On Saturday, February 22, over 70 pro-lifers gathered at First Presbyterian Church in Aurora, Illinois for an afternoon entitled, “Witnessing for Life: A Day of Reflection and Renewal.” Six years ago, Planned Parenthood brought what was at the time the largest abortion clinic in America to Aurora under a cloud of controversy and deception. The battle to keep them from opening elicited massive pro-life protest under the direction of the Pro-Life Action League. Ever since they opened in October of 2007, the pro-life community in the Fox Valley has maintained a peaceful, prayerful outreach at the clinic, offering hope and real options to abortion-bound mothers.
Pro-Life Gathering to Encourage and Energize
The purpose of Saturday’s gathering was to encourage and revitalize those involved in sidewalk counseling and prayer ministry at Planned Parenthood and equip them with new resources to better recruit new volunteers to the effort. The day opened with a prayer from First Presbyterian head pastor Jeff Moore. Pastor Jeff had folks call out what church they belonged to and noted the wide diversity of Christian traditions represented in the room. Unity across denominational lines has been a hallmark of the Fox Valley from the beginning, and Pastor Jeff prayed that that unity might deepen as Christ prayed in John 17. Next, pro-life legend Dr. Monica Miller addressed the crowd on the importance of sidewalk counseling and some techniques for counseling more effectively. Drawing on her decades of experience on the sidewalk, Monica’s talk was both After Monica’s talk, attendees split up by table and discussed their experiences on the front lines. Topics included the best and worst experiences at the clinic as well as best practices for prayer and counseling. Joe Basar, who recruits people to pray from St. Mary Immaculate Church in Plainfield, Illinois, gave a presentation on being an effective “Church Captain.” As one of the most effective recruiters in the area, Joe shared his tips and tools for getting and retaining prayer volunteers. Next Kelly Gorski gave an update on Waterleaf Women’s Center, the pregnancy resource center nearest to Planned Parenthood Aurora. Waterleaf is moving to a new, larger space next month and offering new services such as testing for sexually transmitted infections. The League’s Ann Scheidler spoke next on how sidewalk counseling. With decades of experience, Ann shared some “do’s and don’ts” as well as some specific advice for the difficult counseling setup at Planned Parenthood Aurora. Edmund Miller, husband of Monica and director of Guadalupe Partners sidewalk counseling ministry in Detroit, spoke next on the theological aspects of sidewalk counseling. He reminded us that, like God Himself, the child in the womb is not valuable because of anything he can offer to the world, but simply because he exists. Just as God revealed Himself to Moses as “I am who I am”, the child in the womb is valuable because of his being alone. Finally, attorney Jason Craddock from the Thomas More Society pro-life law center talked about the historic settlement agreement we won in our lawsuit with the city of Aurora over violations of pro-lifers’ 1st Amendment rights. Jason reminded us of the terms of the settlement and how they apply to the day-to-day experience of counselors and prayer partners outside Planned Parenthood.
Day Closes in Prayer
The day was closed with a prayer service led by Mary Faye Vasen and Mary Ann Vincent, both parishioners at First Presbyterian. Those who attended found the day encouraging and informative, and it was agreed by all that holding gatherings like this at least annually would be a great benefit to the pro-life community.
Hear What You Missed
Below you’ll find audio for the day’s talks that you can stream here or download to listen to at your leisure. Monica Miller, The Importance of Sidewalk Counseling [audio:http://fvfapp.org/docs/2014/20140222MonicaMiller.mp3] Joe Basar, Being an Effective Church Captain [audio:http://fvfapp.org/docs/2014/20140222JoeBasar.mp3] Kelly Gorski, Waterleaf Update [audio:http://fvfapp.org/docs/2014/20140222KellyGorski.mp3] Ann Scheidler, Sidewalk Counseling Tips [audio:http://fvfapp.org/docs/2014/20140222AnnScheidler.mp3] Edmund Miller, The Theology of Sidewalk Counseling [audio:http://fvfapp.org/docs/2014/20140222EdmundMiller.mp3] Jason Craddock, Legal Issues [audio:http://fvfapp.org/docs/2014/20140222JasonCraddock.mp3]