Friday, January 22, was The March for Life 2016 in the nation’s capital.
The march itself was barely over before snow began accumulating quickly on every surface in the Washington, DC area. All of the “happy warriors” for Life this year went above and beyond the usual sacrifices they make to come and march because of Snowstorm Jonas, a blizzard of historic proportions.
As the electric green posters they carry in The March for Life proclaim, Anglicans celebrate, protect, and honor life. In the past three years, some dozen Anglican bishops and many of their wives have come to Washington, DC to join the tens of thousands of marchers who celebrate life, from conception to natural death, as a gift from God.
This year the bishops arrived early. Along with dozens of clergy and lay people, on Thursday, January 21, they attended “Summit 2016: Mobilizing the Church for Life,” a conference sponsored by Anglicans for Life and the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. The summit was hosted by The Falls Church Anglican.
The welcome message in the summit program from the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, the Bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic, and Deacon Georgette Forney, the President of Anglicans for Life, said that it was their “hope and prayer” that the participants would be “inspired to take action in protecting life” in their churches and communities. Participants would be equipped to prepare and assist their home church “with new ways of approaching life threatening problems” such as abortion, euthanasia, and assisted suicide. Teachings also emphasized ways to honor life at all stages, from conception to natural death, and even to honor the precious lives that have been lost through abortion and miscarriage.
Speakers included activists who work to protect the lives of both the unborn and the elderly. John Stonestreet (Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview), Carol Clews (Center for Pregnancy Concerns), Dr. Kirsten Ball (Best Choice Mobile Ultrasound and Pregnancy Resource Center RV), Rev. Peggy Means (Rachel’s Vineyard Abortion Recovery Ministry), David Bereit (40 Days for Life), Zina Hackworth (This Race Will Self-Destruct), Julie Kresal (Elizabeth Ministry), William Saunders (Americans United for Life), and Dr. Allen Roberts (Georgetown University Hospital) addressed the summit in person.
Other speakers, who appeared by video, included the renowned theologian Rev. Dr. J. I. Packer, attorney Morse Tan, J. J. Hanson (President, Patients’ Rights Action Fund), Christen Krebs (founder and director, Catholic Hospice of Pittsburgh), and Jo Tolck (Human Life Alliance). Jeff Walton has written about the teachings at Summit 2016 here.
The Anglicans also honored life with a Morning Prayer service on Friday in preparation for The March for Life. In his sermon, Anglican Church in North America Archbishop, the Most Reverend Foley Beach, declared, “This is the greatest moral issue of our time, and we must not keep silent. We must not muzzle our voices influence. We must continue to knock on the door of the unrighteous judge and demand change.” He was referring to the Scripture reading from Luke in which Jesus tells the parable of the widow and the unjust judge.
Beach quoted Psalm 139, affirming that “God is involved with each new creation that occurs in the womb. “Human life is precious! Human life is valuable! Human life is sacred!” Archbishop Beach said. The Anglican Church in North America “stands for sanctity of life,” he said, “because we stand on the authority of the Word of God, the Bible.”
The Archbishop read from the Province’s Constitutions and Canons:
God, and not man, is the Creator of human life. The unjustified taking of life is sinful. Therefore all members and clergy are called to promote and respect the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death.
“Each life has been created by God for a Kingdom purpose and a divine destiny,” Beach said. His message was echoed by the hymns and songs selected for the service that:
- Praised the Lord, the King of creation
- Blessed the Lord in both abundance and suffering
- Asked God to give His guidance, as He has in the past
- Offered our lives to be consecrated to God’s service
- Prayed for God to be our vision
- Urged the Church to rise up and wage spiritual warfare
Although, as Archbishop Foley preached, the tens of thousands of advocates for Life, the Anglicans and other marchers, must continue to knock on the door of an unrighteous judge, their consolation is that the true judge is God, the Righteous Judge. And in the parable in Luke 18, Jesus assures the vulnerable and disenfranchised that God will “bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night.”
The closing prayer prepared the Anglicans to march:
Almighty Father, you created us in your image and love us with a perfect love: Grant us grace and strength in all our words and deeds, both today and throughout the year, to manifest your love for the most vulnerable and fragile in our midst, and for all who do not know you. As we March for Life, be present with us and work through us to extend your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen