In 1991, Reverend Eric Williams was a new pastor at the Calvary Temple Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri.
At StoryCorps, he told his colleague, Jannette Berkley-Patton about his first experience dealing with AIDS in his ministry.
Click here for the transcript.
Jannette Berkley-Patton (JBP): So how did you respond to that then?
EW: I didn't want to do it…didn't want to do it. It's not appropriate for one pastor to go against what another pastor has said, this is what I am going to do in my congregation. And I was perfectly alright with that until I went home and um, started thinking about this family. You know everything good that I have been able to accomplish has started with some kind of a burden. And AIDs burdened me. So reluctantly, I did the funeral.
I met the parents of this kid and, you know, I was used to black dads disowning their gay sons. That was the thing to do, My son can't be gay. But not this family. This father and this mother, they celebrated his life. They embraced all of his friends. And, you know, they taught me more about unconditional love in that little experience than any of the Sunday school books, and any of the courses in seminary, or any of it. And that was the event that kind of rearranged my life.