Our Organizational History
by Rev. Dr. Glenn Schaeffer – Founding President
In the USA, Lutherans For Life was officially launched in April 1979. While a couple of years later in Canada, in Locksley (Pembroke, Ontario) Mrs. Shirley Witt, a retired nurse, the wife of a dairy farmer, and a mother of 4 sons saw the need for a similar ministry. According to Mrs Shirley Detlefsen, Shirley Witt and some other ladies were attending the Renfrew County Right to Life, a Roman Catholic group. Mrs. Shirley Witt consulted her pastor, Rev. Deane Detlefsen and together they collaborated creating materials, promoting awareness to the sanctity of life, especially the lives of the unborn. Shirley Witt had a talent for getting information publicized, and soon a small pro-life group was formed which was followed by creation of another pro-life group in Elmira, Ontario.
Then in 2002, the delegates attending the Lutheran Church – National Canadian Convention, held in Kitchener, Ontario, passed Resolution 02.1.02 which stated, “That Lutheran Church – Canada provide leadership in the formation of an autonomous Canadian Lutherans for Life organization.” Following the National Convention, the Social Ministry Committee of the East District decided to be a catalyst making this resolution become reality. After a couple of gatherings an ad hoc committee of laypeople and clergy from the East District was created for the purpose of submitting the application for incorporation to the Canadian government. On August 11, 2003 Lutherans for Life – Canada was registered as a not-for-profit organization with Industry Canada. Subsequently an application was submitted to be recognized as a charitable organization. Unfortunately, that request was not granted. Finally on February 7, 2004, forty people met at Our Saviour Lutheran Church, Toronto, Ontario to celebrate the formation of Lutherans for Life – Canada.
Lutherans for Life – Canada is an organization whose mission is to “witness to the sanctity of human life through education based on the Word of God.” Lutherans for Life – Canada believes every human life – from conception to natural death regardless of physical or mental challenges or condition of dependence – is precious in God’s sight. The vision of Lutherans for Life – Canada (LFL-C) is a biblical, pro-life voice and resource to Lutherans, and through them, to transform society. LFL-C strives to network with pastors and laypeople to make positive differences in people’s lives. Through local chapters and/or congregational members who serve as Life Ministry Coordinators, LFL-C educates other Lutherans on life issues from a biblical law/gospel perspective through LFL produced videos, publications, audiotapes and materials for worship and Bible study.
You may be thinking, “This sounds like a worthy cause, but my schedule is already packed full with activities. Why should I, or the members of my congregation, become involved in Lutherans for Life – Canada?” I could respond, “Because we bought you breakfast” or “Because a synodical resolution says so,” but these reasons are not very compelling.
Let me share with you what I hope you will find to be some compelling reasons to become involved in Lutherans for Life – Canada:
Abortion is a spiritual issue and provides us with an opportunity for ministry. As Dr. James Lamb, Executive Director of LFL in the United States, says, “Abortion is a spiritual issue because it is not something that dies in abortion; it is someone. It is someone created by God and for whom Jesus died. It is someone who is a gift from God. …”. The Psalmist describes an unborn child with these words, “For you created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” (Psalm 139:13-14)
Again, Lamb says, “Abortion is a spiritual issue because it deeply wounds women who were pressured into believing that abortion was their only choice and then came to realize the deadliness of that choice. They are burdened with guilt, and only the Gospel can bring them the forgiveness and hope they need.” (CPR Vol. 14, Part 1. p. 58) But not only does abortion affect women, the fathers, the grandparents, and the siblings are affected as well. A post-abortion counsellor has said that for every abortion at least 10 people are affected.
What opportunities we have for ministry! We can lead these guilt-ridden, shame-filled, heart-broken people to the cross where their burdens can be relieved by Jesus Christ. They can be refreshed and renewed by the regenerating power of Holy Baptism. They can be comforted as we speak God’s Word of absolution to them. They can receive the “balm of Gilead” as they partake of the Body and Blood of the Crucified One. They can be supported by the love and care of their brothers and sisters in Christ. Their life can be filled with a peace and a hope that only comes from a personal relationship with their Saviour.
Someone needs to speak for those who cannot defend for themselves. Our country instinctively mourns when we read headlines shouting, “Five children die in a car accident” but this mourning does not
Lutherans for Life – Canada is not merely a one issue organization. In addition to educating fellow Lutherans on the matters of abortion and euthanasia, LFL-C produces material, based on the Word of God, that encourages abstinence; that acknowledges all human life to be sacred, including the mentally and physically challenged, and the elderly; that promotes marriage as the union of one man and one woman; that honours singleness; that decries the horrors of reproductive technologies, including cloning, in-vitro fertilization, and embryonic stem cell research; that unmasks euthanasia as anything but “mercy-killing” and instead encourages palliative care. LFL-C strives to change hearts, minds and attitudes of fellow Lutherans and this is, to say the least, a challenging task.
Dr. James Dobson in his monthly Focus on the Family Letter (July 2001) recounted
Dobson comments, “Isn’t that story analogous to our response to the wickedness around us today? Babies continue to be murdered in the womb. The clinics where this killing is done are located all around us but we don’t want to know about them. Our children are being taught immoral lifestyles in our classrooms, but only a handful of parents show up at school meetings. Homosexual propaganda is being disseminated in a growing number of schools to children as young as are in kindergarten, and yet, few pastors will mention this assault of innocence on Sunday morning. That would be political, you know.”
Dobson continues, “The New York Post reported that the seniors in a Minneapolis high school were given ‘kits’ from Planned Parenthood before the prom. Each package contained condoms, confetti, breath mints, and a discount coupon to a Planned Parenthood clinic. Is it any wonder that genital herpes infections are soaring and that new cases of AIDS have again reached proportions not seen since before the disease was first identified? What is our reaction to these, and hundreds of other disturbing developments? Most of us cram our calendars with so many activities that there is no time left to care. Then we go to the sanctuaries each week and simply sing louder.” (Emphasis added).
In Canada Christians, including many of our fellow Lutherans, seem to have shut out the pleas of the helpless … who are deaf to the silent screams of 115,000 pre-born babies who are aborted every year in Canada … who embrace values and lifestyles of a godless world … who entertain ideas that the mentally and physically challenged are an unnecessary burden upon society … who are indifferent to the needs of
As I encounter indifference and apathy in fellow Lutherans, and even as I struggle with this same indifference and apathy in myself I wonder, “Might the indifference and apathy in us be because we do not truly understand the depths of love God has for all life … for us?”
It is for these reasons and many others that we need an organization as Lutherans for Life – Canada . LFL-C sees fellow Canadian Lutherans as our “mission field”. We need fellow Lutherans in our congregations encouraging, inspiring, and educating our people in the sanctity of human life issues. We need fellow Lutherans who will be a beacon of light in this spiritually and morally dark world. We need fellow Lutherans who will be a beacon of light in their
How might you become involved in LFL-C? Your faith in action and your time, talents and treasurers:
- your prayers and financial support.
- Life Ministry Coordinators. An LMC is one or several individuals in a local congregation seeking opportunities to educate and motivate members of their
owncongregation for service as Christian witnesses and citizens on life and family issues.
- volunteers to establish local LFL chapters as we have dreams of LFL-C being a nationwide organization.
- volunteers to serve on a “Think Tank” committee that addresses current ethical, moral, philosophical, medical and theological life concerns and developments.
- volunteers to write Bible studies and pamphlets.
- volunteers to assist with the newsletter (e.g. writers, editors to print and distribute it).
- volunteers who are willing to serve on the Board of Directors.
- volunteers who will organize circuit/zone rallies.
- volunteers to create and staff LFL-C convention booths at conventions and rallies.
- pastors to address life issues from the pulpit and in Bible classes and to circulate the LFL-C newsletter.