‘Life 360°’ conference addresses current life issues

Students from Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, worship Jan. 27 with other participants in the 2017 LCMS Life Conference in Arlington, Va. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

By Kevin Armbrust

ARLINGTON, Va. — Lutherans talked and prayed about life at every stage and from every vantage point Jan. 27-29 during the 2017 LCMS Life Conference, dubbed “Life 360°.” Speakers addressed both the legal realities and the spiritual truths surrounding life.

Divine Service, which began the first and last days of the conference, framed discussions pertaining to science, society, trends and policies. Participants also joined the Jan. 27 national March for Life in nearby Washington, D.C.

“The best thing about the conference was … the great sermons,” said Emma Ledford, a student at Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, Wis.

Plenary sessions included presentations on “It May Not Be Too Late: Abortion Pill Reversal,” led by Dr. George Delgado, medical director of Culture of Life Family Health Care in San Diego County, Calif.; “Life Together in the LCMS” by LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison; and “The War on Women” by Mollie Hemingway, senior editor at The Federalist, of Alexandria, Va.

“If we as the Church cease to confess [Jesus], we cease to have a reason to exist,” Harrison said. “That’s why it was wonderful yesterday publicly, before the world, with other Christians … [when] we confessed. We sang the liturgy together and we sang hymns together. We confessed Christ. When we fail to confess Christ, we fail to be who we are as Christians.” Harrison then noted that this confession results in love for the neighbor, adding, “Virtually every aspect of the faith leads us to compassion.”

Breakout sessions were offered throughout the conference. They addressed spiritual issues as well as medical and scientific topics, including “Prenatal Genetic Testing and Disability as a Life Issue”; “Walking Alongside Families Who Have Children with Disabilities”; “Reproductive Choices: Assisted Reproductive Technology”; “Why We Are Pro-Life: A Bible Study”; “… Still Here: Care for the Post-Abortive Woman”; and “End of Life Issues.”

“I know several young women who have had an abortion or don’t value their own life, and unfortunately these women are not Christians,” lamented Karle Embretson, from Concordia University, Nebraska, Seward, Neb., adding that she “had no idea how to go about even talking to them about it.

“So after attending the march and conference sessions,” Embretson continued, “I feel like I can now talk to and support young women I come in contact with in the future. They deserve to hear and be shown forgiveness just like anyone else.”

During dinner on Jan. 28, Timothy Goeglein, vice-president for External Relations at Focus on the Family in Washington, D.C., addressed the conference.

“We are entering the 500th year of one of the greatest events in world history, the Reformation,” he noted. “It was a re-formation rooted in one thing alone: conscience,” observed Goeglein. “Just like Martin Luther, there is a moment in every young person’s life when you have to be able to stand and be counted. Continue to have the courage of your convictions.”

After dinner, singer Erin Bode and her band performed a brief concert, opening with the song “Right from the Beginning,” which Bode wrote for “Eyes of Life.”

Eyes of Life is the Synod’s entry into the conversation about life from conception to natural death, seen through Christ. Stories are shared at eyesoflife.org from people who have eyes of life. Such stories also are shared via social media with the hash tag #eyesoflife.

Bode included several hymns during her set, inviting the audience to sing along. Conference attendees were more than happy to oblige.

For the Jan. 29 closing Divine Service, Lutherans For Life Executive Director Rev. Michael Salemink preached on Matt. 7:24-29.

“Rain is gonna get you regardless,” Salemink noted in his message for that service. “We find our refuge upon the solid foundation of His apostolic promises and prophetic oracles with nothing else than Christ Jesus Himself, none less than the Son of the living God as both cornerstone and capstone.”

Conference participants also had numerous opportunities for fellowship and sharing mutual encouragement.

“The life conference was a tremendous opportunity for learning and encouragement as we talked about life from conception till natural death and how we support and strengthen that work in our everyday lives,” said the Rev. Bart Day, executive director of the LCMS Office of National Mission. “It was especially wonderful to have so many high school and college students present and actively engaged in the conversation.”

Read a related story, “LCMS Lutherans join hundreds of thousands to march for life.”

Dr. Kevin Armbrust (kevin.armbrust@lcms.org) is manager of Editorial Services with LCMS Communications.

Posted February 7, 2017

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