By Brian Blackwell, Message Staff Writer
SHREVEPORT — Bone-chilling temperatures may have kept the numbers down but it could not dampen the enthusiasm at the third annual Louisiana Life March North in Shreveport/Bossier.
A crowd of 6,000 – men, women and children of all ages and denominations – joined together for the 1.2 mile walk that started at the Louisiana Boardwalk in Bossier City and ended with a post-march rally at Festival Plaza. A large contingent led the procession with a “Louisiana Life March” banner. Others held up signs proclaiming “Life is Priceless” and “Life is a gift from God,” or urging to “Stop Abortion Now.”
The theme of the event—held Jan. 23, the same day as a similar one in Baton Rouge—was “Life is Priceless.”
Organizer Mike Johnson was pleased that so many would endure the 32 degree weather to take a stand for the unborn.
“We were delighted by the thousands of folks who braved the cold today to make this important stand for life,” said Johnson, a state representative and legal counsel for Louisiana Right to Life. “It was a great event, and a tremendous opportunity for all of us to reach out a renewed hand of compassion again and raise more awareness about this critical issue. We can save more lives if we get more people talking and working for the cause.”
The march took place one day after the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a Supreme Court ruling on Jan. 22, 1973, that made abortion legal in every state.
According to the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, preliminary numbers for 2014 show 10,211 abortions took place, an average of 28 per day. The total represents an increase from the 9,976 abortions performed in 2013 and continues an upward trend from 9,225 in 2012 and 8,955 in 2011.
Louisiana Baptist Convention President Gevan Spinney told the crowd the United States is on the verge of a fourth Great Awakening and encouraged them that now is the time to take a stand for the sake of the unborn.
“It doesn’t matter what the color of our skin is or what the sign is in front of our church,” said Spinney, pastor of First Baptist Church in Haughton. “We are all together for the body of Christ, for one same reason. We stand for life, because life is priceless.”
Brad Jurkovich, pastor of First Baptist Church in Bossier City, encouraged the crowd not to get discouraged but to press on.
“I think it’s critically important that the message of life be clear in our culture,” Jurkovich said. “A Life March like we had today is a great way to encourage and bring clarity to this major cultural and spiritual issue. It’s a good way to communicate with the younger generation what is really at stake with the pro-life movement.”
Among those marching was Barbara Shelton, one of many members there from Cypress Baptist Church in Benton. This was Shelton’s third year to participate in the march.
“The mood is always so upbeat and loving,” Shelton said. “I have some physical challenges but the walk is still doable for me. That is evidenced by the number of seniors, young children, and baby strollers among the crowd.”
Roy Davis said he attended the March because he believes all Christians need to make their voice heard.
“I attended the march because I believe in leading by example,” said Davis, pastor of North Shreve Baptist Church in Shreveport. “If I am urging people to attend then I should attend because life is priceless.
“If we don’t march and put our faith into action then that tells me that many people do not really believe what they say they believe,” he added. “I would rather fight for what I believe than to be too timid to get in the ring.”