Last weekend, Pro-Life Action Ministries (PLAM) held its 4th Annual National Sidewalk Counseling Symposium right here in Birmingham, Alabama. CEC For Life was blessed to act as local host, with many people from the Birmingham pro-life community assisting throughout the event.
The Symposium featured an all-star lineup of pro-life speakers including Joe and Ann Scheidler (parents of the pro-life movement!), Fr. Frank Pavone, Eric Scheidler, Rev. Walter Hoye, Fr. Terry Gensemer, and John Jakubczyk, along with many other expert sidewalk counselors and advocates – Edmund Miller, Alicia Wong, Debra Braun, Michele Herzog, and Rev. Brian Walker.
With each session and workshop, attendees were given the tools and knowledge needed to stand on the sidewalk with confidence and integrity, and to represent the mercy and love of Christ to mothers, fathers, and abortion clinic workers. As Eric Scheidler put it, “You never fail when you go out to the abortion clinic. Failure is impossible if you’re there with Christ.”
Beyond offering solid how-to training, the Symposium also addressed what Fr. Frank Pavone called “the spirituality of the pro-life activist.” This focus presented sidewalk counseling not just as a pro-life ministry, but also as an earnest answer to every Christian’s call to share the Gospel.
In the Symposium’s opening service on Friday night, Fr. Pavone explained, “In the culture of death you say, ‘I have a responsibility to those whom I choose to have a responsibility,’ but in the culture of life we have a responsibility without choosing, before we ever have a chance to choose…pro-life activist spirituality is marked by a deep compassion.”
Saturday’s first session – Purpose, Focus and the Essence of Sidewalk Counseling – reinforced this concept with seasoned counselor Edmund Miller sharing, “If you are serious about being the presence of Christ, you will end up at the abortion mill.”
CEC For Life and the local Birmingham pro-life community could not agree more, and we would like to extend our most sincere thanks to Brian Gibson, Executive Director of Pro-Life Action Ministries, for bringing the Symposium to our city. What an encouragement as we continue our local work of shutting down Planned Parenthood Birmingham and begin preparations for our Fall 40 Days for Life!
“Ann and I thought it was the best sidewalk counseling seminar ever!” –Joe Scheidler, Pro-Life Action League
“The 2014 Symposium was truly inspiring. The witness of famous national prolife leaders in their sacrifice of time, treasure and experience was both informative and energizing.” –Ed Carrick, Birmingham 40 Days for Life
“I appreciated learning about all of the legal battles and where we are on them. It helps us stand up to the negative forces and combat misinformation. The symposium also helped show the bigger picture –all of the forces that are united for life, and what those different parties do, which gives an overall feeling of strength.” –Gwyn Moore, Birmingham Sidewalk Counselor
“I’ve wanted to go to the Symposium for a few years and am so thankful they came to Birmingham! What a tremendous blessing to meet and hear the wisdom of the top pro-life leaders in the country! It was also a great opportunity to meet sidewalk counselors from several other states!” –Mary Ann Vann, Birmingham Sidewalk Counselor