Church Coalition to Honor Bush for AIDS Work

Dr. Rick Warren of the Global PEACE Coalition will honor President George W. Bush for his unprecedented level of contribution to the fight against HIV/AIDS as U.S. president during the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health Summit on Monday, World AIDS Day.

"No U.S. president or political leader has done more for global health than this Administration, which has raised the bar on America's role and responsibility for providing critical humanitarian assistance around the world," said Warren, founding pastor of Saddleback Church in southern California.

"Over the past eight years, the President and Mrs. Bush have traveled the globe as they and their staffs have worked tirelessly to bring awareness and solutions to pandemics such as HIV/AIDS, and we are privileged to honor their efforts on World AIDS Day," he said.

President Bush will be the first recipient of the "International Medal of PEACE" from the Global PEACE Coalition.

The award is given on behalf of the Global Peace Coalition to individuals that exemplify outstanding contribution towards alleviating the five global giants recognized by the Coalition: pandemic diseases, extreme poverty, illiteracy, self-centered leadership and spiritual emptiness.

The Coalition is a network of churches, businesses and individuals working together to solve humanitarian issues through the PEACE Plan – an effort to mobilize 1 billion Christians worldwide to Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick and Educate the next generation.

"As my wife Kay and I have been implementing the PEACE Plan in 68 developing countries, we have seen firsthand many of the hundreds of thousands of lives that have been saved through PEPFAR and the President's Malaria Initiative," Warren said. "I hope that this Forum will show the American people that our global health programs represent more than compassionate humanitarian efforts, but are also a strong, prudent pillar of American foreign policy."

Under the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) - created by President Bush and his Administration - more than $18.8 billion has been provided to combat global HIV/AIDS since 2003.

Recently, Congress authorized an additional $48 billion for ongoing efforts to tackle the HIV/AIDS pandemic as well as tuberculosis and malaria – the other deadly killers in third world countries – over the next five years.

Warren, in addition to presenting the president with the award, will also engage both President Bush and First Lady Laura Bush in candid conversations regarding past accomplishments and priorities in the future regarding international health issues – including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.

President-elect Barack Obama will provide a video-taped message addressing the future of global health.

Leading representatives from the U.S. Congress, faith- and community-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, the diplomatic community, multilateral groups, foundations, local churches and representatives from other private sector entities have been invited to attend the invitation-only event.

The event will be held at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. This year, the Saddleback Civil Forum on Global Health will be held in lieu with the Global Summit on AIDS and The Church.

In the past, Saddleback Church has observed World AIDS Day by hosting a Global Summit on AIDS and The Church. The past three Summits had drawn thousands of church leaders from around the world and took place at Saddleback Church.

Saddleback Church was founded in 1980 by the Warrens with only family attending the first service. Now, the church has grown to have an average weekly attendance of 22,000 and is one of the largest churches in America.

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