The Monroe County Pregnancy Center is preparing to celebrate 30 years of ministry in Forsyth with a dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 1. The dinner will take place at 7 p.m. in the New Providence Baptist Church worship center with guest speaker Joshua Edmonds. Anyone who would like to attend must RSVP by Sept. 18 at 994-3173. Below, founding and current board member Movene Futch reflects on the history and work of the Monroe County Pregnancy Center:
As people across America who respected the value and sanctity of human life began to come to grips with the grave and horrendous consequences of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision in January 1973, which allowed the legal murder of unborn children, called abortion, they began a counter response. These people, who are now called Pro-Lifers, began to open centers which provided free pregnancy tests and services to women who faced a crisis pregnancy. Most of these centers were in large to medium-sized cities. Around the January anniversary of “Roe vs. Wade,” the observance of Sanctity of Life Sunday was also begun.
Here in Forsyth in January of 1989, the pastor of Christ United Methodist Church, Dr. Wes Griffin was struggling with whether or not to preach on the evils of abortion for the upcoming Sanctity of Life Sunday. As he struggled, Wes felt God begin to burden and break his heart over the ever increasing number of innocent babies being aborted each year. As he wept over these lives, he began to sense God speak to his own heart to do more than just preach a pro-life sermon. He sensed God telling him that a crisis pregnancy center needed to be opened here in this town. The following week, he called a number of people from several local churches and shared his vision of starting a crisis pregnancy center here and asked that we meet and discuss the idea. Twelve men and women gathered on a very cold and rainy January night at Christ United Methodist Church a week later, to agree that the need was here and to prayerfully seek God’s direction and to meet again the following week. Our local weekly newspaper, The Reporter, heard about the gathering and reported the group’s interest in the next edition of the paper. About 30 people came to the second meeting. and Wes Griffin shared that the mother of a teenage girl, who had just announced to her parents that she was pregnant, had read the Reporter’s article and had called him, seeking advice and help. Contacts were made and the lifesaving work of The Pregnancy Center of Monroe County began!!
By now it was early February of 1989 and in the weeks and months which followed, this now 30-year-old ministry was carefully and prayerfully organized. It’s doors opened officially in early December of 1989. We had followed the guidelines of organizations like “Care Net”, and “Sav-A-Life.” We had formed a Board of Directors, trained volunteers, and rented a location at 13 North Lee Street in Suite No. 2000 of Mike Sullivan’s Law Office Building, on the square of downtown Forsyth. For these 30 years, Mike Sullivan has been a great and kind landlord. In these past 30 years, he has never raised our rent. (Mike, please know you are greatly appreciated.)
As we were organizing and seeking to learn from others how to establish this work, we could not find a town anywhere the size of Forsyth, which had a crisis pregnancy center. Maybe we were the first of small towns to open this type of ministry. The original Board of Directors was made up of the following people, from a number of churches. Chairman of the Board, Dr. Wes Griffin, J. T. Bunn, Laretta Davis, Eleanor Parsons, Anita Dumas, Cindy Walker, Movene Futch, Nancy Dumas, Erik Leonhard, Dan Singletary, David Toller, Thomas Keasler, Mary Evelyn Jackson, and Rev. Kelly Runyan. In the months which followed we were incorporated as a 501-C non profit organization.
During these 30 years, many people have served on the Board, as Director of the Center, and as Center Volunteers. In all these years we have only paid the Director. All of the other people have given their time and service as volunteers. Our hearts are full of gratitude for each Board member, each Director and every volunteer, who have contributed to the success of the work here. Our Directors have been, Eris Farmer, Nita Fletcher, Pat Wharam, Jennifer Presley, Louise Pearson, Mary Beth Johnson, and Dawnita Moore.
Our volunteers have been many and we give thanks to God for the work each of them have done to carry out the mission of this Center. Some have served on the Board, some have worked with and taught the clients who came, some worked in the clothes closet, some did remodeling and upgrades to our offices, some pulled weeds and removed trash from the property, and some have cleaned the center. These people are the servants of this ministry.
From the beginning, the Board of Directors desired that we would be involved in teaching at our local schools the clear message of abstinence from sex until a student’s educational goals were met and they were in a committed relationship of marriage. For ten years we prayed for the schools to be open to this message. In 1999 the Monroe County School System came to us and asked if we would help them lower teen pregnancies. They agreed that the abstinence message would be our approach. Our first classes began in the fall of 1999 and expanded to all 8th grade students in the spring of 2000. Tracy Willis from the Monroe County Health Department assisted us in this program. In 2002 we started using the “Choosing The Best” materials, which we continue to use today. In 2007 we began teaching Choosing The Best-Soul Mate to Mary Persons’ seniors. Monroe County had begun to see a large decline of teen pregnancies. In 2009, the superintendent asked us to expand the program to teach 1h through 12th grades. Boys and girls are separated in grades 7, 8, and 9. It takes over 20 volunteer instructors to present this program to our students. The best news is that the outcome has been a very low rate of teen pregnancies. Monroe County has one of the lowest teen pregnancy rates in Georgia. For all who have taught and worked in this program, we are deeply grateful. No person could do this alone.
Early in our years of showing clients that abortion was not the best solution to their pregnancy, we began teaching them how to care for themselves and for their baby before and after birth. We use the curriculum called “Earn While You Learn.” Clients earn “Baby Bucks,” for taking these classes, which they use to “purchase” baby clothes, equipment, and supplies from our Clothes Closet. Recently, we have added the “Safe Sleep” program, where they earn a nice pack and play for completing the study.
As the work with young women developed, we were made aware of the need for parenting classes for those parents who made some bad choices and had their children removed from their care. For a number of years we have taught parents, who were referred by DFACS and the judicial system. We are very grateful for some success stories which have come from these Parenting Classes. As we work with all clients in both programs, we seek to share the Good News that our sins can be forgiven through the death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
Much joy comes to us as we celebrate these 30 years of God’s faithful work at The Pregnancy Center of Monroe County. We rejoice that many children and young adults are alive today, because young women chose to give life to their unplanned babies. It is so special to recognize one of these out in our community. We rejoice for every student in our schools who has made the choice to wait until marriage for sex. It brings us great joy to see families who were once separated now living together and doing well. Every woman who came to the Center did not follow our advice, and we grieve the loss of life for those children. As we look back over these thirty years, we give God all the praise for all that has been accomplished. For the hundreds of you who have given financially, filled a baby bottle or given of your time and gifts of helps, we say thank you from grateful hearts.
I believe Wes Griffin did hear God’s call to begin this work and I along with many others are so thankful we have obeyed.