Hillsdale College for Life has begun a new, biweekly prayer meeting, adding a spir­itual com­ponent to the club’s activ­ities. Pixabay

Hillsdale College for Life has started a biweekly prayer min­istry to bring awareness to the issue of abortion.

Senior HCFL Presidet Kathleen Russo explained the addition to the club’s port­folio of activ­ities as “a nec­essary part of HCFL’s work to promote the value of life.” By for­mally rec­og­nizing the faith-based aspect of the club in this way, HCFL can more accu­rately and hon­estly meet its goal to “unify” the student body through advo­cating for the sanctity of human life. The meetings will happen twice a month on Sundays at 1:15 p.m. in the formal lounge.

Sophomore Bryce Asberg, a club board member, echoed the need for spir­itual guidance.  

“Our efforts to promote the sanctity of life are not going to succeed apart from God, so it seemed like a good idea to set aside time to pray over these issues,” he said.

The HCFL’s leaders said the per­ceived change isn’t so much of a shift in ideals as a for­mality.

Russo addressed con­cerns that the club may become too “cliquey” or exclusive, and said a primary goal of the club is to “reach out to all the various campus faith groups,” and encourage political involvement and activism.

“Prayer has always been an element of what we do. Whether it is with 40 Days for Life or sidewalk coun­seling, there has always been a large Christian presence in the movement,” Russo said.

According to their mission statement, 40 Days for Life is a pro-life cam­paign with “a vision to access God’s power through prayer, fasting, and peaceful vigil to end abortion.” Sidewalk coun­seling is a less formal way to spread awareness through out­reach and abortion edu­cation, where vol­un­teers stand outside of abortion centers to speak with women and passersby.

HCFL also aims to fortify student’s pro-life opinions through exposure to secular and sci­en­tific support for the issue. Russo said she believes, when it comes to arguing against abortion, the sci­en­tific support for life beginning in the womb out­weighs bib­lical evi­dence.  

“Stu­dents should never be sat­isfied with jus­ti­fying their pro-life con­vic­tions purely based on their reli­gious beliefs, and it is the goal of the HCFL board to arm them with all the knowledge nec­essary to be able to intel­li­gently defend the science behind it,” she said.

Russo hopes the min­istry will cause stu­dents to both question and justify their beliefs, as well as fortify them with mul­ti­faceted argu­ments. She said she believes HCFL rep­re­sents a movement in the right direction that can serve as a model for other schools and orga­ni­za­tions in the future.

“I don’t expect moun­tains to move, but I do hope that the issue of abortion moves a little closer to the fore­front of our campus’ mind,” Russo said.

Russo said she isn’t afraid to dream big in terms of what HCFL can accom­plish in the future.

“My dream is the chapel packed full of stu­dents once a month praying for the sanctity of life — and I don’t think that is too absurd to wish for if we truly take our faith seri­ously,” she said.

The prayer group cur­rently has 10 – 15 people and is growing. Both HCFL club leaders and members hope prayer meetings can be a place of “con­nection, unity, and under­standing,” rather than con­flict.

Manocchio said the min­istry has a “very flexible format,” including an opening passage of scripture, an inter­cessory prayer, and a closing prayer. The rest of the meeting is deter­mined by what group members want to pray for that day.

One feature of the club Manocchio finds espe­cially valuable is the diversity of prayer during meetings, indi­cating the variety of issues within the pro-life movement.

“We pray for every­thing from the unborn and pregnant mothers, to pro-life politi­cians and blessings for the orga­ni­za­tions that spend each day fighting abortion,” Manocchio stated.

A detailed list of prayer requests describing local and national pro-life issues is available for stu­dents who aren’t as familiar with the pro-life movement, Asberg said. After choosing an issue, stu­dents are encouraged to pray aloud or silently.

“It’s whatever they’re com­fortable with,” he said.