Question: What have a Lutheran pastor, two Baptists and the Knights of Columbus have in common in Cobourg, Ontario?

Answer: A desire to help people with problem pregnancies.


Beginnings is a Christian interdenominational counseling and adoption service started in Hamilton, Ontario, ten years ago to aid unmarried parents and families for whom the birth of a child may be a burden.

In November, it added to its locations in Hamilton, Guelph and Woodstock with the official opening of a new Centre in Cobourg, a small town in Eastern Ontario.  The Centre also serves adjacent Port Hope.

Beginnings was founded by a group of women who were actively involved in counseling women with unplanned pregnancies.  They also had as a goal to assist Protestant couples who were anxious to become adoptive parents.

Two and half years ago, Rev. Glenn Schaeffer, the pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Cobourg, decided that there should be a counseling service available for women with problem pregnancies in Cobourg and Port Hope.

This was to counteract the killing of unborn children in Cobourg General Hospital.

Baptist laymen

Mr. Schaeffer got in touch with two active Baptist laymen, Jim Smith, a carpenter and his father in law, Murray Bickle, a retired farmer, and they set their plans in motion.  They contacted the local Council of the Knights of Columbus which donated $1,500 towards the project with a promise of additional help.

Beginnings rented a pleasant two-room unit in an office building in downtown Cobourg.  The official opening of the premises took place on November 3, 1991, with a dedication and open house.

Training seminars in which would-be counselors are led through Bible study and telephone counseling techniques have already been held for local women.

Dr. Graham Stratford, a pro-life medical doctor, explained the medical aspects of pregnancy to the women.

Birth fathers

The Centre helps birth father as well.  Beginnings provides free pregnancy tests, but the results are not announced for an hour to allow a counselor a chance to talk one-to-one with any woman – married or unmarried – for whom childbirth looms as a burden.   Beginnings helped 28 birth mothers in 1990.

Cobourg Beginnings depends totally on charitable donations from the community.  (The Ontario NDP isn’t funding these pro-life clinics).  A six-kilometer walk in May of this year raised $3,500.  All donations are tax deductible.

Don’t tell Cobourg/Port Hope pro-lifers they’re not willing to help women with unplanned pregnancies.