By Sarah Schafer
January 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion for any reason. Since the 1973 decision, more than 53 million children have been aborted in the United States.
To mark the tragic milestone, LCMS Life Ministries has organized the first-ever Life Conference set for Jan. 25-26 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City Hotel in Arlington, Va. (Washington, D.C., area). The conference coincides with the national “March for Life” at the National Mall in Washington on Jan. 25.
“Given the milestone anniversary of the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, it is particularly appropriate this year that pro-life Lutherans gather together to give witness to the tragedy we see around us caused by the disrespect for human life,” said Maggie Karner, director of LCMS Life and Health Ministries. “This conference is the perfect way to educate ourselves on the issues and prepare to boldly witness for life to the world in new and effective ways.”
The conference was mandated by the 2010 LCMS convention’s adoption of Resolution 6-02A, which stipulates that the conference should “provide encouragement to all LCMS members currently involved in elective and legislative processes and help them to be more vocal about pro-life issues, and that will equip and encourage more LCMS members to become involved in the governmental process of our country.”
“Every day the blood of ascending numbers of the innocent cries out the louder for justice and mercy. We shall never, can never, be silent,” said Synod President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison. “Join us for the LCMS Conference on Life and the march on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Raise a candle in the darkness, in the name of the One who came from the womb of Mary.”
The March for Life and the LCMS Life Conference kick off at 9 a.m. Jan. 25 with the annual pre-march Divine Service, for which Harrison will deliver the sermon.
However, in contrast to years past, this year’s pre-march LCMS worship service will be at the Crystal City Hyatt Regency Hotel to accommodate increased attendance. All marchers are invited. The group will then proceed to the National Mall in Washington to walk in the March for Life. (A full conference schedule including the workshops on day two is available at lcms.org/lifeconference.)
The conference theme, “Lutherans and Pro-Life Advocacy — Good and Acceptable Service,” is based on 1 Tim. 2:1-4. The conference aims to offer tips for individuals, groups and congregations on pro-life advocacy at the local, state and national levels and facilitate discussion of theological motivation, encouragement and practical suggestions for becoming more active in the public arena.
Speakers on the second day include Harrison; Dr. Robert Benne, author of the book Good and Bad Ways to Speak about Religion and Politics; Mollie Hemingway, Lutheran journalist and blogger; the Rev. Todd Wilkin, host of radio program “Issues, Etc.,” and other Lutherans involved in pro-life advocacy.
“This conference has something for everyone, whether they’ve been vocal on this issue for years, or are relatively new to the topic of pro-life advocacy,” said Karner. “Our workshops cover a broad spectrum of interest levels, for both young people and adults.”
A youth track with special breakout sessions for high-school and college students also will be offered on the second day, which Karner hopes harnesses the growing LCMS youth participation in life issues over the past few years.
“Even though our youth have grown up never knowing a world without abortion, they are increasingly pro-life, even more so than the previous generation,” she said.
LCMS Life Ministries worked alongside LCMS Youth Ministry and the Higher Things youth organization to collaborate on ideas to address the needs of young people attending the conference. That is just one example of LCMS Life Ministries’ partnership with a variety of Lutheran organizations to tap the resources of groups dedicated to serving specialized audiences.
Registration is $175 for adults and $100 for students and those in youth groups. To register by the Jan. 14 deadline, visit www.lcmslifeconference.org. A special lodging rate is available through Jan. 2 at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City for participants who mention the LCMS Life Conference when making reservations. For reservations, call 800-633-7313 or go to www.crystalcity.hyatt.com.
Those attending the national march but not participating in the LCMS Life Conference may contact the Lutherans For Life (LFL) chapter in northern Virginia, which is arranging free lodging for travelers in the homes of Washington-area Lutheran church members. For more information, contact Dennis DiMauro, leader of the LFL chapter, at email@example.com.
Sarah Schafer is a freelance writer based in Fairfax, Va., and a member of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Springfield, Va.
Posted Dec. 14, 2012