faith in action

Let’s do more in 2024: United Methodist Global Aids Committee

HIV and AIDS have been a dire health concern in our world for decades and still the disease persists.

In 2024, let’s do more.

A Word from Bishop Julius C. Trimble.

We can do more research. We can do more education. We can do more to resource those in need. We can do more to de-stigmitize the virus. The United Methodist Global AIDS Committee plans to do more in 2024.

UMGAC will hold a conference called Breaking Barriers from 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Monday, April 22, at First United Methodist Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. The conference, held the day before the international UMC General Conference, will be open to delegates of General Conference and the public at large. The theme will be ending stigma, but topics will also focus on treatment, prevention, vulnerable populations and the realities of HIV and AIDS in various parts of the world.

Keynote speaker will be Dr. Ulysses W. Burley III, who is the founder of UBtheCURE, LLC – a Chicago-based consulting company on the intersection of Faith, Health, and Human Rights with a commitment to ending the HIV/AIDS epidemic as a public health crisis. He currently serves as the Project Director for the HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) Faith Initiative and is a founding member and current chair of the National Faith HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the U.S. HIV/AIDS Faith Coalition. Closing worship will be led by Bishop Karen Oliveto, episcopal leader of the Mountain Sky Conference and the first openly LGBTQ bishop in the UMC. Further details and event registration will be announced soon.

UMGAC is also planning to do more in 2024 by sponsoring an HIV and AIDS conference in the Philippines March 14-15. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “In the past decade, the Philippines has gained notoriety as the country with the fastest-growing human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) epidemic in the Western Pacific region.”

The world needs to do more for the people of this island nation. “As of January 2023, there were 110,736 HIV cases reported in the Philippines. Although this number seems low considering that the country has over 109 million people, the pervasive stigma, sociopolitical conditions, and barriers to healthcare services are fueling the epidemic in marginalized populations. The number of people living with HIV (PLHIV) is projected to increase by 200% from 158,400 in 2022 to 364,000 by 2030,” according to the NIH.

The theme of the conference is “Empowering Lives: Bridging Hope through Compassionate Care” and the event will be hosted at Wesleyan University-Philippines in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija, Philippines.

Generous donations from the Moody United Methodist Church (Galveston, Texas) Permanent Endowment Fund and The Center for Health and Hope are making this international conference possible. Conference topics will address faith, science, ministry and healthcare.

More is what is needed to put an end to HIV and AIDS. UMGAC is committed to do more. Let us all do more at every opportunity. Be encouraged.

UMGAC Profile: Cecelia Williams


Cecelia Williams represents the United Women in Faith (formerly the United Methodist Women) on the United Methodist Global AIDS Committee (UMGAC).

She is a deaconess in the United Methodist Church and holds a master’s in nutrition with a concentration in gerontology. She is a registered dietitian, certified by the New York State Education Department. Cecelia is an active member of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).

Her vocation as a registered dietitian has allowed her to work on several community initiatives in New York and New Jersey on issues such as childhood obesity, women’s health, HIV and AIDS, and wellness coaching.

Her active Church life includes:

  • Chaplain, board certification 2023

  • Deaconess - Consecrated and Commissioned in 2014 United Methodist Women - Northeast Jurisdictional Guides – “be just, be green” – 13 Sustainability practices; caring for God’s creation.

  • Served in several capacities for United Women in Faith - Metropolitan District President and Resource Coordinator

  • Creativity with children ministry – Christian education and Sunday mornings “Chancel talk” at New Rochelle United Methodist Church, where she is a member.

She has traveled to the Philippines for a United Methodist Conference on HIV and AIDS - “Dismantling the Stigma: Our potential capacity to educate, prevent and care” and she has a passion to share her wellness ministry “Mind, Body and Spirit the Bible Way” with New York Annual Conference churches, and faith-based communities.

This wellness ministry opened the doors for her to travel to Brazil in 2016. Love, justice and service are at the center of her work, envisioning a healthier society. Caring for the earth is an extension of creating this healthier society. “Serving and advocating for the least of God’s children helps me to connect with God’s heart,” Williams said.

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