The United Baptist Convention of the Atlantic Provinces, a group pf 550 churches with 325 pastors in the four Atlantic Provinces, is taking a stronger pro-life stand. At the Convention Council’s spring meetings a special committee was set up to investigate the possibility of publishing a high-quality pamphlet explaining our position on abortion and giving our reasons for our position. The Convention Assembly passed a resolution in 1983 which opposes abortion for any reason except to save the mother’s life. Since then, however, the Convention has been silent on this matter.
The committee which consisted of a college professor of sociology, a hospital chaplain, a bookstore manager, two teachers and three pastors, reported back to Council in September with a series of recommendations. These recommendations included education for pastors on respect-for-life issues such as abortion, euthanasia and infanticide and an emphasis on Biblically-bases sex education in the churches. The central recommendation was that the special committee be authorized to hire a researcher for one to three months to do an in-depth study of needs in Atlantic Canada and to write a report on how Baptists can get involved in effective ministry to the victims of abortion. It was felt by the committee that, as Christians, we need to work on alternatives to abortion at the same time as we condemn abortion. It was recommended that the pamphlet and briefs to both the Federal and four Atlantic Provincial governments be prepared as soon as the ministry to the victims is operational.
The response of the forty-member Council to the committee’s report was enthusiastic. One pastor said “We’ve been talking about abortion for ten yeas but this is the first time we have actually done something concrete.” Another commented, “I like the positive approach rather than just being negative all the time.” The Council allotted $1000 for a pro-life educational packet to be mailed to all pastors in the Convention and $3000 to fund the study, which will be carried out in the first half of 1986.
As the largest Protestant denomination in New Brunswick, and a close second in Nova Scotia, the Baptists have an opportunity to influence the Atlantic region significantly. At last, Baptists seem to be moving in a concrete and positive way and that is a cause for rejoicing.
Rev. Craig A. Carter, B.A., M. Div., is pastor of Bedeque and Belmont United Baptist Churches in Prince Edward Island.