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Anglicans Advocate "Life-affirming Nonviolent Revolution"

Anglicans Advocate "Life-affirming Nonviolent Revolution"

By Jeffrey Walton
February 3, 2021

Anglicans are seeking to mobilize churches to take part in "a counter-cultural, life-affirming nonviolent revolution," Anglicans for Life (AFL) Director Deacon Georgette Forney stated at Summit 2021: Mobilizing the Church for Life which took place across three days January 16, 23 and 29.

That revolution is centered on Christian ministry, Forney said in welcoming remarks to more than 600 registrants across the U.S. and Canada -- the annual sanctity of human life summit's largest participation to date.

"We do not emphasize political strategies over the ministry ones," Forney explained about AFL's work, which she characterized as pastoral rather than political. She was joined in that message by fellow Anglican and Colson Center President John Stonestreet, who decried an increasing politicization of culture.

"I want to challenge the schizophrenia, the disorientation of pro-lifers depending upon who is in the White House," Stonestreet said, quoting former Nixon Administration official Chuck Colson that "The Kingdom of God will not arrive on Air Force One."

In the image of God

In his opening homily, author and "40 Days for Life" founder David Bereit preached on how the Incarnation transforms life ministry.

The image of God in us, Bereit explained, demands recognition of the image of God in others and can be seen through "incarnational advocacy" before a now-shuttered Manassas, Virginia abortion clinic. Bereit told the story of Dr. Charles J. Akoda who ceased performing abortions and told those in ministry, "Thank you for loving me out of the abortion industry. Never grow weary of doing good, because it makes a difference for each of us one person at a time."

"His story is an example of how endless God's mercy is," Bereit said. "Kindness is the way to change hearts."

Bereit also shared about how love for those with unplanned pregnancies has far-reaching consequences.

"If you've not yet had the experience of meeting a child who is alive because you saw the image of God in her mother, I pray that you do," Bereit shared. "We end abortion for that child, for that mother. One step closer to a culture that respects and honors all human life."

'Abortion betrays women'

One in four American women will have an abortion by the age of 45 according to the Guttmacher Institute, Students for Life President Kristan Hawkins told Summit participants.

"Abortion is a social justice issue," stated Hawkins, who works with groups across 1,200 schools. "It directly affects ethnic and racial minorities, because that is whom the abortion industry targets."

Hawkins noted that the vast majority (80 percent) of Planned Parenthood facilities are located walkable to minority neighborhoods. Black women make up 13% of the U.S. female population yet obtain 36% of all abortions.

"In New York City, more black babies are aborted than are born," Hawkins said, citing statistics from the New York City Health Department. "Planned Parenthood continues to carry out their racist agenda, despite how many Black Lives Matter signs they wave."

The Virginia-based activist argued that abortion betrays women by harming emotionally and physically those whom its providers claim to help.

"No single disease, event, or war ends more lives every year than the violence of abortion," Hawkins charged. "Abortion continues only because Christians tolerate it. If the Church would truly stand for life, we could end abortion."

'Medical Assistance in Dying'

Forney focused her presentation upon end-of-life issues, noting that doctor assisted suicide and euthanasia are now legal in nine U.S. states and throughout Canada.

"'Medical Assistance in Dying' is the new term coined to sanitize the two," Forney said, warning of organized "pro-death" proponents seeking to legalize such suicides nationwide through a future case brought before the U.S. Supreme Court. "Carefully managing of the language is part of this: the Hemlock Society is now known as 'Compassion and Choices' and assisted suicide is now 'Aid in Dying.'"

Forney argued that most people who hasten their death do so not out of physical pain, but out of a fear of being a burden to others, or because they are lonely and believe that no one cares about them.

Referencing the famous case of a retired Oregon bus driver whose lung cancer returned, Forney said the woman's physician sought to prescribe a treatment, but her insurer declined to cover it. In rejection correspondence, the insurer noted that she was covered for medical assistance in dying.

"That is the world that we are in now," the Anglican Deacon flatly stated. With a U.S. over-85 population now totaling more than nine million, it's something she expects to see more of.

"When was the last time you heard a sermon about death or dying?" Forney asked. "We need to prepare for a growing pastoral crisis as people prepare for aging or dying."

Proper prior preparations better allow for a person's final remaining days or weeks to be meaningful, Forney said, arguing that faithful living leads "to our faithfully dying."

In forming an end-of-life ministry at the parish level, Forney said it is important to understand the particular needs of others' state-of-health. She advised conducting an "embrace the journey" eight week curriculum, preparing people to be better organized. Forney also noted that partnerships between elderly to "adopt" younger children in the nursery are beneficial: a nursing home can "adopt" a preschool down the street.

"Death can be an awkward topic," Forney added. "But it also reminds us that life is sacred."

'Superior to Everything Else in the Cosmos'

The National March for Life was held virtually this year due to both COVID-19 precautions and safety concerns following the January 6 storming of the U.S. Capitol. Summit participants gathered in-person January 29 at the Falls Church Anglican in Falls Church, Virginia for an annual prayer service led by Anglican Church in North America Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic Bishop John Guernsey. The service included a homily by Diocese of the Living Word Bishop Julian Dobbs and prayers led by Archbishop Foley Beach's Chaplain Wes Jagoe.

Anglican pro-life ministry

Dobbs' homily emphasized the uniqueness of mankind in God's creation.

"He is a living creature distinct from God yet dependent upon him, and yet made in God's own image," Dobbs stated of man's creation in the Genesis account. The Anglican bishop noted that the text makes obvious how men and women are contrasted with the rest of the animal kingdom. "Human beings are categorically distinct from all others."

"Everyone knows that there is a dignity that is given to human beings," Dobbs preached, with an awareness that human beings ought to be treated not as objects. "There is something so valuable within human beings that it is to be preserved and respected."

The Anglican bishop preached that this is because because "Human beings, unlike the rest of the creatures, are alone made in the image of God."

Quoting the recent ACNA College of Bishops statement on identity, Dobbs read that "Humanity's essential identity is found in communion with him [God]."

That image includes self-consciousness, rationalism, and the ability to reflect upon the past, the future, upon ourselves and others, enabling moral decision-making.

"How precious, then every human life is in the heart of God," Dobbs declared. "It is always detestable and repulsive to destroy the unborn who are made in the image of God and redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Every human life is made to be in communion with God himself."

That purpose has consequence today and in eternity, Dobbs proposed, calling the birth of a baby representative of "the pinnacle of creation."

"That baby is made in God's image. That is something far greater, and far more wonderful, than all of the other things that God has created. One days the stars will be gone, the sun and the moon will be gone, the Earth will be burned up in the end: all of these things, gone. But that baby has an immortal spirit and a body that will be resurrected on the last day. Far greater, far superior to everything else in the cosmos because human beings are made in the image of God and capable of communion with him. That is why we are here today."


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