The Wilkes County commissioners unanimously approved a “resolution for life” at their Nov. 2 meeting, drawing applause from a standing-room-only crowd of about 230 people.

The 1 ½-page resolution said the commissioners urged Wilkes citizens “to promote and defend the unalienable right to life and the inherent dignity of all human beings, including the unborn, from conception or fertilization through all stages of development.”

The document said the county board also “resolves to use all means within its power to support the sanctity of human life in accordance with its God-given responsibilities as the people’s elected governing body.” Later in an interview, County Attorney Tony Triplett said the commissioners “don’t have authority to enact laws with respect to abortion, but they do have authority to express their collective opinion in the form of a resolution, which is what they did” Nov. 2.

The resolution and a request for commissioner approval of the document were received from the Rev. David Dyer, pastor of Fairplains Baptist Church. Triplett said he reviewed it for legal concerns and removed a portion identifying Wilkes as a “sanctuary for the preborn.”

Dyer said in an interview, “We’re certainly thankful for the resolution as it was read and passed. The tremendous turnout for the county commissioners meeting was encouraging as well.”

He added, “As for the future, we hope that the counties or cities that pass similar resolutions over the course of time will make our state legislature aware that there is widespread support in North Carolina for them to take action concerning protecting the life of the unborn.”

Resolutions similar to the one passed by the Wilkes commissioners were approved by the Davie County commissioners in October 2020 and by the Yadkin County commissioners in August 2019.

Dyer said right to life resolutions are in the process of being presented to local governing bodies elsewhere in North Carolina. He said they’re tied to a movement initiated by Centerville, Tenn.-based Personhood Alliance, which encourages churches to present such documents to their local county and municipal boards.

Dyer and Susan Sturgill, director of Wilkes Pregnancy Care Center, appeared before the commissioners at the Nov. 2 meeting on behalf of the request for approval of the resolution and were applauded after they spoke. Except for commissioners, no one else was given an opportunity to speak on the matter during the meeting.

Dyer said then that well over 30 churches and about seven denominations were represented at the meeting, held at the Wilkes Agricultural Center due to the large crowd expected.

He told commissioners that the resolution represented deeply held convictions of thousands of Wilkes citizens and added that 1,835 people signed a petition supporting its passage. “Men and women from across this county have signed this effort to declare that a child in the womb has equal value to you and to us.”

Dyer thanked people for attending and showing their support for the unborn. “That’s why we’re here, because they’re not. That’s why we speak, because they can’t. It’s our duty as followers of Christ to stand in the gap on their behalf.”

He said the Bible speaks clearly about the value of life and when life begins. Dyer cited Scripture saying God told the prophet Jeremiah that He knew him “before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” Similarly, said Dyer, the prophet Isaiah says in the Bible that God called him by name while he was in his mother’s womb.

Dyer said people have cried out and prayed for protection of unborn babies for a long time. “Our hearts are grieved that their innocence is so easily overlooked by this current culture. We are saddened when we hear the monthly and yearly statistics telling us that the lives of thousands upon thousands of those made in the image of God have been extinguished. As followers of Christ, we cannot stand by in silence and witness this.”

He said ultrasound machines allow people to see “the miracle of life in the womb,” so ignorance can’t be claimed regarding this issue. “God knows that we know the truth and He will hold us accountable for what we do with the truth.”

Dyer concluded, “This is the moment that we have been given that we as a county believe in the value of every person, including those who have yet to be born. Tonight, is a meaningful step that we take as a community to make it known that we stand boldly for life.”

Sturgill said the resolution represented what the pregnancy care center in Wilkes has been doing in Wilkes for 25 years. “It’s very heartening to see the community, which has supported this work for 25 years, come out in such great support.” She also said she doesn’t know another species that devalues their unborn like humans have.

The center is a non-profit, non-denominational organization offering positive alternatives to abortion, while providing care, compassion, information and support to women facing unintended pregnancies. It’s located on Eighth Street, North Wilkesboro, near the North Wilkesboro Post Office.

Eddie Settle, chairman of the commissioners, thanked Dyer and Sturgill for bringing the resolution before the board. Settle said the document didn’t pass judgment on anyone, but rather was “a voice for the unborn…. a stand for the right to life.”

He added, “We can’t pass a law in here, but we can pass a resolution. The Scripture says I knew you in the womb. To me that’s enough. That’s all I need to know. I certainly am prayerful that we have not aborted the person that had the cure for cancer.”

When Settle gave other board members the opportunity to speak, Commissioner Brian Minton stated, “I think we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize our former (state) senator, Shirley Randleman, for her tireless efforts in the legislature, passing laws to protect the unborn.” Randleman is Minton’s mother. She has announced her candidacy for the Senate in 2022, as has Settle.

Commissioner Keith Elmore said that when he entered the meeting room, he was asked if he would stand up for the unborn. “I said certainly. It was not a question.” Elmore noted that the commissioners just heard an update on Wilkes Department of Social Services and added, “I’d like people to stand up for the born also and remember these foster kids. If you’ve got the opportunity and you’re able to do it, it would be great to take the training” to become a foster parent because they’re needed. Elmore said he was a former foster parent.

Commissioner Casey Joe Johnson said he was excited all day about the meeting. He thanked people for their support of the resolution and said it’s an exciting night for Wilkes County and North Carolina. Johnson added that he is privileged to serve on the Wilkes Pregnancy Center board.

The resolution, which Settle read out loud, states that the U.S. Constitution provides for protection of human life and that the Declaration of Independence and N.C. Constitution say life is among certain rights all people are endowed with by God. It said protection of these rights “is an affirmative duty of federal, state and local governments.”

The document continues, “The federal judiciary has, in the opinion of the (Wilkes) Board of Commissioners, accumulated and exercised powers far in excess of its proper role under the United States Constitution in its rulings concerning the rights of the unborn and has violated the above stated precepts of the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and the North Carolina Constitution.”

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