It was forecast to rain, but the clouds, though bulging with gray and promising a later downpour, held their own and instead floated menacingly above. The weather was a beautiful 60 degrees as a local band played worship music with gusto and people of all denominations and Christians sects---among many, my Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Pentecostal, Anglican, and fellow Baptists brothers and sisters in Christ---filed into place. I sat among a rough estimate of 700 people in the World's Fair Park Amphitheater; praise to Jesus, there were definitely increased numbers since the last few years before. In fact, while I couldn't quite put a finger on it, there seemed to be a different spirit in the air altogether. A kind of sense of hope and motivation, as though we had all passed through an invisible storm and passed into the eye, with a sudden recognition of safety and a grasp of something tangible. There was nothing particularly different about the program departing from the usual schedule, and yet the mass seemed unusually strengthened, a marked excitement in the air evidenced by the loud, collective responses and filed seats.
Stacey Dunn, wife of Tennessee Representative Bill Dunn and organizer of the event, approached the platform, addressing those in attendance as "friends of life," and commencing that "there's no place we could be more important than we are now." Mrs. Dunn continued to commemorate the 60 million lives lost since the landmark Supreme Court decision occurring on the same day 44 years ago. "We are not here to celebrate, but to mourn the millions of lives; we are here to grieve, to beg for God's mercy for our country." In the same invocation, Mrs. Dunn provided words of encouragement, relaying the good news that abortion has decreased by a considerable 1.6 million each consecutive year since 2014; she attributed this success to the impact of "pro-life efforts at the state level," as well as to the "spiritual leaders of the community." She quickly complemented the praise with a cautionary charge which undoubtedly burned in many minds, however; that is, we must "not be satisfied" or assume complacency in light of the pro-life victories until Roe v. Wade is uprooted entirely. Local political notables like Roger Kane, Zachary Jones, Bill Dunn and Jimmy Matlock showed support in appearing. Trinity Community Church was represented by Pastor Tim Merwin, and Immaculate Conception Church by Father Timothy Sullivan.
My personal interview with Mrs. Dunn revealed her heart in hosting the annual Knoxville March for Life. With sincerity in her eyes and a gentle, no-nonsense simplicity, she contended,"We must take a stand for life...as Christians, the Scriptures simply command it."
Regarding the recent women's march and whether or not it is feasible to consider women's rights where the rights of the unborn are denied: "Where we have to deny [rights] for some while thinking that we are empowering others is a sad day...it is never empowering. We will not be intimidated; we march for Truth and Life."
The March involved attendees holding pro-life signs proceeding to and praying over Clinch Avenue's Knoxville Center for Reproductive Health INC. This experience testifies to the fact that grassroots and local action truly do make a difference in this nation's direction; as Pastor Merwin rightly likened the circumstances to Gideon and his tiny, but divinely-ordained band of men, "He gets the glory the way He plans it." May God receive all glory and ignite in His people a righteous love for the, in Mrs. Dunn's words, the most "vulnerable, precious gifts" among us.