A crowd of more than 100 people gathered outside the Killeen Special Events Center on Sunday to show their support for an upcoming anti-abortion campaign, 40 Days for Life .
"This is a kickoff event, for 40 Days for Life," said Chantel Cothron, spokeswoman for the campaign, which is set to begin Wednesday outside a local clinic.
40 Days for Life is a scheduled 40-day protest with prayer and fasting that opposes the practice of abortion, Cothron said.
During the campaign, participants will go door-to-door, fast and hold a 24-hour-a-day vigil for 40 days on the sidewalk outside the Killeen Women's Health Center, Cothron said. The clinic is located at 3106 South W.S. Young Drive in Killeen.
"It is a nationwide campaign to end abortion in our country," Cothron said. "This started out in 2004 in Bryan-College Station, and it is working."
Many in the crowd wore shirts that read, "48 million babies dead from 1973 to 2007," or the previous year's shirts which read, "47 million babies dead from 1973 to 2006."
"I am angry when I read these shirts that say 48 million babies were killed in the U.S. since the courts ruled in Roe versus Wade," said Klaus Adam, who read the invocation for the event on the front steps of the Special Events Center.
The crowd listened to a number speakers, such as Adam, who preached against abortion to rally supporters of the campaign.
"We are going to have the voices heard not just here in Killeen but all over the world," Adam said.
Molly White, executive director of the campaign, reminded the audience about the protest or silent vigil.
"We want to be there and pray in silence," White said. "We want to make sure people sign up to pray at least once a week. We want to be the salt and light in our community. We want people to see us pray."
Before getting to the invocation, Adam told the audience about his disdain for places like Planned Parenthood and the Killeen Women's Health Center.
"We call it a women's health clinic, but there is nothing less healthy to a woman than an abortion," Adam said.
Other speakers, such as Paige Rowland, told the audience about their own experiences with abortion.
Rowland shared a story about how he drove his pregnant sister to a clinic in downtown Denver when he was younger. At the time, he believed he was doing the right thing, but since then, his mind has changed, he said.
Rowland said he has cried over the loss of his unborn nephew.
Sunday's gathering drew residents from all over Central Texas and some that were from as far away as San Antonio.
"Killeen is my hometown," said Jenny Earnest, of San Antonio. "We wanted to come and support the community in the fight for life, and raise awareness that life is precious from the moment of conception."
Earnest brought her five children, ranging in age from 1 to 7, to the Sunday event. She said she could not return to Killeen for the daily vigil, but instead would protest at the Planned Parenthood office in San Antonio.
"Most of our efforts here will be in prayer and fasting," Earnest said.
The crowd and enjoyed music from Chapel 58, a Christian rock band, between the number of speakers that talked about the campaign to come.
There are two other major events planned for the campaign.
The first is a retrospective event that will take place at 3 p.m. Oct. 20, at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center to discuss the campaign's progress.
The closing event of the 40 Days for Life, where participants opposing abortion will share success stories, will be held at 3 p.m. Nov. 4 at the Bell County Expo Center. There will also be a citywide memorial and grieving for the lost lives of the aborted, and a celebration for life, White said.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554