What official stance should a congregation take toward members with AIDS?

AIDS-it's always fatal; there's no known cure. Once confined primarily to homosexuals and drug abusers, it is now gaining ground beyond those groups. Local churches will soon encounter the problem face to face-if they haven't already.

How should a church minister to those with AIDS? To what extent can it let them participate in fellowship without endangering others? Do other parishioners have a right to know who in the congregation has AIDS? What approach best blends caution and compassion?

The accounts below describe how two different churches tackled this issue. The first is Millington Baptist Church in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, a suburban congregation previously unfamiliar with such problems. Pastor Peter Pendell candidly recounts the fears they felt as they sought to minister to a family with AIDS.

Millington Baptist Church

We thought we were safe, tucked away in our corner of the world, telling one another that sex outside marriage and the illicit use of drugs were anathema. We thought ...

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