Dear Inner Circle,
In the eighties and nineties many in our community were living through the time when HIV/AIDS first arrived at our shores. There was a significant amount of fear, and with that comes the spruikers of fear mongering and division. I have dear friends who speak of a time when everyone in their friendship and support networks died. Just imagine that for a moment. Now imagine how the messages of hate that were being directed towards sectors of our community were received in already broken hearts. In the middle of the fray was Wayside Chapel, with open doors, standing alongside, as friends, allies and fellow mourners. We loved, and we lost. Some of our people sadly died through this time and our hearts broke for them. Together we boldly refused to separate ourselves from anyone, and boldly declared that “all of this is us.”
Hospitality isn’t just about opening the doors to see who comes in; it is also about going outside and inviting people in and about the intention and commitment to seeking out those who have been pushed aside and making sure they know there is a place where they will be welcome. Today is World AIDS Day, and we remember that for millions across our world AIDS is still a death sentence, particularly for those living in poverty who lack access to the treatments available today. We dream of a world where this is no longer the case. We also celebrate with our people who are living boldly positive lives and continue to be integral to who we all are, whose contributions make this world a better place.
Sadly, so many people in positions like mine thought it was their role to work out what was good and what wasn’t and to insist on separating the two, and history rightly judges them. Imagine where our world would be if we could have instead invested the time and effort into living worthy lives, and spreading a message of universal love, rather than one of condemnation. That’s the world you’ll find out the front of Wayside in Kings Cross and Bondi Beach.
Thanks for being part of the inner circle,
Rev. Jon Owen
CEO & Pastor
PS. Our doors will remain open this Christmas and throughout the year to make sure there is a place for all of us – where everyone is welcome, loved and never forgotten. If you can, please donate to our Christmas Appeal today.