Uniting for Life
Pro-Life Launches Adoption Ministry
By Terry Schlossberg, President
Many churches carry bulletin inserts each year highlighting
the millions of abortions that have been a scandal to both
church and society for over a generation in our country. This
year Presbyterians Pro-Life (PPL) sent a series of bulletin
inserts for the month of November (National Adoption Month)
to over 200 churches in the Presbyterian Church (USA) highlighting
the blessing of adoption. The inserts point to adoption both
as a godly way to build families and as a life-giving alternative
PPL has been raising adoption to a position of prominence
in their ministry, exploring ways to get beyond merely paying
lip-service to adoption. They want to find ways to resolve
the obstacles that keep pregnant women from planning for adoption,
and that keep couples from offering family to waiting children.
A year ago, the organization brought a devoted Christian and
adoption expert onto their staff. Mrs. June Ring quickly added
a wealth of materials to PPL's resources, beginning with a
booklet setting forth the biblical underpinnings for adoption,
called "Partakers of the Grace."
The emphasis of PPL's work in adoption is to equip local
churches to become actively involved in welcoming children
and solving the human problems associated with problem pregnancies
and single teenage childbearing. Thousands of special-needs
children grow up in foster care and never find their way into
stable adoptive families. Believing that churches can change
the future for needy children, born and unborn, PPL is providing
materials, workshops and consulting help. The materials and
ministry model is adaptable to any interested Christian Church.
For further information, or for a complimentary set of the
bulletin inserts on adoption suitable for use year-round,
call Mrs. June Ring (Hudson, OH) at (216) 342-4460, or the
PPL office (P.O. Box 11130, Burke, VA 22009) at (703) 569-9474.
National Pro-Life Religious Council Pro-Active in Partial-Birth
By Rev. Ben Sheldon, Executive Director
Nothing has galvanized the pro-life forces in recent years
more than the debate over the dreadful abortion procedure
known as partial-birth abortion. When the fact that this particularly
horrible and brutal method was actually being used became
public knowledge, efforts to ban it were mounted by many groups,
including the National Right to Life Committee and the National
Pro-Life Religious Council. When legislation to prohibit PBA
passed both houses of Congress, all of us breathed a sigh
of relief, but those sighs of relief were turned to incredulity
and total shock when President Clinton vetoed the bill.
The NPRC went right to work and on May 17, 1996 sent a strong
letter urging Congress to override the President's veto. It
went to every member of both the House and the Senate. The
letter contained the signatures of 51 well-known leaders from
many churches, Orthodox, Protestant, and Roman Catholic. Especially
notable was the fact that eight Orthodox bishops were among
the signatories, as well as several seminary professors. The
names of Southern Baptists, United Methodists, Presbyterians,
United Church of Christ and Reformed Church in America leaders,
Episcopalians, and Lutherans were right alongside the Orthodox
and Roman Catholic signers. The letter dramatically demonstrated
the cooperative spirit of the NPRC, and was by far the largest
cooperative effort to date that your Council has undertaken.
We do not doubt that it was a significant factor in the House
of Representatives' successful override vote.
After the House override vote, the NPRC issued a statement
that went out to hundreds of press outlets across the nation,
commending the Representatives for their action and once again
calling on the Senate to follow suit. Finally, when the final
vote in the U.S. Senate was pending, many communications from
NPRC were sent, especially to those Senators whose previous
records showed that they might not vote for the override,
and it is gratifying that those efforts resulted in three
significant vote changes. Even though the Senate failed to
override, and the horrendous practice of partial-birth abortion
still is legal, we feel that the NPRC "got its feet wet" in
its strenuous efforts to defeat it. Notable was the presence
in the Senate gallery on September 17 (the day of the Senate
override attempt vote) of several NPRC Board members praying
for the vote.
Since the struggle is still in progress and the outcome is
still not settled, the National Pro-Life Religious Council
pledges its effort and its energies to continue the fight
for the sake of the unborn babies, not only by banning partial-birth
abortions but by eventually making abortion so repugnant to
the people of this nation that they will clamor for its elimination.
We invite the support and cooperation of members of all denominations
in this Herculean task once again of making the mother's womb
a safe place for babies.
Majority in House and Gains Seats in Senate Despite Clinton
Washington, DC (Nov. 5) The pro-life movement snatched victory
from the jaws of defeat in the general election by maintaining
a majority in the U.S. House and increasing the pro-life numbers
in the Senate.
The victories came in the face of an all out effort by pro-abortion
groups to recapture Congress. In many areas, abortion was
one of the top issues in Senate and House races. When the
dust had settled, the pro-life movement had gained approximately
two seats in the Senate on the core issue of legal abortion,
and lost only six in the House on the same core issue. Votes
on specific abortion-related issues may fluctuate.
While the Clinton Administration is expected to aggressively
pursue a pro-abortion agenda, the pro-life base in Congress
is encouraging. Three new pro-life Democrats were elected.
In three House races, pro-life Republicans replaced pro-abortion
Republicans. A number of pro-abortion Democrats were replaced
with pro-life Republicans. In the Senate races, three pro-life
Republicans replaced three pro-abortion Republicans. And in
President Clinton's home state of Arkansas, pro-life Republican
Tim Hutchinson will take the seat of pro-abortion Democratic
senator, David Pryor.
The House is somewhat less pro-life than the House elected
in 1994, but it is more pro-life than the House elected at
the time of President Clinton's first win in 1992.
The pro-life movement held its own under incredible pressure.
We've shown once again that protecting the right to life is
a cause too strong to be affected by the ups and downs of
politics. Pro-lifers will be here for life.
Two Couples Blessed By Choosing
Life Despite Fetal Disabilities
One rationalization used to defend partial-birth abortions
is that some unborn children, whom the procedure is used to
kill, are severely disabled and might not live long anyway.
An example given was that of a pre-born child with organs
on the outside of the body.
Rev. Howard Edington, senior minister of the First Presbyterian
Church in Orlando, Florida, was stunned when he heard this
because in his congregation a young couple, Whitney and Bruce
Goin, had faced this circumstance but chose life for their
child who is now a healthy one-year old boy named Andrew.
When Whitney was five months pregnant, she was shown the ultra
sound of her child with his organs outside his body, told
there was a chance he would be stillborn, if born alive he
would require numerous surgeries with great stress on his
lungs, and that partial-birth abortion was an option. But
Whitney and Bruce decided to leave it in the Lord's hands
whether the child's life was long or short. And so they brought
their baby into the world.
Andrew fought hard for life, and with the help of dedicated
and gifted doctors, the love and faith of his parents, and
the prayers of their congregation, he pulled through the long
slow process of placing the organs inside his body. Whitney
shared that they learned a great deal, experienced much love
and were moved by Andrew's strong desire for life.
Last April, Rev. Edington had the joy of baptizing the bright,
beautiful, happy Andrew into the Christian faith. Rev Edington
said he had to fight back the emotion overwhelming him when
he thought of the struggle Whitney and Bruce went through
for this child, their magnificent faith, and the happiness
they now have.
In the same congregation, another couple, Eugenia and Joe
Sefcik, also dealt with the difficult decision of birth for
their daughter, Elizabeth, who had a severe chromosomal abnormality
known as Trisome 18. Doctors did not give Eugenia and Joe
much hope for a successful pregnancy. When informing them
of their options, the doctor mentioned that this was the only
disability for which the hospital did abortions.
The Sefciks, acting on their faith, decided to let the pregnancy
take its course. They received open support for their decision
from the doctors and nurses. Eugenia gave birth to Elizabeth
last December. She took her home, they fed her with an eyedropper
and took her everywhere with them. Elizabeth had a very short
life of seven weeks, but she blessed the lives of her family
and many others in this time. Pastor Edington once again had
the joy of baptizing the child. Joe shared that others seemed
amazed at the faith that enabled them to go through this painful
time without being distraught. He said Elizabeth's birth and
short life witnessed that this was not just a technical medical
decision. It made the issue of life decisions more real for
others. Eugenia tells people, "If I could replay the entire
situation, I would do it again."
Both couples have since become interested in sharing with
others the blessings of choosing life. Eugenia has been able
to counsel other parents referred to her from Hospice or the
geneticist at Arnold Palmer Hospital. "People want to talk
to someone who kept their child," she said.
Lutherans for Life Grows
and Changes As Approaches 20th Year
By Linda Bartlett, President of LFL
Lutherans For Life (LFL), during this past year, welcomed
a new executive director, Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb, and a new
president, Linda Bartlett, who opened the new LFL office in
Nevada, Iowa. 1996 was a year of expanding LFL's commitment
to education and service.
Through a grassroots network of 14 state affiliates, 250
chapters, and 676 Life Ministry Coordinators, the biblical
pro-life message is taken into congregations, schools and
communities. There were 11 state conventions held. LFL chapters
across the country sponsored rallies for teens and parents,
seminars for pastors, and pro-life workshops.
Two working models for outreach take pro-life education and
put it into action: Place of Refuge, a ministry of congregations
to care for women and pre-born children in crisis pregnancies;
and Young Mom's Retreat, a weekend of instruction for new
mothers and their babies from pregnancy centers.
Healing Hearts, the post-abortion ministry of LFL,
established a toll-free hotline (1-888-21story) and conducted
a second training seminar for pastors and counselors. A third
seminar is being planned for Florida and Iowa in 1997. This
past fall, 20 men and women attended LFL's speaker's training
workshop. San Diego was the site of LFL's 14th annual convention
the weekend of November 1-3.
In October, Dr. Lamb traveled with a team of pro-lifers to
Romania. The trip, organized by Global Partners, enabled this
"team" to better understand the opportunities which exist
for Pro Vitae, the Romanian pro-life organization, and to
make recommendations for expanded education and outreach.
The foundation was laid this year for LFL's Campus Life Project.
LFL has been invited to bring life issues to the students
on both Christian and secular campuses through "coffee houses,"
dorm discussions, assemblies, classroom lectures, and informal
gatherings. LFL's goal is to help students contrast the culture
of death with the culture of life. Students will be challenged
not only to think, but to respond by way of personal involvement
in "servant" opportunities and on-going educational events.
Although LFL continues to reach pastors and lay people through
publications such as Living magazine, LifeDate, and In Touch,
it expanded its educational outreach in the past months by
way of the internet and e-mail. News and updates are sent
regularly to e-mail addresses across the country. The LFL
web site offers resources and current information. LFL's new
catalog offers brochures, bulletin inserts, videos, pro-life
curricula, and a new "pro-life catechism." Discovering Real
Love, (teen education) and Living with Dying, (resource on
end-of-life issues), are also available.
Web site: http://www.goshen.net/lfl/
National Office: 1229 South G Ave. Bldg B Suite 100
Nevada, IA 50201-2717
Tel: (515) 382-2077 Fax: (515) 382-3020
Sanctuary: A New Effort
By Rev. John B. Brown
A small group of churches in southeastern Pennsylvania, centered
in the community of Boyertown, has begun a "sheltering church"
experiment which they have named Sanctuary. This effort has
had the support and encouragement of United Friends for Life
Several years ago, Steven Wissler, a Christian layman from
Pennsylvania, who represented the Taskforce of United Methodists
on Abortion and Sexuality (TUMAS) on the National Pro-Life
Religious Council, realized that Christian churches could
become sheltering churches for women with crisis pregnancies.
There remain many women with crisis pregnancies who have no
idea of the existence of the thousands of crisis pregnancy
centers across the country.
The Abortion Dialogue Group, convened by Rev. Donald Moyer
at the Penn Southeast Conference of the United Church of Christ,
and involving people with varying views on the subject of
abortion, agreed that a pregnant woman who chooses to give
birth should be given support. Members from UFL suggested
the sheltering church idea, which immediately took hold. Discussion
and publicity meetings for churches followed.
Ten congregations, Catholic, evangelical and mainline, including
two United Church of Christ congregations, eventually responded.
Under the able leadership of Rev. Moyer, and a committed group
of volunteers, these congregations formed a Sanctuary coalition.
Each member congregation is asked to provide at least one
service, such as baby clothing, food, sheltering homes, counseling,
or financial assistance.
A resource manual of all the pro-life resources in the area,
including five CPCs, is provided to leaders in each church.
Phone training for contact persons in each congregation was
done, and signs with a beautiful Sanctuary logo are going
up at churches all around the Boyertown area.
The Sanctuary community can provide spiritual resources such
as worship services, youth groups, and Bible studies to supplement
the work of CPCs. It encourages congregations who are pro-life
but inactive to deepen their commitment. It also receives
support from some who consider themselves "pro-choice."
UFL will be presenting the Sanctuary story at the UCC 1997
General Synod in Columbus, Ohio.
United Methodist Who Was Alabama
Judge Quit Bench To Work Against Partial-Birth Abortion
Montgomery, AL (Sept. 6) When Alabama circuit court Judge
H. Randall Thomas heard about President Clinton's veto of
the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, he began a journey of
discovery and awakening that led him to resign from the bench
in order to speak out against the partial-birth abortion procedure.
Judge Thomas, 51, had four years remaining in the term to
which he was elected in 1994.
"There is a blindness on this issue. When I heard about the
veto, I didn't know what a partial-birth abortion was. I asked
doctors, lawyers, intelligent people--nobody knew." Finally
an Ob-Gyn that he knew said she would find out for him. When
she described the procedure, Judge Thomas said, "I was appalled.
It was like scales slipped off....The procedure is so cruel.
It is such an abomination."
In talking with black pastors one-on-one, explaining what
the partial-birth abortion procedure is, the judge testified
that the pastors turned away from a "pro-choice" position
to a pro-life position. He said that when the message is "wrapped
in love, with the Spirit of God in it, it will move the hearts
The former judge also likes to share the story of his challenge
to a fellow judge about the moral dilemma a judge faces on
the abortion issue. The other judge said the resolution of
the conflict was simply to follow the law. When Judge Thomas
evoked the images of law during the slave era in the U.S.
and during the Nazi era in Germany, the judge blanched, but
later came back with the bible quote, "Render unto Caesar
that which is Caesar's." But since Jesus said this in reference
to the image on a Roman coin, Thomas countered with the question,
"In whose image is this baby?" The answer, of course, is "in
the image of God."
The judge, retired since August 1, is now prayerfully seeking
the direction the Lord is leading him in. He has been a state
circuit court judge for 21 years. He is a member of St. James
Methodist Church but is also involved with other denominations
and attends an ecumenical fellowship group called John 17.
He is married with two children.
Religious Council Hosts March for Life Prayer Service
The National Pro-Life Religious Council is holding its annual
pre-March Prayer Service Tuesday, January 21, 1997 at 7:00
p.m. at the Fourth Presbyterian Church, 5500 River Road, Bethesda,
Md. This year, Bishop William Frey of the Episcopal Church,
and Dr. Jean Garton of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
will be the speakers.
All are encouraged to attend this service to pray for an
end to abortion, assisted suicide, and euthanasia in our country.
It is a great opportunity for Christians of all denominations
to join together in prayer as a sign of unity on pro-life
A morning prayer service, sponsored by the Task Force of
United Methodists on Abortion and Sexuality (TUMAS), will
take place at the Simpson Memorial Chapel of the Methodist
Building, 100 Maryland Ave., (next to the Supreme Court),
at 9:30 a.m., Wednesday, January 22.
Sanctity of Life Sunday
Materials to distribute on Sanctity of Life Sunday, including
brochures, bulletin inserts, posters, Sunday school lesson,
and suggested sermons are available from the following:
Christian Life Commission
901 Commerce St., Suite 550
Nashville TN 37203-3696
(615) 244-2495, Fax: (615) 242-0065
Lutherans for Life
1229 South G Ave
Nevada, IA 50201
(515) 382-2077, Fax: (515) 382-3020
The Right Choice
Edited by Paul T. Stallsworth
Published by Abingdon Press
A collection of pro-life sermons from:
Elizabeth Achtemeier, John Cardinal O'Connor, Connie Roland
Alt, Frank A. Pavone, John B. Brown, Terry Schlossberg, Paul
M. Clark, Benjamin E. Sheldon, Edward Fehskens, Paul T. Stallsworth,
Michael J. Gorman, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Richard John
Neuhaus, Charles E. Whited, Jr.
"This collection of sermons is an effort, sponsored by NPRC,
to express the Christian understanding of the dignity of human
life. It makes clear that the Christian churches here represented
are seeking to inform and form their people in the context
of worship, according to the revelation offered to the world
though the Word of God. Where God has spoken, we must speak,
as best we can." (from Forward by Rev. John B. Brown)
NOEL Moves to Pennsylvania
The National Organization of Episcopalians for Life have
now moved to Pennsylvania and have appointed a new executive
director, Mrs. Dana Henry.
The new address is: 405 Frederick Avenue, Sewickley, PA 15143.
Tel: (412) 749-0455; Fax: (412) 741-7360.
Associate Membership Application:
Click here for a membership form.