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FINDLAY — Winebrenner Theological Seminary will be hosting a free seminar Thursday titled “Forgiven and Fighting for Life: Ministry to the Post-Abortive,” featuring guest speaker Christina Ryan Claypool.

“This year, 2013, marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision,” said Jeannine Grimm, coordinator of student support services and continuing education at Winebrenner Theological Seminary. “That means there are 40 years of people who have been confronted with making the decision to have an abortion. The purpose of these seminars is not to rehash the pro-life versus pro-choice stance. As Christians, all our students say sanctity of life is important, but the reality is that it is legal to have an abortion. Many in church congregations are touched by this issue.”

The seminar, part of the seminary’s continuing education program, will have two sessions. The first session, “Forgiven,” will be an overview of information on not just abortion, but also other sanctity of life issues such as suicide and euthanasia and how they affect families and communities.

Ryan Claypool herself experienced an abortion almost 30 years ago, and she feels that all sanctity of life issues are interwoven.

“Often, people don’t think something like suicide has anything to do with abortion. When I made the tragic decision to have an abortion, I thought my own life was worth very little,” she said. “Therefore, the life I carried was meaningless, as well, for me.”

The second session, “Helping Broken People,” will feature practical suggestions on how to minister to people in emotional pain. This includes not only those who are post-abortive, but also those struggling with other issues such as mental illness, broken relationships and addiction.

“As individuals, especially those that minister to other people,” said Ryan Claypool, “we need to not be hesitant to refer people to others. We want to equip those in the pastoral realm to refer people out to resources that are trained to help in specific ways.”

According to Grimm, the intended audience for this seminar is pastors and active laity who minister to others.

“It’s really open to anybody in the community, especially those who ministers to others,” she said. “While many people are comfortable going to their pastors, aren’t we all more comfortable talking to a friend? I am looking forward to hearing Christina speak so I can have language to use that will help me be more able to offer a word of forgiveness. As a friend, I want to be able to help someone.”

Ryan Claypool has been speaking for over 20 years on the subjects of healing and forgiveness, and has many years of experience in a variety of media including print and broadcast journalism. She has also published two books dealing with these issues: “Forgiven, Finding Forgiveness in the Aftermath of Abortion,” and “Seeds of Hope for Survivors.”

In fact, much of her speaking and writing comes from her own experiences. After her own abortion, Ryan Claypool struggled to believe God could forgive her for that choice.

“This became my unpardonable sin,” she said. “Even though I became a believer a few years after I had the abortion experience, it was difficult for me to accept that I could be forgiven by God. Yet, as a believer, when we ask God for forgiveness, He not only forgives us, but He says in Hebrews 10:17, 'And their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.'"

While Ryan Claypool has been talking about abortion and its affects on everyone involved since the 1990s, she still finds it difficult.

“The biggest challenge is that it is unpopular,” she said. “It makes people uncomfortable and divides people politically. Society doesn’t want to hear about this. One out of four families are affected by abortion, but even those involved are uncomfortable because it brings it all up again.”

Ryan Claypool said that despite this, she believes that by being open about the subject of abortion and the long-term effects, there can be healing.

“Secrets make you sick,” she said. “If we want people to be whole, they need to know that even abortion can be forgiven. Those who are post-abortive within congregations are really a silent epidemic.”

Grimm said that the seminar is an opportunity to go more in depth than a single class can offer.

“This event is about helping us to know how to respond and how to refer people for deeper help,” she said.

Ryan Claypool hopes that the attendees on Thursday go out of the seminar with a new awareness of end of life issues and the importance of healing that needs to take place in congregations.

“I hope there will be less judgment and more mercy,” she said. “I hope those who have gone through it no longer feel that they are alone.”

Event: Forgiven and Fighting for Life: Ministry to the Post-abortive

When: 7 to 9:30 p.m. Thursday

Where: Winebrenner Seminary, 950 N. Main St., Findlay

Cost: Free.

Register at www.winebrenner.edu/Home/ForgivenandFightingforLife.aspx

For details on Christina Ryan Claypool visit www.christinaryanclaypool.com.

Christina Ryan Claypool
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