KNOXVILLE — On the Sunday after the Supreme Court’s historic overturning of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision on June 24, Southern Baptists across the country took time both to rejoice in the ruling and to discuss how Christians should respond.
Many Southern Baptist leaders not only celebrated the Court’s decision, which returns the policy issues regarding abortion back to the state level but also took time to discuss ways to minister to women who may be considering an abortion.
One such example came from First Baptist Church, Concord, in Knoxville, which hosted a panel discussion on Sunday, June 26, about the decision featuring several pro-life advocates.
Among the panelists were John Mark Harrison, pastor of First Baptist Concord; Chris Johnson, vice president of church partnerships and government affairs for Lifeline Children’s Service and Elizabeth Graham, vice president of operations and life initiatives for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).
Harrison opened the panel by explaining the importance of the conversation.
“What I want to do in this moment is move us past the politics of this, and talk about how we should respond as a church and as individual Christians,” Harrison said. “This is a very important moment for us not to miss personally and as a local church.”
Graham addressed the ERLC’s role in advocating for pro-life issues, and how local churches can think of addressing these issues in their local communities.
“As a part of the Southern Baptist Convention’s ethics and public policy arm, we get to advocate for policies that protect and defend life as well as speak on behalf of churches and then speak back to churches,” Graham said.
“I think of a church congregation’s role in this in the same way as a baby dedication. When someone has a baby and wants to dedicate that child to Christ, this is a life-long journey that the church is taking. We should think about serving vulnerable moms and moms in crisis in the same way,” Graham said.
“This is not just like a single decision of we want to see this baby rescued. We do want to see this baby rescued, but we want to provide a continuum of care. We want to bring Mom into the church, share the gospel with her, and walk alongside her in this very difficult journey,” Graham told the congregation.
Johnson spoke about his work with Lifeline, a Christian foster care and adoption agency, and said Christians have a big responsibility to step up in this area.
“We know that this decision is going to affect the foster care system and there are going to be more children who are susceptible to coming into care,” he said.
“Of those children who are lingering in care, if someone doesn’t step in and welcome them into their family those young people are going to eventually age out of the foster care system.
“Those young people are then going to be more susceptible to homelessness, incarceration, trafficking and all of these things that really put them back in that cycle of being a part of unplanned pregnancies. Church, we can make a difference, and we must make an impact here.” B&R