By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
Yet, she also knows God has forgiven her, and that is the story she openly shares as the director of the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic, a nonprofit organization that seeks to “educate, empower and encourage women and men with life choices when facing an unplanned pregnancy.”
“No one needs to be alone in an unplanned pregnancy,” said Knowlton, who began serving at the crisis pregnancy center shortly after it was started under the auspices of First Baptist Church, Cookeville, in 1988 where she was a member at the time.
“And, because the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic is here (and other pregnancy centers are across Tennessee), they don’t have to be. We care about them,” she stressed.
Knowlton later became a part-time staff member and moved to the role of part-time director in 1995. The position became full-time two years later.
Knowlton acknowledged that “many times a woman may feel as though abortion is her only choice. Because we are here, we help her see that there are other choices,” she added.
As the center grew, it incorporated in 2003 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Three years later, the center added medical services and rebranded itself as Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic to better reflect “the medical nature of what we do,” added Knowlton, now a member of Covenant Church of Cookeville.
Knowlton recalled that though the clinic began to grow significantly, “we knew we weren’t reaching everyone that we could reach.” She related that women in crisis pregnancies will go straight to an abortion clinic where they don’t receive the counsel and education they need.
“We had heard about mobile pregnancy services,” Knowlton said. In 2013 the Cookeville clinic added ICU Mobile Cookeville. They now have a mobile pregnancy clinic that goes out to five counties, including stops in Carthage, Sparta and McMinnville.
In 2017 the center moved from its rented facility where it had been since its inception to a renovated building close to the campus of Tennessee Tech University. The center now has a “5,000-square-foot facility, completely remodeled building, totally debt-free because of the Lord and God’s people,” she said.
The Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic provides free pregnancy tests, explanation of options, limited obstetrical ultrasound, referral services, individual peer counseling, education, practical help, post-abortion healing and sexual risk avoidance education.
Knowlton said they try to give practical help to women because they should not deal with an unplanned pregnancy without support. She told of a couple from Tennessee Tech who felt that abortion was their only option.
“As we sat down and we shared with them the truth about the humanity of the unborn child, we began to share other options with them.
“They walked back to the ultrasound room, saw their beautiful baby by way of ultrasound, and turned from abortion to choose life,” Knowlton said. “Their families are supportive and now they’re in our parent education program where they can learn everything they need for their baby.
“And that’s who we are and that’s what we are all about. Loving people, sharing Jesus and making a true impact in the world.”
The center is totally supported through gifts from individuals, businesses and churches.
Many Baptist churches in the area support the clinic with not only financial gifts, but prayers and volunteer support. All are needed and are welcomed, Knowlton stressed.
One client of the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic said “this place has been like a miracle to me. When I thought there was no hope for me, I came into the CPC and wanted an abortion. I came out of this saved, and blessing another family with a baby. It’s the best thing I could have ever done.
“I feel like my life has purpose now, I really do. I don’t know where I would be without the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic. I’m so glad I found it.”
— For more about the Cookeville Pregnancy Clinic and its ministries, visit cookevillecpc.org or call 931-526-5525.