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‘Women of Faith’ panel focuses on protecting the unborn and speaking up as Christians

Penny Nance, president and CEO of Concerned Women for America (CWA) and a Liberty University alumna (’88), led a Women of Faith in Leadership panel at Friday morning’s Convocation, encouraging students to vote their values, lean in on national issues, and to become informed citizens.

The Convocation comes as the Supreme Court prepares to deliberate on the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi state law that bans abortions after 15 weeks. Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization will go before the Court on Dec. 2.

The guests joining Nance on stage to weigh in on abortion laws as well as other issues were Carrie Sheffield, senior policy analyst of Independent Women’s Forum; U.S. Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri; and Annabelle Rutledge, a pro-life activist and national director of Young Women for America, a sister organization of CWA that targets high school and college-aged women.

Students were encouraged to pray for opportunities to serve in public office if called by God.

“Christians have an amazing history of engaging and changing the world for good,” said Nance, who also serves on Liberty University’s Board of Trustees. “Christians led the abolition movement. Christians led the movement to take down child labor. Christians led the effort to care for the least of these. … So, the idea that somehow we are supposed to be separatist is a new idea.”

Penny Nance is the CEO of Concerned Women for America. (Photo by Andrew Snyder)

Hartzler echoed Nance’s sentiments and spoke on matters like abortion, gender issues, and religious liberty. She said she continues to use her voice on these issues as a ministry.

“(Public office) is a ministry. … Because God uses you in that opportunity. You can make an eternal difference there, but we’ve got to be there at every level of government — from the local level to the school board. We wouldn’t be having a lot of the issues we have with school boards if we had Christians sitting there on those school boards.”

“We have individuals who are calling ‘evil’ ‘good’ and ‘good’ ‘evil,’” Hartzler added. “And it’s important that we as Christians contend for the faith and be salt and light even in the public sphere.”

Sheffield, a Harvard graduate who was an agnostic for 12 years, shared her testimony of how she was eventually led back to Christianity. She also addressed culture’s objectification of women and the powerful, toxic forces that ensnare young people.

“We live in a free country for now, and we’ve got to keep it free,” Sheffield said. “We can’t squander that freedom. We can’t indulge the flesh, whether that’s us doing it ourselves or allowing other people to lust after the female body.”

Nance reminded students that many women struggle with regret following an abortion procedure, but God offers unconditional love.

From left: Penny Nance, Annabelle Rutledge, Carrie Sheffield, Liberty University SGA VP Jess West, and Vicky Hartzler (Photo by Andrew Snyder)

“There’s forgiveness in Jesus,” Nance said. “No one should have to drag around shame for the rest of their lives. The pro-life movement is replete with women who have made mistakes and, before the Lord, are working to help others.”

Nance grounded the Women of Faith in Leadership panel in a quote by Elizabeth Elliot, a missionary in Ecuador whose husband was killed while sharing the Gospel with the native tribes. “The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.”

“Christians’ jobs are being threatened, the unique dignity of women is being threatened, kids in schools are being shamed and harassed for their faith. If we don’t stand up … what happens?” Nance said. “… Our identity is not in being women. Our identity should not be your generation. Our identity is in Christ. It’s not in our sexuality. It’s not in anything else.”

Nance also spoke at the Life and Liberty Dinner, hosted by Liberty’s Standing for Freedom Center, in the Montview Alumni Ballroom Friday evening, alongside former Planned Parenthood employee-turned-pro-life activist and Freedom Center fellow Abby Johnson.

Nance invited students to join her on Dec. 1 outside the Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., on the eve of the Dobbs case, to pray for wisdom as the nation’s highest court hears arguments concerning the value of the unborn.