Heart to Heart: Three phone calls that changed my life Print

Marie smAugust 1988

A report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette quoted a 1983 document, Covenant and Creation, a policy statement of the PCUSA which said that abortion could be morally acceptable in certain circumstances. I read that article and that statement and out of the depths of my being rose the cry, "The Church should not say that!" I was disturbed to the point that I told my children, "Mommy needs to go to her room for a few minutes." I went into my bedroom, closed the door, and fell to my knees saying, "God, you have tied me to a dead body" (meaning the PCUSA which I had joined only a few months earlier) "You have to let me leave this denomination." A silence fell in my spirit and I sensed that God did not approve of my reaction. Weakly, I added, "But if you show me clearly within 24 hours that you want me to stay, I will obey You."

I rose and went back out to tend to my children. A few hours later I received a phone call from an Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh. The Rev. Lowell Meek stated that he had heard I did graphic design and layout. The local PPL chapter needed someone to edit their newsletter. Would I be interested in doing that? It was clear to me that God had provided my answer and that he was calling me to involvement in Presbyterians Pro-Life. That led me to begin a search of Scripture to find out why I felt so strongly in my spirit that abortion was wrong. I was deeply convicted that the Church ought never to say it was 'morally acceptable'. Over the next two years, I studied countless references to life in the womb in the Bible and learned that God saw the child, knew the child, called the child, and had purposes for the child from before birth. My passion grew until I was spending 20 hours a week working as a volunteer for the Pittsburgh PPL Chapter and the Alternatives to Abortion Resource Center that grew out of chapter efforts within the Pittsburgh Presbytery.

A few years later...

I received another phone call from The Rev. Ben Sheldon, then President of PPL. He had heard of my work with the Pittsburgh chapter newsletter and wondered if I would agree to come to General Assembly to do layout for the Daily Delivery. Again, I felt the call of God and was so impressed with the humility and dedication of the PPL GA Team. At the same time I was shocked to witness the deep theological divisions in the PCUSA over abortion and more seriously over the doctrines central to Christian faith. I served on every PPL GA team until 1996 when I returned to full-time teaching and study for my MA in Music Education.

March 2005

Terry Schlossberg (then Executive Director of PPL) called as our family was sitting down to dinner. She shared that she was retiring from PPL and had been charged with finding her own replacement. Would I be interested in applying for the job? She did not know that I had wrestled a few years before with a sense of call when the position of Associate Director of PPL was open. The timing did not seem right for my family then, but now my children were able to care for themselves. Terry also did not know that just two days before her call I had walked into my classroom in the morning and at the moment I came through the doorway a cry went up from my heart, "Lord, why am I here! I want to serve in your Church." Once again, I knew God had spoken.My pastor asked me recently if I could see myself doing something else other than the work of PPL. My answer was, "No." I have no sense of abatement in my call to be a voice for the voiceless and the helpless at both edges of life.

I am sharing very personally in this letter, but the call and mission of PPL is not about me. It was carried on before me by faithful staff and volunteers and I hope it will continue for generations as God calls more and more faithful voices to stand on behalf of the innocent and vulnerable lives He has created.