Promoting a Flourishing Society
On October 4th our fourth Transform Ideas forum looked into how Christians can be pro-abundant life, rather than just anti-abortion.
…the more we have conversations like this, our perspectives will shiftWe were honored to have an inspiring panel of speakers who challenged the audience to seek the goal of working toward a healthy society with flourishing lives.
“It was a great forum, the more we have conversations like this, our perspectives will shift and we’ll be able to see what it means to be holistically pro-life, not just anti-abortion,” said Jessica, an attendee from Redeemer Lutheran Church in Fridley.
I believe the Church can really come around the whole person and do it really well…“Sometimes people think pro-life Christians have narrow views because we are anti-abortion. But I believe the Church can really come around the whole person and do it really well,” said Pam, an attendee and the founder of Haven of Hope Homeless Shelter in Anoka County.
Knowing God Desires Abundant Life
Elisia Kraemer, the Parenting Education Manager for First Care Pregnancy Center offices, and the Director of Community Relations at New Life Family Services spoke about her agency’s work to support pregnant mothers as they struggle to choose life.
not offering any tangible support for their very real, overwhelming situation – is short-sighted…
“I really believe that while God absolutely rejoices when a child is saved from abortion, what He really desires is for every person to have abundant life,” said Kraemer.
She said that hoping ultrasound images of an unborn baby will convince an expectant mother to choose life is not an effective pro-life strategy.
“For us to focus solely on the fetal development (of their unborn baby), hoping to convince them that their unborn child is valuable, yet not offering any tangible support for their very real, overwhelming situation that they are in right now – is not only tone deaf, but it’s short-sighted,” said Elisia Kraemer.
Seeking Value and Dignity in the Unborn and Already Born
The pro-life movement needs to see the value and dignity of all people, both unborn and already born.
What happened to you that you would thinking ending your baby’s life is your only viable option?Tom Gonzales, with Bridges of Hope in Brainerd, MN shared startling statistics about the impact childhood trauma can have on a woman’s future, and her future family choices.
“Research has found women who have repeat abortions are more likely to have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACES) than those having 0 or 1 abortion,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales encouraged people in the pro-life movement to have compassionate accountability with those who have had abortions, knowing many of them have struggled with a lifetime of adversity.
“The question shouldn’t be “What’s wrong with you, why would choose to end your baby’s life?” But in trauma informed questioning we should ask “What happened to you that you would thinking ending your baby’s life is your only viable option?” said Gonzales.
Aiming to Have a Consistent Pro-Life Witness
Many pro-life advocates believe the end goal is overturning Roe V. Wade at the Supreme Court level, but Jason Adkins, the executive director of the Minnesota Catholic Conference shared how a reversal of Roe V. Wade would only push abortion back to the states, which would still make abortion an option for women.
To buttress our pro-life witness, we have to have a consistent ethic of life…
Adkins urged the pro-life movement to respond to what Pope Francis calls our “throw away culture.”
“We see a lack of respect and reverence for the dignity of the human person at all stages, but especially in its more vulnerable and inconvenient stages – like at the beginning and end of life,” said Adkins.
Adkins spoke on how Christians can have a consistent pro-life witness, aiming not just to preserve life, but so that all lives will flourish.
“To buttress our pro-life witness, we have to have a consistent ethic of life, embracing the cry of the elderly, the cry of the disabled, the cry of the poor, the cry of the unborn, the cry of the refugee/immigrant, and the cry of the earth as our common home,” said Adkins.
“We have to really value life, in order for the ecosystem to be flourishing and have balance and to thrive, we need to value all of life in all of its forms. The content from this presentation was good stuff to chew on and to sit and think about,” said Jessica.
Advocating for Foster Care And Affordable Housing
The night was capped off with a moving personal story from a single foster mom who has cared for 7 babies in her home.
…this is the Gospel, this is reconciliation of relationship – and ultimately to know their worth
“I’ve picked up babies from Shakopee, Edina, Minneapolis, St. Paul – these are your neighbors, these are my neighbors, and they need your help,” challenged Avivah Brown, a local foster mom and advocate.
“I believe this is the Gospel, this is reconciliation of relationship with the kids to their families or to their father, and ultimately to know their worth. We can make a huge difference in the lives of the parents who have chosen to say yes to the body and the life living within them,” said Brown.
For next steps in how to live out being pro-abundant life, Brown encourages Christians to get involved in the foster care system and Adkins says one of the main needs of expectant mothers is finding affordable housing and childcare.
One attendee said it’s because of her pro-life heart that she started a homeless shelter in Anoka County.
“I have a ministry to single moms who are working on obtaining housing. I started it wanting to give these single moms an option rather than getting an abortion, as a practical thing we can do for them,” said Pam, founder of Haven of Hope.
- Attend your county’s foster care orientation
- Get a background check, and volunteer to take a foster care kid for a weekend to give a foster parent a break
- Donate to a foster care closet
- Start a church small group that “adopts a foster family” by providing meals and support.
- Help advocate for affordable housing, and help expectant mothers find housing.
What others are saying:
I gained a greater perspective of the pro-life stance and took away several practical ways I can be more holistic in my pro-life belief, adoption and building relationships.
I was so amazed and encouraged at the variety of ministries supporting the sanctity of ALL life, and encouraged to not limit my care to mothers and unborn children, but to people in all ages and stages of life.
It was encouraging to hear deeper and more coherent thoughts on this topic rather than the typical (pro-life) sound bites.
I loved the discussion and reminder about how abortion isn’t just an issue that can be addressed in isolation – rather it’s linked to systemic, culture-wide issues, such as adverse childhood experiences, poverty, education, health care, and our individualistic “throw away” consumer culture; and that many people who choose to have an abortion do so because they don’t have resources or options for caring for their child, and it feels like nobody is on their side.