by Shaun Knittel -
SGN Associate Editor
St. Mark's Cathedral (1245 10th Ave. E.) will host the Seattle AIDS Memorial, '30 Years of Sorrow, Comfort, and Hope' on September 24, at 7 p.m. The memorial commemorates the 30th anniversary of the first HIV/AIDS diagnosis as well as the 25th anniversary of the first AIDS Walk in Seattle.
'The event, which is free and open to all, offers a multi-faith observance through readings and song,' said Liz Sloat, a spokesperson for St. Mark's.
'We want to pause and reflect on this milestone,' said the Reverend Rebecca McClain, canon missioner at St. Mark's, 'and do so in a way that observes but also transcends our shared grief and individual losses.'
Describing the multi-faith nature of the observance, she explained, 'It's a testament to the journey that communities of faith have made on HIV/AIDS issues that so many representatives of religious traditions and denominations can come together in support of the Seattle AIDS Memorial.'
Specifically, the Seattle AIDS Memorial will feature sacred readings from Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and Buddhist traditions along with selections of contemporary poetry and a time of candlelight remembrance, according to the Reverend Earl Grout, Deacon at Saint Mark's Cathedral.
Detailing the featured artists at the event, Deacon Grout said, 'We are thrilled to include the Seattle Choral Company, our region's leading symphonic chorus with over 100 volunteer singers, numerous professional instrumentalists, and distinguished performing artists from around the Pacific Northwest. We're also delighted to include Dr. Melvin Butler, director of music at Saint Mark's Cathedral, on solo viola, and coloratura soprano Lynne Markova, who will perform the Adagio by Tomaso Albinoni.'
With a program structured into three movements (sorrow/mourning, solace/comfort, and hope) punctuated by candle lighting, the diverse readings will incorporate Rumi, W.H. Auden, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mary Oliver and selections from Angels in America.
One major participant in the Seattle AIDS Memorial's program is the Seattle Choral Company, regarded as the Pacific Northwest's leading symphonic chorus and renowned for diverse and engaging choral experiences. Founding conductor and artistic director Freddie Coleman noted, 'When we heard that the Seattle AIDS Memorial would offer solace through song as well as readings, the Seattle Choral Company had to be part of the program. Nurturing community through music is central to who we are.'
The Seattle AIDS Memorial also affords attendees the opportunity to make a contribution of any size, if they so choose, to support two well-regarded local HIV/AIDS organizations. Lifelong AIDS Alliance is committed to preventing the spread of HIV, and to providing practical support services and advocating for those whose lives are affected by HIV and AIDS. Rosehedge/Multifaith Works serves vulnerable men and women living with HIV/AIDS by providing housing, compassionate health care, and supportive services that enhance the quality of their lives, and additionally unites communities of compassionate care and inclusive spirituality with people living in isolation and loneliness.
Lifelong AIDS Alliance's chief executive officer Randall Russell commented, 'The Seattle AIDS Memorial brings to a close an important day for everyone concerned about HIV/AIDS in our community. Earlier that day, thousands of fundraisers will turn out for the 25th Anniversary Seattle AIDS Walk. The Walk is by design a joyous and empowering event. The Memorial reminds us that too many have already had their own journey cut short and that thousands more in our own community remain at risk.'
Rosehedge/Multifaith Works' executive director Arthur Padilla said, 'Our association with the Seattle AIDS Memorial's multi-faith observance hearkens back to our faith-based approach, and we couldn't be prouder to be affiliated with the dynamic program of speakers and musicians creating a community of caring.'
St. Mark's is the cathedral church for the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia and the seat of its Bishop, the Rev. Gregory Rickel. St. Mark's is also a parish church, home to Christians who seek to practice open hospitality, extending a welcome to all. A prominent landmark in Seattle for decades, it serves as a commons where issues of justice and faith are explored. St. Mark's is the home of great liturgical music including the ancient service of Compline, which every Sunday evening provides a time of spiritual reflection for the hundreds who gather at the cathedral and the thousands more who listen on KING-FM (98.1).
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