Although I am new to the role of Chairman and President, I am not new to the Morning Center. I have known the Morning Center’s founder, James Lansberry, for nearly a decade. When he first approached me with the idea of completely free birthing centers, I was glad to help.
James and I met through health care policy when he was developing the idea of a free maternity care and childbirth center as an alternative to Medicaid, which pays for half the births in America. We spoke about the pernicious effects of Medicaid and the challenges of opening a health care facility in a state with Certificate of Need laws.
I want to help create an ecosystem of effective alternatives to dehumanizing government programs. Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts explains that one of the central design flaws of government social interventions is, “Government can’t love.” But love and connection is what people need most when they are vulnerable. Morning Center aims to help the women and children most vulnerable to government’s encroachment and the culture of death.
With the Morning Center, Christian charity would provide a loving, life-affirming, alternative to Medicaid, which pays for half or more births in twenty-five states including Tennessee, Georgia, and my own state of North Carolina. I joined the board in 2013, soon after operations began in Memphis, but it took my first visit to Memphis to truly appreciate what the Morning Center had already become.
The ministry has multiple sites around Memphis, but the most notable was in the Warren Apartments, also known as Clementine. Morning Center shared an apartment with other ministries where prenatal counseling and checkups could be done in the same place as bible studies, counseling, and job assistance. We heard the story of one young woman who was never told Jesus, or anybody, loved her until she came into the Morning Center. That is what you make possible—loving support and medical care for moms in the making.
Abortion or Love
A friend of mine had an abortion when she was young, before I knew her. The baby’s father wanted no part of raising a child and my friend’s parents also refused to help. She saw abortion as her best option. She could not see the value of the child or her value as a mother. The love of others was contingent on killing the child inside her. Needless to say, the father wasn’t in her life by the time I met her and heard the story.
One of the young women who came to the Morning Center in Memphis had never been told that she was loved by God or another person, until she was on the examining table and someone on our staff told her “I love you and Jesus loves you, no matter what.” We bring the love of God to women who don’t know what it is to be loved at all.
Race and Justice
There is a question of justice in our work, which means there are questions of race. I did not recognize it for some time. Because I grew up with family and friends who were poor, single mothers of different races, it never hit me that black children were more likely to grow up in families without a father than others. Memphis, Atlanta, Detroit, and other cities in the North and the South had social, economic, and governmental structures that make it harder to have strong communities with two-parent households in traditionally black neighborhoods. The social dysfunction is concentrated and overlaps with economic and racial concentrations. Those are the places the Morning Center is and needs to be.
Your commitment to the Morning Center provides an alternative to abortion and we will eventually provide an alternative to government-financed childbirth. Through its work to build these alternatives, you restore families and communities.
While our team in Memphis continue to see an average of 110 women per month, our team in Atlanta is laying the financial foundation now to launch prenatal services in Atlanta next spring and building the organizational infrastructure to be ready for expansion to more cities in the future.
That means more care for moms, more healthy babies born, more lives transformed, and more opportunities for people to see the example of Jesus. Thank you for making this all possible.
In His Love,