Pasadena’s Good Shepherd Church leads World AIDS Day celebrations this weekend
By Carl Kozlowski 11/26/2013
The HIV/AIDS crisis is more than 30 years old in America, and as new treatments have made it appear to be a largely chronic condition rather than a rapid death sentence, public attention has started to waver. But Rev. Rick Eisenlord, founder of the Good Shepherd Church, operating from the premises of Pasadena’s Westminster Presbyterian Church, is determined to keep people focused on the fight to truly eradicate the still-prevalent disease.
Eisenlord will lead Good Shepherd Church’s members in the “We Remember” World AIDS Day Celebration on Saturday and Sunday at Westminster. The two-day event will run from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, featuring a student art and video contest with the theme “Living With HIV/AIDS,” along with a viewing of the Oscar-nominated documentary “How To Survive a Plague,” AIDS quilt panels available for viewing and free on-site HIV tests from a city of Pasadena van.
On Sunday, the celebration culminates at 7 p.m. with a special mass choir concert called “Broadway Comes to Pasadena,” featuring choir members from churches, synagogues, and organizations throughout Southern California presenting music from Broadway musicals, with the largest display in Southern California of AIDS Memorial Quilt panels from the Names Project in Atlanta. Money raised through donations and sponsorships for Sunday evening’s performance will benefit Operation LINK — a program of outreach by the Pasadena Public Heath Department to the homeless HIV population in Pasadena.
“There really hasn’t been a World AIDS Day celebration in Pasadena in the last couple of years, other than a small official one at City Hall,” says Eisenlord, who is openly gay and moved the Good Shepherd ministry to Pasadena three years ago after its initial three-year stint in Hollywood. “This is more of a celebration, of people who have passed of HIV/AIDS, and also those still living with it and their caretakers. I’ll be speaking, with choirs singing, and representatives from the city of Pasadena and the AIDS Service Center will also speak.
“As a pastor, I’ve buried my friends who have died from AIDS,” Eisenlord continues. “Instead of treating this like a funeral — we’ve all been to too many funerals— it’s a celebration of those who died and for their families to remember those who they love, and educate the public that HIV is not going away. In the state of California, over 7,000 individuals will become infected with HIV each year, and there’s still no cure. There’s a message fatigue and this is a way to get the word out about AIDS and keep them vigilant.”
The “We Remember” World AIDS Day Celebration takes place from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and at 7 p.m. Sunday at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1757 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena. Those wishing to attend Good Shepherd are asked to call (213) 631-0373 or visit weremember.us.com.