Friends, supporters, volunteers and members of Lakeshore Presbyterian Church turned out in droves Thursday night for the churchâ€™s monthly coffee house and a benefit for the East Lincoln Pregnancy Counseling Center.
The featured speaker was Christian comedian Keith Deltano.
â€œMy message is that this center matters,â€ he said. â€œWeâ€™re making a difference because kids are now saying no to sex.â€
According to Deltano, 52 percent of all graduating high school students in 2006 will be virgins.
â€œThe pendulum is swinging the other way from a decade ago,â€ said Deltano, â€œand more students are listening.â€
Dr. Joel McCall, Lakeshoreâ€™s pastor, said the event was one of the biggest heâ€™s ever seen.
â€œWe had at least a hundred people here tonight,â€ he said.
Over $4,900 was raised during the event.
Speaking from the heart
Before Deltano â€œwent on the road,â€ talking about abstinence in schools and doing programs in churches, he was a schoolteacher.
â€œI was in my third year of teaching sixth grade when I discovered I had a pregnant sixth-grader in my class,â€ he said.
During the 1990s, it seemed the message that it was OK for teens to have sex was everywhere, according to Deltano.
â€œCondoms were everywhere and I couldnâ€™t even get a sixth-grader to fill out a report correctly,â€ he said. â€œHow would they be able to use a condom?â€
At one time an atheist, he started going to church and attending Sunday school in 1993.
â€œOne day, my teacher told me to get active in this fight against teen and unwanted pregnancy and it made me angry,â€ said Deltano.
He wrote his first show that same year and has been touring ever since.
â€œComedy is really an effective tool,â€ said Deltano.
He told the crowd Thursday night that Americaâ€™s value system is off kilter.
â€œWe donâ€™t value life like we should,â€ he said. â€œSomebody has to be a voice in the wilderness.â€
During his talk, he also praised the staff of ELPCC for being â€œtrue warriorsâ€ in the fight against teen pregnancy.
â€œI spent part of my life jumping out of planes as a Green Beret,â€ said Deltano. â€œThese people at ELPCC are true warriors.â€
ELPCC was first begun in 1998, according to vice-chairman Johnny Houser.
â€œA group of people at Westport Baptist Church wanted to reach out to girls and women who found themselves in a crisis pregnancy situation,â€ he said.
The center reaches women ages 13 to 40 and has served over 500 females since its inception.
â€œThe number of people we serve increases every year because people know weâ€™re here, free and confidential,â€ said former center director and current volunteer Crystal Regan.
According to Director Tammy Teague, the center served 170 girls and women during 2004.
â€œAs far as outreach, we do classes at East Lincoln and North Lincoln high schools for the pregnant girls,â€ she said.
When ELPCC first started, the word â€œcrisisâ€ was in its name. Not long ago, it was dropped.
â€œWhat weâ€™re wanting to do besides crisis counseling is break the cycle of unexpected pregnancy,â€ said Teague. â€œWeâ€™re reaching into other areas, including post-abortion counseling.
â€œWe like to say weâ€™re there about mom â€¦ If mom gets her lifestyle right, sheâ€™ll be able to take care of baby better. When they get their lifestyle right, sheâ€™ll also be able to take care of herself.â€
ELPCCâ€™s expansion isnâ€™t just limited to programs, according to Teague.
â€œWeâ€™re also trying to start a menâ€™s ministry and a ministry geared towards college-aged women,â€ she said.
Want to learn more?
The center is located on N.C. 16. From Lincolnton, take N.C. 150 to N.C. 16 to Webbs Chapel Road. Go through the traffic light, and the parking lot is on the left. Contact the East Lincoln Pregnancy Care Center at (704) 489-0708.
by Jon Mayhew