Every year, hundreds of married couples come to Cedar Park Assembly of God in Bothell, Washington.
These couples come from many different backgrounds, denominations, and even faiths—including Buddhists, and Muslims—to attend a prayer service called “Presentation Sunday.”
They all have one thing in common: they greatly desire children but are carrying the cross of infertility.
One year, Maria Lancaster and her husband Jeff attended the service. Maria was 46 and had lost five babies to miscarriage. Doctors had told Maria she was too old to have a child. It felt like her dream of becoming a mother was out of her reach.
Then, Maria’s pastor recommended she attend Cedar Park’s presentation. “I came in despair,” Maria said, “and left with hope. Hope changed everything.”
Not only did Maria gain a new sense of hope, she would soon gain a miracle child of her own and a calling to a unique ministry.
Maria Receives a Miracle and a Unique Calling
Today, Maria often attends Presentation Sunday services to share her testimony. Her daughter, Elisha, is now 16 years old.
After attending Presentation Sunday all those years ago, Maria’s husband Jeff heard about something called “embryo adoption” on the radio. They decided to adopt a two-cell embryo frozen two years before. Then—at nearly 48—Maria gave birth to little Elisha.
“We think she’s pretty special,” said Maria.
“It’s always interesting to tell people, and watch their reaction,” says Elisha of her unique birth story. “It reminds me that God has a purpose for me.”
Elisha’s birth also gave Maria a new purpose. Now, Maria runs an adoption agency for frozen embryos remaining from in vitro fertilization. She got the idea for this ministry after her experience at Cedar Park’s Presentation Sunday. One day, she approached the then-pastor of Cedar Park and asked “Why don’t you start an embryo adoption program and I’ll run it?”
A decade later, Maria, with Cedar Park’s help, has connected more than 125 mothers with the child they’d been praying for. She’s the only provider not subsidized by the federal government and has the lowest fees in the nation.
“We’re the only church, worldwide, that does this,” Maria says of Cedar Park. “It’s a witness to the power of God,” she continues. “And that life is a gift from God.”
The Government Wants to Force Cedar Park to Violate Its Pro-life Beliefs
This isn’t the only life-affirming ministry Cedar Park has. The church also partners with local pregnancy centers and foster care providers, hosts an annual camp for children in foster care, and operates a school with over 1,000 students.
It’s clear that Cedar Park doesn’t just talk about being pro-life. It lives it out through its ministries.
But right now, a Washington state law threatens to force Cedar Park to violate its faith in order to provide quality healthcare to its staff members. The state has gone out of its way to compel pro-life churches to pay for abortions through their employee insurance plans.
This is a clear violation of the First Amendment freedom of religion. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court has consistently held that government hostility toward people of faith has no place in our society.
So, Cedar Park is challenging this law in federal court.
Through its ministries like Presentation Sunday, Cedar Park has given hope to many just like Maria. And it has affirmed the sanctity of life in its community. The church should be able to operate according to its pro-life beliefs free from government coercion.
Read more about Cedar Park’s Pro-life ministries in the latest issue of Faith & Justice Magazine.