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Uniting for Life

Winter, 1994


Rev. Ben Sheldon Accepts Position of Executive Director For National Pro-Life Religious Council

The Rev. Benjamin Sheldon, recently retired as pastor of the Bethany Collegiate Presbyterian Church in Havertown, Pennsylvania, has accepted the post of Executive Director of the National Pro-Life Religious Council. Rev. Sheldon is one of the founding members of NPRC and is also the president of Presbyterians Pro-Life.

The vision of NPRC is that every Christian denomination or fellowship proclaim and obey Biblical teaching and historic Christian tradition that affirms the sacred value of all human life, and that they encourage public involvement in defense of the lives of the unborn, disabled and elderly. Rev. Sheldon recently said that he wants to see this vision come to fruition through the cooperative efforts of the groups comprising NPRC.

Election 1994 -- Big Win for Pro-Life

(Nov. 9) A deep and thunderous pro-life voice rolled across our country on Tuesday, November 8. Not one pro-life incumbent of either party was defeated by a pro-abortion opponent, while about 30 pro-abortion incumbents lost their seats to pro-life challengers. Out of 48 House seats open due to the incumbent retiring or running for another office, 35 were won by candidates who oppose federal-funding of abortion, the Freedom of Choice Act, and abortion in health care. The net gain is about 40 seats in the House. On the Senate side, the net gain for pro-life forces is six seats. Of the 11 newly-elected senators, only one has a pro-abortion position. In an election dominated by Republican victories, pro-life Democratic candidates did quite well, relative to their pro-abortion party colleagues.

Another remarkable aspect of this year's election is that six pro-life women were elected to Congress while eight pro-abortion women were defeated. In spite of the fact that more American women are against abortion than for it, Congress has not reflected this in the women representatives and senators previously elected.

In the governors' races, 14 pro-life governors were elected which brings the total to 19 pro-life governors, with 28 pro-abortion governors, and 3 with mixed record.

Congress has now clearly shifted in a pro-life direction. However, President Clinton retains the veto power. Several supporters of the "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA) legislation that would extend Roe v. Wade even further and invalidate all state restrictions on abortion, were defeated by candidates who oppose the abortion agenda of the current administration. Also many incumbents who had worked for federally-mandated abortion in health care were defeated.

Poll after poll has shown that the majority of Americans do not support abortion-on-demand, and are particularly opposed to tax-funding of abortions. Americans will now have representation in Congress that reflects that view.

Presbyterians Pro-Life Adopt a "Call to the Church"

Richmond, VA (Oct. 7, 1994) The Board of Directors of Presbyterians Pro-Life at a recent meeting in Richmond adopted a "Call to the Church", urging the Presbyterian Church (USA) to renew its historic and Biblical position of opposition to the destruction of innocent human life through abortion. It called upon the 2.3 million-member denomination to renew its commitment to preserve and nurture life at every stage of development, from conception to natural death. "The Church must cease its approval of abortion and abortion rights advocacy, remove its unlimited coverage of abortion procedures from its Medical Plan, and discontinue its participation in and support for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (formerly RCAR)."

At the same time, it called on the Church to support women in problem pregnancies through sacrificially compassionate and loving ways that allow both mother and child to live and be blessed by God. The Church should support adoption and the many community pregnancy care ministries that provide alternatives to abortion. Finally, the call to the church urges it to extend the means of grace to those involved in abortion, leading them gently to repentance and into full restoration of fellowship with the heavenly Father and the Body of Christ, the church. The 21-member Board, composed of lay and clergymen and women, pledged to work within the denomination to accomplish these goals for the Presbyterian Church USA. Rev. Benjamin Sheldon is the president and Terry Schlossberg is the Executive Director of PPL.

Task Force of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality Promotes Pro-Life Education, Encourages Sheltering Church

Pro-life and United Methodist are two terms that usually do not appear in tandem. And for good reason. After all, there are "official" structures of the United Methodist Church linked to radical, pro-choice, political lobbies--such as the Religious Coalition for Abortion Rights (RCAR) which is now known as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC). So strong is this linkage that, from 1973 until January 1994, the national offices of RCAR/RCRC were located in The United Methodist Building in Washington, DC.

Nevertheless, let it be known that there are thousands and thousands of pro-life United Methodists, laity and clergy. In addition, it should be known that, in 1987, a group of lay people and pastors organized the Taskforce of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality (TUMAS) to unify and guide the voices of pro-life United Methodists.

Over the last seven years, TUMAS has evolved into an educational ministry that advances Biblical and Church teaching on abortion and abortion-prevention ministry in the United Methodist household. TUMAS's quarterly newsletter, Lifewatch makes theological connections between the problem of abortion and the doctrine, morals and ministry of the church. The newsletter also reports on, and offers proposals for, abortion-related matters in the denomination.

While Lifewatch aims to change the heart and mind of the United Methodist Church, women in crisis pregnancies and their unborn children stand in immediate need. Every day in the United States, more than 4,400 women without hope enter abortion clinics for the purpose of killing their little ones. Various studies of aborted women report that the overwhelming majority say they would not have had abortions if they had found people to assist them through pregnancy and prepare them for children. Many of these women had attended church, yet they had not heard the Biblical message that God creates all people in His image and has a purpose for each life He creates. Nor had they heard that God hates the hands that "shed innocent blood." Nor had they heard the church offer them the help they needed to protect and nurture their children.

Therefore, TUMAS promotes the Sheltering Church Movement, which encourages congregations to preach, teach, and minister in ways that lead women to love their children and resist abortion. TUMAS believes that the local church is uniquely equipped to provide compassionate care to women tempted by abortion. By sacrificially giving of itself, and by networking with other congregations and pro-life ministries, a Sheltering Church can lead distressed women to life-saving support and to escape from abortion. A Sheltering Church hears and obeys Jesus' command to His followers to love one another. A Sheltering Church knows that the measure of love is not found in words, but in deeds. "Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth." (1 John 3:18, RSV)

Evangelicals & Catholics Declare Unity On Pro-Life Issues

Evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics, after exploring together areas of unity in a consultation begun in 1992, issued a joint statement which included the following paragraphs on pro-life issues:

"The pattern of convergence and cooperation between Evangelicals and Catholics is, in large part, a result of common effort to protect human life, especially the lives of the most vulnerable among us. With the Founders, we hold that all human beings are endowed by their Creator with the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The statement that the unborn child is a human life that--barring natural misfortune or lethal intervention--will become what everyone recognizes as a human baby is not a religious assertion. It is a statement of simple biological fact. That the unborn child has a right to protection, including the protection of law, is a moral statement supported by moral reason and biblical truth.

We, therefore, will persist in contending--we will not be discouraged but will multiply every effort--in order to secure the legal protection of the unborn. Our goals are: to secure due process of law for the unborn, to enact the most protective laws and public policies that are politically possible, and to reduce dramatically the incidence of abortion. We warmly commend those who have established thousands of crisis pregnancy and postnatal care centers across the country, and urge that such efforts be multiplied. As the unborn must be protected, so also must women be protected from their current rampant exploitation by the abortion industry and by fathers who refuse to accept responsibility for mothers and children. Abortion on demand, which is the current rule in America, must be recognized as a massive attack on the dignity, rights, and needs of women.

Abortion is the leading edge of an encroaching culture of death. The helpless old, the radically handicapped, and others who cannot effectively assert their rights are increasingly treated as though they have no rights. These are the powerless who are exposed to the will and whim of those who have power over them. We will do all in our power to resist proposals for euthanasia, eugenics, and population control that exploit the vulnerable, corrupt the integrity of medicine, deprave our culture, and betray the moral truths of our constitutional order."

Disciples for Life Questionnaire Highlights Importance of Pro-life Religious Activity

In early November, Disciples for Life sent a questionnaire and evaluation form to Disciples Congregations to find out how members felt Disciples for Life should focus its ministry. The questionnaire asked respondents to prioritize from 1 to 5 the most important to the least important of five areas. The five areas listed were: political: those who try to influence the outcomes of elections; cultural: those who seek to educate the public about the value of life; crisis-pregnancy workers: those who try to help the women; religious: those who hold prayer vigils; rescuers: those who participate in civil disobedience.

Results were as follows: 

Rated as "Most Important"

  • Cultural Activities: 44%
  • Religious Activities: 44%
  • CPC Work: 11%

Rated as "Very Important"

  • Cultural Activities: 33%
  • Religious Activities: 28%
  • CPC Work: 28%
  • Political Work: 11%

Rated as "Significant"

  • CPC Work: 50%
  • Cultural Activities: 22%
  • Religious Activities: 22%
  • Political Activities: 5%

Comments by Participants in Survey

Thank you so much for trying to save the lives of the unborn babies." (Princeton, WV)

It's hard to prioritize....My reason for being part of Disciples for Life is to encourage the "adoption option" among Disciple clergy and laity. ...It is too easy to say stop the abortion (which I agree with) but we have to provide reasonable support for those birth mothers who choose to give life! It's not a one-stop deal!" (Indianapolis, IN)

"Of course all are important. Individual prayer is of the utmost." (Deerfield, IL)

"We are supporting our local Pregnancy Crisis Center in Winchester, Indiana with time and money." (Union City, IN)

The abortion problem is a problem of the heart, the result of a western culture that has taken individual rights to mean selfish concern for my wants. Until the church addresses the heart of the nation the problem will remain." (Alexandria, IN)

"#1 - education. Modern science allows us to see the developing child; the very point the abortion industry denies. A picture is worth a thousand words." (Denver, Colorado)

Friends For Life Determines to Broaden Outreach & Network

By Rev. John Brown

United Church of Christ Friends for Life is undergoing a time of transition. As with most mainline denominations, UCC continues to support liberal, left-wing policies both politically and theologically. Many parishes which have been supportive of spiritual renewal and pro-life issues are finding themselves alienated and are leaving UCC. This has resulted in a decreasing base of support for UCC Friends for Life. Finding new supporters for those desiring to continue a pro-life witness within the UCC is one of our biggest challenges for 1995.

Friends for Life continues to support pro-life education and concerns both in congregations and at the conference and general synod levels. This is done through our newsletter, literature tables, banquet, and provision of noted pro-life speakers, particularly at General Synod which is held every two years. At the next Synod in Oakland in July 1995, we hope to address the issue of euthanasia which some congregations, pastors and denominational officials are poised to support. All of these efforts of Friends for Life will be coordinated by the new executive director, Mary Ellen Stone.

In 1994, Friends for Life took steps to establish contact with the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference, a fellowship of more than 200 congregations which hold a strong pro-life position. Many congregations leaving the UCC have sought refuge with the CCCC. Networking with other churches and fellowships has become an increasing necessity, but also an opportunity for a wider and more effective ministry on pro-life issues.

In conjunction with the Abortion Dialogue Committee of the Pennsylvania Southeast Conference of the UCC, Friends for Life will be supporting the development of a Sheltering Network for women facing a crisis pregnancy. The NPRC also supports this project and CARENET has undertaken primary responsibility for promoting it nationwide. The project in Southeastern Pennsylvania will seek to involve church, counseling, and educational resources with area crisis pregnancy centers to provide a "free offer of life", as Steve Wissler, originator of the Sheltering Church network idea, described it. A dozen churches, including a counseling center and several CPC's, have already voiced a strong interest. Hopefully this project once fully operational will serve as a model to other communities.

FFL will continue to work with NPRC wherever and whenever there is opportunity to do so, in hopes that together we can provide a solid and fruitful ecumenical voice for the pro-life movement.

Friends for Life Hires Research Director

Friends for Life, UCC, has hired Rev. Dr. Randall E. Otto as Director of Research. Reverend Otto has recently completed a study on euthanasia and assisted suicide and is the author of several articles, reviews, and two theology books. He is currently seeking a grant to do follow-up work on the hospice movement in order to provide pastors and congregations guidance in establishing or supporting local hospice programs. The results of this work, as well as the euthanasia study, will be available to UCC churches and to member organizations of the National Pro-life Religious Council.

Lutherans for Life Director Comments On Abortion within Christian Congregations

Rev. Edward Fehskens, Executive Director of Lutherans for Life, made the following remarks in his speech to graduating theology students at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana, on February 18, 1994.

"The Church of Jesus Christ has had an unbroken pro-life witness for its 2000 years of existence. I know you've probably read some of the very strong statements of the church fathers. We stand upon the tradition of the church and its clear witness. But we also stand upon the witness of Scripture which says that "Life is not ours; life is a gift from God!"...God has a stake in each individual life. Life is impossible apart from God. As I say these words, I am struck with a sense of fear that we should have come to a place where one of every three children conceived in this nation is aborted, and where we are facing an administration demanding and requiring us under penalty of law to pay for them!"

"The saddest thing of all is that the church has become so jaded by the nonsense, rhetoric, confusion, and deception of death in our culture today. We have lost our moorings to some degree. I make that statement bearing in mind the statistics that show that one out of six women who have abortions profess to be born-again Christians. Recently I read some other statistics from Carol Everett, a former abortionist and owner of two abortion clinics who later came to faith in Jesus Christ and is now a pro-life advocate. Carol Everett recently published some statistics that claim 79% of the women who enter abortion clinics profess to be believers in Jesus Christ; 29% attend church weekly. They're sitting in our pews. They will be in front of you as you preach from the pulpit. We're not talking a problem "out there." We are talking about a problem we confront, in all honesty, in our own families, in our circle of friends, in our community--in our congregation. In my own congregation, our pastor is very supportive and prays for Lutherans For Life every Sunday in the general prayer. Someone made the comment, "Why should he do that? Why doesn't he pray for `Lutherans for Choice'"? Thank God, no such group exists. But the point is, the opposition is there, and we have a task as Christians and particularly you as pastors, to boldly speak the truth in love. But not just to them; to ourselves, to our congregations."

News Notes

Southern Baptist Convention Condemns Abortion-Clinic Violence

The Southern Baptist Convention confronted the debate surrounding the killing of two abortion doctors and their aide in Florida by issuing a strong statement declaring that killing abortion doctors "is not a moral option for Christians."

"The premeditated use of deadly force is reserved to the government," the statement asserted. At the same time, the statement made "an urgent plea for intensified Christian involvement in all morally permissible forms of anti-abortion activities...Pro-Life Christians must act quickly and vigorously to prevent a small but vocal band of militant activists from destroying the credibility, effectiveness and witness of the mainstream Christian pro-life movement. The 12-page statement is titled, The Struggle Against Abortion: Why the Use of Lethal Force is Not Morally Justifiable. It was written by a panel of ethicists and Southern Baptist officials. NPRC to Publish Book of Sample Pro-Life Sermons. A book of sample pro-life sermons is currently being prepared for publication by NPRC. Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth, United Methodists' editor of Lifewatch, has agreed to serve as editor of the book. The collection is intended to assist and encourage pastors in the preparation of their own sermons on pro-life issues. Submissions of such sermons from pastors are welcome and may be sent to NPRC at 1023 15th St., NW, #500, Washington, DC 20005.

Interdenominational Prayer Service Sponsored by NPRC January 23

On the morning of the March for Life, the National Pro-Life Religious Council will hold a prayer service at 9:30 am at the Simpson Memorial Chapel of the Methodist Building, 100 Maryland Avenue (next to the Supreme Court). The service will last about an hour. It is sponsored by NPRC and the Task Force of United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality. Pastor John Brown, United Church of Christ Friends for Life, will be the preacher.

Abortion Resource Book Available from NRLC

A book titled Abortion, The Bible and the Church by Tj. Bosgra is available from the National Right to Life Committee at the price of $3.50 per copy. The book offers strong biblical arguments in favor of the pro-life position, and should be of use to anyone involved in church-based pro-life work. It also includes brief statements from over 200 religious groups reflecting their positions on the abortion issue. To order, send checks payable to the Outreach Dept., National Right to Life, 419 7th St. NW, Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20004.

NPRC Seeks New Members

This is your opportunity to join with other Christian pro-life leaders to help restore legal protection to the unborn child.

The National Pro-Life Religious Council, Inc. (NPRC) is a Christian pro-life coalition which acknowledges Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and is called to witness to and affirm the biblical standard of the value, dignity and sanctity of human life.

Associate membership is open to any individual, church, or group who subscribes to NPRC's principles.

NPRC currently has members and affiliates working within pro-life groups associated with the following denominations/ churches: American Baptist, Baptist, Catholic, Episcopalian, Evangelical, (National Association of Evangelicals), Lutheran, Lutheran Missouri Synod, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormon), Orthodox, Presbyterian, Southern Baptist, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist.

Please join NPRC today and help us end the tragedy of abortion!

Click here for a membership form.

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Contact us.