By Megan K. Mertz
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Forty-two years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade legalized abortion, pro-life supporters gathered in the nation’s capital (as they have each January since the decision) for the March for Life. At this year’s march, some 380 Lutherans — a record number — joined hundreds of thousands of other supporters here Jan. 22.
Wearing neon-green hats embroidered with “March for Life with the LCMS,” the LCMS group joined the sea of people who made the 1.4-mile march from the National Mall to the U.S. Supreme Court building. Along the way, those in the crowd waved signs, chanted pro-life slogans, played drums and sang hymns and other songs.
“This march is significant,” said LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, as he walked with the group. “It rallies those who are active in the pro-life movement, it educates people, it helps you be an American by standing up for what is right in the country and protesting something that is unjust and wrong — namely the killing of life in the womb — and it energizes folks to be pro-life in their daily lives.”
Harrison also said he was encouraged by the growing number of LCMS members coming each year, especially among the young people of the Synod. This year, 43 percent of those who attended both the march and the second LCMS Life Conference, held here Jan. 23-24, were in high school or college.
Prior to the march, LCMS participants attended an annual Divine Service, held at the Crystal City Hilton Hotel in Arlington, Va. The Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb, executive director of Lutherans For Life, preached on the parable of the Good Samaritan.
During his sermon, Lamb likened Christians to the man lying in the ditch. But through the compassion of Jesus Christ, he said, people in the ditch are enabled to rise out of the muck of life while also being compelled to go back into the ditch to help others.
“[Jesus] became incarnate as an embryo in a fallopian tube, thus giving value to all embryos for all time,” Lamb said.
“As we walk along and as we look at the unborn there in the ditch, vulnerable and helpless and destined for destruction, we’re compelled to speak and to defend and to help, not because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s the moral thing to do, but because it’s the Christ thing to do,” Lamb added.
After the service, the group — which included everyone from high-school students to retirees, from pastors to laypeople — traveled together to the March for Life. Among those marching with the LCMS contingent was Mary Reinke, a sophomore philosophy and business communication major from Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis., who came with a dozen classmates.
“There are so many people here. It’s really exciting,” she said, noting that this was her second year to attend the march.
“I come because there are a lot of my classmates who should be here but aren’t, because their parents didn’t understand that they were killing their children when they had an abortion. I want to tell people that even if they have had an abortion, there’s hope and there’s forgiveness for them,” she continued.
The Rev. Dr. Dean O. Wenthe, president of the Concordia University System (CUS), also attended the march “to make a statement that the CUS is totally pro-life.”
“Fundamental to our view of university education is the meaning of human life and what it is and where it is going. We want to recommend the truth that each of us is a creature of God from conception to natural death,” he said. “We’re delighted with the students who have come from our universities, and we’re eager to support them.”
Benjamin Wirtz also attended his second March for Life this year, saying he was impressed by “all the different types of groups and organizations” participating. Wirtz traveled to the march with his parents, the Rev. Nicholas and Patricia Wirtz of Faith Lutheran Church in Overgaard, Ariz.
“I think a lot of times people think it’s just Christian, conservative groups. But if you look around, there are secular pro-life groups as well,” he said. “It can kind of help to motivate people and get people to see strength in numbers.”
This year, the presidents of six LCMS districts came to the march and LCMS Life Conference that was in conjunction with the march. The presidents in attendance were: the Rev. Dr. John Denninger of the Southeastern District; the Rev. Donald Fondow of the Minnesota North District; the Rev. Terry Forke of the Montana District; the Rev. Dwayne Lueck of the North Wisconsin District; the Rev. Dr. David Stechholz of the English District; and the Rev. John Wille of the South Wisconsin District. (Click here to read a related story, “2015 LCMS Life Conference focuses on engaging the culture.”)
Denninger, who lives near Alexandria, Va., has attended the March for Life about 15 times over the years.
“It used to be we’d be a group of maybe 50 on a good year,” he said. “It was great to see this many green hats roaming around.”
To see more photos from the event, click here.
Megan K. Mertz (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a staff writer with LCMS Communications.
Posted Feb. 2, 2015