Thousands brave the cold and snow to March for Life
Thousands brave the cold to March for LifeBy Mary Ailes
Thousands from across the nation, including bishops from the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), braved the massive snowstorm that shut down major cities along the Eastern seaboard of the United States, and joined the annual March for Life on January 22, 2014, in Washington, D.C.
“I am honored to stand, along with my fellow bishops of the Anglican Church in North America,” said ACNA Archbishop Robert Duncan, “in recognition of the millions lost through abortion and to demonstrate our commitment to uphold the sanctity of life for all of God's children." Archbishop Duncan had flown back from East Africa to join the event.
“The Anglican Church in North America has a deep commitment to the sanctity of life,” said the Rt. Rev. John Guernsey, bishop of the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. “Our hope is that the presence of many of our bishops for the March for Life this year will help spur the Church to even greater support for the sacredness of human life.”
Following the landmark Supreme Court ruling Roe v Wade on January 22, 1973, thousands have assembled each year on that date to witness to the sanctity of human life.
“Wherever you look in the world, you can see God’s commitment to life. New life springs up everywhere, even in the most hostile circumstances. But new life is also fragile and vulnerable,” said the Rt. Rev. Bill Atwood of the International Diocese, who flew in from Texas. “Tragically in our culture, those who cannot speak for themselves—the unborn—are the most vulnerable of all human life. Scripture calls us to be faithful to God’s creation of life and support His agenda for life and redemption. That means that we are to model the ministry of Jesus, standing up and speaking out for those who cannot speak for or defend themselves. “
The Anglican bishops began their day in prayer by participating in the ecumenical prayer service at the National Memorial for the Preborn and their Mothers and Fathers at the historic Constitution Hall. Following the service, the bishops gathered at the Institute for Religion & Democracy for brunch and then made their way to the Washington Mall for the March for Life and Rally.
On the Mall, they were joined by other Anglicans, including members from All Nations DC (Washington, D.C.), Potomac Falls Anglican Church (Potomac Falls, VA), The Falls Church Anglican (Falls Church, VA), Shepherd’s Heart Anglican Church (Fairfax, VA), Truro Anglican Church (Fairfax, VA), and others. All were wrapped up in multi-layered clothes to protect themselves from the plunging cold temperatures, as they stood on the snow-covered grounds of the Washington Mall.
A rally was held before the start of the march that included speakers such as Dr. James Dobson founder of Focus on the Family, as well as music from singer/composer Matt Maher. Also on the platform was Georgette Forney, President of Anglicans for Life and a founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, where those impacted by the pain and grief of abortion share their personal stories on the steps of the Supreme Court during the March for Life.
“A love of life—for lives of unborn children, elderly, and those most vulnerable—is a natural reflection of Christ’s love for each of us; it is not as much a requirement of Christian life as a privilege of it,” Georgette Forney wrote before this year’s March for Life, commending Anglicans to join their bishops and come to Washington.
By 1:30 p.m. the March for Life was underway, with thousands walking up Constitution Avenue to Capitol Hill and to the steps of the Supreme Court. It soon became quite obvious that the overwhelming majority of those marching were under the age of 21. Carrying signs that said, “Team Life,” and “I am the Pro-Life Generation,” the young people marched knowing Roe v Wade has been in effect for their entire lives and it is their generation that has lost an estimated 55 million through legalized abortion in the United States.
"It was a privilege to stand shoulder to shoulder with our Anglican brothers and sisters, as well as the larger Body of Christ, in contending for issues pertaining to life in our nation,” said the Rt. Rev. David Bryan, Bishop of PEARUSA’s Southeast Network, who had flown in from South Carolina. “It is encouraging and hopeful to see how well the younger generation was represented in the March for Life."
“The March for Life is remarkable in that hundreds of thousands of people care enough about life to brave bitter cold to speak out for life,” said Bishop Atwood. “It is inspiring that so many young people were involved, probably the majority of those present at the march. Everywhere I looked there were young people under twenty-five, many wearing ‘I’m worth waiting for’ buttons, carrying signs and smiles, and even picking up litter along the way. The future looks really bright even in the cold!”
The Anglican marchers included ACNA Canadians who found public support for the sanctity of human life from fellow Canadians in front of the Canadian Embassy, prominently located right on the march route on Constitution Avenue. They all stood for a picture in front of their embassy, anticipating that they would see the Canadian-version of the March for Life on Saturday, May 8 2014, in Ottawa.
On Saturday, January 25, 2014, Bishop Eric Mendez of the Diocese of San Joaquin, will join fellow bishops and other Anglicans to participate in the 9th Annual Walk for Life West Coast in San Francisco, CA. They will witness, as the canons of the Anglican Church in North America state, that “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 protect and respect the sanctity of every human life from conception to natural death." (Canon II.8.3)
“Advocating for the life of the unborn is the civil rights issue of our day, and it is a great honor to serve and love the culture of life as a bishop,” said the Rt. Rev. Stewart Ruch, Bishop of the Diocese of the Upper Midwest who came from Wheaton, IL, for the March for Life. “Here, in the Upper Midwest, we are working and praying toward seeing a revival of Word and Sacrament. I am convinced this revival includes reversal of the culture of death—I have faith my generation will celebrate the day in which the culture of life is legally sanctioned. Until then we will pray, witness, preach, and march.”
Mary Ailes is the Director of Communications for the Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic. Photos by Dennis Eagan, the Rev. Jeremiah Brown, and Mary Ailes.