Evangelical groups are working together to produce resources that will equip the church in responding to far-reaching changes to abortion laws in Northern Ireland.
The resources will be launched at an international conference being hosted jointly by Both Lives Matter, the Evangelical Alliance, and the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission on June 19 and 20.
Stand for Life: Belfast will bring together local Christian leaders to think biblically about issues of life and human dignity.
The conference is being organised after abortion was decriminalised in the province last October at the initiative of Westminster MPs.
Dawn McAvoy, co-founder of Both Lives Matter, said the Church had a “vital role to play in shaping a true culture of life” and advocating for the dignity of both the unborn and their mothers.
“We’re entering a new phase in the history of Northern Ireland,” she said.
“We will continue to help people re-imagine, advocate and model a better story about the dignity of both mother and unborn child as abortion becomes more widely available here.”
The conference will also provide training for delegates on how best to serve women and the unborn within their communities, alongside existing local initiatives.
David Smyth, the Evangelical Alliance’s head of Northern Ireland, said, “This is an important moment for the Church in Northern Ireland to speak with one united voice about the dignity of both mother and child.
“We must carefully navigate how to keep the conversation on abortion current without it becoming the defining issue.
“We are committed to making sure the church is ready for this moment and Stand for Life Belfast is a hopeful and proactive response to the specific context of Northern Ireland.”
To coincide with the conference, the ERLC will be funding the placement of an ultrasound scanner at a faith-based women’s ministry to support pregnant women in challenging circumstances.
ERLC president Russell Moore said: “Our hope is that our long and tragic experience with abortion here in the United States might give us a unique ability to serve the churches of Northern Ireland in light of this new reality.
“We are not coming with all the answers. Instead, we hope to communicate to our brothers and sisters in Christ that we will be alongside them for prayer and support for the challenging work that lies ahead.”