Our second Pastoral and Congregational Care and Training program (PACCT II) begins tomorrow morning, and the ladies are starting to arrive tonight. Upon reception and registration at the Mphatso Motel and Conference Center in downtown Mzuzu, Josie welcomes and gives each one a training packet and a gift bag from CitiHope International.

Twenty-eight women are pre-registered for PACCT II representing Presbyterian, Methodist, Assembly of God, Baptist and Roman Catholic churches. They are mostly pastors’ wives, but also lay leaders, women’s guild leaders, a nurse, an AIDS activist, and PACCT committee members serving as small group facilitators. Together, after the 3-day training, they will be invited to become charter members of what we are calling the PACCT Women’s Guild—a cadre of women in leadership roles trained to be facilitators for future PACCT workshops.

Our training resource team consists of six expert presenters:
1) Professor Moira Chimombo, Professor of Education, University of Malawi, and Director of Education, Sub-Saharan Africa Family Enrichment (SAFE), and Curriculum Consultant-Trainer for PACCT;
2) Dr. Andy Gaston, MD, Director of Livingstonia Synod AIDS Control Program (LISAP), and Chair, PACCT Organizing Committee;
3) Mrs. Lilian Kuffase Dindi Kumwenda, Board Chair, LISAP and HIV+ AIDS activist;
4) Dr. Joseph Yu, MD, Director of Taiwan Medical Mission and Rainbow [HIV/AIDS] Clinic; and
5) Dr. Michael J. Christensen, Ph.D, Africa Regional Director, CitiHope International, and a professor of practical theology at Drew University.

In addition, four workshop facilitators will interpret content presentations and assist the small group process of curricular development:
a)Mrs. Alice Ngosi, LISAP Officer and Trainer;
b) Mrs. Lovely Kamanga, Coordinator, Presbyterian Woman’s Guild, Synod of Livingstonia,
c) Mrs. D. Singini, RN, Mzuzu Central Hospital; and 4) Mrs. Lilian Kuffase Dindi Kumwenda, Board Chair, LISAP.

The purpose of this workshop is to view the “Big Picture” of how AIDS has affected every sector in Malawian society, and then to focus on specific case studies that shed light on the need and means for HIV prevention, voluntary testing, stigma reduction, available treatment, appropriate pastoral care, and cultural barriers to behavior change. The latest medical facts and treatment options will also be shared and discussed, and curricular units added to the training manual.

PACCT II is sponsored by Community Presbyterian Church in Celebration, Florida. Rev. Patrick Wrisley, Senior Pastor, was one of my doctoral students at Drew University, and shares my burden for pastoral education and leadership training related to AIDS in Africa. His congregation, located on Disney property in Celebration, held an ‘alternative Christmas’ fund-raiser last Christmas and raised the money to fully fund this training event.

I’m still looking for a local church to sponsor PACCT III in July 2007—designed for youth leaders in Malawi.