Pro-Life Action Ministries in St. Paul, MN hosted the first ever national sidewalk counseling symposium last weekend, and the Pro-Life Action League was well-represented. League Director Joe Scheidler spoke on Friday evening, along with Fr. Frank Pavone and Pastor Walter Hoye, to spiritually prepare for the work scheduled for Saturday.
Prior to the Saturday workshops, attendees boarded school buses (not equipped with springs or shock absorbers) and headed for the Robbinsdale Clinic abortion facility, which promotes itself as a family health clinic. Pro-Life Action Ministries owns the building next door to the clinic. The PLAM center includes an office, a chapel and a gathering space.
In the backyard PLAM has erected a platform so that sidewalk counselors have an opportunity to speak to the abortion clinic clients and offer information and alternatives. The front yard of the PLAM house includes a large crucifix and a grotto to Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The local authorities have placed unreasonable restrictions on the pro-lifers in Robbinsdale. A limited number of people can be on the sidewalk. Photographs of the clinic are prohibited. But there is a pro-life presence at the abortion facility whenever they are doing abortions. Babies are being saved in spite of the clinic and the community’s efforts to thwart the pro-lifers’ mission.
On Saturday, I conducted a workshop on how to launch a sidewalk counseling ministry, including recruiting prayer warriors and sidewalk counselors, putting on a training seminar and important aspects of sidewalk counseling as a mission.
League staffer Matt Yonke covered the particular challenges of the Planned Parenthood mega abortion clinics. Matt cautioned that pro-lifers should have respect for the fact that Planned Parenthood is very good at what they do, even though their agenda is saturated with evil.
Brian Gibson and Debra Braun from Pro-Lie Action Ministries gave talks on the philosophy of sidewalk counseling and the basic training necessary for a sidewalk counselor.
Attorney John Jakubczyk, former president of Arizona Right to Life, spoke to symposium attendees about the rights they enjoy under the U.S. Constitution. He strongly advised that every sidewalk counseling ministry have an attorney on call, preferably a volunteer strongly committed to the cause.
One hundred sidewalk counselors from all over the United States gathered in St. Paul for the symposium, coming from Washington state, Tennessee, Maryland, Texas, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa, just to name a few. It is encouraging to see so many pro-lifers dedicated to the ministry of sidewalk counseling.
Everyone agreed that another symposium would be valuable. The networking between counselors from various parts of the country was acknowledged as a vital part of the weekend.