Bringing together over 1000 attendees from all over the world, the Heartbeat International 40th Annual Conference kicked off in Columbus, Ohio.
Pregnancy Help Centers, Maternity Homes and Adoption Agencies from many locations across the United States, and from countries such as Uganda, Africa, Ghana, and Australia are receiving training and education on topics ranging from Medical Matters, Center Defense, and Sexual Integrity to Social Media and Spiritual Refreshment.
Leading African-American Pastor, Bishop Joseph Garlington, a prominent church leader who was instrumental in establishing a Pregnancy Help Centers in the neediest neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, kicked off the Conference with a stirring address. Bishop Garlington exhorted the attendees saying “It’s time to challenge the church to say things.”
He also encouraged the work of the Pregnancy Help community by noting, “God closes one door and opens another, but it’s hell in the hallway.”
The Heartbeat International conference marks the 40th anniversary of this affiliation of over 1100 Pregnancy Help Centers throughout the world.
Sister Paula Vandegaer, one of the three founders of Heartbeat International, was honored with a Legacy Award. Sister Paula, speaking of the early days of the Pregnancy Help movement, said, “Those were crazy years… Protestants and Catholics didn’t work together then” but then noted that the pregnancy help movement is stronger than ever because we’ve come together for the cause of life. She ended her remarks by reminding the crowd that, “Heroes and Heroines are not needed to change our country. All of us together will change the country.”
The Heartbeat International Annual Conference will feature other well-known speakers such as Father Frank Pavone, with Priests for Life, former NFL player Shawn Harper, and veteran TV News Reporter and anchorwoman, Teresa Tomeo. The conference runs through Friday, May 20th and closes with a celebration banquet honoring Heartbeat’s 40 years of service since it’s founding in 1971, pre Roe v. Wade, as Alternatives to Abortion.
The closing keynote will be a challenge by Heartbeat’s president, Peggy Hartshorn, to the next generation to continue to make a world of difference.