EFFINGHAM — In Effingham, a 40-Day Prayer Campaign for Life has already seen great success. The campaign, originally co-lead by Loretta Koester (who was 86 years old at the time) and Valerie Kemme, was begun in January 2012. Since Koester’s death two years ago, Kemme has been the sole leader for the campaign. “Loretta passed away at the age of 91, but she co-led the campaign even in the months before she passed away,” says Kemme. “What an example of fortitude!”
Originally there were two parts to the campaign, Kemme explains. First, to fill all 40 days with prayer to end abortion by enlisting the help of area churches — both Catholic and non-Catholic — and organizations. Prayer was also organized outside Planned Parenthood’s office in Effingham. She adds that other groups also organized prayers at the facility and prayed every day of the week that it was open, all year through.
“When we started praying outside of Effingham Planned Parenthood in 2012, it was open four days a week. Over time they cut back their hours until by the fall of 2014 they were open only one day a week,” Kemme says. “They were doing abortion referrals and distributing the morning-after pill at this facility. They were not performing surgical abortions or dispensing the abortion pill. Planned Parenthood was the face of abortion in our community, and life and death decisions about unborn children were being made there.
“In August 2016, God answered our prayers and the Effingham Planned Parenthood closed completely,” Kemme says. “We quickly modified our prayer campaign to accommodate this wonderful development.” Now the two parts of the campaign include filling 40 days with prayer to end abortion and organizing volunteer hours to help at the Silk Purse, a thrift store that gives its proceeds to support the Family Life Center, which is the local crisis pregnancy center.
“With the closing of Planned Parenthood, we understood our work was not done,” Kemme says. “We re-dedicated ourselves to pray and work for an end to abortion, strengthened by the gift of their closure.”
Kemme says the most recent prayer campaign, held in the fall of 2018 (because the Effingham campaigns now happen during that season) was blessed with continued success. “Forty-one area churches and organizations of different faiths united to fill all 40 days with prayer. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of local people prayed. In addition, 58 volunteers from 10 different churches donated hours of time at the Silk Purse thrift store.”
Kemme concludes that the campaign’s success hinges on the generous volunteers who agree to coordinate participation with their church or organization.