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Uniting for Life

Spring, 2001

National Pro-Life Religious Council, Inc.,
109 2nd St. N.E.
Washington, 20013


From the President:

Rev. Rob Schenck

These are great days for the National Pro-life Religious Council (NPRC). With the election of George Bush, the confirmation of John Ashcroft and the continuation of a fundamentally pro-life leadership in the Congress, a window of opportunity has opened to advance the pro-life ethic in our culture. (It doesn't hurt that an associate Justice of the Supreme Court recently took to a public podium to denounce the "culture of death.")

To take full advantage of this opportunity, and to maximize our contribution to the cause of Life, the NPRC is currently narrowing its focus in order to use its resources in the most efficient and effective ways possible. At a recent board meeting, we decided to focus on our mission to counteract the pro-abortion propaganda of the so-called Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).

The RCRC would have the nation believe that the majority of American clergy is pro-choice. We believe that to be patently false. But pro-life clergy need to speak up and be visible. The National Pro-Life Religious Council can provide that visibility. We think the prevailing beliefs of religious leaders in America's largest and fastest growing religious organizations are pro-life, and NPRC can provide a coordinated expression of that belief.

Because of these opportunities, we will need your support on a greater level than ever before. You will receive a letter from me about this in the near future. Please watch for it. Until then, I invite you to join in the exciting new course that lies ahead for the NPRC.

These are great days to be pro-life! I'm glad to be enjoying them with you!

Time for Change

By Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb, Executive Director, National Lutherans for Life

"It is time for change." This was the thought in many peoples' minds as they voted for George W. Bush. Now we have that change. It is a good change, and we at Lutherans For Life are thankful for the For Life changes this will bring.

However, we dare not hang all our hope for all the changes we desire on this one change. There is another change that is more important. That is why the title of this article, "Time for Change," is not describing a presidential election. It is describing Lent. Lent is a time for change, a time for repentance. In the New Testament, the word for repentance literally means a "change of mind."

Certainly we would say it is time for our nation to repent, to change its mind about the value of human life, when that life begins, and from whom its value comes. It is time for our nation to return to that self-evident truth that human persons are "endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

We would say that it is time for our leaders to repent, to change their minds about placing political expediency and political correctness above what they know in their hearts is wrong and devastating to our country -- the destruction of our children.

But Lent is not a time for pointing out the changes we see others need to make. It is a time of self-reflection, a time for you and me who are For Life to repent. Perhaps we need to repent and change our mind about our message. The message that Lutherans For Life wants to help apply to the life issues is the message of the Gospel. How easy it is for us who see so clearly the preciousness of life to become frustrated, even angry, with those who seem to discard and degrade it so wantonly. It is easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of condemnation and never get to the part where we can say, "There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1). We must call wrong things wrong. However, we need to repent if that is all we do. The pregnant teen, post-abortive women and men, families dealing with end-of-life decisions -- these and others also need to hear about forgiveness, hope, and healing.

Perhaps we need to repent and change our mind about our manner. Commenting on a Life Sunday sermon, a woman said, "That's the first pro-life sermon I have ever heard given in love."

This was a nice compliment to the pastor, but it is also a sad commentary. It is not just pastors but all of us need be aware of our manner. The passion we have for the truth must never consume us to the point where we forget to speak that truth in love. Those who have the truth do not need to attack people. We can be bold without being overbearing, courageous without being callous, confident without being condescending.

Lent is a time for change. It is a good time to examine ourselves and to examine ourselves as pro-lifers in terms of our message and manner. Maybe we will find we need to repent, to change our minds. That's okay. Repentance is a good thing. As Peter said, "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord" (Acts 3:19).

Lutherans For Life (LFL) is a pan-Lutheran organization witnessing to the sanctity of human life. LFL produces educational resources for use by pastors, educators, congregations, and individual Christians to equip them to apply the Gospel to the life issues of our time. Tel. 888-364-5433 website: www.lutheransforlife.org 

Guest Column

A Liberal's Testimony

By Rev. Robert J King

Before I knew I was a Christian, I knew I was a Democrat. From my father I learned, rather early in life, to favor governmental assistance for the poor, oppose institutional prejudice, and take the "pro-choice" position in matters of personal morality. Like many good Americans, I became "personally opposed" to abortion, but still favored a woman's "right to choose."

All of this changed, however.. one afternoon during college when a pro-life pamphlet was slid underneath my dorm room door. Contrary to much of the pro-abortion rhetoric I had heard during the Reagan years of the 1980's, this small pamphlet argued simply that abortion was directly linked to the destructive, consumeristic practices of America. Just as Americans were destroying the environment through unbridled consumerism, so also was America destroying innocent lives, all in the name of "convenience."

'My God," I thought to myself, "what have I been supporting? If abortion is truly wrong for me, then I must also logically hold that abortion is wrong in itself." By being pro-choice, I have been supporting a consumer-driven world of choice above all else that has resulted in the deaths of millions of unborn infants, many of whom have died through the use of abortion as a means of birth control.

Now, many years later, the "abortion pill" has recently been approved by the FDA. The consumer-driven cult of convenience has placed death in a bottle. As concerned Christians, whether liberal or conservative on other issues, how are we to respond to this new phase within the abortion issue?

First, given the drift of the American judicial system toward what many are beginning to call "a judicial usurpation" of genuinely democratic process (Richard John Neuhaus and others), it is not clear at this point if Christians should or even can attempt to repeal abortion laws through democratic means. Given twenty-eight years of increasingly entrenched debate following Roe v. Wade,the hope of addressing the abortion issue in a decisive way through governmental action looks dim indeed.

Second because so many abortions are performed as a means of birth control, churches should do everything in their power to offer not only viable, but more attractive options than abortion to women who are considering it. For a fast-food society nurtured on convenience above all else, such works of mercy are sorely needed. As Mother Teresa once offered, "I am willing to accept any child who would be aborted." Any genuinely Christian church should be willing to do the same.

Finally, because many faithful Americans, like myself, have often inadvertently supported what Pope John Paul II calls the "Culture of Death" of abortion and capital punishment, more education is needed concerning these issues. Understanding abortion as being linked to and symptomatic of our nation's rapacious, consumeristic, economic practices is one good place to start. Through such proactive education, even cradle liberals, like myself for years, can have their minds changed.

Rev. King is an elder in the Western North Carolina Conference ofThe United Methodist Church and a Ph.D. student in Moral Theology at the University of Notre Dame.

Help not just in the bulletin, but on the bulletin!

By Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director, Priests for Life

The Church of Jesus Christ does not simply stand up and say, "Abortion is wrong, don't do it." Like her Lord, the Church does more: she reaches out the hand of compassion and gives to God's people the strength to do what is right. That is why the pro-life movement consists predominantly of efforts to provide alternatives to abortion.

Abortions can be stopped and lives can be saved long before laws are changed. The children scheduled to die tomorrow don't have time for legislators to pass laws to protect them. This is one of the ways in which the pro-life cause reveals itself to be much more than a "political" issue. It is an emergency to which the People of God need to respond here and now, to save the lives of the most defenseless among us.

There is a simple way we can activate our congregations to respond: Spread the phone numbers at which people can find alternatives to abortion.

And one of the most effective ways to spread them is not only to put them in the Church bulletin but to put them on the Church bulletin, in other words, right there on the front cover along with the other standard phone numbers that we always want to make known to our people. After all, the need for abortion alternatives is not seasonal or occasional, and, as a matter of life and death, certainly has priority importance over other numbers.

Now which numbers do we use? Certainly, local numbers of which the pastor may be aware, and through which people can contact resources in their own communities. There are also a number of national hotlines that can connect people to help in any part of the country. Some examples of these are the National Life Center's hotline, 800-848-LOVE, or America's Crisis Pregnancy Helpline 800-67-BABY-6.

Whatever the number that is used, the point is this: putting it on the cover of the Church bulletin is simple and inexpensive, and does not require time, because once it is on the template, it is printed again week after week. Moreover, this gives our people an ever present tool by which they can reach out to those who might abort, and put them in touch with medical, financial, psychological, legal, and other types of help. People can take these numbers from the bulletin and keep them in their wallet, on their refrigerator, by their phone, and spread them through the community in countless other ways. Finally, this practice shows the world the true face of the pro-life movement and the Church: not an effort to oppress women, but to intervene when they think there is no choice but to do what is wrong, and to give them the power to do what is right. And that is real freedom.

Rev. Frank Pavone to Be Honored at 2001 Proudly Pro-Life Dinner

Reverend Frank Pavone, Founder and Director of Priests for Life and a board member of the National Pro-Life Religious Council, will be one of two honorees at the 2001 Proudly Pro-Life Dinner sponsored by the National Right to Life Committee. Each year National Right to Life Committee recognizes one or more individuals who have been outstanding leaders in the pro-life movement.

A priest of the Archdiocese of New York, Fr. Pavone's involvement in the pro-life movement spans more than 25 years. With the late Cardinal O'Connor's support and encouragement, Fr. Pavone began building Priests for Life (PFL) in 1993.

Today, under his energetic leadership, Priests for Life has 25 full time employees and has helped spread the message of the culture of life around the world.

In addition Fr. Pavone has been very active in the National Pro-Life Religious Council which is made up of pro-life leaders from a variety of different denominations.

Fr. Pavone's persuasive and articulate comments and articles have appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Times as well as on CNN, EWTN, The Odyssey Network, Catholic Family Radio, Vatican Radio, and many other media outlets around the world.

PFL's powerful pro-life witness has energized many diocesan and parish clergy, laity and committees to bring the culture of life to the center of local churches' activities.

The second recipient of the Proudly Pro-Life Award this year will be Mr. Lawrence Garvey of New Orleans. Mr. Garvey has been extremely helpful and supportive of programs and activities of National Right to Life and other pro-life organizations for more than two decades. He has been recognized for his pro-life work by many organizations including the Archdiocese of New Orleans and New Orleans Right to Life.

A successful businessman, Mr. Garvey was a founding partner of Radiofone, Inc. He also served as president of the Telocator Network of America which helped spawn the cellular telephone industry.

Presbyterians To Provide Resources for End-Of Life Care

By Rev. Ben Sheldon

Many local churches and their pastors may be failing to confront the increasingly important and significant issues of euthanasia and other end-of-life questions because of the lack of good resource materials. Acknowledging the importance of this challenge, Mrs. Terry Schlossberg, Executive Director of Presbyterians Prolife (PPL), recently announced that PPL will be putting more stress on these matters in this next year.

Developing resources that can be used on the local level is one of PPL's priorities. A consultation on end-of-life issues was held n Baltimore in October of 2000, and the papers and findings that emerged from that symposium may form the basis of future materials that PPL will be producing.

Care and counseling for persons facing terminal illness and imminent death traditionally has been something that pastors have supplied. But in recent years, with the growing emphasis in the media on euthanasia and assisted suicide, pastors and local churches are finding themselves hard-pressed to provide adequate counseling and care. Resources and materials to aid them in this are needed. Presbyterians Prolife wants to supply Christ-centered and Biblical materials that can assist them in guiding their parishioners to make godly and right choices and decisions that will reflect the fundamental value and dignity of all human life.

Presbyterians Prolife recognizes that end-of-life concerns, along with concern for the preborn and disadvantaged already-born, are equally important pro-life matters. Addressing all the issues related to the dignity and value of all God's created human life from a thoroughly Biblical perspective is PPL's unique role in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

For more information about this work, you are invited to write to PPL, PO Box 11130, Burke, VA 22009.

I'm a Miracle, Not a Mistake!

Excerpt from sermon given Jan. 22, 2001 at annual United Methodist Lifewatch Worship Service by Rev. Harold D. Lewis Sr., Pastor

Lincoln Park United Methodist Church,

Jeremiah 1:5 says: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before were born I consecrated you... " Now this text should teach and tell all of us that every baby is handcrafted by God Himself. Every baby has been consecrated and set aside for a divine purpose in the providential will of God. Every baby is a masterful miracle made in Heaven. Every baby has a unique plan on this planet

As we look at the text for our topic today, we discover that the text is tailored to teach us that unborn babies are not only human but also divinely given. Brothers and sisters, we have a revelation for you. Babies do not come from us; they come through us. Babies are not mistakes; they are miracles. According to God, the baby is divinely designed and cosmically created long before she is in the womb. The womb is just the area where God announces His creation

When an abortion is performed, which ends a pregnancy by destroying and removing a developing child, we are saying by way of that act: return to sender! Return to sender, as if the baby is an unwanted or misdirected package. Return to sender, as if the baby was ordered from some catalog. Return to sender, as if the baby is a piece of merchandise that can be canceled.

A Springtime of the Spirit

By Rev. John B. Brown, Jr., United Church of Christ

The 20th century has been in many ways a time of moral confusion. For many, freedom has been separated from responsibility, and truth from morality. Sexuality has been separated from marriage and commitment, and a concern for human rights has been separated from what is truly right. Religion, though given a certain respect, has in many ways been marginalized. There are those who would be pleased to force the churches completely out of the public square.

The results have been horrendous. For ideas always have consequences and when ideas are evil the consequences are inevitably destructive. In the 20th century we have been introduced to total war, genocide, euthanasia, international terrorism and mass abortion. Science and technology have done much to make life healthier and easier for millions, for which any thinking person is thankful. But it has not come without cost. The fruits of science when unfettered by a sound moral perspective have too often contributed to techniques and weapons of mass destruction. The losses, when we take abortion properly into account, are in the hundreds of millions.

In the face of the tempests and pressures of the modem world, we must as Christians stand firm upon the truth claims of our faith. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God...and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." (John 1: 1-2,14) This Word, whose name is Jesus Christ, is the truth that provides the basis for our freedom and dignity as human beings: male and female, young and old, black and white, disabled and able-bodied, born and unborn. It should be our prayer that every Christian, that every branch of the Christian faith, will speak forth this truth for the sake of life, for the sake of the world.

It may be that the Almighty will use the confusion and evil of our time to remind us that we cannot effectively respond to the great problems of the new millennium alone, but that we must work together in genuine unity. It is true that there are denominational differences among Christians, and we cannot overlook them. But we do well to remember that these differences are minimal compared to those between the Church and the world. To speak and to live the truth, to pray unceasingly for the unity of Christians is the privilege and responsibility of every follower of Christ. Only thus can we contribute effectively to building a culture of life.

Are You Ready to Help?

By Georgette Forney, Executive Director of the National Organization of Episcopalians for Life (NOEL)

The other day there was a meek knock on my office door. It was Julie, a young, pretty, shy 20 year-old who works at our church. Her face was red and she was obviously very nervous. She cautiously peeked in and asked if I had a minute to talk.

I invited her to sit down, and said "I always have time to talk!"

She burst out, "I had an abortion when I was sixteen and now I'm so afraid I won't be able to have children later in life! God must hate me."

I knew the depth of her fear; it's common in post-abortive women. We feel God's wrath will make itself apparent in the future.

She asked for help dealing with this dread she lived in and wanted to know if I could help her. Yes, I replied.

My question is this: if a women or man came to you and asked you for help dealing with the pain of their abortion, what would you say?

Last year more than 65 men and women contacted me on-line to ask for help. And I believe there will be even more this year. As time goes on, I sense more and more people involved in abortions will begin to come forward seeking help.

Will you or your church be ready to help? And if you thought that reaching out to help post-abortive men and women could lower the number of abortions in this country would you reach out?

I firmly believe one strategy to end abortion that hasn't been discussed enough is the idea of offering help to those who suffer after an abortion, thereby freeing them to finally say with first hand knowledge: "Abortion hurts everyone involved." For 18 years I remained silent on the issue, but now I am able to say, "Abortion is an awful solution to an unplanned pregnancy."

Maybe if you thought that reaching out to help those hurting from abortion would provide the opportunity to share the forgiving power of the Gospel, then you'd think about speaking out or reaching out.

Post abortion pain keeps us from a relationship with God. We fear His judgement, but we desperately want to be forgiven by Him and be able to forgive ourselves.

The Episcopal Church of the United States (ECUSA) last summer at the triennial General Convention passed a resolution calling for "Ministry to Men and Women Suffering Post-Abortive Stress," because NOEL helped them understand the negative impact abortion has on our spiritual life. Churches around the country are starting to develop ministries and outreach for those suffering in silence. Memorial services, bible studies and one-on-one counseling are beginning to happen.

NOEL has produced two brochures to deal with post-abortion, one for lay people that provides educational information about PAS and a second for clergy and counselors to help guide them through pastoral ministry. Please order the above brochures from NOEL and be prepared when someone comes knocking. (800-707-NOEL or NOELife@aol.com)

Abortion Ministry Resources

  • American Victims of Abortion
    202-626-8800 ext. 132
  • Women and Children First
  • Men's Abortion Recovery
    (610) 384-3210
  • Project Rachel 
  • Care Net
    109 Carpenter Drive, Suite 100 Sterling, VA 20164
    (703) 478-5661 (800) 712-HELP
  • Fathers & Brothers
    (303) 494-3282
  • Elliot Institute
    P. O.Box 7348 Springfield, IL 62791 (217) 525-8202
  • Pregnancy Centers Online www.pregnancycenters.org 
  • National Memorial for the Unborn
    6230 Vance Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421

Thinking Theologically About Abortion

Edited by Paul T. Stallsworth

An ecumenical conference for pastors, entitled "Building a Ministry for Life, " sponsored by the National Pro-Life Religious Council, in the fallof 1998, has resulted in this collection of reflections on the spiritual crisis that abortion is for the churches. The four presentations represented here are by the following religious leaders:

  • Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Achtemeier, Presbyterian theologian;
  • Dr. Carl E. Braaten, Executive Director of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology
  • Rev. Leonard Mein, Senior Pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, York, PA
  • Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, Presidentof the Institute on Religion in Public Life

Order your copy now!

Click here for order form.

Building a Pro-Life Group Within Your Church

Manual for Church Pro-Life Work Now Available

The practical details needed to organize a pro-life group in your parish or church are spelled out in this clear attractive booklet.

Your church is key in the battle to counteract the pro-death forces at work in our society. Are the people in your church informed, engaged, active in this struggle? What can your church do and what can it not do? What kinds of activities work well? How should you expand on what you do now?

Click here for order form.

Let's Work Together!

Join with other Christian Pro-life Leaders to help restore legal protection to the unborn child.

Become a Member of the National Pro-Life Religious Council

The National Pro-Life Religious Council, Inc, (NPRC) is a Christian pro-life 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 working within pro-life groups associated with the following denominations/churches:

  • Conservative Congregational
  • Episcopalian
  • Evangelical
  • Lutheran
  • Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
  • Presbyterian
  • Roman Catholic
  • Southern Baptist
  • United Church of Christ
  • United Methodist

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

Click here for membership application.

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