For many N.C. Baptist churches like Cornerstone, serving in North Carolina pregnancy care centers has not only given them an opportunity to help women choose life when an unplanned pregnancy comes, but to introduce them to Jesus, as well.

Shakira loved being a mom. She calls it the greatest job there is.

But Shakira already had six kids when she found out she was pregnant again. The thought of adding more kids to her already hectic life of a busy mom, full-time employee and full-time student seemed overwhelming. She felt stretched beyond her capacity. 

Shakira started googling for help – prenatal care, resources and someone to talk with. That’s when she discovered The Pregnancy Network, a multidenominational Christian organization in the Triad that serves women who need help to face an unplanned pregnancy.

Through The Pregnancy Network, Shakira got the support she needed. She also met Charlotte Haywood, a registered nurse and member of Cornerstone Baptist Church in Greensboro. Not long after the two met, Charlotte invited Shakira and her boyfriend to join her at church. Eventually, Shakira married her boyfriend, they gave their lives to Jesus, and they both were baptized at Cornerstone. 

“I love Miss Charlotte,” Shakira said. “Miss Charlotte was like my step way to the Lord.”

For many N.C. Baptist churches like Cornerstone, serving in North Carolina pregnancy care centers has not only given them an opportunity to help women choose life when an unplanned pregnancy comes, but to introduce them to Jesus, as well.

“The heroes of the pro-life movement are the men and women working in pregnancy care centers across this nation day after day, meeting women with unplanned pregnancies at the point of their need and educating and empowering them to choose life, saving baby after baby after baby after baby after baby,” said Miles Mullin, vice president and chief of staff of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), at last November’s annual meeting of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. “These centers would not be able to do their work without the support of local churches.”

N.C. Baptist churches have illustrated this principle for decades, as they’ve volunteered in pregnancy care centers throughout the state. At the 2023 annual meeting, the ERLC awarded N.C. Baptists a Psalm 139 Partner for Life award for their service on the front lines of this work.  

The June 2022 overturning of Roe v. Wade and the 12-week abortion ban enacted by the North Carolina legislature in 2023 has made the work of clinics like The Pregnancy Network even more urgent.

“Those two things colliding means that there will be fewer abortions,” said Hope Earwood, director of development and communications at The Pregnancy Network. “We are obviously rejoicing over the lives that have been saved after this recent legislation. But the reality for pregnancy centers is this news is really frightening for women experiencing unplanned pregnancies. Because, for the woman facing an unplanned pregnancy, fear is a really powerful force in her decision-making. And abortion may feel like her only way out, so the fear is amplified when the way out becomes harder to obtain.” 

The Pregnancy Network offers several programs designed to support pregnant women, including medical services, pregnancy tests, limited obstetric ultrasounds, and STD testing and treatment. 

The network does more than simply treat the medical needs of the women they serve, though. They also aim to meet their emotional and spiritual needs. While providing care to pregnant women, they inform them about their choices and support them in making decisions they are content with. If the woman is open to the conversation, they also share the gospel.

Church volunteers play key roles in that work and other behind-the-scenes ministry at the network.

“We are an organization that is volunteer-led and staff-supported,” Earwood said. “So what that means is The Pregnancy Network is led by volunteers, and supported by the paid staff. So our peer advocates, and office volunteers, they’re the ones that are doing the ministry offered to the woman we serve. They’re the ones connecting with them and counseling them one-on-one.”

Haywood, a registered nurse, began her work at the network as a volunteer about seven years ago. Today she serves on the ministry’s staff.

“It’s a tremendous blessing that churches get involved with not just our center but also their local centers across the state,” Haywood said. “This is where the impact is most felt. If life doesn’t begin, then there’s no opportunity for God’s work. Helping a woman, who may be undecided or considering abortion and changing her mind, is powerful. This might happen after an ultrasound, or later, as she reflects on everything.

“Providing support and ensuring she knows she’s not alone in this journey, walking with her through her pregnancy, is an immense blessing.”

James Copeland, the sending pastor at Life Community Church in Jamestown, says his church has been involved at The Pregnancy Network for more than a decade. He notes they have volunteers serving in many different ways, including as mentors for the women. 

“I think … like a lot of churches, like in our church buildings, we can easily get kind of insulated,” Copeland said. “When you get into a crisis pregnancy scenario, it’s quite messy. It’s been really good for our people to be able to be out of the church bubble and on the front lines of interacting with people and engaging people.”

EDITOR’S NOTE – Tobin Perry is a freelance writer with more than 20 years experience writing about faith and ministry. This article originally appeared in the January/February 2024 issue of the Biblical Recorder magazine.