By Joy Allmond
Since the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision to allow abortion on demand was handed down in 1973, churches around the nation have since observed Sanctity of Human life Sunday on the third Sunday of January.
This year the observance is January 20.
“This is something churches have done for almost 50 years,” said Dan Darling, vice president of communications for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention—and a pastor himself.
“We do it in January because it’s right around the time the decision came down. What churches are essentially doing is using that time to lament the fact that abortion is still legal—that unborn babies are still marked for death.”
Darling, who recently talked with Facts & Trends about this issue, said Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is also a time for local churches to ask themselves what they can do to support life—and the women making decisions about the unborn babies they carry in their wombs.
He says the purpose of this observance is also “to celebrate the sanctity of life and remind people that every human being has dignity and worth, that life begins not when we say it does, but when God says it does (at conception), and that we should stand up for the most vulnerable among us.”
Here are some ways Darling said churches can observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday and advocate for the most vulnerable, even beyond the observance.
Preach on human dignity
Darling says one thing pastors can do to observe Sanctity of Human Life Sunday is to preach a sermon from texts that address human dignity.
“Typically, pastors will preach from Psalm 139, where King David talks about how life is knit together by God in a mother’s womb,” he said. “Or they’ll talk about Genesis 1 and 2, which tells us every human being is created in the image of God.”
Encourage church members to get involved
Sanctity of Human Life Sunday takes everyone’s involvement, says Darling.
“Churches will also encourage their people to partner with a local pregnancy resource center, which is at the front lines, encouraging young women in crisis to keep their babies, but also offer the church as a family for them during a difficult season,” he says.
Churches can raise money for these centers to buy necessities for their cause—like ultrasounds. Darling says congregations can also use the observance to mobilize volunteers from within their congregations to come alongside members of the community who are touched by this issue.
Free church resources for Sanctity of Human Life Sunday—and beyond
- A downloadable church bulletin insert for January 20
- Watch the live stream of Evangelicals for Life, an annual conference held in Washington, D.C., that explores and recognizes different aspects of human dignity from the unborn to the disabled to the elderly to the human trafficking victim. Hosted by ERLC and the North American Mission Board, this year’s dates are January 16-18.
JOY ALLMOND (@joyallmond) is managing editor of Facts & Trends.
Watch our full conversation with Darling: