State Essay & Oratory Contests
Legislative Action Center
Organized a few months after the 1973 abortion decision, BETHLEHEM Chapter of PHL was officially incorporated on April 11, 1977. Original incorporators were Ann Chiles, Mary Egan, Jeanne Schray, and Dennis & Patricia Witmer. The BETHLEHEM/EASTON Chapter signed their incorporation papers 12/8/97.
PHL has been a presence in the Lehigh Valley area beginning with meetings in private homes with members giving book reports of current published books covering all of the life issues. A dynamic presence in the community was the Chapter's sponsoring an educational booth at Bethlehem's Christmas City Fair from 1974 to 1997 when it was discontinued by the city. The object of the booth was to educate as many people as possible to the value of human life. The success of this booth can be seen in the hundreds of signatures acquired on various petitions. There were several years of participation in Community Fairs at local Malls and also at Easton's Heritage Days.
A very ambitious project, a January 1976 Pro-life Rally held in Bethlehem was reported in the 1/26/76 Allentown Morning Call under the headline '1000 March, Rally For Life' as follows: Lehigh Valley anti-abortion proponents joined forces yesterday in a Pro-life Rally on Bethlehem's Civic Center Plaza. More than 1,000 people of all ages, including local city officials, clergy and small children, marched several blocks from the (old Railroad) terminal beneath the Hill-to-Hill Bridge to the plaza's library steps, where they were addressed by local legislators and pro-life group representatives.
The Chapter had five annual 'Mother of the Year' essay contests in the 1980's. Essays were requested which depicted a woman the writer chose, who need not be involved in pro-life activities, but whose life reflected a love and respect for human life. The 3 finalists were guests at an awards dinner.
Sponsored two Life Conferences, one at Northampton County Area Community College and the other at the former Allentown College of St. Francis DeSales (now DeSales University). We were hosts to the 1996 State Pro-life Convention of the PA Pro-life Federation at the former Allentown Hilton, September 27-29, 1996.
As part of our educational efforts we sponsored buses to the annual March For Life in Washington for many years. Approximately 100 pro-lifers went with us on buses to the April 28, 1990 Rally for Life in Washington, DC which was attended by close to a half-million people.
Members made a valiant attempt to keep the present day Allentown Women's Center abortion clinic from opening by attending zoning meetings, conducting rallies and picketing at the site of the Lehigh Valley area's first abortion center located off Airport Rd. in Allentown. The clinic opened in October 1978 with the director, Sylvia 'Rusty' Stengl, being reported in the 10/7/78 local newspaper as saying the center expects to perform an estimated 5000 abortions per year.
The Speaker's Bureau gave the basic pro-life presentations to thousands of students. We participated in two health fairs at public high schools.
Our major fund-raiser, the annual Mother's Day Carnation Sale, began on May 11, 1975. Bill Martin was Project Chairman for over 25 years. The original idea for the Sale came from Ron Turner who had helped Allentown PHL carry out their first sale in 1974, and who still plays a major role in the Carnation Sale by ordering the vast number of flowers needed.
One of the most rewarding experiences associated with our Chapter is our involvement with young persons in the annual Oratory Contest. Many of our young orators have won on a National level. It is always inspiring to hear the truth from our youth! For more information, go back to the home page and click on our Oratory Contest link!
In 2011, our chapter sponsored and participated in the Easton March and Rally For Life held at St. Jane's Church in Palmer Township. Over 500 people attended this event. Speakers included Laurel Kandianis, 2011 Oratory Contest Regional Winner, and Stephan Isaac, 2005 Oratory Contest National Champion, who was ordained a priest in 2016.