Participants at the Lutherans For Life conference said they were impressed with the biblical “foundations” that speakers laid for approaching an array of life concerns.
Those participants represented a broad range of experience in and knowledge of life concerns and work to raise those concerns — including LCMS Life Ministries Director Maggie Karner, who said she thought the conference “was particularly great, in that it served to emphasize some key biblical foundations for why these life issues are so critical for all Christians,” and a teenager at his first LFL event who said he felt “pumped up” for spreading the truth about life concerns among his peers and younger kids at his church in Lincoln, Neb.
“In the Hand of God” was the theme for the 2007 annual conference, July 6-8 in Omaha.
Rev. Ed Brandt, pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Ute, Iowa, said he and his wife, Eileen — who both serve on the Iowa LFL board — have attended several national conferences since their first one at Minneapolis in the mid-1980s.
“Based on what we’ve seen and heard in talking with people at these conferences, they’ve always been good, motivating, and uplifting, Brandt said. “At this time, there is definitely a wide range of concerns and responses — to stem cells, cloning, end-of-life issues, abortion … and especially at this conference, a real emphasis on the challenge of evolution.”
Brandt said he thought the message delivered by one of this year’s keynote speakers, Dr. Wallace Schulz, evangelist with Lutheran Heritage Foundation, was “powerful in his exhorting us to speak out on the issues.
“We shouldn’t be silent or retiring about life issues” is how Brandt summed up Schultz’s address based on Scripture texts from 2 Corinthians.
Dr. David Menton, associate professor emeritus of anatomy and neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Dr. Dean O. Wenthe, president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, also spoke to the conference on “The Christology of Life … and the Spirit of Life,” and “Chance or Design,” respectively.
“He really presented the scientific evidence in a way that was so compelling,” Brandt said of Menton. “Not with big words, but just mind-boggling, as he spoke of the intricate design that God gives to things that are so small, even as small as a hair.
“But especially, he made the point that evolution and Christianity cannot co-exist,” Brandt said, adding that he was struck when Menton quoted an atheist as saying, “Evolution undermines the Gospel. If there is no Adam, there is no fall. If there is no fall, there is no hell. If there is no hell, there is no need of Jesus as the second Adam and Savior. As a result, the whole biblical system of salvation collapses. Evolution thus becomes the most potent weapon for destroying the Christian faith.”
“Many people don’t make the connection between the world’s acceptance of evolutionary thought and the devaluing of human life,” Karner said.
“This conference did an excellent job of educating those in attendance about the miracle of creation and the value that God placed on each of His marvelous works — especially that of human life — the crown of His creation.”
Karner said she also “greatly appreciated” Wenthe’s “words on the beauty of Christ’s incarnation. This area of theology is rich with implications for the sanctity of human life, and Dr. Wenthe did a fabulous job in presenting the biblical text in all its fullness.”
Also on the conference program were Buddy Davis, a speaker, singer and songwriter with the Answers in Genesis organization, who spoke on “Dinosaurs: Separating Fact from Fiction,” and LFL Executive Director James I. Lamb, who conducted the Sunday-morning Bible study and delivered the sermon for the worship service that followed.
In the Bible study, Lamb referred to three “foundation stones” on which the Christian stands when connecting God’s Word with life issues: “We are created by God’s hands, redeemed by His hands, and he calls us and holds us in His hand.
“This foundation does not shift or change, … [it] gives value to human life because of what God has done, … [and it] enables bold and joyful proclamation of the value of God’s gift of life in all circumstances,” Lamb said.
The conference also featured workshops on life-related topics.
Mikal Wittler, 13, the teenager mentioned earlier in this story — who is a member of Faith Lutheran Church, Lincoln — said that listening to Lamb’s Bible study and sermon was “a great experience. I learned a lot from him. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know a lot about life issues before this conference, but I sure learned a lot there, and want to know more.”
“It was a great experience for anyone who is a believer, ” Mikal said. “They should try it to see what they can learn.”
For attending his first LFL conference, Mikal said he “owes a lot” to Dorothy Kreick, a fellow member of Faith, Lincoln.
A retired state worker, Kreick, 79, made sure that Mikal received cost-free national conference registration offered through Nebraska Lutherans For Life to any first-time attendee.
Active in LFL for what she estimates to be 20 years, Kreick said she has spent much of that time “trying to get others interested in Lutherans For Life. From the very beginning, I’ve thought abortion is just horrible.”
As they made their way to conference workshops in the Doubletree Hotel and Executive Meetings Center, Mikal accompanied Kreick through the hallways, assuring her that they were heading toward the correct conference rooms.
“He was a big help. He followed me around a lot at first,” Kreick said of Mikal, whom she also encouraged to meet other young people at the conference.
Kreick said that by the time the conference ended, as their group assembled for the ride back to Lincoln, “we actually had to hunt him up for the ride home,” since Mikal had easily made friends with other pro-life young people.
“We had a good time,” she said.
For more information about Lutherans For Life, call (888) 364-5433, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.lutheransforlife.org on the Web.
Posted July 17, 2007