Denny Hartford has been the Director of Vital Signs Ministries for over 38 years. A courageous and creative Christian activist, Denny has not only led one of the most active, most influential pro-life agencies in the nation, he also has maintained a busy regimen of traveling, speaking and organizing similar ministries across the nation. Denny’s popularity as a speaker and inventive educator, however, is based largely upon his own example of personal spirituality and commitment to effectively “rescue those being led
away to slaughter.” For example, he has served for over a quarter of century as a sidewalk counselor at Omaha-area abortion mills and was one of the first evangelicals to be involved in peaceful “rescue” actions. In addition, Denny and his wife, Claire, were the principal founders of the AAA Center for Pregnancy Counseling (Now Assuire Women’s Center)
Denny’s contributions to the Omaha community and especially the pro-life movement have been recognized in several ways. In 1984, he was asked by Nebraska State Senator Bernice Labedz and then-Governor Robert Kerrey to accept a position as the 7th District’s State Senator when it was unexpectedly vacated, but Denny decided he could better serve the cause of Christ and His “little ones” as a non-political Christian activist and, remarkably, he declined this prestigious offer. Denny’s work has been gratefully acknowledged by such outstanding leaders as Joe Scheidler; the Director of Boys Town, Fr. Val Peter; Judie Brown; the late U.S. Senator Edward Zorinsky, Governor Kay Orr; Congressman and Mayor Hal Daub; and even President Ronald Reagan. Wrote President Reagan in September of 1985: “There is no cause more noble, no cause more necessary, than to restore full legal protection to innocent unborn children…You have been in the thick of the struggle, and your courage and effectiveness have inspired many others…God bless you.”
Under Denny’s leadership, Vital Signs Ministries has untiringly championed the sanctity of all human life in a variety of services. Indeed, a hallmark of the ministry is a defense of the sanctity of human life which is 1) comprehensive and 2) deeply grounded in the Word of God. In the course of Denny’s wide-ranging service, he has organized and conducted peaceful, prayerful demonstrations against the abortion industry; developed a daily sidewalk counseling ministry outside Omaha’s abortion clinics; created an inspirational drama outreach; hosted numerous pro-life conferences and public educational outreaches; initiated regular visitations of area elders in nursing homes; created a ongoing entertainment and visitation in senior care facilities called “When Swing Was King” (which you can read about in detail elsewhere on this website) and more.
Through all of this, Denny has continued a ministry of inspirational and informational public speaking, testifying before innumerable audiences throughout the U.S. and in Canada, Great Britain (three month-long tours), Germany, Russia, Nigeria, India, Poland (3x), Burkina Faso, and ten times in Belarus regarding the case for the sanctity of life, the gracious invitation of the gospel, and the necessity of Christian activism. It is a responsibility that has involved him with civic groups, churches, schools, pro-life events, the state Legislature and hundreds of media interviews.
In specific media outreaches, Denny has produced and hosted the radio programs “Doers of the Word,” “Vital Signs,” and “Vital Signs Weekend.” These popular programs have featured not only Denny’s own insightful commentary regarding a whole host of critical issues, but the perspectives of innumerable Christian leaders who brought their learning and experience to bear on these matters. Those Christian heroes have included: Melody Green; Edith Schaeffer; John Whitehead; Frank Peretti; Scott Wesley Brown; Joe Scheidler; Molly Kelly; Meadowlark Lemon; Chris Godfrey; Sal Bando; Judie Brown; Larry Norman; Randy Stonehill; Norm Geisler; James Mills; UNL Coaches Tom Osborne, Turner Gill, and Ron Brown; Dave Breese; Joseph Sobran; Dr. Jack Willke; Alan Keyes; Joni Eareckson-Tada; Calvin Miller; Rep. J.C. Watts; Phyliss Schlafly; Terry Talbot; Marvin Olasky; Governor Kay Orr; Erwin Lutzer; John Walvoord; Rosie Grier; Dave Dravecky; Walter Wanegrin; Os Guinness; Sherword Wirt; Senator Bill Armstrong; country music superstar, Charlie Daniels; Steven Curtis Chapman; Mary Beth Bonacci; Carol Everett; A.C. Green; Randy Alcorn; and many more.
Denny possesses a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, graduating magna cum laude, and a Master’s degree in History from the same institution. Now 68, Denny has been a Christian since the spring of 1970 when he was converted to the Faith through the ministry of Young Life in his home state of Colorado. Denny later moved to Omaha where he worked with an inner-city evangelism and discipleship ministry, the Christian Brotherhood. Following his marriage, Denny’s primary Christian service was conducted through his church, home Bible studies, Inter-Varsity Fellowship and Metro Right to Life until helping found the Omaha Christian Action Council in 1982. He and Claire (a former high school English instructor and now a leading pro-life activist herself) have been married 48 years. For seven years, Denny was the teaching pastor at Faith Bible Church in Omaha, Nebraska. He and Claire now attend Grace Bible Church.