“It was so hard for these young men, because in so many ways there was no place for them to turn,” she said. “When they came home sick to their parents, they also had to reveal they were gay, pastors were all fire and brimstone back then and people were afraid to be near them.” When the medical community gave the disease a name in the early 1980s, she turned her efforts to its prevention. In 1991, when she moved to the Good Samaritan Metropolitan Church in Whittier, now on Washington Boulevard, to serve as its pastor, she quickly became active in the newly-formed Whittier Rio Hondo AIDS Project, WRHAP. The nonprofit organization, still going strong today, provides case management and HIV prevention, mental health and food pantry services to people living with AIDS. Doris Wahl, the recently retired founder of WRHAP, said Chapman has been a great help all along. “She was with me from the beginning, helping to raise awareness,” she said. “I feel she is one of the most compassionate and humble people I have ever met.” At the Good Samaritan church, whose mission is to help all who have been left broken, wounded or bruised by the side of life’s road, she also gives spiritual counseling to the five people in her 75-member congregation who have HIV/AIDS. “The focus now is on the living, not the dying, because with the advances in medical care, AIDS is not an automatic death sentence anymore,” she said. But there is still much work to be done, particularly in countries such as Africa, where millions have died from the disease, she said. “I want there to be more education, prevention and eventually a cure, because we need to get rid of it,” she said. [email protected] 562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! WHITTIER – In 1981, the Rev. Gina Chapman, then deacon at the Metropolitan Community Church in Los Angeles, was called by a friend who asked her to come to the bedside of a man dying of an undiagnosed disease. When she walked into the room where the gaunt man, covered in purple lesions, lay surrounded by friends, she pulled off her gloves and surgical mask, touched his face and lifted him in her arms. As she did, the man shed a tear and others gathered in the room began to sob. The man turned out to be one of hundreds Chapman would comfort in those days 25 years ago when a baffling disease began killing men in the gay community. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE11 theater productions to see in Southern California this week, Dec. 27-Jan. 2In her church, serving gays, lesbians and transgenders, about 45 percent of the 400-member congregation, including pastors, died of the disease that would eventually come to be known as AIDS, Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. “It was a very emotional and difficult time,” said Chapman, 57, who is now pastor at the Good Samaritan Metropolitan Community Church in Whittier. “There were so many deaths, we were burying so many, that we were just getting burned out.” To further help the afflicted men, Chapman, a lesbian who grew up in a Lutheran family in Los Angeles, and others in the lesbian community donated large amounts of blood. And when she wasn’t visiting hospitals to hug the dying patients who others refused to touch, she was counseling the sick and helping with cooking and cleaning in their homes. She could not even consider doing otherwise, she said.