Speakers for the Southern California Defending Life Conference

Keynote Speakers

 

Abby Johnson

Founder  of And Then There Were None,  

Former Planned Parenthood Clinic Director, Author — Unplanned

Abby Johnson has always had a fierce determination to help women in need. It was this desire that both led Abby to a career with Planned Parenthood, our nation’s largest abortion provider, and caused her to flee the organization and become an outspoken advocate for the pro-life movement.

During her eight years with Planned Parenthood, Abby quickly rose in the organization’s ranks and became a clinic director. She was increasingly disturbed by what she witnessed. Abortion was a product Planned Parenthood was selling, not an unfortunate necessity that they fought to decrease.  All of that changed on September 26, 2009, when Abby was asked to assist with an ultrasound-guided abortion. She watched in horror as a 13-week baby fought, and ultimately lost its life at the hand of the abortionist. At that moment, the full realization of what abortion was and what she had dedicated her life to washed over Abby and a dramatic transformation took place.

Desperate and confused, Abby sought help from a local pro-life group. She swore that she would begin to advocate for life in the womb and expose abortion for what it truly is.

She is a frequently requested guest on Fox News and a variety of other shows and the author of the nationally best-selling book, Unplanned, which chronicles both her experiences within Planned Parenthood and her dramatic exit.

 

Rev. Michael Salemink

Executive Director, Lutherans for Life

Rev. Michael W. Salemink began serving as executive director of Lutherans For Life in January 2016.

He received a B.A. in Theology from Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill., in 1999 and a Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., in 2003.

He has served as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Webster, Minn., (2003-2005) and as associate pastor of St. James Lutheran Church and School in Lafayette, Ind. (2005-2015).

Pastor Salemink and his wife, Heather, have been married 19 years and reside in St. Louis, Mo., where they attend Immanuel Lutheran Church, Olivette, with their three sons: Christian, Nathan, and Luke.

Pastor Salemink writes regularly and speaks nationwide equipping Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices for life.

 

 

Kathleen Eaton Bravo

CEO/Founder of Obria Group, Inc. and the Founder of Obria Medical Clinics

Kathleen Eaton Bravo has become one of the nation’s leading pro-life pioneers—courageously serving for nearly four decades in Oklahoma and California.

As the founder and CEO of Obria — the first nationally trademarked pro-life brand — Kathleen will discuss her journey to building a proven solution for the future of the pro-life movement. The Obria medical model is already five times more effective than the traditional pregnancy resource center model, across dozens of their clinic locations throughout the country.

The path to Obria started in 1980, when Kathleen experienced the shame surrounding an experience with abortion after receiving counsel from Planned Parenthood—which did not include any information about choosing life for her unborn child. 

As a result, in 1981 she began volunteering at a pregnancy center in Oklahoma before moving back to California to start Birth Choice in 1986—converting and growing them to six fully licensed medical clinics in 2006.

“I wanted to create a comprehensive medical clinic model that could compete nose-to-nose with the large abortion providers for the lives of unborn babies and the souls of the mothers and fathers. In other words, get the patients out of abortion clinics and into our life-affirming clinics,” she says.

In 2012, she guided her Birth Choice clinics into becoming Obria Medical Clinics, and eventually founded The Obria Group in 2017 to serve both the local and national network of life-affirming Obria Clinics. With 48 Obria clinics now open, her goal is to have 200 clinics across the country by 2021!

Kathleen is the recipient of the Cardinal John J. O’Connor National Pro-Life Award, along with former President George W. Bush, and most recently the Susan B. Anthony List’s Distinguished Leader Award.
She speaks across the country on her mission with Obria.

Defending Life Breakaway Presenters

 

Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer

Rev. Scott Stiegemeyer

Professor, Concordia University Irvine

The Future of Designer Babies

Powerful new gene-editing technologies will soon make it possible to cure genetic diseases.

With that advance, we may also begin to experiment with choosing non-medical traits for our children. Is this wise or beneficial?

Some of the dreams of science fiction are rapidly becoming reality and this presentation will equip Christians to respond to genetic engineering knowledgeably and with sound reason.

Professor Scott Stiegemeyer is originally from Kansas City, Missouri. He is a Lutheran pastor (LCMS) having served congregations in Pittsburgh, PA and the Chicago area but he has been a professor at Concordia University, Irvine since 2015. His doctoral studies are in bioethics from Loyola University, Chicago. Professor Stiegemeyer specializes in theologies of the body and the ethical questions that pertain to human biology.

Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa

Rev. Dr. Alfonso Espinosa

Senior Pastor, Saint Paul's Lutheran Church of Irvine, Adjunct Professor of Theology at Concordia University Irvine, and Member, Board for National Mission, The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

Marriage, Life, and Family

Today’s culture is attacking the foundations of three vital areas of the Christian faith: marriage, life, and family.

It is crucial that Christians see the interconnected nature of these three. When marriage is honored under the Lord Jesus Christ, then children in the womb will be cherished. When children are nourished by parents in the image of Christ and His Bride The Church, then the family will be whole and blessed.

Be aware of the specific assaults against these three, and know the basic Christian responses to each one. When we defend each of these three together, then marriage, life, & family — all three — will be blessed in accord with the will of God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Rev. Alfonso Espinosa, Ph.D. theology and M.A. in Christian apologetics–is senior pastor of Saint Paul’s Lutheran Church of Irvine, CA.

While serving as a parish pastor preaching Christ’s Word for 28 years, he has also served as an adjunct professor of theology at Concordia University, Irvine, CA for 18 years.

He is the author of the 2018 book, Faith that Sees through the Culture.

This past triennium, he served as vice-chair of the Board for National Mission of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and is the main author of synodical resolution 1-06 To Support Marriage, Life, and Family.

He and his wife Traci have eight children and five grandchildren (the fifth of which is in the womb).

Pastor Michael Salemink

Pastor Michael Salemink

Executive Director, Lutherans For Life

Speaking the Truth in Love: Engaging Abortion Adovcates’ Arguments and Objections

  • “The Bible doesn’t say anything about abortion.”
  • “It’s not a person.”
  • “My body, my right.”
  • “If it’s illegal, women will die.”
  • “Don’t legislate morality.”
  • “You can’t force rape victims to bear their attackers’ children.”
  • “We shouldn’t judge those poor women.”

Let’s look into how we can share God’s grace sensitively, eloquently, and winsomely in response to these and other invitations.

Rev. Michael W. Salemink began serving as executive director of Lutherans For Life in January 2016.

He received a B.A. in Theology from Concordia University Chicago, River Forest, Ill., in 1999 and a Master of Divinity from Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., in 2003.

He has served as pastor of St. John’s Lutheran Church, Webster, Minn., (2003-2005) and as associate pastor of St. James Lutheran Church and School in Lafayette, Ind. (2005-2015).

Pastor Salemink and his wife, Heather, have been married 19 years and reside in St. Louis, Mo., where they attend Immanuel Lutheran Church, Olivette, with their three sons: Christian, Nathan, and Luke.

Pastor Salemink writes regularly and speaks nationwide equipping Lutherans to be Gospel-motivated voices for life.

Rev. Dr. Mike Gibson

Rev. Dr. Mike Gibson

President, Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod

How the Church Responds to Abortion

Prior to his election as President of the Pacific Southwest District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in June 2018, Mike served as pastor of Christ Lutheran Church and School from August 2006 to August, 2018, leading the congregation’s vision of supporting, equipping, and launching people into mission – locally and globally.

He is a 1984 Master of Divinity graduate from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, MO and was awarded a Doctor of Ministry degree in 1996 from Fuller Seminary, Pasadena, CA, in organizational psychology and leadership.

He also served as pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church, Huntington Beach, CA (1984-1987) and Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Milpitas, CA (1987-2006).

Pastor Mike is engaged globally in China, Southeast Asia, and India. His missional passion includes helping the Body of Christ understand the shift of Christianity to the Global South and the beneficial influence that the Global South can bring to the church in the post-Christian Global North

He is the author of Out of the Bleachers and Onto the Field – How to Witness Without Hang-ups (CPH) and a contributor to numerous periodicals. His short-story, Herb and Vi is included in the September 2018 Lutheran Witness. He posts regularly to his blog, “23 and Other Stories of Faith” https://stories-of-faith.blog. Mike was born and raised in Sacramento, CA.

He and Kathy were married in 1979. Kathy works at Concordia University Irvine as Assistant Director of Advancement Services. The Gibson’s have two adult sons, Andrew and Tim.

Lucas Fitzgerald

Lucas Fitzgerald

Principal at Pacific Lutheran Jr./Sr. High School

Abortion Arguments Identical to Slavery Arguments

Classical arguments for slavery utilized by both “Christians” and non-Christians in historical literature prove to be near-identical to contemporary arguments in favor of the murder of the unborn.

We’ll examine these arguments for slavery/abortion and rebutt them from a Lutheran-Christian worldview.

**Open to junior high school ages and up.

Lucas Fitzgerald is the principal of Pacific Lutheran Jr./Sr. High School in Gardena, CA where he has served as an LCMS Commissioned Minister since 1999.

His formal education includes a B.A. in English from Loyola Marymount University, an M.A. in Reformation Theology from Concordia University in 2000 and subsequent post-graduate work in the areas of Christian Apologetics and Theology.

In addition to his formal theological training, Lucas has his CA teaching and administrative credentials.

Lucas is blessed with a beautiful and godly wife, Erin, and two precious daughters –Christie and Hannah.

Patrina Mosley

Patrina Mosley

Director of Life, Culture, and Women's Advocacy --Family Research Council

How Abortion and Sex Trafficking are Linked

Abortion and sex trafficking are not often brought together in the same sentence, but the two have more in common than meets the eye and doubles the devastation on many women’s lives.
Patrina Mosley serves as the Director of Life, Culture and Women’s Advocacy at the Family Research Council. Her writings and research examine the sanctity of life and women’s dignity issues in policy and culture.
Erin Maggard

Erin Maggard

1st Person Account: What to Say to Someone Who Has Had an Abortion or Is Considering Getting One”

In 1997, I had a surgical abortion. During this presentation time, I’ll be sharing what was said (and not said) to me at the time, and in the twenty years since.

As Lutherans, we have the very best to offer to men and women considering abortion, or who those who have had one. The weight of the Law and sweetness of the Gospel are exactly what is needed – but we must know what to use when, and how to say it!

Using my own experience as a starting point, we’ll discuss ways to be the best pro-life advocate and caring Christian friend with your words during what can be a very emotional, scary and difficult time.

For nearly twenty years, I carried the silent weight of that murder with me. The love offered by a faithful and patient husband and the guidance of faithful pastors finally brought me to understand the forgiveness offered through Christ’s redeeming work.

I now speak and write for the pro-life cause, in honor of the child I sacrificed to the god of self–and in thankfulness to the God of all Creation, who redeemed me.

Dr. Cari Chittick

Dr. Cari Chittick

Associate Professor of Education, Concordia University Irvine

Responding to Medical Recommendations as Informed Advocates

Data drives us to make choices, and yet many times we make uninformed decisions based on bias, untruth, or limited perspectives.

As we put our trust in God and learn instead of fear, we can be open and confident to advocate not only for ourselves, but for our loved ones and for the unborn.

All persons are created in the image of God, and we learn to value others from the life of our Savior as he lived on the earth.

Each of us is born with special gifts and talents and yet society dictates what is “good, valuable, or perfect.” Some children are born premature, with limitations, or with special needs, and yet all are created with value and purpose as part of the body of Christ.

Hear stories of families who were advised to terminate their unborn children with Down Syndrome and how their children have added joy, purpose, and perspective to the lives they touch, as well as how they’ve become advocates for the unborn, their families, and our communities.

Dr. Cari Chittick is an Associate Professor of Education and Director of Lutheran Teaching Programs, Colloquy, and Placement at Concordia University, Irvine.

She has a passion for the ministry of Lutheran schools and for encouraging the professional growth of future educators as they minister to children with varying abilities–with the goal of enhancing students’ academic potential while nurturing their faith.

Prior to joining CUI, Dr. Chittick was the Director of Special Education at Concordia University Texas where she began the major and developed the program to equip future educators to support exceptional learners in all classroom settings. She has also developed elementary resource programs in two Lutheran schools.

In her spare time, Dr. Chittick enjoys exploring God’s creation and serving God through service and mission trips around the world.

Patti Smith

Patti Smith

The Value of a Human Being: The Hard Cases

Why and how to be a voice for the rape and incest conceived. My story as a “hard case”.

Patti Smith is a native Californian, residing in Huntington Beach.

Prior to retiring in 2012, Patti was a professional recruiter. Since retiring, she has been an active volunteer with Lutherans for Life and is a Life Team Leader. Patti is a church musician as well as a pro-life sidewalk counselor and speaker.

Patti is an active member of 40 Days for Life, Save the 1, and Kairos Prison Ministry community.

 

Rev. Mark C. Jasa

Rev. Mark C. Jasa

Pastor, Mount Olive Lutheran Church, Pasadena, CA

Fully Human From Conception: An Old Testament Perspective

What does the Old Testament say about unborn children?

What are the arguments for and against affirming the full humanity of these individuals?

Pastor Mark Jasa graduated from Concordia, St. Louis in 2005.

He is a fellow of the Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism and Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.

He currently serves as a missionary evangelist in the United States, Canada, and Europe and serves at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Pasadena, California.

Bruce Dannemeyer

Bruce Dannemeyer

Attorney and Adjunct Professor at Concordia University Irvine

What Does the Constitution Say about Abortion?

Roe v. Wade has become a polarizing catch-phrase, a symbol for both sides of the abortion issue and many other issues in our country’s political discourse, like women’s rights and gender equality.

It also happens to be a Supreme Court opinion that interprets the United States Constitution. In it, the Supreme Court held that abortion is a Constitutional right.

But abortion is not mentioned in the Constitution. How did the Supreme Court get there? What will it take to overturn Roe v. Wade? What are the chances of that happening?

Bruce Dannemeyer has been an attorney for 36 years. He received his undergraduate degree from Valparaiso University, and his law degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

It was there that he met his wife Debbie. They have 3 children and 2 grandchildren.

He currently practices business litigation with a small firm in Irvine. He previously was a partner with a large firm and started his career with the United States Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. under the Reagan administration.

He is an adjunct professor at Concordia University Irvine, teaching business law in the MBA program. He also volunteers as a temporary judge for the Orange County Superior Court.

He has served in various positions with his local congregations and with the LC-MS Commission on Handbook.

Rev. AJ Espinosa

Rev. AJ Espinosa

Pastor, Host of Thy Strong Word streaming at KFUO.org

Genesis 1–11: Humanity’s Limited Dominion and the Holiness of Creation

Individual rights: they’re the foundation of our legal tradition and our cultural values in Western society. It is precisely because individual rights are so important to us that the abortion debate is such a paradox on a societal level, a conflict between perceived women’s rights and human rights.

Pro-life apologetics is often predicated on proving the supremacy of the baby’s individual human rights. Is this, however, the only approach? Is the defense of the unborn totally dependent on our ability to define what it means to be human? Is it all a matter of individual rights?

The Bible rarely speaks of rights, let alone individual rights. The Bible seems much more concerned with duties, particularly societal and religious duties.

A close reading of Genesis 1–11 reveals a perspective on humanity that is totally counter-cultural: human sovereignty is strictly limited, and God has not given us autonomy with respect to our bodies, our environment, or our fellow creatures.

It is not that the baby’s rights outweigh the rights of the parents: the baby is the very embodiment of the parents’ rights and duties.

Pastor AJ Espinosa is a Ph.D. student in the Biblical studies program of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, where he earned his Master of Divinity. His research interest is in how Biblical languages organize information and thought progression.

Scholars often debate how to outline and understand Bible passages based on historical models, but the Bible outlines itself using specific patterns of word order and verb forms.

Pastor Espinosa is blessed to have been married for eleven years to Gaby, his college sweetheart who is a postdoc at UC Irvine in biomedical engineering. They have two daughters, whose smiles always warm the room: Ellie who is three years old and Natalie who is six months old.

Pastor Espinosa was also blessed to recently move to the Irvine area to be closer to his parents, siblings, and extended family, who have been joyful helpers with the little ones.

In May he took over as the new host for the radio program and podcast Thy Strong Word, where they read through the entire Bible chapter by chapter. Thy Strong Word streams live at KFUO.org Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 10:00 AM Pacific.

Dr. Shannon Gallina

Dr. Shannon Gallina

Psychologist

“Psychological Affects of Having Abortions”

 

The affects of abortion on women can vary greatly. For those women who seek therapy for their experience, the psychological affects are often long lasting and can be traumatic.

Dr. Shannon Gallina is a licensed psychologist in private practice. She has worked as a therapist for the past 26 years, treating individuals and couples, with a focus on anxiety and depression.

Dr. Gallina’s educational background includes a BA in Sociology from UCLA, an M.A. in Psychology from Pepperdine University, and a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Alliant University in San Diego.

She and her husband Todd have been married 23 years and have two children, Logan and Lia.

Rev. Darrin Sheek

Rev. Darrin Sheek

Sole Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, Anaheim, CA.

Fatherhood

This presentation will focus on the relation between fatherhood and the issue of protecting life.

Often the discussion around protecting and ending life in the womb revolves around the mother and child, but every child has a father.

How does the God-given role of “father” impact the present “right to life” debate, and how might a biblical understanding and recovery of “fatherhood” contribute to addressing the issue of unwanted pregnancies and provide a way forward in protecting life in the womb?

Darrin Sheek is currently serving as Senior Pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Anaheim, Ca.

He is a graduate of Westmont College and Concordia University in Irvine.

Darrin was born and raised in Southern California. He met his wife Cindy in high school. They have been married for 31 years and have four adult children whom he loves passionately.

Kathleen Eaton Bravo

Kathleen Eaton Bravo

CEO/Founder of Obria Group, Inc., and the Founder of Obria Medical Clinics

“Obria and the Abortion Wars”

 

Kathleen Eaton Bravo has become one of the nation’s leading pro-life pioneers—courageously serving for nearly four decades in Oklahoma and California.

As the founder and CEO of Obria — the first nationally trademarked pro-life brand — Kathleen will discuss her journey to building a proven solution for the future of the pro-life movement. The Obria medical model is already five times more effective than the traditional pregnancy resource center model, across dozens of their clinic locations throughout the country.

The path to Obria started in 1980, when Kathleen experienced the shame surrounding an experience with abortion after receiving counsel from Planned Parenthood—which did not include any information
about choosing life for her unborn child. As a result, in 1981 she began volunteering at a pregnancy center in Oklahoma before moving back to
California to start Birth Choice in 1986—converting and growing them to six fully licensed medical clinics in 2006.

“I wanted to create a comprehensive medical clinic model that could compete nose-to-nose with the large abortion providers for the lives of unborn babies and the souls of the mothers and fathers. In other words, get the patients out of abortion clinics and into our life-affirming clinics,” she says.

In 2012, she guided her Birth Choice clinics into becoming Obria Medical Clinics, and eventually founded The Obria Group in 2017 to serve both the local and national network of life-affirming Obria Clinics. With 48 Obria clinics now open, her goal is to have 200 clinics across the country by 2021!

Kathleen is the recipient of the Cardinal John J. O’Connor National Pro-Life Award, along with former President George W. Bush, and most recently the Susan B. Anthony List’s Distinguished Leader Award.
She speaks across the country on her mission with Obria.

Brooke Karmie

Brooke Karmie

Pacific Southwest Regional Coordinator, Students for Life

Students for Life

Students for Life has 1200 groups across the nation in high schools and on college campuses.

Brooke will go through why it matters. Planned Parenthood targets students and lies to them — proclaiming abortion as empowerment, when it’s not–it’s oppression. Students for Life is a campus voice proclaiming the truth in love.

She’ll cover pertinent issues — fetal development, CA state & United States abortion laws, and how to start a group on your campus to continue to change hearts and minds.

Brooke Karmie was born and raised in northeast Ohio where she graduated from Walsh University and earned her BA in Government, Foreign Affairs, and Business Management.

She has always had a passion to fight for life, which guided her involvement in politics. Brooke has worked on the public policy and governmental side of the pro-life movement for years by co-founding and running various programs with a strong focus on protecting life, such as the Faith and Liberty Index, working on the campaigns of various pro-life political candidates, and serving as the Executive Director at the Stark County GOP.

Brooke has recently decided to carry her passion to fight for the unborn from Ohio to California by joining Students for Life of America as the Pacific Southwest Regional Coordinator where she plans to continue her pursuit to end abortion.  

Rev. Edward Killian

Rev. Edward Killian

Pastor, Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church, Beverly Hills, CA

The Full Personhood of the Unborn According to the New Testament

Together, we’ll examine the New Testament documents in an attempt to establish the value that God assigns to every created soul.

Pastor Edward Killian has served Mount Calvary Lutheran in Beverly Hills since 2016. Before that he served Faith Lutheran in Waterloo, IA for ten years.

He has been married for 27 years to Jill, and has seven children, six grandchildren (with three on the way) two pit bulls, a cat, and lots of crazy stories to tell.