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Uniting for Life

Winter, 2000


Preparing for a Pro-Life Millennium

By Rev. David L. Adams, NPRC President

In this year 2000, the second millennium since the birth of Jesus Christ is completed. We know that a fifth-century monk named Dionysius Exiguus missed the mark in establishing the calendar we use so that the third millennium and the 21st century should actually have begun a couple of years ago. Nevertheless, the change on the calendar provides a convenient milestone at which we can pause to evaluate how far the pro-life movement has come and where it needs to go in the future.

The first thing we need to recognize is that the pro-life movement is a very young thing. This may come as a surprise to some. I was recently at a pro-life gathering where one of the workshop speakers expressed some frustration at the pace of progress and how long it was taking to establish legal protections for the unborn. Like so many in the pro-life movement, the speaker was reflecting the "burnout" that most activists experience after fighting the good fight for such a long time.

And that's the problem.

You see, we have not really been at this all that long. Consider that ours is the first generation of the Christian era that has seen the technical ability to divorce sexual activity from procreation proliferated so widely, the open promotion of legalized abortion-on-demand and of physician-assisted suicide, and the manipulation of the human genetic code to produce a better human being become more than a mad scientist's pipe dream. Now, as we face the new century and new millennium, it its time for us to recognize that we are only at the start of the pro-life movement.

However many battles we win or lose in Congress and in the courts, the war for a pro-life society will continue until Christ returns. It is literally a life-and-death war between God, the creator and sustainer of life, and the devil, the hater of God and the bringer of death.

For the Church, the pro-life movement is not a single fight over abortion, euthanasia or eugenics. Indeed, it is not a fight at all; it is a confession of faith. By grace we stand with the Creator of life rather than the bringer of death. By grace we shall continue to stand and confess the message of the Creator of life no matter how many battles we win or lose, for God has not called us to win battles, but to be witnesses of the truth and confessors of the Gospel.

Christians did not begin to be pro-life on the day that the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade. God's message has always been the message of life, and God's people have always proclaimed it. Likewise, none of today's challenges to life are going to go away. Some will rise and fall while others transform over the years as advances in technology expand the horizons of the possible, but the fundamental issue of how society values human life is here to stay, from now until Christ's second advent.

Recognizing that the pro-life movement is one facet of the spiritual war should help us to understand that our race is a relay and not a sprint, or even a marathon. While continuing to run our race, we must mature in the way we think about our task. This means integrating the message of life into all that the church does and says, so that we can not only be a witness in our generation but just as importantly prepare the next generation of the faithful to face the challenges to life in the next millennium and beyond.

Memorial for the Pre-born

By Rev. Rob Schenck, National Clergy Council

Members of the NPRC Board, including Rev. Benjamin Sheldon, Fr. Frank Pavone, and Georgette Forney will be participating in the sixth annual National Memorial for the Pre-born and their Mothers and Fathers. This will be held on Capitol Hill on Monday, January 24, 2000, 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM, in the prestigious U.S. Senate Hart Building, Room 216.

This moving two-hour liturgy of remembrance draws clergy and laity from all Christian traditions including, Evangelical, Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant. The service is open to the public.

The former Jane Roe, Norma McCorvey and several members of the House and Senate will also participate. Music will be provided by the Music Department of the Christian Assembly, a large Charismatic Evangelical church from Columbus, Ohio.

The National Memorial for the Pre-born and their Mothers and Fathers was founded in 1995 by Evangelical ministers and twin brothers, the Reverends Paul and Rob Schenck. It is sponsored by the National Clergy Council, an association of ordained individuals whose common mission is to bring historic Christian moral instruction to bear on the hearts and minds of those in elected and appointed offices.

For information, directions or group reservations please call 703-257-5593.

Jesus Loves Children

Lutherans for Life Witness to the Sanctity of Human Life
By Rev. Dr. James Lamb, Executive Director of Lutherans for Life

Under God's grace, National Lutherans for Life (LFL), a pan-Lutheran organization, continues to carry out its mission to "witness to the sanctity of human life through education based on the Word of God." They strive to produce Bible-based and Christ-centered educational materials on all the life issues for all ages.

The theme LFL will be highlighting in 2000 is "Jesus Loves Children" based on Mark 10:13-16, where Jesus takes the children in His arms, puts His hands on them, and blesses them. A bulletin insert carrying this theme is a painting of Jesus, with nail scarred hands, holding a little baby close to His face. This insert is available for Life Sunday observances. Also available are worship services, sermons, a children's bulletin insert, music, and more. You can receive a free sample pack by calling 888-364-LIFE.

Of particular note this past year is the positive reception of LFL's Campus Life Project. LFL brings various speakers onto a college campus over a period of two or three days in an effort to interact with the students in a variety of settings. This has proved to be a very enlightening couple of days, not just for the students, but for the LFL speakers as well.

One of the goals is for LFL to leave in its wake a core group of students to continue to promote pro-life activities on campus. This has happened on several campuses and there was a very good showing of college students at LFL's National Convention in November. Everyone should take heart in the fact that there are some very fine and dedicated pro-life young people on college campuses throughout this country.

The Lutherans for Life website (www.lutheransforlife.org) is now the largest religious pro-life site on the Net. Most of LFL's educational materials and publications are there to read and use. The site also provides an abundance of links to other helpful sites.

Lutherans for Life pledges to continue to strive to do their part in promoting the sanctity of human life and is thankful for all the other pro-life groups that God is using to bring about His victory FOR LIFE.

Miracles in United Methodism

By Rev. Paul T. Stallsworth

It is a miracle, an actual miracle, that the witness for life is alive and well in the United Methodist Church. After all, many forces and voices are presently arrayed against the faithful witness for life.

First of all, bureaucratic United Methodists are, for the most part, abortion advocates. Two agencies of the denomination, the General Board of Church and Society, and the Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries, are actually affiliated with the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) and anchor the denomination on the side of abortion advocacy. RCRC, based in Washington, DC, is a political lobby for legalized abortion. Since the United Methodist General Conference, which convenes every four years, has refused to withdraw these agencies from RCRC, the official structures of the United Methodist Church are linked to a pro-abortion ideology.

Not surprisingly, these structures and their leaders set throughout the entire denomination an ethos favoring legalized abortion. Among United Methodism's leadership types and in its bureaucratic quarters, it is considered cool to defend legalized abortion. Pro-life is not.

Then there is fence-sitting United Methodism. This is the group that cries "Peace! when there is no peace. It wants issues related to abortion set aside because they are too "divisive." Most bishops, many pastors, and many lay leaders just say "No thanks" to any discussion of abortion. Again, they believe the issue to be church dividing, and therefore they do their best to avoid it. So they silence, or turn away from a witness for life.

Finally, there are a few pro-life advocates who do not know the best way to approach others about the life and abortion issues. As a result, they sometimes turn off the very people they are trying to convince.

All these approaches are failing to provide a consistent witness to the Gospel of Life. However, they have not silenced it. In the conferences and congregations of United Methodism, a pro-life witness continues to be offered here and there. This is a miracle, a gift of the Holy Spirit.

In May of 2000, the General Conference of the United Methodist Church will convene in Cleveland, Ohio. The signal issue of the conference promises to be homosexuality. Therefore, in preparation for the conference, many delegates were elected because they stand with traditional Christian teaching on homosexual conduct. It is safe to say that many of these delegates, who were elected on the basis of their opposition to United Methodism legitimizing homosexual activity, will also be pro-life. Therefore, it might well be that General Conference 2000 will take a stride or two in the pro-life direction. For example, the conference may declare the United Methodist Church opposed to the legality of partial-birth abortion. That, too would be a miracle.

[Rev. Stallsworth is pastor of Rose Hill United Methodist Church in Rose Hill, North Carolina. He is also the editor of Lifewatch, a quarterly newsletter which concerns United Methodism, life, and abortion.]

Presbyterians' Millennium Emphasis to be "The Year of the Child"

By Rev. Ben Sheldon, NPRC Executive Director

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is planning to make "The Year of the Child" the major emphasis in the new year 2000, using the theme: Children: God's Gift to the World: Christ's Call to the Church. Several evangelical and pro-life groups within that denomination have called on the entire church "to resist all teaching and practices that place children in jeopardy." In a news release dated December 1, they have affirmed again their unanimous protest of "both the practice and the approval of the killing of vulnerable and defenseless children as a clear violation of Jesus' teaching."

The statement, issued by Presbyterians Pro-Life, the Presbyterian Renewal Network, the Presbyterian Coalition, and Voices of Orthodox (Presbyterian) Women, called special attention to the views of Dr. Peter Singer, recently appointed to an ethics chair at Princeton University. [Dr. Singer is a bioethicist who advocates killing certain disabled babies within the first months of their lives.] Singer's views lend credence to the legal practice of abortion, which now extends to include infanticide of babies in the process of being born [partial-birth abortions]. The Presbyterian Church (USA) in 1997 expressed its "grave moral concern" regarding the practice of partial-birth abortion which continues largely unabated in our country.

The statement further says, "We affirm that the protection of the lives of children is a primary concern that we raise up as we approach the Year of the Child. We affirm that Christian faith calls all of us in the Church of Jesus Christ to respond to the crisis of infanticide, including partial-birth abortions, in our country by providing support and care as well as tangible help.

Sadly, several other entities within the Presbyterian Church (USA) have declined to sign on to this affirmation.

For further information, call Mrs. Terry Schlossberg of Presbyterians Pro-Life at 703-569-9474.

The Perfect Balance

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

One of the common concerns clergy have in regard to speaking about abortion is that they don't want to hurt the women in the congregation who have had abortions. They feel that the presence of such women is a reason to be silent about it.

Just the opposite is true, however. Experts in post-abortion syndrome tell us that the first step toward healing is to break out of denial, and silence does not help to do that. Silence motivated by the best of intentions, moreover, does not interpret itself. The woman suffering from abortion may think we are silent because we do not know her pain, do not care, or have no hope to offer. In truth, however, we speak because we do know, do care, and do offer hope.

There are two things that the post-abortive woman does not need to hear. One is: "It's no big deal." In reality, she knows abortion is a big deal and experiences a natural grief for her child who has been killed. Yet many in society make her feel silly for feeling sad. Her grief, therefore, cannot be adequately expressed and processed. The process is short-circuited. Moreover, she may well be quite angry with those whose message about "no big deal" got her into the mess of abortion in the first place. To hear that message again, and to be given more excuses, is the last thing she needs. This is one reason why church bodies that take a "pro-choice" position become ill-equipped to deal with those who suffer from an abortion.

The second thing the post-abortive woman does not need is someone who will condemn her and drive her deeper into the despair which the act of abortion is all too capable of generating on its own.

Our message, the message of the Christian Church and of the pro-life movement, holds exactly the right balance. Our clear identification of abortion as an evil which is never morally licit corresponds with the deepest truth she is hearing in her mind and heart. It cuts through the rhetoric, empty excuses and terrible pressures others have heaped upon her. It breaks through denial and assures her she has a reason for her grief.

Then at the same time and in the same breath, we give the message of hope. The doors of the Church are open. We are not here to reject or condemn, but to welcome back to the peace and mercy of Christ whoever has been involved in abortion. I even know of someone who had 24 abortions. Even she can be forgiven. We long to welcome her back. So does God.

The process of healing is delicate and long. Sometimes it begins with pain. The availability of compassionate post-abortion counselors in the parish goes a long way. Clergy, moreover, should see that truth and compassion are not at odds with one another. To withhold the truth is to lack compassion because compassion seeks to meet the needs of the other, and we have a need for truth. At the same time, to lack compassion is to withhold an aspect of the truth of the Gospel and the Church. In God, truth and compassion are ultimately one, for He Himself is both.

I always recall the words of the post-abortive woman who, after a pro-life homily I gave, said to me, "Father, I have pain when I hear about abortion...but please, please keep preaching about it, because it consoles me greatly to know that through that homily, someone could be spared the whole journey of grief I have had to go through."

Indeed, let us speak.

Harvesting Baby Body Parts in Abortion Clinics: Can We Accept this Barbaric Activity?

By Georgette Forney, Executive Director

The National Organization of Episcopalians for Life

In mid May I sat in my family room watching the Life Dynamics video that featured "Kelly" discussing her work as a technician in an abortion clinic harvesting baby body parts. I was appalled. In my mind, I imagined my own aborted child experiencing Kelly's working hands. As I turned off the tape I thought this information would surely persuade people that abortion is wrong.

However, another part of my mind felt the idea of harvesting body parts was so gruesome it couldn't be true. I made a few calls to pro-life associates asking them if they knew anything about baby body part harvesting. A few acknowledged hearing about it a few years earlier but they made comments like, "We tried to make people aware of it, but they don't want to hear about it."

I could understand people's desire to ignore this issue. After hearing their comments, I also chose to put the whole issue out of my mind, but I couldn't, I had to deal with my own sense of despair over the truth and implications of what is happening to us as a country morally and ethically.

When we as a nation can accept this barbaric activity in the name of medical advancement, where are we heading? The slippery slope feels more like a well-greased slide.

As NOEL's executive director, I questioned what issues NOEL should address and what issues NOEL should ignore. What role should the church play in addressing some of these issues? How does God feel about biotechnology playing creator? Deuteronomy, 2 Kings, Leviticus, Jeremiah and Lamentations warn of women eating the flesh of their children. Has abortion opened the door to encouraging women to turn their unwanted pregnancy into food for the research giant in the name of medical advancement?

I believe despair or putting our heads in the sand over these issues is a natural response but not the right response. Scripture tells us God created life, and it is sacred to Him. Is my view of life the same as God's? If my world view is that life is sacred, then I must address all issues that attack life.

When I became NOEL's executive director, I thought my pro-life job was to be against abortion; but I now realize being pro-life includes addressing from many angles the assaults upon life that our culture is making. The pro-life battle is a long-term battle; it's about more than stopping abortions. It now must address the value our culture places on life from conception to death.

How to Work with Your Pastor

Practical strategies for lay people to help their pastor provide pro-life leadership to the church have been developed by members of the National Pro-Life Religious Council. This guide comprises a comprehensive list of suggestions based on experiences of pastors, pastors' wives, and active church leaders.

If you would like to obtain a copy, please contact the NPRC.

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 working within pro-life groups associated with the following dnominations/churches: Conservative Congregational, Episcopalian, Evangelical, Lutheran, Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Southern Baptist, United Church of Christ, and United Methodist.

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

Click here for membership application.

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