Statewide Life Chains form silent witness

SPARTANBURG — Forty Days for Life is the umbrella campaign in South Carolina and elsewhere that gathers and concentrates efforts to promote pro-life causes. A centerpiece of the campaign is the annual Life Chain.
The idea of Life Chain is for pro-life people of all faiths to stand in silent witness alongside major roads for one hour on a Sunday afternoon. They pray and read songs of meditation quietly, seeking personal repentance and analyzing their own commitment to helping end abortion. This year’s event took place on Oct. 5 across the nation and Canada.
Royce Dunn, national director of Life Chain, said more than 1,300 Life Chains were expected to form. Of those, 14 were in South Carolina.
The silent witness is a serious business, according to Dunn.
“Idle talk, frivolity and interaction with motorists are not welcome,” he said.   
The concept of Life Chain, founded 21 years ago, is to personify the request Jesus made during his agony in the garden to “pray with me for one hour.”
In Spartanburg, Margaret St. Germain, the Respect Life coordinator for Jesus Our Risen Savior Church, stood in the sun along Reidville Road. She said that the 50 or so people who stood or sat in silence, holding signs with no graphics, were making a statement.
“I feel that we may be saying something to people who are on the fence about this issue, people who have never discussed it with anybody,” she said. “They may remember seeing us if they ever come to contemplate an abortion. We are planting a seed.”
Charlie Lowe, another member of Jesus Our Risen Savior, appreciated that the impact of the silent Life Chain witness might be subtle, but he was happy nonetheless to represent unborn children.
“Somebody has to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves, so if this hour saves even one life, it’s been worth it,” Lowe said.
Farther down the state in Goose Creek, a Life Chain was held in front of Immaculate Conception Church on St. James Avenue. The parish Respect Life coordinator, M. Annette Griebsch, said that the event was effective, especially since young people from the parish youth group stood in witness and provided a picnic for participants.
“It helps to form their consciences,” Griebsch said, “and also lets them spread their Christianity. Young people really benefit from participating.”
In Georgetown, people from St. Mary Our Lady of Ransom Church  and others participated in the silent prayer vigil down U.S. Highway 17.
About 86 people attended, according to Danny Owens, president of Georgetown County Citizens for Life, and Barbara Mahaffey, a parishioner of St. Mary.
Four years after it was founded in Yuba City, Calif., outside Sacramento, Life Chain has spread across the country. Statistical impact of the annual event is difficult to gauge and the parent organization doesn’t keep track of numbers. But participants know that they feel the good they are doing and that many passing motorists express solidarity with them by tooting their horns or waving.
Forty Days for Life ends Oct. 28. Other events include rosaries and prayers at abortion clinics.