Some are saying this year’s March for Life in Washington, D.C. was record breaking. In fact, rough estimates claim over 500,000 people showed up. I don’t know if that number is true, but I can tell you that I have never seen more people present in one place in my entire life.
Priests and pastors and parishioners showed up. Churches carried banners, and schools played in bands. Dioceses and districts strolled side by side. Generations, and genders, and races, and faces intermingled, forming a beautifully diverse tide of humanity that ebbed and flowed down Constitution Avenue. Some sang. Some chanted. Most held signs. Everyone smiled. This sea of 4Life witnesses was united behind one pressing purpose: Upholding LIFE.
And mixed into this ocean of cheerful, life affirming people, was a group of youth and adults from St. Paul Lutheran Church in Columbus, Indiana. According to the youth, the experience was inspiring. And for some, it was both faith-affirming and life-changing as well.
Amelia Hessong, a senior at Trinity Lutheran High School who traveled with the group from St. Paul, walked away from the March with certainty about her future. “The March has impacted my decision to pursue a career in church work and encourage others through my service,” she said. “The trip to D.C. allowed me to grow in my faith alongside others from across the nation who care about the same cause as me.”
St. Paul took 22 participants, six adults and sixteen youth, to Washington, D.C. Some of the youth were members of St. Paul while others were students from Trinity Lutheran High School in Seymour. In addition to the March, each person also participated in the Y4Life in Washington, D.C. Conference, an event sponsored by Lutherans for Life that began Thursday evening and ended Saturday at noon.
“The conference helped me answer the question ‘Why am I for life?’” said Jaryn Holtsclaw, another student traveler. It helped her connect to the “deeper meaning” behind the March. With approximately 150 participants at the conference, students were able to spend time with 4Life youth from across the nation. They made posters for the march, engaged in devotions, and reflected on how they could support life in their own communities. The high school and college-aged youth also learned about life issues other than abortion, such as suicide, end of life issues, and sexuality. As created, redeemed, and called children of God, they were reminded again and again that their lives matter and so do the lives of their neighbors.
Libby Wischmeier, a member of St. Paul, believes the March and Y4Life Conference are experiences she won’t ever forget. “I am for life because each individual has value. Each life is created by God, in His image,” she said. “I would advise anyone that supports life to go experience that March. It is spectacular to see how many people are filled with joy and care for life, both young and old!”
It was indeed a good weekend for LIFE! If you’d like your youth to attend Y4Life in Washington, D.C. next year or would simply like more information, please contact Michelle Bauman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by Michelle Bauman, Director of Y4Life, Lutherans For Life