The Open Church and AIRS Launch New HIV/AIDS Info Project


Members of the FAITH Project Coordinating Team

On Friday, November 6, the Faith-Based Approaches in Transformative Healing (FAITH) Project held their Kickoff Celebration in west Baltimore at the Open Church of Maryland. The project seeks to increase awareness of, access to, and utilization of the wealth of science-based health resources compiled by the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine, who have provided funding for the project.

“The Open Church and our partner organization AIRS are grateful to have received this grant from the National Institutes of Health National Library of Medicine” said Reverend Brad R. Braxton, Ph.D., the founding senior pastor of the Open Church of Maryland.

The Project was developed by the Open Church of Maryland and AIDS Interfaith Residential Services (AIRS) to promote and improve access to electronic HIV/AIDS information using a user-friendly model. The community based outreach initiative employs an asset-based community development strategy that draws upon existing community strengths to foster healthy and sustainable communities.

“By improving access to electronic HIV/AIDS information, this initiative promotes healthy sexual practices and wise life choices that facilitate physical well-being for individuals and the community” continued Rev. Braxton. “By connecting our sexual practices and life choices to inclusive and empowering conversations about spirituality, we remove the stigmas surrounding health issues, and especially sexual health issues. Like hospitals, faith communities are centers of healing. This project enables the Open Church to extend even further our helping and healing hands into the community.”

AIRS, in service to the Baltimore community for 27 years, provides housing combined with essential services such as health care, nutrition and job readiness / skills training, to People Living with HIV/AIDS and the homeless, in particular, homeless or unstably housed youth, with the goal of helping them to move toward self-sufficiency.

“AIRS is proud to be partnering with the Open Church”, said Ernestina Simmons, the AIRS representative to the FAITH Project Coordinating Team. “The FAITH project is going to allow us to bring education and resources to areas that are typically undeserved.”

The FAITH Project kickoff celebration focused around an innovative model for HIV/AIDS education, presented by Wombwork Productions. The presentation represented the many faces of the HIV epidemic in the black community, though powerful and moving individual stories, group skits, and musical numbers. The characters represented women and men, gay and straight, old and young, and everywhere in between, in a captivating presentation that moved and engaged the audience.

Wombwork Productions has been providing healing social change theater and performance art programming for 18 years. They describe themselves as a “fully comprehensive production company that preserves and re-empowers families and communities through creative art, dance, and theater expression”. They host three theater companies including the Nu World Art Ensemble for those ages 17 and up as well as ensembles for youth ages 13 to 17 and youth ages five to 12.

The Nu World Art Ensemble is a community based touring theater company with a repertoire of full productions that include programs that address gang violence, drug abuse, spiritual coexistence, domestic violence as well as African-American cultural productions. They utilize the performing arts as healing tools to tackle important issues affecting young people and their families, through powerful theatrical productions based on true experiences of their young participants.

Learn more at For more information about the FAITH Project, call the Open Church of Maryland at (443-687-9152) or or visit

For more information about AIDS Interfaith Residential Services (AIRS) and their programs, visit

Article written by Bill Redmond-Palmer from Baltimore’s OutLoud Magazine!

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