“Adopted in Christ” was the theme and primary focus as nearly 200 pro-life Lutherans gathered Aug. 5-6 in Irving, Texas, for the 2011 national Lutherans For Life (LFL) conference. Irving is between Dallas and Fort Worth.
Registrants came from across the United States. They also included an Australian couple, the Rev. Norman and Joy Wurst, members of Lutherans For Life of Australia who were in the country for a family gathering and indicated they were fulfilling a longtime hope by participating in the American LFL conference.
In her welcoming address for the conference, national LFL President Diane Schroeder said, “Our job as the Church and for-life Christians is to make sure that our Lutheran men and women never need to walk into [a pregnancy center].
“Not that they will never make mistakes, because we all do, but because they know that for them abortion is never an option,” Schroeder continued. “Our people need to know that there is a way to handle these difficult situations that is pleasing to God. It is so important that the church talk about these issues.
“If our people do not hear this message of truth and compassion from their church,” Schroeder said, “they are vulnerable to the voice of the culture that says death is the answer to life’s unpleasant situations.”
Dr. Russell D. Moore, author of the book Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families, was keynote speaker for the opening night’s session. He is dean of the School of Theology and senior vice-president for Academic Affairs at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky.
Moore told the assembly, “If we as pro-life people can understand that the issue of orphan care — whether that’s advocating for unborn orphans, or advocating for born orphans in the United States or around the world — is not simply stopping bad things from happening to children. … Instead, there is also a deeper issue here, which is that our advocacy for women and children who are under assault by forces so dark and evil that we cannot even contemplate it, can teach us and show us how to be the Church, how to embrace the Gospel, how to live in the unity of the Spirit.”
Moore suggested that “we see something of what this looks like by what the Spirit [did] in the life of Joseph,” Jesus’ earthly father.
“The Scripture says that when someone is adopted into the family of God, he or she is not some other kind of child,” Moore continued. “This person is now seated at the table with all the relationship to the Father … with all of the inheritance that is received in Jesus Christ. We see that first in the life of our Lord Himself when Joseph really and truly becomes His father through adoption.
“When we care for orphans, through adoption and foster care and through other kinds of ministries to orphans, when we advocate for children whose lives are in jeopardy through abortion and other ways,” he said, “what we are recognizing is that we are doing so as ex-orphans ourselves who have been rescued through the Gospel. And we are also recognizing that when a child is adopted into a family there is a real family formed there.
“Our entire Gospel is at stake in that recognition because there is no such thing as an ‘adopted child,’ only children who were adopted. Adopted in the New Testament is a past-tense verb, not an adjective,” Moore reminded his conference audience.
The next morning included showing of the award-winning 2007 film, “Bella,” followed by a plenary presentation by Dr. Kurt Senske on “The Lessons of ‘Bella’ — affirming life via our own personal calling.”
Senske is CEO of Lutheran Social Services of the South, headquartered in Austin, Texas; chairs the Board of Directors of Thrivent Financial for Lutherans; and also serves on the boards of directors of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and Lutheran Services in America. He is author of the books The Calling — Living a Life of Significance, Executive Values: A Christian Approach to Organizational Leadership and God’s Game Plan for Life.
Conference workshops focused on various pro-life concerns and activities.
The workshops included adoption-related topics such as one with a panel of family members led by Jean Amundson, president of Texas LFL and secretary of the national LFL Board of Directors; and another titled “Adoption: Not first choice, but a choice of love,” led by Jeannette Clausen, director of Pregnancy Counseling and Adoption Services for Lutheran Family Service of Iowa.
Among other workshops, LFL Executive Director Rev. Dr. James I. Lamb explored the topic “In vitro fertilization — promise or peril,” and Senske led discussion of “A picture of possibilities — strategies to live out our calling.”
In his sermon for the conference opening worship service, Lamb also focused on the conference theme, based on Gal. 4:4-5.
“Adopted in Christ — it is this relationship of having a God we can call Father that moves us to be obedient to our Father who is God,” Lamb said. “Adopted in Christ — it is this relationship of having a God we can call Father that moves us not to just be against what our culture of death is for, but to be for what our Father who is God is for.
“That’s what is being expressed in LFL’s mission statement, ‘Equipping Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices For Life,’ ” Lamb explained in his sermon. “The relationship that God, who is our Father, established in Christ through adoption motivates us to be bold voices in the life arena.
“Neither our successes nor failures as His voices For Life have anything to do with our attaining or maintaining our relationship with God as His children. He has taken care of that,” he continued.
“We live in the midst of our victories in the For-Life arena, in the midst of our defeats, in the midst of our frustrations assured of His love, His forgiveness and eternal life,” he reminded the assembly. “God adopted you in Christ. You have a God who is your Father. That is the assurance of His love for you.”
The 2012 national conference of Lutherans For Life is set for Aug. 3-4 at the Eaglewood Resort and Spa, Itasca, Ill., under the theme of “Equipping the Saints For Life.”
This article is based on an Aug. 8 news release from Lutherans For Life.
Posted Aug. 17, 2011