COLLEGE STATION, Texas (BP) – The Stand for Life Tour opened Wednesday night (Oct. 5) at a Southern Baptist church with a challenge for Christians to respond to “a wake-up call” and “save lives.”
The tour, with stops remaining at a Southern Baptist seminary and four Christian universities, is designed to help churches become engaged in serving vulnerable mothers and preborn babies, to foster unity in the pro-life movement and to build momentum toward a national conference in January.
The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) has been a vital leader in Stand for Life, an alliance of more than 100 organizations committed to a comprehensive approach in affirming and protecting the dignity of preborn children and all other human beings.
Elizabeth Graham, the ERLC’s vice president of operations and life initiatives and a key leader of Stand for Life, said she was “thrilled” to begin the tour. Central Baptist Church in College Station, Texas, hosted a gathering estimated at more than 500 people for the first stop.
“It was a great night of worship and encouragement from leaders committed to seeing a day when every life is affirmed and protected,” Graham told Baptist Press in written comments.
“This is a significant moment and opportunity for the church to be wholeheartedly engaged in this issue with compassion and conviction,” she said. “It is critical we inspire and equip a new generation to transform our culture to value the dignity in every single life.
“As we begin this journey that we call Stand for Life, we aim to unify and advance the momentum of the holistic pro-life movement.”
Jonathan Pokluda – lead pastor of Harris Creek Baptist Church in Waco, Texas, and an author – told the audience the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal in June of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide is the beginning, not the end, for Christians.
“I know the Supreme Court ruling is something worthy of celebration, and for some of us it can feel like the finish line,” he said. “But I really think it’s the starting line, a wake-up call for the church that we should respond in such a way that everyone who is in a bind would say, ‘I’m going to go to that place. I’m going to walk in here. I know the leadership here. I know that it’s consistent with their heart.’
“And I pray that throughout our country God would raise up more churches like that.”
In closing his message, Pokluda urged those in attendance, “Consider the call upon your life – to save lives, to stand for life.”
The tour will continue with stops on these dates and at these locations:
- Oct. 11, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C.
- Oct. 19, Union University, Jackson, Tenn.
- Oct. 27, Samford University, Birmingham, Ala.
- Nov. 1, Cedarville University, Cedarville, Ohio.
- Nov. 8, Oklahoma Baptist University, Shawnee, Okla.
Among the speakers on the tour will be David Platt, lead pastor of McLean Bible Church in Northern Virginia; Trip Lee, a hip-hop artist and author; Karen Swallow Prior, author and SEBTS research professor of English and Christianity and culture; and Lauren McAfee, a key Stand for Life leader.
Worship artists Shane & Shane and Davy Flowers and The Worship Initiative led in worship at the Oct. 5 event and will lead worship at some future stops.
The Stand for Life Conference is scheduled Jan. 18-19 in Washington, D.C. The speakers will include Benjamin Watson, author and former National Football League player; Nic Vujicic, a speaker and author who was born without arms or legs; Jamie Ivey, a podcaster, author and adoption advocate; Graham; and McAfee.
Providing music for the conference will be hip-hop artist Lecrae and Shane & Shane.
The conference will be held on the occasion of what would have been the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. The Supreme Court’s ruling in June returned the regulation of abortion to the states.
Information on the tour and conference is available here.