advocates. Jesus taught that the greatest commandments were to love God with all our hearts and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
These concepts are not only exclusive to my Christian brothers and sisters. Many world faiths teach that in order for humans to reach a higher plane, we must first give of ourselves. Love, acceptance and truth must prevail in all things! What better way to show this by remembering, preparing and supporting those whom may need this Love the most.