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Town Rallies Behind Clergyman With AIDS

June 21, 1986

JACOBUS, Pa. (AP) _ A 63-year-old pastor’s battle against AIDS has prompted more than 70 singers from 12 churches to perform a benefit concert for the ailing clergyman and his wife on the Fourth of July.

The Rev. Elmo Beck, pastor for two United Church of Christ congregations in York County for 23 1/2 years, is a hemophiliac who tested positive for AIDS in 1983, about a year after a hernia operation.

Blood platelets used during a transfusion to induce clotting were contaminated, doctors determined.

″I’ve stood by hundreds of sickbeds and gravesides,″ said Beck, who lives in Seven Valleys. ″Death is not a stranger to me ... so not being able to handle this just wasn’t an option.

″Somehow or other, I had to call my faith forward to meet the challenge before me. Hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people have been praying for me daily. I just laid my faith against this thing.″

Beck can no longer serve his congregations at St. Peter’s Church near Seven Valleys or the Jerusalem Church near Glen Rock.

The congregations, however, have rallied around him. Ten of the churches involved in the July 4 performance are members of the Community Church Witness Council that Beck helped organize.

On the community grounds of this town of 1,360, after the chicken barbecue and before the fireworks, church choir members will sing ″Liberty,″ a choral work commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty.

After the performance, which includes costumed participants and narration, donations will be accepted for Beck and his wife Sue.

Beck said he does not know how much his treatment has cost, though he saw one $17,000 bill sent to his insurance carrier.

Sitting in his sun room recently, between trips to the hospital, he talked about the waiting and wondering. He said an antibiotic he is being given is part of the AIDS research going on in 23 U.S. medical centers.

″That’s the only way the suffering makes sense,″ Beck said.

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