Starting a Pregnancy Care Center

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From: September/October 1993 Children’s Ministry Magazine

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“The United States reports 1.6 million abortions every year,”
says Martha Harper, a crisis pregnancy services specialist with
Florida Baptist Family Ministries. “For some women, an unplanned
pregnancy creates a panic and crisis in their lives. They may view
abortion as a quick solution. Few women actually know what happens
to their bodies or to the baby they are carrying during an
abortion. Nor are they prepared for the emotional trauma that
follows an abortion.”

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that we can make a difference. The First
Baptist Church of Leesburg, Florida, is one of many churches that
has started a Pregnancy Care Center (PCC). Since opening in 1987,
the PCC has served over 7,000 clients. Of those clients wanting an
abortion when they came into the center, 85 to 90 percent decided
to keep their babies.

“The love of Jesus is the only adequate answer for women facing
such a serious spiritual, moral, and social dilemma,” says Susan
Stanley, director of the PCC. “It is not enough just to shake an
accusing finger in the face of a young woman considering an
abortion. As Christians, we are called to offer a biblical
alternative.”

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You can have a significant ministry to women and unborn children
by establishing a pregnancy care center through your church. Here’s
how:

1. Pray. Share your vision with others and ask them to pray with
you for God’s direction.

2. Form a steering committee. You’ll need four or five committed
people who’ll help determine medical services, legal matters,
financial matters, and education. The steering committee will need
to

*Establish the need for a Pregnancy Care Center. Through a
community survey, determine local support, referral sources, and
services in existence for women in crisis pregnancies. If you
decide to open a PCC, compile your research into a referral
manual.

*Get expert help. Contact your denomination’s social service
agency to find out if it has a crisis pregnancy specialist on staff
to help you get started. If no resources are available within your
denomination, contact the Pregnancy Care Center, 219 N. 13th St.,
Leesburg, FL 34748, (904) 787-8839.

*Define your objectives. “Our PCC has a dual objective-to offer
abortion alternatives and to evangelize and disciple the client,”
says Stanley. “We believe abortion is wrong even in the hard cases
such as rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother. But
most of all, we believe that Christ is the greatest need in every
client’s life.”

Clearly set out your position on these delicate issues: What are
your views on abortion? Will your staff present the gospel to
clients? What is your philosophy on abstinence? Will you do
lifestyle counseling to women having sex outside of marriage? Will
you educate on issues such as AIDS and other sexually transmitted
diseases?

*Take care of business. File the articles of incorporation as a
nonprofit organization with an attorney and as a tax-exempt
organization with the IRS.

*Appoint a board of directors and a board president. The board
will establish policies and procedures, approve a budget, appoint
and evaluate the PCC director, monitor legal and financial matters,
and set and approve your mission statement and goals.

3. Raise funds for start-up needs. Your major needs will include
office space, furnishings, supplies, and a director (paid or
volunteer) who’ll recruit, train, and coordinate the volunteers.
Some centers have a paid receptionist. You’ll need to raise funds
to offset the cost of ongoing expenses such as utilities, supplies,
and payroll. Establish a realistic budget.

4. Select a director and recruit volunteers. Have the director
make presentations at churches and service clubs to let people know
how they can play a part in the ministry. You’ll need volunteers to
fill many roles-counselors, supply-closet organizers, friendly
visitors, and more.

5. Train volunteers. The initial training should be done by an
experienced director or by a crisis pregnancy specialist who has
helped churches establish new PCCs. We require counselors to attend
one to eight hours of classroom training followed by 12 hours of
observation and hands-on training in the center. Volunteer training
content includes statistics on abortion; the scriptural basis for
the sanctity of human life; an overview of services to be offered
by the center; training in faith-sharing; crisis pregnancy
counseling techniques; the mission statement and goals of the
center; an overview of and commitment to confidentiality; roles of
the director, receptionist, counselor, and shepherding homes; the
correct documentation of files and logs; and follow-up
procedures.

6. Plan for physical needs. The PCC offers the following
services to meet the client’s physical needs:

*Material needs-We have a supply closet with maternity clothes,
baby clothes and blankets, diapers, formula, baby powder, cribs,
and car seats.

“The center rarely buys anything to stock the supply closet,”
Stanley says. “Donated goods come in daily from people in the
community who support our objectives.”

*Financial and vocational counseling-Trained volunteers offer
counseling or make referrals to schools and other agencies.

*Housing-Women who need housing are referred to maternity homes,
our church’s shelter for homeless women, or to shepherding homes. A
shepherding home is a family who volunteers to take in a pregnant
woman who needs temporary housing.

To be accepted in a shepherding home, a minor’s parent must sign
a release which gives consent for medical treatment and absolves
the PCC of any liability during the minor’s stay in the shepherding
home. The minor’s parents sign another permission form
acknowledging that their daughter will be required to follow the
shepherding family’s rules and to attend regular counseling. This
form also absolves the shepherding home family from any
liability.

*Transportation-Volunteers transport our clients to doctor
appointments, counseling sessions, or to important meetings. The
client signs a statement absolving the volunteer of any liability
in case of an accident.

*Child-care-Baby sitters are arranged if a volunteer or a client
has no other alternative.

*Education-We offer classes in nutrition, childbirth, and
breast-feeding.

*Adoption vs. parenting-If the client is considering adoption, a
trained volunteer adoption counselor helps the client discern God’s
will for herself and her baby.

“The PCC is the best thing that ever happened to me,” says a
former client. “I came to the center seeking my third abortion. But
thanks to the PCC, the baby I planned to abort was born in December
of 1992. She is a beautiful, healthy baby girl, and I can’t imagine
life without her.”

Reaching out to families with biblical alternatives and
practical help through a crisis pregnancy ministry is one of the
newest mission fields challenging Christians. Through a PCC, your
church can lovingly minister to women facing troubling
choices.ú

Malinda Zellman is a free-lance writer and Sunday school
teacher in Florida.

Please keep in mind that phone numbers, addresses, and
prices are subject to change.

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