By Roger Drinnon and Katie Schuermann
Despite freezing temps, a snowstorm and counter-protestors, the Synod was not only well-represented at the Jan. 22 March for Life in Washington, D.C., but LCMS Lutherans even led at the very front, holding the March for Life’s banner this year.
They joined tens of thousands of pro-life supporters who participated in the D.C. march, signaling a significantly re-energized pro-life movement going into 2016. LCMS participants leading with the March for Life banner included students from Concordia University Chicago, Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) and Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, as well as some LCMS pastors and congregation members.
“Marching alongside my fellow Lutherans, it is a bittersweet joy to celebrate the sanctity of life with hymns while simultaneously mourning and calling attention to the culture of death that plagues our country,” said Katie Winterstein, a CUW alumnus who joined the march for the first time this year. “In a time where individuals holding a pro-life stance are represented by the media as a minority, it is especially heartening to join tens of thousands of other people who recognize the humanity of the unborn and faithfully serve their country in this vocation of peaceful protest and raising awareness.”
As the march began, LCMS participants sang hymns, including “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” and “The Church’s One Foundation.” They continued singing hymns throughout the event.
“LCMS-ers loved braving the blizzard, because snow, cold and high winds aren’t mighty enough to bring us to silence on this issue,” said Stephanie Neugebauer, director of LCMS Life and Health Ministries. “Abortion must be ended, rain or shine.”
This year’s march marked the 43rd anniversary of the controversial Roe v. Wade case and the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. Throughout the march, pro-abortion counter-protestors flanked the route, and some took to social media to portray the killing of babies in the womb as an issue of women’s healthcare access.
“It is our duty to speak for the voiceless and defend the defenseless. The two kingdoms doctrine does not absolve us of acting in the civil realm, but rather shows us the proper form for action in seeking justice for our neighbors,” said the Rev. Christopher Esget, senior pastor of Immanuel Evangelical-Lutheran Church, Alexandria, Va., LCMS sixth vice-president and member of the Synod’s Sanctity of Life Committee. “As citizens, we seek justice before the state for those being slaughtered, dismembered and sold for parts. As Christians, we also proclaim forgiveness and resurrection in Christ Jesus. It is imperative that Lutherans not only be involved, but become leaders in the pro-life movement.”
Neugebauer said the event is more than a platform to speak out against abortion. She said the march also represents standing up for life at all stages and standing up for all people hurt by abortion.
“Silence often indicates approval or, at best, complacency. In this instance, marching is having a voice – a very strong, unified voice,” said Neugebauer. “Even so, it is not merely a way of speaking against abortion, but a way of speaking for life. The men, women and children who are affected by abortion will only continue to suffer until enough people brave the adversities that are working against us.”
Neugebauer said she looks forward to next year’s life march as well as to the next LCMS Life Conference that is scheduled for Jan. 27-29, 2017. These conferences also are held in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with marches there and elsewhere that mark the anniversary of the contentious Roe v. Wade decision. She added that as enthusiasm for the pro-life movement continues to grow, next year’s conference will focus on the freedom to celebrate life in all its stages and circumstances.
“This is especially important as California recently joined four other states — Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana — in legalizing assisted suicides, and several other states are mulling over similar legislation,” said Neugebauer. “We as Christians advocate for the protection of human life at all stages and look for ways to serve our neighbor in every bodily need, whether it is protecting the embryo or fetus yet in the womb or caring for the sick and infirmed during their dying days.”
Read a related story, “Lutherans among those defending life in marches.”View Washington march photo gallery View San Francisco march photo gallery
Roger Drinnon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications. Katie Schuermann (email@example.com) is an author, musician and wife of the Rev. Michael Schuermann, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Sherman, Ill.
Posted Jan. 29, 2016 / Updated Feb. 8 and Feb. 12, 2016