By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
PINEVILLE – Supporters of the first pregnancy care center in central Louisiana signed articles of incorporation, paving the way for an entity that could save the lives of many unborn children.
During a special ceremony March 30 at the Baptist Mission Center in Pineville, a room full of pastors, physicians and other pro-life supporters gathered to finalize paperwork to make the formation of the Cenla Pregnancy Center official. With a targeted opening of late this year, the center will not only equip pregnant women with the necessary education to go through with the birth of their unborn child but provide them with tools for biblical-based parenting.
“Our goal is to save lives and save souls,” said Brian Gunter, pastor of First Baptist Church in Pollock. “We want to save the lives of the children but we also want to share the Gospel with the parents. We want to not only teach about choosing life but we also want to teach about marriage and the role of a mom and dad in the home. We will offer free classes from everything to maternity care to caring for the newborn to parenting to pre-marital counseling.”
Since his church began praying in January 2014 for the establishment of a pregnancy care center in central Louisiana, the idea has far achieved what Gunter or his congregation could have imagined.
Originally, they pondered setting up such a center in the back of their church property.
However, God had other plans.
Hundreds of churches, business leaders and other pro-life advocates in central Louisiana learned of the idea, contributing money and other forms of support to help make it happen. By December 2016, a nine-person board of trustees formed, with members comprised of members from Big Creek, Central Louisiana and North Rapides Baptist Associations.
Recently, Gunter and the board members were approached by a group of non-Southern Baptist business leaders – many who are Catholic – who had planned on opening a similar facility. However, after learning of the Louisiana Baptists’ plans, they opted to instead throw all of their support toward the facility that adheres to the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message statement.
Gunter said the beauty of the center is that while Baptists, Catholics and Presbyterians may have differing viewpoints of a number of theological issues, they rally behind the issue of pro-life.
“We have support beyond the Southern Baptist community,” Gunter said. “We want this to be a center that is 100 percent pro-life, from conception to natural death. Anyone that is 100 percent pro-life, we want their support.”
Now that the articles of incorporation have been filed, the Cenla Pregnancy Center will be operating as a 501c3 tax-exempt organization. An exact location in Alexandria-Pineville will be finalized in the coming months.
Among those who will be volunteering at the center include three pro-life physicians and volunteers who will teach classes on such subjects as maternity care, caring for newborn children and parenting from God’s perspective.
Dr. David Spence, obstetrician-gynecologist at Rapides Regional Medical Center in Alexandria, will serve as the lead physician at the clinic. For the past 35 years, Spence has delivered nearly 8,000 babies and is excited about how he could play a part in a female opting to forgo abortion as a result of visiting the Cenla Pregnancy Center.
“I came here to Alexandria in 1990 and couldn’t believe there was such an abortion issue in a state that is so pro-life,” said Spence, a member of Our Lady of Prompt Succor Catholic Church in Alexandria. “I deal with so many young girls who are pregnant and get such peer pressure from their parents or boyfriend to go through with the abortion. Now, I’m excited we are making a push toward this center and how it will give them an option for life. Instead of going to Shreveport or Baton Rouge to abort the baby, it will give them the opportunity where they have the support and medical care to make another decision.”
For more information on how to donate money or other resources to the Cenla Pregnancy Center, contact the Baptist Mission Center at 318.445.5772.