Pro-Life Ministry’s Local Roots: Alpha Right to Life

Ed Hopkins with a painting of Saint Thomas Moore.

by Susan Flanagan

Faith-filled Christians of many denominations were trying to make a difference in the Shreveport-Bossier pro-life arena in the 1980’s. When Flo and Ladd Alexander’s Pregnancy Referral Information service ceased to exist, others stepped up to try to fill that gap.  Long-time Shreveporters may remember Alpha Right to Life, which was begun in the mid-1980’s, and its longest-running president, Presbyterian Pastor Ed Hopkins.  But how many of you know that Ed’s pro-life work in Shreveport was instrumental in his eventual conversion to the Catholic Church?

Ed was called to Shreveport in 1986 as the Pastor of Fairfield Avenue Presbyterian Church. Although many pastors and members of his denomination were moving in a pro-abortion direction, Ed had become pro-life during his seminary years and had been involved in pro-life ministries in previous assignments.  Upon his arrival in Shreveport, he discovered Alpha Right to Life, which had recently been started by Brenda Nichols and two other women from the First Assembly of God Church.  Ed Hopkins soon became its president, assembled a board of directors and many worthwhile accomplishments followed.

Alpha Right to Life’s original purpose was to start and maintain a hotline to help pregnant women. Since God is the beginning, the Creator of all life, the name Alpha was chosen.  In a providential coincidence, the founders realized that Alpha’s listing in the phone book would be in close proximity to listings for “abortion” and “alternatives to abortion,” thereby hopefully catching the eye of potential abortion-minded callers. The hotline was manned by volunteers, many of whom came from Pastor Denny Duron’s Assembly of God Church.

Alpha Right to Life also staffed an information table annually at the State Fair of Louisiana, where volunteers handed out pro-life literature and displayed models showing fetal development.  Alpha developed brochures listing various crisis pregnancy centers and maternity homes around the state where women could receive help. An Alpha pamphlet from the late 1980’s also listed speakers who were available for meetings and functions, including some who shared their personal stories of regret over their abortions.

In 1989 under Ed’s direction, Alpha organized a community forum at the Bossier Civic Center to help educate people about abortion from many different angles.  Participants who facilitated this broad discussion included a lawyer, a doctor, a minister, a pregnancy counselor and high school senior Scott Semon, the first winner of the Shreveport-Bossier Pro-Life Oratory Contest, which had just begun in 1989.

Another important educational role that Pastor Ed Hopkins played in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, was monitoring the local newspapers for articles and letters to the editor regarding abortion, of which there were many.  Often stories and letters were filled with inaccuracies and misinformation about the issues and Ed always sent the newspaper a rebuttal, which was often published. Since accurate information in the newspaper is so vital, Ed wonders in retrospect if these corrections might have been one of his most important accomplishments.

This author chaired many annual Alpha “Respect Life” banquets, where nationally-known pro-life speakers, such as syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, former abortionist Dr. Bernard Nathanson, chastity speaker Molly Kelly and  professional football player Pete Metzelaars, riveted the hundreds in attendance with their presentations. Metzelaars painfully recounted the abortion he and his wife undertook because his football career had stalled, only to be offered a lucrative contract shortly after they had aborted their baby.

During his tenure as Alpha Right to Life president, Ed for the first time met and worked with many Catholics. He was struck by the teachings of the Catholic Church and impressed with the consistency of the pro-life message the Church promoted. The more he read and learned, the more drawn he was to the truth and beauty of these ideas. The first time Ed ever saw or heard a Rosary being prayed was by Fr. Joseph Howard and a Catholic group in front of the Hope abortion clinic, an event Ed poignantly remembers well over 25 years later. The seed for Ed’s eventual conversion was planted in Shreveport as a result of his pro-life experiences.

Ed Hopkins ended up being reassigned in 1991 and moving away from Shreveport, and a few years later, Alpha Right to Life ended.  But while it existed, many women were helped, people were educated, pro-life initiatives were begun or expanded and a Presbyterian Pastor was led to become Catholic.

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