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Louisville Seminary Awarded for Contributions to HIV/AIDS Awareness

by Ashley Schaffner | Oct 29, 2013

Seminary is recipient of the 2013 Sister Mary Bennet Cecil Award, given by AIDS Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana, Inc.  

 In recognition of the work of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s Women’s Center, its Marriage and Family Therapy Program, and Professors Amy Plantinga Pauw, Carol J. Cook and Johanna W.H. van Wijk-Bos, the Seminary has won the 2013 Sister Mary Bennet Cecil Award for efforts in working to affect change in the attitudes of religious communities toward persons living with HIV/AIDS and their families.
 

The award will be given at a community-wide event on December 1, World AIDS Day, but a special, on-campus presentation will take place Friday, December 6 at 12:30 p.m. during “Apples for Advent,” an annual, Seminary community luncheon, in Winn Center.

“This award is a testimony to the tireless work of instruction, advocacy, and fundraising that our faculty and the Women’s Center have done on behalf of people living with HIV/AIDS, both at home and in other countries. It is wonderful to have this recognition from AIDS Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana, which proves how long-standing and wide-ranging our efforts have been,” said Dean Sue Garrett.

The award is given specifically in recognition of the work of the Women’s Center for their efforts in HIV/AIDS education and activism; the MAMFT Program for curriculum that includes classes in human sexuality and incorporates lessons on care and respect for HIV-positive individuals; and for the work of Plantinga Pauw, Cook and Bos, who together “promote an inclusive theology of care for and love of the most vulnerable in our society.”

“For all of these reasons, and perhaps more, AIDS Interfaith Ministries honors the great witness LPTS has been to the love of God for all people including those living with HIV/AIDS. We hope that you will accept this award as a tribute to the work of the women's center, the faculty named, and for your institution as a whole that serves as a haven of thoughtful, justice-oriented religious engagement and a beacon of the light of God in our community,” said Aaron R. Guldenschuh-Gatten, executive director of AIDS Interfaith Ministries of Kentuckiana, Inc.

“I’m especially glad that the award was presented to faculty who represent the three major areas of the Seminary curriculum. This reflects the fact that concern about AIDS is widely shared at Louisville Seminary, and that students are likely to wrestle with the issue in their studies here," said Plantinga Pauw.

Recipients’ specific contributions
In recent history, Louisville Seminary has hosted ecumenical worship services in conjunction with World AIDS Day, and has been home to a display of the internationally-acclaimed Names Project HIV/AIDS Quilt. The Seminary has also adopted a non-discrimination policy that includes those living with HIV.

For 10 years, the Women’s Center has participated in the Louisville AIDS Walk, raising nearly $10,000 for direct client services in Kentuckiana. The Women’s Center also works to promote dignity and respect for those living with HIV by hosting annual educational workshops.

The Seminary’s Marriage and Family Therapy Program has been recognized and awarded for its work on human sexuality, which includes instruction in HIV prevention and care, specifically Dr. Cook’s “Human Sexuality” course.  Further, Dr. Bos’ “Heart of the Stranger” and professor Plantinga Pauw’s “Theology of the Global South” courses have challenged students to empathize with those living with HIV and the stigma the disease can bring.

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