Statistics show that single mother pregnancies have been on the rise for decades. While it is a belief that long gone are the days where this population of women is kept in secret or held to shame, don’t be deceived.
If you take a moment to think about the people in your circle you probably know at least one woman who has been or currently is pregnant and single. Did they announce the pregnancy right away or hide it? Were they welcomed with open arms of love and concern or shunned with disappointment and judgement? The Christian church teaches from a biblical stance against fornication (sex before marriage), in turn a pregnancy that is a result of fornication is deemed something to be ashamed. Many times the creation of life is not celebrated by anyone.
Typically, the church is extremely vocal when it comes to saying that a single woman should have the baby instead of an abortion, but they [Church] are nowhere to be found afterwards for support and guidance. Well, one church did something to change that for the women they could impact. Gateway Church, located in Texas, started a ministry for single, pregnant women. The name of this organization is Embrace Grace. They have a mission “To inspire and equip the church to love on single and pregnant young women and their families.” Their vision is “For every girl with an unplanned pregnancy to have a church to go to for spiritual, emotional and physical support.”
The founders are Amy Ford and Salina Duffy. Upon speaking with Christy I learned that Amy was inspired to start Embrace Grace over eight years ago as God began to remind her of her own experience as a young mother finding out she was pregnant at the age of 19. Amy felt ashamed and scared. Although she never thought that she would decide to have an abortion, once she found herself pregnant and fearing the unknown she and her boyfriend made the choice that she would get one. Amy went for her appointment and passed out at the clinic and the nurse had her go home for the day. After the failed attempt, she and her boyfriend prayed and decided they would tell their parents. Amy remembered the feelings she had and how she could have used someone to show her the love of Christ. That memory, along with how giving Amy was to friends and family as they celebrated the births of their children sparked a desire in her to want to do something for single, pregnant women. Salina, at the same time, had a vision and kept hearing help the mommies and the babies.
When the founders first came together with the burning desire to help single, pregnant women they started a class at their church and over time the class was refined by creating teaching materials and guidelines. Other churches began to reach out and inquire on the course so they could model the same thing for women in their community.
I had the recent opportunity to speak with a staff member of Embrace Grace, Christy Bolling, about this amazing ministry and learn more about what it is that they do and how they do it. Christy is on staff as the group developer for Embrace Grace. She has only been a staff member since January of 2016, but has offered of herself by volunteering and donating for groups over the years. Who better to have as a staff member than someone who was willing to assist as much as possible without being compensated?! She truly has a passion for the work that she does and the overall mission of this organization as well as knowledge of the history and programs.
Through churches reaching out for information to offer the program, Embrace Grace slowly but surely became a nationwide organization. The groups are not designed to be parenting classes or to meet needs of the women such as a place to stay or funds for bills. There are already other groups and resources available for those things. The Embrace Grace groups are simply to connect the participants with churches that can help the women to understand that even though they did fall that Jesus still loves them and there is still purpose in them and even more important for the child inside.
Embrace Grace has been in operation at Gateway campuses for eight and a half years, offering 17 semesters of groups to women at the Gateway campuses alone. They obtained their non-profit status in October 2012. The groups run for 10-12 week sessions (per semester) and meet once a week for an hour to an hour and a half. Embrace Grace is a prolife organization, but they do not advise on whether the babies should be kept by the mothers or for the parents to go through an adoption agency to bless another family who would love to raise the child for them. The organization does however try to ensure that they are connecting the participants with church groups that will check in on them during the week along with the weekly meetings. The semester ends with a baby shower for the participants, held by the hosting church. Ultimately, the hope is that the women become connected to the church and plug in even after the course is complete.
There have been past participants known as “Blooms” who have become leaders through Embrace Grace. Many of the past participants choose to volunteer here and there to assist with events and groups or donate towards the baby showers. There is also another section of the organization known as Embrace Life. Embrace Life is designed for single mothers. It “equips single new moms on how to flourish in their relationship with God and not only survive in life but THRIVE.”
Embrace Grace, Inc. has launched nearly 300 groups in 42 United States and 4 countries. If you would like to learn more about Embrace Grace or Embrace Life and how to either find a group, start a group or donate to the organization you can find them online at www.embracegrace.com.