MANSFIELD — Dozens marched along Park Avenue West from the First English Lutheran Church parking lot to the Central Park Gazebo for a special ceremony on Sunday in recognition of Sanctity of Life Sunday.

Jan. 22, 1973, marks the day when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized abortion. Eleven years later, President Ronald Reagan issued a proclamation designating Jan. 22 as the first National Sanctity of Human Life Day.

This day calls for the celebration of life and commemoration of the lives lost to abortion.

Amy Dannemiller, who helped organize Sunday’s event in downtown Mansfield, said it’s important to protect human life.

“We believe that all human life is precious from the moment of conception until natural death,” she said.

Dannemiller was joined by about 50 others who carried signs, some which read, “Life is precious,” and “Stop abortion now.”

Pastor Matt Timmons of Hopewell Church in Ashland said over and over that “the future belongs to the fertile.”

“When a nation comes to heed what God has said in His word, to be fruitful and multiply, and puts a value on having children, you can be sure that God will bless that, and it will turn His face upon that nation,” he said.

Richard Stedman, director of men’s ministries at Richland Pregnancy Services, listed a number of reasons why Christ followers should be pro-life. Among them is the belief that all humans are equally valuable because they equally bear God’s image, he said.

“The Christian worldview says that to kill another human is to kill and deface something of God,” he said.

One question we need to consider, he said, is “What did the child in the womb do to deserve to be killed? The answer emphatically: nothing.”

He went onto say that science tells us that abortion kills a human being.

“Although science can’t tell us what’s right and wrong, it can tell us that from the earliest stages of human development the unborn are distinct, living and whole human beings,” he said.  

He encouraged Christians to challenge the views of culture and demonstrate love and grace to women in crisis pregnancy situations.

“And the most important thing,” he said, “for those who have had an abortion experience, whether men or women, we need to help them understand how much Jesus Christ loves them, why He died for them, why He is anxious to forgive them, and will give them a new meaning for life if they will turn to Him.”