This year’s March For Life was a unique experience, to say the least.
The usual half a million attendees, for example, were down to perhaps half that. Time people might have spent visiting with pro-life friends we only get to see in DC was spent, instead, watching incredible amounts of snow accumulate outside of hotel windows, or checking the email from your airline that said, “Sorry. No flights until Tuesday.” Maybe discussing the cost of several more nights in a hotel because, this year, Blizzard Jonas turned up for the March for Life.
Suddenly, everyone had to reassess and make a decision: Stay home and miss the event, or attend — and risk staying in DC for several days after. There just wasn’t a lot of wiggle room with record-breaking amounts of snow.
In the end, CEC For Life chose the latter. Groups from New York, Philadelphia, Florida, North Carolina, Maryland, California, Alabama, and even two Bishops from the Philippines gathered together in DC to attend the March for Life and ride out the blizzard. And we are so glad that we did! Because our time together was filled with warm fellowship, fortifying pro-life prayer and outreach, and the unique blessings that come with spending long hours in limited space with brothers and sisters of the faith.
Friday morning, hours before the March, CEC For Life and Star Parker of CURE led the Annual Memorial Die-In at the White House with a couple dozen youth, pro-life leaders and clergy, all gathered in the cold to lie down in solidarity with our preborn brothers and sisters. It was a time of reverence charged with genuine emotion as young leaders like Kristina Garza of the Vida Initiative, and Sarah Howell of CEC For Life, spoke on behalf of their aborted generation and prayed for the hearts of the young people lying on the ground before them. We also heard from Fr. Terry Gensemer, Star Parker and Rev. Derek McCoy of CURE, and Lauren Handy of Survivors.
Directly after, we piled into a bus and headed towards Constitution Avenue to gather with the rest of our group – a large crowd, despite the weather – at the steps of the Supreme Court for CEC For Life’s Annual Liturgy for the Preborn Prayer Service.
As Fr. Terry Gensemer began to open the service, a hostile group of abortion-on-demand advocates also gathered, chanting and screaming and playing atheistic songs over an amp. This same group attempted to stop the March last year, locking arms in front of the Supreme Court and refusing to move until police placed them under arrest and physically carried them away. Though they seemed intent on screaming over us, Fr. Terry continued on with opening comments and the scripture readings. It was a stark depiction of the spiritual battle that goes on for the lives of preborn children and the sanctity of life.
As Brian Gibson, Executive Director of Pro-Life Action Ministries commented, “I arrived while Fr. Terry was leading prayer… Simultaneously, the Stop Patriarchy protest was taking place right next to the CEC for Life prayer service. My best description is it was a contrast between heaven and hell.”
That contrast could be physically felt as we read scriptures, prayed aloud and heard encouraging words from Patriarch Craig Bates of the ICCEC. But as much as you could feel the anger of these wounded men and women gathered beside us, you could also feel the closeness of the Holy Spirit hovering within his people, within the words of the Patriarch: “Jesus is alive and on the throne! …And we will see the day! We will see the day when abortion is illegal. And we will say how in the world did we ever allow that to happen?”
And we will see the day! We will see the day when abortion is illegal. And we will say how in the world did we ever allow that to happen?
The prayer service ended on a note of unity and hope, despite the ravings of the enemy all around, and we moved off, together, to join up with the March.
Afterwards, many spent the next few days at the hotel, waiting for flights that were cancelled until Tuesday. Some were able to return home as early as Sunday. The time in the hotel, though, was equally inspiring. It is a rare opportunity to visit with CEC’ers from different parts of the nation. We not only had wonderful fellowship, but the hotel also provided a room for us to celebrate Eucharist in each day.
Psalm 113 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” That was the recurring theme throughout the weekend, as what felt like “the few and the faithful” braved the storm, stood for Life in our nation’s capital, and showed the enemy that no matter what he throws in our path, we will continue on in unity – for the sanctity of Life and for the lives of innocent preborn children.
Check out the reviews below from those who attended the 2016 March for Life!
Just seeing however many thousand were there walking, and the anticipation of jumping in the line. Watching this group of people from all denominations, coming down the street — and we jumped in and it was absolutely incredible. It changes you. It really changes you. (Darla Shiell, FL)
What really impressed me was when we were at the Supreme Court. There was a big bunch of us and a big bunch of protesters, and every time we tried to talk, they tried to be even louder. But what impressed me the most was I know God heard us, and I know he did something, because righteousness and justice flow from His throne and not from the Supreme Court. (Carla Bitancor, FL)
The image of a sea of people marching for what they see as right, it truly is an incredible feeling. To know that you are a part of something that will one day be in the history books, studied by young children — how now we say, “How could they do those things to people of a different race?” — one day they will add, “or to the ones without a voice?” To be a part of that is amazing. (Will Pridgen, NC)
The protesters were gnarly, like I felt like I could see in the spiritual realm, and it was demonic – I know they were deceived, and we need to pray for them – but it was real demonic, and it was so distinct, the light and the dark… When the March started coming forward it was like the Lord showed me, “This is My army, this is the army of God, that’s alive and well, that’s coming forth.” It was powerful. You’ve gotta go. If you’ve never been, it is just an amazing experience. (Jane Cunningham, FL)
The March for Life was by far the greatest experience I could have asked for; It was a time for me to be exposed to the realities of abortion, but more importantly the mighty power of Christ. Seeing all of those people gather together in unity was the most touching part of the entire trip; I know that I am not alone in this fight! (Katrina Michele, NC)
This was not a bunch of old white men arguing about legalities. This was a family event. There were children there, and kids, and they were all over the place – there were thousands of kids… And you walk up Constitution Avenue, and you can tell the people who have been there before because as you get sort of near the top of Constitution Avenue the veterans of the March say to the newbies, “OK, now turn around and look behind you.”
And, you turn around and you look behind you, and as far as you can see there are people – you can’t see not-March. And, to me, that was a vision of heaven. Every nation, creed, family, tongue, all gathered together, for the sake of Jesus. (Fr. Scott Looker, FL)
Every year that I go to the March, I get more and more inspired. God works in amazing ways to change the hearts of men, and the March is a great example of that. Every year, our voices get stronger and the enemy gets weaker. We are the generation that will end abortion. (Elisabeth Pridgen, NC)