The Rev. A. Stephen Pieters is a long-term survivor of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). His remarkable story of full recovery serves as an inspiring example of healing and hope.
The Rev. Pieters served for many years as Field Director for the AIDS Ministry of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches (UFMCC). He brings his own experience of living with AIDS since April 1984 to his ministry to this day.
The Rev. Pieters was born on August 2, 1952 and was raised in Andover, Massachusetts, where his father chaired the Mathematics Department at Phillips Academy. Steve attended Phillips Andover in preparation for his theatre studies at Northwestern University, where he received his Bachelor of Science in Speech in 1974.
In 1976 he joined Good Shepherd Parish Metropolitan Community Church in Chicago, where he decided to pursue a calling to the professional ministry. He received his Master of Divinity Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary in 1979, at which time he accepted a call as Pastor of the Metropolitan Community Church of Hartford, Connecticut.
In 1982, Steve resigned his position in Hartford, and moved to Los Angeles, where he served as Field Director for UFMCC AIDS ministry from 1987.
In the fall of 1982, he began to experience a series of illnesses that led, in April 1984, to a diagnosis of acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Diagnosed with Kaposi's Sarcoma as well as stage four lymphoma, he was told by one health professional that he would not live to see 1985.
Not only did he live to see 1985, but during that year he participated in an experimental anti-viral drug trial, taking Suramin for a total of 39 weeks. While on Suramin, both cancers went into complete remission. Due to toxic side effects, the drug was discontinued for use against AIDS. However, the Rev. Pieters continues to enjoy a complete remission of his cancers, and according to his physician at the University of Southern California Comprehensive Cancer Center, he is "clinically well in all respects."
Since his diagnosis, the Rev. Pieters has served as an officer of the Board of Directors of AIDS Project Los Angeles, and on the Executive Committee of the AIDS Interfaith Council of Southern California and served on the first Los Angeles City and County AIDS Task Force. He began writing the series of articles on his experience with AIDS for the UFMCC's Journey magazine that are included in the book published by Chi Rho Press, "I'm Still Dancing!": A Gay Man's Health Experience, in 1984. He edited ALERT, the UFMCC's monthly newsletter on AIDS. The Rev. Pieters also serves on the Board of Directors of the AIDS National Interfaith Network.
He has been interviewed by the Los Angeles Sunday Times, Time magazine, Omni magazine, LIFE magazine, and numerous television talk and news shows including Tammy's House Party with Tammy Faye Bakker, CBS This Morning, the Tom Snyder Show, America Talks Back, and Real Life with Jane Pauley. He was a featured speaker at an entertainment industry dinner benefit for AIDS Project Los Angeles, given by Elizabeth Taylor and honoring First Lady Betty Ford. In November, 1987, he presented the Buddy of the Year Award to Whoopie Goldberg at APLA's third annual entertainment industry benefit. In the summer of 1990, he appeared as himself in the hit play, "AIDS US/II." The Rev. Pieters has received awards for his ministry in the AIDS crisis from the Board of Elders of the UFMCC, Evangelicals Together, Inc.; the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles; West Hollywood Presbyterian Church; and the West Hollywood City Council. In 1989 he received an Honorary Doctor of Ministry Degree from Samaritan College, then the UFMCC's educational institution. In 1990 he received the prestigious Sheldon Andelson Award from the Stonewall Democratic Club, and the Sandra L. Robinson Award from Common Unity in Dayton, Ohio.
Throughout the UFMCC and around the world, Steve has spoken to many thousands of people, sharing his belief in God's healing and sustaining power while living with AIDS.
Rev. Pieters' book, "I'm Still Dancing!" is available from Chi Rho Press.
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