Through their leadership at Bethany Church, three generations of pastors – Roy, Larry, and Jonathan Stockstill – and their wives, Ruth, Melanie, and Angie, have been at the forefront of pro-life outreach for more than four decades.
Brother Roy, who founded Bethany Church in Baker in 1963, was first touched by the call to pro-life work. Together with Pastor Larry, they were instrumental in launching many of the pro-life ministries and outreaches in the Greater Baton Rouge area and beyond, including maternity homes, pregnancy centers, and the Heartbeat of Louisiana Memorials. Pastor Jonathan, since assuming leadership at Bethany, has continued this legacy of life through his proactive support of many local pro-life outreaches and his own advocacy.
“Pastors Roy, Larry, and Jonathon Stockstill have given us the model of a pro-life shepherd and church, and Louisiana Right to Life is honored to recognize them with our coveted 2019 Leadership for Life Award,” said Benjamin Clapper, Executive Director, Louisiana Right to Life.
The Leadership for Life Award will be presented to Larry and Jonathan Stockstill at Bowties for Babies: A Southern Soiree for Life, set for May 9 at the Capitol Park Museum in Baton Rouge. Roy Stockstill, who passed away in 2016 at the age of 97, will also be honored during the event.
Charles and Clelie Carpenter, members of the Baton Rouge Right to Life Board of Directors, said the Stockstills spearheaded the “Heartbeat Rallies” in the 1980s and 90s, and Bethany Church continues to be an integral part of the annual Baton Rouge Life March. In addition, their commitment to prayer has led the pastors to rally their church and other churches to participate in 40 Days for Life prayer vigils, and they have consistently supported Baton Rouge’s crisis pregnancy centers.
Bethany’s “Loving Moms Saving Babies” ministry has also been a part of saving hundreds of abortion-minded moms and their babies from abortion outside Delta Clinic, Baton Rouge’s abortion facility, and offers financial support to any mom in need. And, last year’s initiative included spreading the pro-life message on billboards throughout the city and helping to distribute thousands of pro-life yard signs, the Carpenters said.
“We are thankful for Bethany’s four decades of support and leadership in defense of the unborn,” Charles and Clelie said. “It is this kind of commitment that has kept the issue of abortion at the forefront of our community’s consciousness and given the pro-life ministry cause to grow as many see the need to confront this evil. Through decades of commitment and engagement, a culture of life has been promoted and protected in our state. And significantly, our state legislators have responded by passing some of the strongest prolife laws in our nation.”
Bowties for Babies co-chairs Rick and Cindy Edmonds issued the following statement on the 2019 honorees:
“Each year the pro-life community has the opportunity to salute those who have and continue to make a dramatic contribution to the celebration of life. Those who fight for life. Those who sacrifice for the cause. Those who lead others to support and join one of the most critical causes our nation has ever faced.
“When I think of such a person, this year it turns into a family: The Stockstills.
“The Stockstill family has led and built a mega-church in the Baton Rouge region, as well as building and supporting church plants around the world. And, while doing this, they have been one of the most consistent voices for our pro-life values that this state has ever seen.
“Larry and Melanie Stockstill, and now Jonathan and Angie Stockstill, are amazing people. Each year for several decades they have stood strongly and loudly for life. Pastor Larry led Bethany World Prayer Center for years and then turned over the mantle of Bethany Church to Pastor Jonathan. The transition for the church has been seamless.
“What stands as amazing is the passion and vision both men and their wives have for life! Each year, Bethany Church is a lead giver, promoter, and voice for the pro-life community. The volunteer effort, the financial support, and the consistent prayer intensity from Bethany is second to none.
“We, here in Louisiana, are so blessed to be able to enjoy and be motivated by their lifestyle and commitment to life. The downward turn in abortions in our state is a direct result of the leadership of the Stockstill family and many here in Louisiana who have joined and followed their leadership.”