LCMS Lutherans join hundreds of thousands to march for life

Lutherans carry “Eyes of Life” signs and banners in the 2017 March for Life in Washington, D.C. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

By Kevin Armbrust

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The 2017 March for Life on Jan. 27 drew hundreds of thousands of people — including hundreds of LCMS Christians — to the nation’s capital.

The march has taken place each January since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.

Waiting for their opportunity to join this year’s march, the Synod contingent began to sing hymns and canticles from the Church’s liturgy.

“We were one of the groups who were singing. … We were a witness to the other pro-life groups,” said Taylor Schmidt, a member of Mount Calvary Lutheran Church, Excelsior Springs, Mo.

In the cacophony of voices, the LCMS marchers sang in four-part harmony. Before, during and after the March for Life, the voices of the LCMS sang the praises of Him who is Life.

Vice-President Mike Pence spoke at the pre-march rally near the Washington Monument. Pence endorsed a pro-life agenda and promised that he is working toward the revocation of Roe v. Wade.

LCMS marchers in green caps gather in front of the U.S. Supreme Court following the 2017 March for Life Jan. 27 in Washington, D.C. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

He is the first sitting vice-president to personally address a March for Life and the highest-ranking official to ever attend the march. Kellyanne Conway, senior counselor to President Donald Trump, was among other speakers.

Pence’s presence meant heightened security at the rally. Airport-style security measures resulted in lines hundreds of people long waiting to enter the rally grounds, with the majority of attendees standing outside the secure area. There, they listened to the speeches over loud speakers.

The March for Life drew so many participants that Constitution Avenue was full of marchers for over an hour before the official march started.

Among hundreds of thousands of marchers, members of LCMS congregations throughout the nation stood out. Wearing lime-green hats and carrying large signs with pictures of eyes or “,” they marched for life — all life.

“It surprised me … at a national event — one that isn’t Lutheran — to see so many Lutherans there,” said Grace Woelmer, president of Bulldogs for Life at Concordia University, Nebraska, Seward, Neb.

The LCMS contingent reflected the overall demographic of the march. Especially notable was the presence of many college and high school students.

“We are all so glad you are here,” said LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison to a group of LCMS college students during the march. “We are encouraged by your presence. You are important to us and we love you.”

The young — some so young they could not walk — the old, and all between, marched together up Constitution Avenue to the Supreme Court. Arms carried signs. Voices prayed, sang and chanted. All were there to speak for life.

For a video about the LCMS presence at the March for Life, click here.

“It was uplifting to march with fellow brothers and sisters of the LCMS as we raised our voices for those who cannot speak for themselves,” noted the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission.

The March ended at the steps of the Supreme Court, where Harrison addressed the LCMS group gathered to sing and to pray.

“Forty-four years ago, the American conscience died,” Harrison said. “We shall weep before the tomb of the dead conscience of America. We shall weep. We shall praise the Lord. We shall care for the needy. We shall reach out to the least and the lost nonetheless, until that conscience rises from the grave. God grant it. Amen.”

Phillip Magness, cantor at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Broken Arrow, Okla., led singing of the Lord’s Prayer. And Harrison sent the LCMS contingent on their way with the Benediction. 

“The overall vibe of the march was so positive and unifying,” said Abby Whitener, of Concordia University, Nebraska. She continued, “Being at the march was very uplifting and gave me hope that abortion someday can be banned, that women can receive the true health care they deserve, and that all people, regardless of age, are respected and honored.”

Read a related story, “ ‘Life 360°’ conference addresses current life issues.”

Dr. Kevin Armbrust ( is manager of Editorial Services with LCMS Communications.

Posted February 7, 2017 / Updated February 23, 2017

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