Hundreds of pregnancy help servants worldwide connected last week for education, information, and fellowship with the virtual offering of Heartbeat International’s Annual Conference.
Well over 400 attendees worldwide took part in more than 50 hours of virtual content at Heartbeat’s 2023 Annual Pregnancy Help Conference.
Heartbeat’s first post-Roe Conference set a record of more than 1,800 participating overall, including a waitlist and overflow accommodations for those on the ground at the in-person Conference in Louisville, Ky. Heartbeat has offered a concurrent Virtual Conference since 2021, making meaningful connection possible for those across the globe unable to attend in person.
The 2023 Conference theme was Breakthrough, referencing the victory of the Dobbs ruling overturing Roe v. Wade, along with the need for continued breakthrough in the work ahead for the pregnancy help movement.
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Heartbeat International President Jor-El Godsey assured the 420-plus virtual Conference participants they were very much on the mind of those in Louisville, and that the hope was to have them joining in person at a future conference.
“We know that it’s been a great connection for you for where you are, wherever that is in the world, that you’ve been a part of this,” Godsey said.
“We’ve talked about you, we prayed about you, we prayed for you and we’re grateful that you’ve joined us for this 2023 Virtual Conference,” he said.
Heartbeat’s Annual Conference is designed for pregnancy help ministry leaders, staff, board members, and volunteers of pregnancy centers, medical clinics, maternity homes, and non-profit adoption agencies, along with professionals in medicine, counseling, social work, and education.
Heartbeat Vice President of Ministry Services Tracie Shellhouse opened the Virtual Conference recounting the effects of the Dobbs decision and encouragement for the pregnancy help community.
The Virtual Conference experience is a great way for pregnancy help personnel to network with the greater pregnancy help movement across the world while learning and taking in Conference content to benefit both them personally and their ministry.
All Conference attendees, whether Virtual or in-person, had access to a special app enabling them to keep apprised of everything to do with the Conference, communicate with one another, and share photos from their Conference experience.
Conference topics included abortion pill reversal, sexual integrity, fundraising, outreach to diverse cultures, care for staff and volunteers, working with legislators, healthcare for women, serving sex trafficking survivors, sidewalk outreach, addiction, spiritual warfare, and more.
Virtual Conference workshops offered live Q and A following the presentation.
Virtual participants were able to view the International Meet and Greet event livestreamed from the Conference site in Louisville.
A Virtual Conference attendee from Pakistan stayed connected with Heartbeat’s International Specialist Ellen Foell throughout the Conference, continually sharing her reaction, including:
~ Enjoying the Conference. It’s very helpful information.
~ Love the Conference.
~ Wow, it’s so meaningful to join the Conference.
~ Closing Session was so encouraging. It gave me more passion to set up the pregnancy center. Our women need support too.
~ Hope next year I will in Conference to hold my country’s flag.
~ Amazing event, appreciate your efforts.
A nurse manager for a pregnancy help organization in Texas shared her three biggest takeaways from the Virtual Conference with Pregnancy Help News:
1. I'm not alone (lots of people alongside me, lots of resources, lots of experience to draw from)
2. It hard but worth it.
3. There is so much to be joyful, thankful, and hopeful about: Recognizing what God is already doing!
“I'm so encouraged and fortified for "the next step" and even the next mile,” she said. “Thank you.”
A pregnancy help worker from Ohio noted that she had gotten a lot out of what she had watched from the Virtual Conference so far, and that the virtual option makes it possible for personnel at her center to attend Conference.
The head of a California organization offering sexual integrity programs and curriculum said that there should be thousands listening to the virtual Conference workshops, as they “go way beyond and cover every needed topic.”
Asked for her thoughts after the first day of the Virtual Conference, she said she had listened to every virtual presentation and was scrambling between sessions to get colleagues to register.
“All are excellent,” she told Pregnancy Help News, “and exactly what I needed to hear and know, and by experienced, polished professionals who know how to speak well.”
She referenced being in a state where pregnancy help attendance at the Conference isn’t perhaps as strong as in other areas of the U.S.
“I am very grateful for the HBI conference and other training,” she said. “Big thanks to Heartbeat for making this opportunity available for us as virtual. Lots of good information and encouragement as well. Thanks to all that made this all possible for those who attended and those of us doing virtual!”
All workshops from the Virtual Conference became available on-demand to attendees beginning 24 hours after the live session.
Tweet This: We know that it’s been a great connection for you, we prayed for you for - Heartbeat President Jor-El Godsey to Virtual Conference attendees
Godsey again assured Virtual Conference attendees that Conference participants in Louisville were praying for their ministry and all that is happening in pregnancy help wherever they are.
“We’re grateful that you were along with us for the ride,” Godsey said, ‘and that you yourself have had a breakthrough. Maybe it’s been information, maybe it’s been education, but I hope it’s been inspiration - and a breakthrough for what you’re doing where God has called you to serve.”
Virtual registrants have access to the Virtual Conference workshops until May 10 and in-person registrants have access until May 22.
Editor's note: Heartbeat International manages Pregnancy Help News.