On August 18, 2013, parishes throughout the Diocese of East Carolina were directed by our Bishop Provisional, The Rt. Rev. Peter Lee, to commemorate the Baptisms of Manteo and Virginia Dare in 1587 on Roanoke Island as a part of the settlement later styled, “The Lost Colony.”
Manteo was an adult male Croatan, a native of Roanoke Island. Virginia Dare was the first child born to English speaking colonists in the New World. They were baptized three days apart in August of 1587. They were the first baptisms into what would later become The Episcopal Church in this country.
Manteo and Virginia Dare were two very different people, reconciled through one baptism, into faith in Christ, “built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.” (Ephesians 2:22 NRSV) As these two were reconciled together as one in Christ, so are we all are today, HIV positive and HIV negative. NEAC strives on a continuing basis to address the stigma attached to HIV by reminding TEC and those around this faith family that we are equal and loved children of a kind Creator that bids us to settle ourselves as one body of faithful people.
It’s easy to fall into a kind of a dualism when we deal with illness; there are the healthy, and the unhealthy; the infected and the non-infected; the sinner and the saint. Recently, NEAC has started a Welcoming Parish Initiative for parishes to use as an outreach tool; not only for the benefit of those infected or affected by HIV but to benefit those parishes who might wish to use HIV ministry as a practice in radical hospitality and unconditional love.
426 years ago on a small coastal island in what would be the State of North Carolina, baptism brought two very different people together into a shared life of faith. Today, NEAC and those who serve in HIV ministry continue the same practice of recognizing the union of all children of God through faith, service and love.
Stephen J. Batten is a member of the NEAC Board of Directors and the parish administrator for the Church of the Advent in Williamston, North Carolina.