FAIRMONT - A chain of people lined up along State Street in Fairmont, prayerfully and peacefully protesting abortion. That's how organizers envision the 2013 Life Chain event.
Throughout the United States and Canada, fellow pro-lifers will create a similar scene Sunday, Oct. 6, as they hold signs bearing simple messages, such as, "Pray to end abortion," "Abortion kills children," and "Jesus forgives & heals."
The event caught on 10 years ago in Fairmont, when Angela Schultz was online researching activities for her pro-life church group. The St. John Vianney member is still organizing the local Life Chain, with assistance from fellow church members Sheila Moore and John Landsteiner.
Life Chain organizers Angela Schultz, Sheila Moore and John Landsteiner pose for a photo as they go about promoting the annual pro-life event.
"It was supposed to be a Protestant-led movement," Schultz said, "but we've had a lot of people from different churches participate."
The local Life Chain lasts for just an hour. People are encouraged to show up at 12:45 p.m. that Sunday at Knights of Columbus Hall in Fairmont, where they will choose from a selection of pre-made signs. From there, they'll fan out along the highway. Child care will be available so parents with small children can attend.
"We're asking people to RSVP so we have a better idea of how many are coming and know how many signs to have on hand," Landsteiner said.
This is Landsteiner's first year assisting with organizing the event. He hopes his presence will set a good example for other young men to show up and stand up for what they believe, and he's grateful for the opportunity Life Chain presents to take that stand.
"I strongly believe in the value of life," he said.
For many Christians like himself, life begins at the moment of conception, not when a pregnancy is deemed viable.
"I can't honestly believe that for 40 straight years we've been killing babies and we cannot make it stop," said Moore, her voice shaking with emotion. "By standing out there with signs, on a highway, we're letting people know we're still here. We're not going anywhere. And as that happens across the entire North America continent, we're sending the message that we're not alone."
Roe vs. Wade, a monumental 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, determined women should have the right to terminate a pregnancy until viability, which was deemed at about 28 weeks.
"I was raised and brought up to stand up for people who can't stand up for themselves, and who else is more voiceless and defenseless than these babies?" Schultz said.
Anyone interested in joining the Life Chain should RSVP by email to firstname.lastname@example.org