Updated: Apr 19, 2021
By Sarah Quale — On August 19, 2019, the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners in Yadkinville, North Carolina, passed a resolution to become the nation’s first sanctuary county to protect pre-born children from abortion. The resolution is the first step in a larger, three-pronged strategy put forth by the Personhood Alliance that is calling the pro-life movement back its roots and replicating the approach of early Christians in shifting the culture.
“The passage of this pro-life resolution is a historic event,” says Pastor Keith Pavlansky, president of Personhood North Carolina, who leads the Sanctuary for Life effort in the state. He and several other pastors and community leaders came together to build the momentum that led to the passage of Yadkin County’s resolution. “We have returned to constitutional law,” says Pavlansky. “We have rejected the ideologies of politicians and judges who permit the killing of pre-born and newly born children, and we look forward to drawing together as a community and helping expectant mothers and fathers as we work to create and defend a culture of life.”
Pastor Keith Pavlansky, president of Personhood North Carolina
According to a press release on the Yadkin County initiative, Personhood Alliance’s phased Sanctuaries for Life approach helps towns and counties “divest from the culture of death and invest in a culture of life.” Personhood Alliance president Gualberto Garcia Jones explains that Personhood Alliance’s affiliate organizations, like Personhood North Carolina, are not only seeking to make a bold statement about the protection of pre-born children, but are also calling for a return to constitutional self-governance, where communities can come together, build a culture of life, and affect lasting change from the ground up.
Pavlansky’s appeal to the Yadkin County Board of Commissioners just prior to the vote speaks volumes.
The pastors involved in the first sanctuary county in America reacted last night to the vote and shared what this means for Yadkin County, for North Carolina, and for America.
Garcia Jones adds:
“The pro-life movement has fought a long, hard battle for almost 50 years now, but we’ve relied heavily on the national centers of power to solve one of the greatest injustices in history. This is similar to David walking up to Goliath and trying to engage him on his own ground. We need a realistic and practical way to combat judicial tyranny and to end the vicious cycle of electing ‘pro-life’ representatives who compromise and abandon us every time.”
At the same time, Garcia Jones notes, efforts need to address why abortion is happening and rally around mothers and fathers to provide local support that honors life and family. Kevin Austin, Yadkin County Chief Commissioner explains the motivation behind the sanctuary county initiative:
“Yadkin County is home to a great number of individuals, churches, and non-profit organizations who are willing to help out young mothers and families. Our society must find ways to support rather than abort, so it is awesome to see so much love here.”
According to Garcia Jones, the Personhood Alliance’s three-step Sanctuaries for Life initiative provides a blueprint for towns and counties like Yadkin who want to protect pre-born children, create a culture of life, and ultimately, take tangible steps to prohibit abortion in their jurisdictions.
“The first step is the initial resolution, where the county board or city council makes a bold, but legally benign declaration to establish the moral and legal foundation for becoming a sanctuary for life. That foundation is acted upon in step two, where churches, local government, and community and ministry leaders work together to build a culture of life, change hearts and minds, and prepare local officials for the boldness of step three. In the final phase, the community takes peaceful, non-violent measures to exercise their constitutional authority and ignore the unjust ruling of Roe v. Wade.”
The Personhood Alliance has 23 affiliate organizations across the country who are all working in different ways to support the Sanctuaries for Life initiative. Affiliates in six states are currently identifying locations for the project and are actively pursuing the initiative. To learn more, visit SanctuaryCityforLife.org
To hear more about the Yadkin County resolution in particular, watch the conversation between Pastor Keith Pavlansky and Personhood Alliance leadership.
“Ultimately,” says Garcia Jones, “the Sanctuaries for Life initiative is a return to law and order in America and a return to the days of the early Church when Christians stepped out in faith to radically shift the culture despite the unjust laws. They didn’t wait for politicians or judges. The pro-life movement needs to be courageous like this once again.”
Sarah Quale is president of Personhood Alliance Education, the educational arm of the Personhood Alliance, and the author of the Foundations online pro-life curriculum. She is a member of the International Christian Visual Media Association and Christian Women in Media and is the founder of Educe® online learning.