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Uniting for Life

Winter, 1997


Presbyterians 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 to abortion.

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 Abortion Debate

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.

Pro-Life Maintains Majority in House and Gains Seats in Senate Despite Clinton Victory

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/

E-mail: lfldjj@juno.com

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 Within UCC

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 (UFL).

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 of people."

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.

National Pro-Life 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 issues.

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

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.

Home. Questions and answers. Newsletters. Audio clips. Press releases. Member organizations. Join us. Contact us.

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Contact us.