Washington National Cathedral to host AIDS Memorial Quilt

Washington National Cathedral
Posted Jul 16, 2012

“The Last One” is a panel sent to The Names Project Foundation, curators of the AIDS Quilt, without instructions, note or identification — only itself as a stark message of hope. Photo/The NAMES Project Foundation

Washington National Cathedral will host the world’s largest living memorial, the AIDS Memorial Quilt, as the NAMES Project Foundation marks the quilt’s 25th anniversary. Beginning on Tuesday, July 17, and continuing through Thursday, July 26, the Cathedral will honor all those lost to AIDS as well as those living with the disease.

An interfaith memorial service will take place at the National Cathedral on Saturday, July 21, at 7 pm. Dr. James Curran, an important figure in the discovery of HIV/AIDS, will speak. Notable panels from the quilt will also be on display.

The National Cathedral’s ministry around HIV/AIDS dates back to 1986, when it hosted a conference on the issue to bring greater awareness to the role religion could bring to the issue. The Cathedral has also proudly hosted the quilt and held services around it in 1988, 1990, 1993, 1994, and 1996.

Of particular significance will be the display of a panel of the quilt called “The Last One.” Rarely seen in public over the years — and only at the Cathedral for the July 21 interfaith service — “The Last One” was conveyed for use by the NAMES Project in 1987 without any information or instruction from its creators but a message that remains unmistakable. The panel is both a quiet prayer and a stark reminder of all that we are working to achieve in the battle against HIV/AIDS.

Also to be displayed will be a panel created by St. George’s Cathedral in Cape Town, South Africa, that was blessed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu on June 22 of this year before being sent on its journey to be a part of the service at Washington National Cathedral. It arrives at the National Cathedral on Wednesday, July 18, to be blessed again by Bishop Jane Holmes Dixon and the Rev. Gina Campbell, acting director of Cathedral worship.

“From Darkness to Light,” the interfaith memorial service, will honor those we have lost and those who continue in the struggle to live with dignity and worth in the face of HIV/AIDS. Throughout the service faith leaders and faithful persons from around the world will give witness to the faith that has supported them in their journeys while we consider who we are and whose we are in the midst of this pandemic.

The service will be an interfaith gathering, with Interim Cathedral Dean Frank Wade joining with clergy from other faiths to lead the service. These will include Rabbi Bruce Lustig of Washington Hebrew Congregation and Imam Mohamed Magid of the All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS). All are welcome to attend, but passes must be reserved.