Thousands of pro-life advocates from across America will gather together online and in person for the National Prayer Luncheon for Life April 30 to honor "high-impact pro-life organizations" and award $85,000 in grants for ongoing effective pro-life ministry and advocacy.
The nominees are: And Then There Were None, Focus on the Family, Sidewalk Advocates for Life, Students for Life of America and the Susan B. Anthony List.
They were selected "for their demonstrated significant, quantifiable impact and measurable successes in saving lives and winning battles against the abortion industry," said spokesperson Karen Garnett, executive director of the pro-life event.
Winners will be chosen based on total vote tallies as cast by pro-life participants across the country via the website nationalprayerluncheonforlife.org. Besides voting, which ends April 23, those interested in participating in the luncheon also can register on the site.
One group will be named the winner of the luncheon's 2021 Pro-Life Impact Award, which includes a $50,000 grant. Two additional pro-life organizations will be named second- and third-place winners, receiving grants of $20,000 and $15,000, respectively.
This year's event is being held both in person at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, and virtually because of the pandemic. Several hundred are expected at the convention center and thousands more are expected to participate via the livestream.
By mid-April, 6,000 pro-lifers across the country had already participated in the voting process for the Pro-Life Impact Award and related grants. That number was already double 2020's participation, according to Garnett, vice president of culture for Heroic Media.
This year's featured speakers include evangelist Alveda King, niece of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and executive director of Civil Rights for the Unborn, and David Bereit, founder and former CEO of 40 Days for Life.
The program also will feature the Bishop Edward J. Burns of Dallas, along with Bridget VanMeans, president and vision leader of ThriVe Nation, Astrid Bennett Gutierrez, president of the VIDA Initiative, and Garnett, whose Heroic Media is producing the event.
The program and awards will be presented live online April 30 from noon to 1 p.m. (Central time), at no cost, with the winners of the Pro-Life Impact Award and grants announced live at the end of the program.
The National Prayer Luncheon for Life began in 2016 "as the brainchild of Heroic Media's founder, Brian Follett, to hold a same-day, same-time prayer luncheon as a direct counter to Planned Parenthood’s annual awards luncheon held in Dallas," Garnett told CNS.
Heroic Media designs and runs professionally made online ads that connect women considering abortion to pro-life facilities that save babies' lives. It raises money to place the ads, its website says.
"From 2016-2020, the goals at the annual prayer luncheons were to gather to pray, and to both outnumber and outraise Planned Parenthood, so that, as Planned Parenthood was raising money to advance their agenda to destroy life through abortion," Garnett said.
"Heroic Media would raise money to counter them year-round through our daily competing ... internet ads as the first line of defense to save lives from abortion."
The ads, she said, are known as OAASYS -- for On-demand Alternatives to Abortion SYStem.
"In 2020," Garnett continued, "all three National Prayer Luncheon for Life goals were achieved for the very first time: in addition to gathering to unite in prayer, nearly 3,000 gathered in person – nearly triple to Planned Parenthood’s attendance -- and $1.83 million was raised to fund Heroic Media's OAASYS mission, compared to $1.1 million raised by Planned Parenthood."
She noted that this year, Planned Parenthood is not having its annual luncheon until the fall.
Asked her assessment of the new Biden administration's impact on the pro-life movement so far, Garnett noted "there are grave concerns about the reversals of Trump administration pro-life policies."
However, she said, "we remain hopeful that the makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court has shifted to a pro-life majority, and many state legislatures are continuing their concerted efforts to implement legislation to protect women and preborn babies from the tragedy of abortion."
She noted that a number of state legislatures "are seeking to pass legislation that they believe could be a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.
Given the new makeup of the high court, such a bill could reach the court and finally be successful in overturning Roe and sending the abortion issue "back to the states," she said. "The movement remains resolute in our efforts, and will not stop until abortion stops."
She told CNS: "We must never let ourselves forget that God is the creator and author of life, and the God of truth, and it is God who calls us to persevere in fighting the daily battles against Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry, to save as many lives as possible on the way to winning the ultimate war of ending abortion."
Gathering "together in prayer and unity" and honoring "outstanding" organizations each year has "an impact of its own, she said, as does the effort throughout the year to identify "more high-impact organizations" to be nominated by pro-life people across America for the annual Pro-Life Impact Awards and related grants.
Contributing to this story was Julie Asher in Washington.