Wow! Another year has quickly come and gone for one of our favorite events - Tampa Bay Celebration of Life Rally! This year, the second annual rally, was an amazing weekend of beautiful worship, remarkable speakers, encouraging workshops and powerful testimonies of truth for LIFE!!
One of the many exciting things to note about this years event was that our Friday night session made it into the Tampa Bay Tribune metro section - FRONT PAGE! Here is the link below to read the story.
Held at Countryside Christian Center, Tampa Bay Celebration of Life Rally began Friday at 5:30, when doors opened to the public, for time to connect with local pro-life ministries. Attendees had the opportunity to meet representatives at the many display tables and discuss the ministry, their services and ways to get involved. Around 6:30 worship began in the main auditorium lead by a Rick Starrett, Rick Evans and an amazing local city choir of about 60 people.
Encouraging testimonies from state representative Ed Hooper and Clearwater’s Mayor George Creketos came next Sol Pitcheon CEO of New Life Solutions shared his powerful testimony next and gave facts about abortion that were very sobering.
The night ended with keynote speaker Pastor Andy Merritt who is the founder of the nation's first church sponsored pregnancy center. He has also helped hundreds of pregnancy centers start up in the US. He gave a testimony of the first baby that his pregnancy center helped to parent. Amazingly, it wasn't one baby that was saved but twins that their mom named Faith and Hope. Hope had breathing problems and did not survive infancy but Faith grew and is still a friend and partner of the ministry.
Here are some powerful points from Pastor Andy's message. He showed us the three things that God spoke to him thru the Scriptures. First the slippery slope to Gods judgment. Starting with idolatry the nation of Israel walked the slippery slope. This path led to immorality and then quickly led to inhumanity. Because of this inhumanity God drew a line in the sand specifically on the issue shedding innocent blood. This bible picture reflects the state of our current worldwide issue with abortion. Pastor Andy declared that repentance and revival can avert Gods judgment of shedding innocent blood and encouraged us to stand in the gap for life to. To stand in the gap he told us we can think of the word LIFE - Love, Intercede, Fight, Evangelize and use these words to spur us on into action. To end the evening Pastor Tim Marshick of Suncoast Cathedral gave his powerful testimony and encouraged us all to come back to the morning session, workshops and luncheon.
Saturday morning started with time to network with local ministries at the table displays and around 9am the worship team gave another wonderful performance. From there Pastor Jerry Cisar from Gulfcoast Community Church gave an opening message, prayer and then introduced Reverend Monsignor Robert F. Morris, Vicar General, Diocese of St. Petersburg. Reverend Monsignor gave reflections and asked us a powerful question. How can we repent, pray and witness for Life? He talked about the dignity human life and showed us how it has a thread throughout scripture.
Next State Representative Larry Ahern and his wife discussed how the fight for Life and told us how they prayed and passed pro-life bills. Missions Pastor Art Dykstra of Calvary Chapel followed to invite us all to his church for the third annual Tampa Bay Celebration of Life Rally and shared encouragement from scriptures on the importance of standing for Life. Wrapping up the main morning presentation Minister Reginald Hobbs director of Celebration of Black Life Tampa Bay introduced the morning workshops and showed a clip of the intensely powerful movie Maafa 21.
From there a break was taken and guests were invited to take 2 of the 9 workshops on a variety of topics - starting a pro-life ministry at your church, adoption, human trafficking, abortions facts and procedures, becoming a sidewalk counselor, eugenics, legislative advocacy and post abortion recovery.
This amazing weekend was ended with a luncheon and powerful message from David Bereit the director of 40 days for Life.
Thank you Tampa Bay for attending the second annual Celebration of Life Rally and a big thank you to the board, ministries and presenters that made this encouraging event happen! We look forward to next year’s Tampa Bay Celebration of Life Rally!