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Christ Chapel Celebrates 30 Years of HIV/AIDS Ministry

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—Gazette photo by Stephanie MinasianThe Long Beach Gazette brought us the story of an important milestone reached by Christ Chapel in Long Beach, Calif. Thirty years ago Christ Chapel opened its doors to do ministry and provide services to people who were suffering from HIV and AIDS. Christ Chapel opened in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, when the disease was not well understood. People who were infected were shunned from most other service agencies.

Pastor Michael Cole broke from this sad tradition by doing ministry directly with those not being served: people suffering from HIV and AIDS, gay men and lesbians. At that time, there was no concept of being both Christian and gay. But Pastor Cole’s pastoral care was able to reach a population that was not often the recipient of Christian ministry at that time.

The chapel, which was started in Pastor Cole’s living room, has grown and expanded over the last 30 years. Sadly, Pastor Cole died of a heart attack in 2005. Christ Chapel currently offers a food store and support system to help those with the disease find spiritual guidance and assistance, as well as bringing the homeless breakfast weekly. Its main ministry target is the gay and lesbian community.

Christ Chapel will be celebrating 30 years of ministry with a gala on December 3. The 30th anniversary gala will start at 6 p.m. for a reception and social hour, followed by dinner and dancing at 7 p.m. On this Thanksgiving weekend, GLAAD offers thanks for the 30 years of ministry in Long Beach.

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