About 3,800 Christians of various denominations—including Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS)—attended Pro-Life Action Ministries’ all-day Solemn Good Friday Vigil at the Planned Parenthood (PP) St. Paul Health Center - Vandalia abortion facility on April 19, 2019. This was the largest attendance in the history of this annual event that has been conducted by Pro-Life Action Ministries for 36 years.
Fourteen area pastors—one each half hour throughout the 7.5-hour vigil—led with Scripture readings and prayer meditations. Between these prayer meditations, solemn hymns were sung by four different choirs during the day. A life-sized cross was carried as all were admonished to remain deep in prayer, reflecting on the suffering, death, and burial of Christ and the more than 6,200 babies killed in 2017 inside the PP facility.
At the opposite end of the street, PP organized a street party, including bands, loud recorded music, and a food truck, in support of abortion. The PP supporters were noticeably fewer in numbers than previous years. The PP street party has shortened in length in recent years as well, starting long after Pro-Life Action Ministries’ vigil and ending much sooner.
“I asked four times throughout our vigil who had never attended before. There were about 20 – 25% who raised their hands each time. I also asked who had seen the movie Unplanned, and almost all hands were raised,” said Brian Gibson, executive director of Pro-life Action Ministries and emcee for the vigil. “Many signed up to learn how to become sidewalk counselors, and many more stated a willingness to pray at area abortion facilities on a scheduled basis,” Gibson continued.
Pro-Life Action Ministries has been training and organizing sidewalk counseling since 1981, organizes 40 Days for Life campaigns in the Twin Cities, MN, and organizes many other activities related to stopping abortion.
Pro-Life Action Ministries rented a parking ramp at a nearby college. Also rented were ten school buses to shuttle participants back and forth to the vigil site. All efforts were made to keep as accurate an estimate of attendance as possible since the crowd turned over multiple times throughout the day. Several individuals took actual counts of those present each half hour. The largest count at any one time was about 1,500, where movement was extremely slow and difficult. At this point in the day, more than 500 individuals had already left the vigil site. A count of the number of participants who left the vigil site was kept as well, being the simplest method of keeping count. The 3,800 attendance number is a conservative estimate.