Pastors for Life looking to expand
It was just over a year ago when leaders from many different Christian churches first gathered to show their support for the pro-life cause. Known as the New York Pastors for Life, the group formed to address New York state’s Reproductive Health Act, which expands the right to have an abortion to the full nine months of pregnancy, removes the personhood definition of a fetus older than 24 weeks, and expands licensing for those able to perform abortions from physicians to physician assistants and nurse practitioners.
“The purpose is to bring churches together for the purpose of educating our members pertaining to the issues, the political landscape, the laws, as well as the social ministries of reaching out to people,” said Father Arthur Ward Jr., chair of steering committee, and rector of St. Bartholomew’s Anglican Church, Town of Tonawanda.
The hope is that they can turn around the Reproductive Health Act and other laws that support abortion.
“The mission is to see New York state become the most pro-life and family state in the nation,” explained Father Ward. “In order to accomplish that is through education, through political awareness, as well as what’s available in the community for people who want to make a decision whether or not to keep a child. So, we’re looking at supporting the pregnancy centers, any type of ministry that comes alongside of women with children.”
Father Ward said that most Christian denominations are pro-life, but complains that most of the leadership is passive when it some to speaking on the subject.
“So, we’re looking at it as trying to bring as many leaders together for this movement knowing that we may not be able to change the law. The political is a little more problematic for a whole host of reasons. That doesn’t mean we don’t stay informed, that doesn’t mean we don’t work in the political arena, but we can’t put all our eggs in that basket,” he said.
They launched a television campaign in February targeting the inner city with the theme of “Every Child Matters.”
“What a lot of people don’t realize is minority children – Black and brown children are aborted at a much higher rate that white children. So, it’s really decimating the inner cities. They’re not replacing their population,” Father Ward said.
A planned Celebration of Life service planned for May had to be canceled due to the spread of the Coronavirus. The pastors are now recalibrating their focus.
“Now our emphasis is to get more pastors on board, more pastors informed and to spread what we’re seeing happen in Western New York, in Buffalo, and to some extent, to Rochester to see it go across the state, to encourage pastors to do the same thing we’re doing – gathering together for prayer, for communication,” Father Ward said.
Currently, Cheryl Calire, director of Pro-Life Activities for the Diocese of Buffalo, represents the diocese.
With about 75 churches in the Buffalo-Rochester area already involved, the group wants to spread out across the state.
Cheryl Calire, director of Pro-Life Activities for the Diocese of Buffalo speaks to the media following a meeting of the New York Pastors for Life in September 2019. The meeting involved nearly 100 people from various Christian faiths and took place at Mt. Olive Baptist Church. Patrick J. Buechi/Staff