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Embrace Grace

First Baptist offers unplanned pregnancy support group

In the ever-present, ever-divisive conversation on abortion, pro-life groups are often accused of demanding that women have their babies but then doing nothing to support them. However, one program at First Baptist Church in Minden is working to buck that stereotype.

“If we’re going to say we are for the lives of these children, then we better get out there and put our money where our mouth is,” said First Baptist pastor Leland Crawford. “We better be willing to help these girls. We can’t just say, ‘Don’t have an abortion,’ and then just leave them out there.”

Since the spring of 2017, First Baptist has hosted a program called Embrace Grace, which seeks to provide support, resources, information, and comfort for single and pregnant women in the community.

“It is a support group for these young girls,” said Pam Morrow, director of the Embrace Grace ministry at First Baptist. “We meet weekly, there’s eleven lessons. We talk about how much the Lord loves them. We’re all sinners – there’s nobody out there that’s perfect.”

Embrace Grace is a nonprofit Dallas-based organization “formed for the purpose of providing emotional, practical and spiritual support for single, young women and their families who find themselves in an unintended pregnancy.” They provide material for local chapters, such as DVD lessons and workbooks.

The fall session of Embrace Grace at First Baptist begins August 14 and runs through October 23, meeting every Tuesday at 6 p.m. Enrollment is open now through August 21.

Morrow was inspired to bring this ministry to First Baptist because she too went through an unplanned pregnancy early in her life.

“I was told to have an abortion,” she said. “Yet I knew God would not be pleased with that. I look back now and I think, if I had done that, I wouldn’t have my precious daughter and my precious grandchildren. I would have missed out on all that.”

Morrow said in 2017 she participated in March for Life, a pro-life rally in Shreveport, and realized that she needed to do more than simple awareness advocacy. After consulting with the Northwest Louisiana Pregnancy Care Center, she heard about Embrace Grace and brought the idea back to members of her church.

“The more we talked about it, the more we realized there’s other people who have walked through that situation, and their hearts are in the same place,” she said. “We want to make sure these girls don’t go through the same thing we did, that they will learn more quickly that it’s what Christ has done for us that assures our value and salvation, not anything good or bad that we’ve done.”

Crawford said the support group includes bringing in people from the church who have experiences in areas that can help the group.

“We want to give them every tool that we can,” he said. “We try to bring people in here who have adopted children to talk to them about if they choose for someone to adopt their child, this is what happens, this is how they screen people, things like that. We want them to know that if they choose to keep their child, we give them resources to help them do that.”

Later in the fall, a follow-up class called Embrace Life will also be offered for graduates who had the baby, helping equip them for parenthood. Embrace Grace will soon be releasing materials for support classes for the men and mothers in these women’s lives as well.

Crawford said the intent behind the program is to offer local women in this situation a place to go when they feel like they have nowhere to turn.

“It’s scary when they get that diagnosis, especially if they have a boyfriend that doesn’t support that, and they don’t feel like they can go to their parents,” he said. “Sometimes they don’t want to go to a church because they think they’ll be judged, so eventually that abortion clinic really starts to look good.”

Despite how some may perceive churches, Crawford said First Baptist is not out to judge these women because “we have no right to judge.”

“We’re trying to reach out to them and say there is an option, and if you choose it, it can really be a blessing,” he said. “We want them to know they’re not alone, that we’re there with them. They’re important, their life is important, they matter.”

In addition to the social community and spiritual aspects of the course, Crawford said Embrace Grace at First Baptist will provide its students with tangible material support as well.

“We ask the girls to commit to coming those eleven weeks, and then before graduation day, we give them a baby shower where our people come and bring things they would need,” he said. “Our Sunday School classes will adopt these girls and bring them really nice gifts: car seats, baby carriages, clothes, diapers, all the things they’re going to need.

Of course they’re going to build relationships, receive love and find out how important their lives really are. But they’re also going to have material support, which may be the only baby shower some of them get.”

Crawford emphasized that any unmarried pregnant woman in the community is allowed to enroll, not just attendees of First Baptist.

“We want you to know you are loved, you are valuable, there’s good things in your life, and this is not the end of the world,” he said. “You can have a life, move on, and really thrive. We want to support you as a church in that.”