American Baptist Resolution Concerning Abortion and Ministry in the Local Church

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The General Board of American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. has solicited and
received significant response through hearings, letters and questionnaires from
individuals and congregations across the country. The response indicates that American
Baptists believe that ministry to persons in situations of crisis pregnancy and abortion is a
concern that primarily affects the local churches to continue studying these issues,
prayerfully seeking, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to come to a position that will
direct them in ministry. The role of the General Board in this matter is not to speak to
churches, but to assist them in carrying out ministry and advocacy according to their
convictions. Therefore, as a reflection of American Baptist thought, this resolution is
offered to assist our churches.

As American Baptists, members of a covenant community of believers in Jesus Christ,
we acknowledge life as a sacred and gracious gift of God. We affirm that God is the
Creator of all life, that human beings are created in the image of God, and Christ is Lord
of life. Recognizing this gift of life, we find ourselves struggling with the painful and
difficult issue of abortion. Genuine diversity of opinion threatens the unity of our
fellowship, but the nature of the covenant demands mutual love and respect. Together, we
must seek the mind of Christ.

As American Baptists we oppose abortion,
• as a means of avoiding responsibility for conception,
• as a primary means of birth control,
• without regard for the far-reaching consequences of the act.

We denounce irresponsible sexual behavior and acts of violence that contribute to the
large number of abortions each year.

We grieve with all who struggle with the difficult circumstances that lead them to
consider abortion. Recognizing that each person is ultimately responsible to God, we
encourage men and women in these circumstances to seek spiritual counsel as they
prayerfully and conscientiously consider their decision.

We condemn violence and harassment directed against abortion clinics, their staff and
clients, as well as sanctions and discrimination against medical professionals whose
consciences prevent them from being involved in abortions.

We acknowledge the diversity of deeply held convictions within our fellowship even as
we seek to interpret the Scriptures under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Many American
Baptists believe that, biblically, human life begins at conception, that abortion is immoral
and a destruction of a human being created in God’s image (Job 31:15; Psalm 139:13-16;
Jeremiah 1:5; Luke 1:44; Proverbs 31:8-9; Galatians 1:15). Many others believe that
while abortion is a regrettable reality, it can be a morally acceptable action and they
choose to act on the biblical principles of compassion and justice (John 8:1-11; Exodus
21:22-25; Matthew 7:1-5; James 2:2-13) and freedom of will (John 16:13; Roman 14:4-5,
10-13). Many gradations of opinion between these basic positions have been expressed
within our fellowship.

We also recognize that we are divided as to the proper witness of the church to the state
regarding abortion. Many of our membership seek legal safeguards to protect unborn life.
Many others advocate for and support family planning legislation, including legalized
abortion as in the best interest of women in particular and society in general. Again, we
have many points of view between these two positions. Consequently, we acknowledge
the freedom of each individual to advocate for a public policy on abortion that reflects his
or her beliefs.

Respecting our varied perspectives, let us affirm our unity in the ministry of Christ
(Colossians 3:12-17):
• Praying for openness and sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit within our
• Covenanting to address both the causes and effects of abortion at the personal and
social levels.


American Baptist Congregations
• To challenge members to live in a way that models responsible sexuality in
accordance with biblical teaching,
• To expend efforts and funds for teaching responsible sexuality,
• To provide opportunities for intergenerational dialogue on responsible sexuality
and Christian life,
• To provide relevant ministries to adolescents and parents of adolescents in and
outside the church.

Pastors and Leaders
• To prepare themselves to minister compassionately and skillfully to women and
men facing problem pregnancies, whatever their final decisions.

American Baptist Regions
• To provide leadership and support for appropriate programs and ministries to aid
the local churches in these tasks.

Seminaries and Institutions of Higher Education
• To provide counsel that will enrich the theological understanding and counseling
skills of American Baptist leaders so that they will be able to assist persons facing
decisions regarding responsible sexuality and abortion.

National Program Boards
• To assist churches by maintaining a current study packet on abortion which could
be helpful to any church’s ministry regardless of its position on this subject.
• To prepare, identify and make available other appropriate materials relating to
responsible sexuality at all age levels.

• To engage in meaningful dialogue on abortion with openness and Christian
• To initiate and/or become involved in creative community ministries in their
communities that provide alternatives to abortion for women with problem
pregnancies and for their loved ones,
• To provide appropriate financial and emotional support for those women who
carry their pregnancies to term and further to maintain contact and provide loving
community for them after birth,
• To acknowledge that men are equally responsible for the creation of problem
pregnancies and to help them to recognize their responsibility for the social,
medical, moral and financial consequences of their behavior,
• To minister with love and spiritual counsel to those who choose to terminate their
• To be actively involved in caring for children who are potentially available for
adoption, including those with special needs, and to assist agencies in order to
facilitate placement for them, and
• To participate in organizations addressing abortion issues in ways that are
consistent with their beliefs, and witness to the reconciling love of God.

• Government, industries and foundations to support the research and development
of safe, reliable, affordable and culturally appropriate methods of contraception
for both men and women worldwide.
• Our governmental institutions to continue to pursue the goals of economic justice,
social equality and political empowerment without which the painful human
dilemmas now being faced will continue without relief. We are concerned that
many women receiving abortions are themselves adolescents who are often
economically disadvantaged.
• Public media (television, cinema, audio and print) to stop the depiction of sex
outside of marriage as normal and desirable, the portrayal of women, men and
children as sex objects and the elevation of sex as the source of all happiness. We
particularly oppose print and cinematic pornography.
• We acknowledge that we often lack compassion, insight and the necessary
commitment needed to serve our Christian community and the wider society
adequately. We affirm our commitment to continue to counsel and uphold one
another, to maintain fellowship with those whose opinions differ from ours and to
extend the compassion of Christ to all.

Adopted by the General Board of the American Baptist Churches – June 1988
161 For, 9 Against, 2 Abstentions.

Modified by the Executive Committee of the General Board – March 1994

(General Board Reference – #8006.5:12/87)

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