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Archives:   March 2003

3/31/03
Protestant justice groups proclaim "JusticeWorks" as they explore ways of renewing the churches' social witness 

Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon Society Issues Analyst, along with Len Bjorkman of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, report on the Protestant Justice Action conference, "JusticeWorks: Renewing the Church's Social Witness,"  in St. Louis, March 28-30,

Michael Kinnamon's listing of seven "key assumptions" of the gathering fills out the report.

3/29/03

The war against Iraq

What do we do now?  What can we say?
A few more thoughts --

"On balance": a framework for understanding our world today

Gene TeSelle reflects on America's radically new role in the world today

What to do in a time of war?  
More ideas for action, from here and there

Send help!

John Shuck, of the Presbytery of Yellowstone, reminds us that One Great Hour of Sharing is our Presbyterian channel for doing just that. And this is the season when our churches are encouraged to give to that long-term, broad-based way of helping.

In worship and in prayer, remember those who are dying

Jack Lohr, at the Presbyterian Church of Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, called on his congregation last Sunday, the first after the beginning of the fighting, to remember all those who died that week. He posted in the narthex, and read at the end of his sermon, a list of all the names and other identifications he could gather of those who had died at that point in the war.  Click here for more details.

Alternative views of the news  
bulletNews reports are changing American attitudes
bulletPeace teams report from Iraq
Do you have ideas, experiences, resources to share as we all struggle with the prospect of war?  Please send a note!
Do you read novels?
Here's your chance to help a prisoner for peace!

Marilyn White, long-time peace activist and a leader in the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, will begin serving a six-month sentence in federal prison for her act of non-violent civil disobedience in last November's demonstration against the School of the Americas.

As she prepares for her prison time, she has asked friends to suggest good novels that she might read, to make her time "personally productive."

You can read a bit more about her interests, and then share your own suggestions.

215th Assembly will take up dicey issues

Jerry Van Marter of Presbyterian News Service summarizes the issues expected to come before the 2003 General Assembly, including "sexuality, abortion, AIDS." 

A comment on the coming trial of Rev. Steve Van Kuiken

On ordination and blessing same-sex unions, one minister thinks not in terms of "strategy or pragmatism [but of] what is right and what is wrong?"

3/22/03

The war against Iraq

What do we do now?  What can we say?
A few more thoughts --

Demonstrations around the world have expressed people's rejection of the US war in Iraq.   

Witherspoon board member Rich Hong reports on his experience in the demonstration in (or around) Times Square, New York, on March 20. 

More people have offered ideas on helpful resources and things to do, including a resource page on your church's website, opening the church for midday prayers, and using bulletin board material from Presbyterian Disaster Assistance.
Taking up the cross in a time of war 

A thoughtful Lenten sermon asks "what does the way of the cross look like" for people in a nation going to war?

The Rev. Matthew Gunter of St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in Glen Ellyn, IL, preached on this on Sunday, March 16, 2003.

He suggested four points:

bullet"Taking up the cross in a time of war means getting our loyalties straight."
bullet"Taking up the cross in a time of war means the way of humility. It means being prepared to entertain the possibility that we are wrong. It means asking, why does most of the rest of the world disagree with us? "
bullet"Taking up the cross in a time of war means we must recognize our own sin."
bullet"Taking up the cross in a time of war means repentance. We need be prepared to repent of sins we commit as individuals and as a nation. And if sometimes we decide we must resort to violence, we need to repent for that violence."

Matthew Gunter is a member of the Ekklesia Project, which states as its purpose: "to remind the church of its true calling as the real-world community whose primary loyalty is to the Body of Christ, the priorities and practices of Jesus, and the inbreaking Kingdom of God. In doing so, The Ekklesia Project will work with, within, across, and beneath existing churches and structures."

Do you have ideas, experiences, resources to share as we all struggle with the prospect of war?  Please send a note!
An Environmental Justice conference sponsored by National Council of Churches, will take place June 20-23 in Seattle. Theme of "Sustainable Living in Global World" will focus on sustainability, globalization, and economics, along with other topics such as energy stewardship, lifestyle/consumerism, and environmental justice. There will be a special youth and young adult track.
Alexa Smith of Presbyterian News Service has written a fine story celebrating the life & death of Howard Warren.
A couple more notes have come in, expressing support for Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel.  You're invited to add your own!
3/20/03
GA PJC upholds moderator's decision not to call special Assembly

Says Abu-Akel acted improperly in urging commissioners not to press for special meeting    [3-20-03]

The Office of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

For immediate release Thursday, March 20, 2003

In the remedial complaint brought by the Session of the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Canton, Ohio, against the Moderator of the 214th General Assembly (2002), the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission has ruled that the Moderator was in order when he did not reconvene the 214th General Assembly.

Highlights from the ruling include:

bullet

Changing requests or concurrences for a special meeting: Commissioners may join or withdraw from a request for a special meeting until such time as the Moderator issues the call for that meeting.

bullet

Verification process for a special meeting: The Office of the Moderator has the right and responsibility on behalf of the General Assembly to verify the standing and signatures of commissioners requesting a special meeting, and to conduct other verification as needed to maintain order and justice.

bulletThe role of the Office of the Moderator: When presented with sufficient requests which, if valid, would require the call for a special meeting, the Moderator is obliged to cease advocacy of a particular position and act with impartiality in the exercise of the duties described in G-13.0104.
bulletBusiness before a special meeting: The convening of a special meeting of an assembly is not a continuation of the previous assembly, but is a new meeting of the same assembly. Business requiring constitutional interpretation is subject to the 120-day requirement in G-13.0112c.

Commenting on the commission's ruling, the Moderator said, " I ask the church to join me in lifting up in prayer those who are in disagreement with this decision, as well as those who are in agreement with it, hoping that we will be reconciled to one another."

For other reports:

Presbyterian News Service

Full text of the decision from Office of the General Assembly

Presbyterian Outlook

Presbyterian Layman

bulletWe still invite you to send a note of support to Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel, for posting here along with many others.
bulletYou can see the many notes already sent.

The coming of war against Iraq

What do we do now?  What can we say?
Click here for suggestions from 3/18/03
A few more thoughts --

Here are more ideas of "things to do now," as the Bush war starts rolling.

These are adapted from five suggestions presented by the peace group, Act for Change.

1. Urge the President not to use nuclear weapons in Iraq

There is now a risk that American military forces will use tactical nuclear weapons for the first time in human history. In May 2002, the administration dramatically altered U.S. policy, allowing for preemptive attacks against countries with weapons of mass destruction and also allowing our forces to use our own weapons of mass destruction against them even if that country did not use them first. Unfortunately, this means that battlefield nuclear weapons could be used in Iraq for so-called "bunker-busting" efforts and as a tactic against massed Iraqi forces.

Go to the Act for Change web site, where a page is set up to let you send an e-mail note to President Bush urging him to renounce the use of nuclear weapons.

2. Give to emergency relief efforts for the people of Iraq.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance is working with the ACT network and with the Middle East Council of Churches to stockpile supplies and make plans for helping the large number of people likely to become refugees as a result of the US attack on Iraq.

Check out the PDA web page for details on their plans, and to make a direct contribution on-line.

Should you want to contribute without using the on-line channel, designate your giving for Project Number 92000082, project name: Iraq

3. Urge the Secretary of Defense to "support our troops: bring them home now!"

An unprecedented opposition to the war, both home and abroad, has failed to convince the Bush administration to act in accordance with world opinion and avoid a preemptive war with Iraq. Now, regardless of how we feel about the war, we must support the safety of our military. The Bush administration should work to protect our troops and minimize human suffering on all sides.

Urge Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to bring our troops home and minimize human casualties on all sides.

4. Keep speaking out against the war.

Join in local newspaper ads or billboards to be sure the voices for peace are not silenced or forgotten.

Working for Change is running a national campaign to raise funds for the placement of anti-war billboards in strategic locations around the country.

5. Come together with peaceful people in your community

At a time such as this, it's more important than ever to stay connected with friends and neighbors, and to cooperate to opposed this war in visible ways. Around the country there are and will continue to be vigils, rallies, acts of peaceful disobedience and religious services. Resist the temptation to be alone and watch TV coverage of the war; encourage friends and neighbors to get together - for prayer, for letter-writing or telephoning, for rallies and vigils and whatever else you can think of.

And if you come up with some really good ideas,
please share them here.
Just send a note!

Do you have ideas, experiences, resources to share as we all struggle with the prospect of war?  Please send a note!
3/19/03

The coming of war against Iraq

What do we do now?  What can we say?
Click here for suggestions from 3/18/03
A few more thoughts --

Pray
 
bulletBruce Gillette suggests a hymn just written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette, "God, Whose Love Is Always Stronger."
 
bulletMake use of the pastoral letter released today by Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel, Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, and John Detterick, executive director of the General Assembly Council.

Act
 
bullet One frequent visitor sends this:

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE !!
PRAYER IS NICE, WE WILL ALL PRAY.
NO ONE WILL NOTICE IT.
CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE WILL GET PEOPLE'S ATTENTION.

bulletMoveOn.com encourages people committed to a peaceful resolution of the tensions in the world to join in signing a Citizens' Declaration "reaffirming our commitment to international cooperation."

The text is short and simple:

A CITIZENS' DECLARATION

As a US-led invasion of Iraq begins, we, the undersigned citizens of many countries, reaffirm our commitment to addressing international conflicts through the rule of law and the United Nations.

By joining together across countries and continents, we have emerged as a new force for peace. As we grieve for the victims of this war, we pledge to redouble our efforts to put an end to the Bush Administration's doctrine of pre-emptive attack and the reckless use of military power.

You can sign up at: http://www.moveon.org/declaration/

What are you planning to do??
Please send a note about your ideas,
to open new possibilities for others!

Speak or write

Tom Hughart suggests:
Read Chris Hedges'
War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning

Chris Hedges has been a war reporter for the past 15 years, most recently for The New York Times. His book, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, is called by tompaine.com "one of the most striking analyses and critiques of what happens to people and societies as they go to war to be published in many years."

An interview with Hedges is posted on TOMPAINE.com

He also suggests:

Support Sojourners' Jim Wallis' proposal to remove Saddam Hussein by indictment as a war criminal by the International Court of Justice.


Bruce Gillette recommends "An Annotated Critique of President George W. Bush's March 17 Address Preparing the Nation for War."

Learn more

Take a look at "An annotated critique of President George W. Bush's March 17th address preparing the nation for war"

Stephen Zunes, Middle Eastern Editor of Foreign Policy In Focus, provides an annotated critique of the president's address to the nation about imminent war against Iraq. Given that the Democratic Party leadership in Congress declined to take their traditional opportunity to offer a formal response, FPIF provides a response to all the president's arguments for war. Line by line, argument by argument, falsehood by falsehood, Zunes responds to the president.

Stephen Zunes is an associate professor of politics and chair of the Peace & Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco.

Thanks to Bruce Gillette

Do you have ideas, experiences, resources to share as we all struggle with the prospect of war?  Please send a note!
A new affirmation is being circulated:

"Upholding Our Ordination Vows as We Seek an Inclusive Church"

The board of directors of That All May Freely Serve - Michigan has endorsed and commended for consideration by all Presbyterians an affirmation called: Upholding Our Ordination Vows as We Seek an Inclusive Church.

They are inviting people - ministers, elders, and other Presbyterians - to sign the statement.

Do you read novels?
Here's your chance to help a prisoner for peace!

Marilyn White, long-time peace activist and a leader in the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, will begin serving a six-month sentence in federal prison for her act of non-violent civil disobedience in last November's demonstration against the School of the Americas.

As she prepares for her prison time, she has asked friends to suggest good novels that she might read, to make her time "personally productive."

You can read a bit more about her interests, and then share your own suggestions.

A Presbyterian Delegation will be visiting Colombia on March 17-29 to study the impact of US aid in that deeply conflicted country. Latest word is that some 19 people are registered, in spite of the continuing violence there.  The delegation is sponsored by the Witherspoon Society and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, under the auspices of Witness for Peace.

Given the unsettled conditions in Colombia, prayers for the safety of this group, and for their learning experience, will be welcome!

From the Witherspoon Conference

Living into the challenge of difference 

Mary McClintock Ferguson, who is Associate Professor of Theology at Vanderbilt Divinity School, spoke at the conference under the title "Redeeming Obliviousness: the Church and the Challenge of Difference." Her central point was that diversity continues to challenge us, for our reaction to diversity in many cases is "obliviousness" - a more or less intentional choice to be unmindful of people who are different or marginalized. We maintain our obliviousness through a systemic pattern of privilege that allows our beliefs about the dominant group's world-view to go unchallenged.

Whether it's an attitude of "color-blindness" that claims simply to ignore race, or the pretense that lgbt people just don't exist in our churches and communities, this "obliviousness" keeps us from enjoying and serving the fullness of God's creation

Here's the full text of her presentation.

Eva Stimson of Presbyterian News Service has provided a good brief report on the talk by Wendell Berry.
A sermon for "Liberals and Other Aliens"

Chris Glaser -- writer, preacher, activist -- led worship on Friday and Saturday for the conference.

His sermon on Friday offered spiritual depth, humor, and much more.  You can read it here!

Jack Rogers spoke to the Witherspoon conference on "The Spirit Gives Us Courage"

Friday afternoon of the conference (March 7, 2003) began with the Rev. Dr. Jack Rogers, who shared reflections on his year as Moderator of the PC(USA). Acknowledging the difficulties of his year as both he and the Presbyterian Church faced heated accusations of "apostasy" and more, he yet found hope in the church's persisting unity and its renewed affirmation of "hope in the Lord Jesus Christ."  He offered thoughts also on the need for a healthy way to deal with the issues raised by the "fidelity and chastity amendment" and the other tensions created by the very small group of "hard-core fundamentalists who continually and falsely try to represent themselves as the majority."

A good summary of the conference

Arch Taylor attended the conference on behalf of Presbyterians for Restoring Creation.  He offers a very good summary of the conversation with Wendell Berry, as well as notes on other presentations. 

Here you'll find a few photos of the conference, too.

Supporting the Moderator

We're still receiving expressions of support for Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel as he prepares for a "trial" because of his steadfast defense of the integrity of our church and its polity.

Here are the notes received over the past 24 hours.  We invite you to send a note of your own!

3/18/03

The coming of war against Iraq

What do we do now?  What can we say?
A few thoughts --

Pray

PCUSA offers worship resources for these very hard days ... including

bulletA Lenten Meditation
bulletA Time of Worship in a Time of War
bulletSome Prayers and Affirmations to Use or Adapt for Services After War Begins
bulletSuggestions for the Ritual of Reflection
bulletSome Hymns to Consider Using in Services After War Begins ·
bulletSome Scripture Passages to Consider Using in Services After War Begins
bulletPrayers of the People
bulletPrayer for Peace
bulletLenten Fast from Violence
bulletEcumenical collection of worship resources for peace (March 2003)
bulletLiturgia Paz (February 15, 2003)

And Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick recalls us to the Prayer of St. Francis.

Act

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and the Middle East Office offer a wide range of suggestions for action.

Put a light in your window.   MoveOn reports on the breadth and depth of the Global Vigil observances around the globe last Sunday evening, and invites people to hold up a light in the darkness of war.

We're hearing reports of many other actions planned, ranging from non-violent civil disobedience, such as demonstrations aimed at stopping traffic, to prayer vigils to processions and much more.

What are you planning to do??
Please send a note about your ideas,
to open new possibilities for others!

Speak or write

If you have not done so already, look seriously at the statement "An Alternative to War for Defeating Saddam Hussein," endorsed by a number of religious leaders. including Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick.  Consider signing it and sharing it with your legislators and others.

Are you at a loss for words as war draws near? Fear not! Michael Moore, author of Stupid White Men, and maker of outstanding films such as Bowling for Columbine and Roger and Me, has strong words for the President. Strong - and sensible.

Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel reports on his mission trip through Asia.  He urges Presbyterians to seek spiritual renewal, pursue unity in the midst of diversity, adopt one local and one global mission project, and practice hospitality.
A new affirmation is being circulated:

"Upholding Our Ordination Vows as We Seek an Inclusive Church"

The board of directors of That All May Freely Serve - Michigan has endorsed and commended for consideration by all Presbyterians an affirmation called: Upholding Our Ordination Vows as We Seek an Inclusive Church.

They are inviting people - ministers, elders, and other Presbyterians - to sign the statement.

Decision expected this week in case regarding call for a special session of 214th General Assembly

Leslie Scanlon of Presbyterian Outlook reports more details on the GA Permanent Judicial Commission session in Kansas City, which is expected to announce its decision later this week on the demand that the 214th General Assembly (2002) meet again
- perhaps the week just prior to the 215th GA.
Health care is a basic right, say church leaders   

Presbyterians and other religious leaders join in declaring that access to adequate health care "is a basic right ... on par with other human rights such as the rights to food and shelter."

The religious leaders said the 40 million Americans who have no health insurance are casualties of "a crisis with moral and ethical dimensions" that "must be an urgent national priority."

3/17/03

The threat of war against Iraq

The Case Against the War, by Jonathan Schell

In the ever-hopeful faith that there is some divine will for peace, not for war, then even as the US and its few friends prepare to make their move, it may be worth paying attention to a detailed and reasoned case against the war. Jonathan Schell writes in The Nation that the president's goal of rolling back arsenals of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear and otherwise, is a legitimate and important goal. The problem is, of course, that the issue is much larger than Iraq's weaponry, whatever it may be.

To scale back the threat of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, he argues, will require that all nations - possessors of those weapons (notably the US), "proliferators" such as India, Pakistan, now North Korea and others, and the many others that see nuclear weapons as the route to true dignity and sovereignty in the modern world - must work not just for non-proliferation (which is clearly discriminatory), but for true disarmament. Without that, he says, we will continue to be threatened, and no number of wars such as the current one will do away with the threats.

Will war bring democracy? Not likely, says State Dept. report

Even as the President calls for war now - no waiting!! - a State Department report disputes his claim that ousting Hussein will spur reforms in the Mideast, intelligence officials say.

Do you have ideas, experiences, resources to share as we all struggle with the prospect of war?  Please send a note!
Do you read novels?
Here's your chance to help a prisoner for peace!

Marilyn White, long-time peace activist and a leader in the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, will begin serving a six-month sentence in federal prison for her act of non-violent civil disobedience in last November's demonstration against the School of the Americas.

As she prepares for her prison time, she has asked friends to suggest good novels that she might read, to make her time "personally productive."

You can read a bit more about her interests, and then share your own suggestions.

Trial begins of complaint against Moderator

The GA Permanent Judicial Commission began today its trial of the case of the complaint by Westminster Presbyterian Church, Canton, Ohio, against Moderator Fahed Abul-Akel.

Presbyterian Outlook reports that Paul Rolf Jensen, acting this time as attorney for the session of Westminster Church, argued once again that the Moderator, along with Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, exercised improper influence on commissioner who had signed onto Alex Metherell's petition for an extraordinary session of last year's Assembly. However, Judy Woods, a lawyer for the Moderator, argued that the call for a special session by a small minority was not a proper way to deal with differences within the church.

Meanwhile, more people have sent notes expressing their support of the Moderator. We invite you to add your own.

Washington Office offers extensive background for the coming federal budget debate

Gilbert Brown, a retired World Bank economist, looks at the budget in general, names five major concerns about the looming deficits, amplified by planned tax cut.

Jessica Tate examines the consequences of the federal fiscal crisis for education, and reminds us of long-standing Presbyterian commitment to "high quality education for all children and appropriate funding to ensure the quality."

From the Witherspoon Conference

We've added some photos from the conference to Arch Taylor's report of the event.
Eva Stimson of Presbyterian News Service has provided a good brief report on the talk by Wendell Berry.
Rev. Howard B. Warren Jr.: 1934-2003

The Indianapolis Star has published a lengthy and fascinating obituary of Howard Warren, under the headline: "Rev. Howard B. Warren Jr.: 1934-2003 - Minister who fought for gays in clergy dies"

3/15/03

The threat of war against Iraq

A new reality: The world's people are "waging peace"

Dr. Robert Muller, former UN assistant secretary general, sees hope in the present crisis, as a global dialogue takes place on possibility of war.

101 Ways to Stop the War 

This is an amazing web site with creative, detailed ideas for ways to slow (or if miracles happen, even stop) President Bush's preemptive war against Iraq. The website is run by Guy Dauncey, who is an author, speaker, organizer, facilitator and consultant who specializes in developing a positive vision of a post-industrial, environmentally sustainable future, and translating that vision into action.

A visitor offers reasons that justify the war 

Prof. Earl H. Tilford, Jr., of Grove City College, has sent his justification for the planned war against Iraq, arguing that it satisfies the criteria of a "just war."

We share his thoughts here as representing a view probably not held by most Presbyterian progressives, but certainly one which must be taken seriously as the dominant opinion in the US government.

Do you have ideas, experiences, resources to share as we all struggle with the prospect of war?  Please send a note!

'EARTH DAY SUNDAY 2003: WATERS OF LIFE'

The Presbyterian Washington Office provides good material for Earth Day Sunday, April 27, 2003.  

More notes have come in, supporting Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel
Howard Warren dies 

Howard Warren, a long-time and passionate advocate for GLBT justice in the Presbyterian Church (USA), died Friday, March 14, after a long illness. He was a long-time member of Presbyterians for Lesbian and Gay Concerns, the forerunner of More Light Presbyterians, and founder of Presbyterians Act Up. He often appeared at General Assemblies, carrying placards protesting the church's exclusionary policies - and sometimes shouting out for justice in tones worthy of the prophets.

That All May Freely Serve is gathering recollections and reflections on Howard's life.

Resources for One Great Hour of Sharing

Many Presbyterian churches support the One Great Hour of Sharing offering during Lent. Check out the OGHS web site for "minute for mission" material and many other creative ideas:

http://www.pcusa.org/oghs/promote.htm

A Presbyterian Delegation will be visiting Colombia on March 17-29 to study the impact of US aid in that deeply conflicted country. Latest word is that some 19 people are registered, in spite of the continuing violence there.  The delegation is sponsored by the Witherspoon Society and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, under the auspices of Witness for Peace.

Given the unsettled conditions in Colombia, prayers for the safety of this group, and for their learning experience, will be welcome!

3/14/03

The threat of war against Iraq

Global peace vigil set for 7 PM Sunday - around the globe

MoveOn.org and other peace groups are planning a wave of candlelight vigils for peace, to circle the globe this Sunday evening, March 16.

Just since Tuesday 3,593 vigils have been scheduled in 108 countries. You can see what vigils have been scheduled in your area, and sign up for one, at:  http://www.globalvigil.org

The site will show you how many people are signed up to attend the vigils near you. Spread the word to your friends, have them sign up on the site, and we can all watch as the numbers grow.

If you can't make a vigil, you can still join the global action on Sunday. Just put Christmas lights or anything that shines in your window on Sunday evening.

Act for Change suggests:
Indict Saddam Hussein for war crimes

Those who oppose war have an obligation to propose alternative paths to that of the Bush Administration. So far, the call for inspections has been an effective one, and they should be strengthened and continued.

There is an additional powerful step that should be taken now -- the indictment of Saddam Hussein.

From the Witherspoon Conference

Living into the challenge of difference 

Mary McClintock Ferguson, who is Associate Professor of Theology at Vanderbilt Divinity School, spoke at the conference under the title "Redeeming Obliviousness: the Church and the Challenge of Difference." Her central point was that diversity continues to challenge us, for our reaction to diversity in many cases is "obliviousness" - a more or less intentional choice to be unmindful of people who are different or marginalized. We maintain our obliviousness through a systemic pattern of privilege that allows our beliefs about the dominant group's world-view to go unchallenged.

Whether it's an attitude of "color-blindness" that claims simply to ignore race, or the pretense that lgbt people just don't exist in our churches and communities, this "obliviousness" keeps us from enjoying and serving the fullness of God's creation

Here's the full text of her presentation.

Supporting the Moderator

We're still receiving expressions of support for Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel as he prepares for a "trial" because of his steadfast defense of the integrity of our church and its polity.

Here are the notes received over the past 24 hours.  We invite you to send a note of your own!

Theology matters - in support for our denomination, too.

The Covenant Network has just posted the results of their study comparing the giving to General Assembly mission, as well as presbytery and synod mission, by the 420 Covenant Network and/or More Light churches and the 1,255 churches in the so-called "Confessing Church Movement."

Their conclusion: "Although they are on average the same size, the 420 CovNet and/or MLP churches give on average more than twice as much to G.A. mission, and more than two and a half times as much to presbytery and synod mission, as do "confessing" churches."

3/13/03

From the Witherspoon Conference

A sermon for "Liberals and Other Aliens"

Chris Glaser -- writer, preacher, activist -- led worship on Friday and Saturday for the conference.

His sermon on Friday offered spiritual depth, humor, and much more.  You can read it here!

A good summary of the conference

Arch Taylor attended the conference on behalf of Presbyterians for Restoring Creation.  He offers a very good summary of the conversation with Wendell Berry, as well as notes on other presentations.

Supporting the Moderator

Participants at the conference joined in prayers for our Moderator and Stated Clerk, and many signed a note of support to Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel.  Many others have sent their names, often with notes of their own ... and you're invited to join in!

"Hear Us Now, We Come Confessing"

Hymn-writer Edith Sinclair Downing sent a hymn with her note of support to the Moderator.  We're happy to post the text here as reflections appropriate to this season in our church and our world.

The threat of war against Iraq

The President's "bully pulpit" threatens the world 

A Christian Century editorial lays out a compelling case for concern about President Bush's religious faith, which appears to lean heavily toward popular apocalyptic views of divine control over an impending end of the world. This view, combined with the President's certainty about America's divine mission, gives rise to the question of how the President's religious views are shaping "his public policies, not least his design on Iraq."

"What is alarming is that Bush seems to have no reservations about the notion that God and the good are squarely on the American side."
 

A poem for this penitential season

On Ash Wednesday, Presbyterian author and poet Ann Weems has shared with us a poem she wrote on Ash Wednesday, "I No Longer Pray for Peace."  It offers the comfort and realism that we all need in these days.

Christ Church, Burlington, has satisfied Pastoral Committee

The "Pastoral Committee" that was named to work with Christ Church, Burlington, VT, has found that the church's statement adopted in June 2002, replacing its earlier statement of "defiance," is "a thoughtful attempt to state the session's understanding, perspective and views ... [and] does not defy or violate the Constitution."

Presbyterian Outlook provides the text of the Pastoral Committee's report, with links to related documents.

3/12/03
Speaking out for our Moderator

More people (and a presbytery!) have sent messages in support of Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel

More have been added today.

3/11/03

The threat of war against Iraq

Church leaders - including Stated Clerk Kirkpatrick - offer an alternative to war 

The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), was one of a small group of US church leaders who recently visited British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss alternatives to war. Their efforts to visit President Bush for a similar purpose have been rebuffed.

That group has now developed, from those discussions and subsequent conversations, a basic proposal for a "third way," an alternative to war.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports on a recent sermon by Kirkpatrick at the Collingswood Presbyterian Church in Camden County, NJ, in which he discussed the proposal.

Click here for the full text of the proposal.

Sojourners' editor Jim Wallis, who was also a member of the delegation, has posted the full proposal on the Sojourners website, with a link by which you can endorse the idea, and that your support will be communicated to various national leaders.

A little note of concern: Your WebWeaver sent his endorsement, but his e-mail to the White House bounced, returned with a note that the address was no longer operating. Hmmm.

To add your endorsement to this proposal, click here. 
Then scroll to the bottom of the page.

God and George in the White House

At least half a dozen friends have urged me, during the Witherspoon conference or by e-mail, to point you to a recent Washington Post article by Presbyterian pastor Fritz Ritsch, who ponders the piety of President Bush. Lots of people are doing that these days, but his analysis seems to be one of the best. The President's clear we're-good-and-they're-evil view of the world, his triumphalism which links divine power with American victory, his belief in the redemptive power of violence - all add up to a deification of American power.

He concludes:

"With the political emergence of joyous secularism, the churches are challenged to preach an alternative message: grace, hope and redemption -- the truth of Biblical faith. This is both our pastoral and our political responsibility. In a nuclear age, American triumphalism is not only spiritually bereft, it is, quite possibly, apocalyptic in its implications."

George, listen to your Daddy 

The Times Online (United Kingdom) reports on a recent effort by George Bush Sr. to rein in his son, warning against unilateral action.

Some Evidence on Iraq Called Fake 

The Washington Post reports that some of the documents presented by the US as evidence of Iraq's nuclear ambitions were in authentic. Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said that "there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities."

Quick Political Aptitude Test:

This test consists of one (1) multiple-choice question (so you better get it right!) based on the following list of countries in which the U.S. has intervened militarily since the end of World War II, compiled by historian William Blum:

China 1945-46
Korea 1950-53
China 1950-53
Guatemala 1954
Indonesia 1958
Cuba 1959-60
Guatemala 1960
Congo 1964
Peru 1965
Laos 1964-73
Vietnam 1961-73
Cambodia 1969-70
Guatemala 1967-69
Grenada 1983
Libya 1986
El Salvador 1980s
Nicaragua 1980s
Panama 1989
Iraq 1991-99
Sudan 1998
Afghanistan 1998, 2001-2002
Yugoslavia 1999

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In how many of these instances did a democratic government, respectful of human rights, occur as a direct result?

Choose one of the following:
(a) 0
(b) zero
(c) none
(d) not a one
(e) a whole number between -1 and +1


This quiz compliments of Vietnam Veterans Against the War,
Ben Chitty USN 65-9 VN 66-7 68 NY/VVAW peaceCENTER
P.O. Box 36, San Antonio, Texas 78291
(210) 224-HOPE or 224-4673 FAX (210) 222-1097

Thanks to Arch Taylor

Notes of support for Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel are coming in by e-mail faster than we can get them processed.  But please add yours -- just send a note with your name and whatever you'd like to say to the Moderator as he faces a judicial proceeding, accused of taking the unity and health of the church more seriously than the divisive passions of a small group.

Click here for the latest messages.

As the Rev. Steve Van Kuiken goes to trial in Cincinnati, Soulforce announces direct action, April 7-9

On April 8, 2003, Rev. Stephen Van Kuiken, minister of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church, will go on trial in the Cincinnati Presbytery, on the basis of charges filed against him by an investigating committee for not discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation in ordination or gender in marriage.  The non-violent resistance group, Soulforce, plans actions of nonviolent resistance at the time of his trial, with training beginning April 7th.

They are also seeking letters to be introduced as evidence at the trial, showing how how policies permitting marriage of same sex couples, ordination regardless of sexuality, and open communion, etc.. have helped people live out their Christian faith.

Bob Van Marter, longtime church leader, dies

Presbyterian News Service reports that Robert G. Van Marter, a layman who served as stated clerk of Olympia Presbytery for 18 years and of the Synod of Alaska-Northwest for 10 years, died on March 10 at his home in Tacoma, WA. He was 84. His son is Jerry Van Marter of the News Service. 

We extend our sympathy to Jerry and his family.

3/10/03
Jack Rogers spoke to the Witherspoon conference on "The Spirit Gives Us Courage"

Friday afternoon of the conference (March 7, 2003) began with the Rev. Dr. Jack Rogers, who shared reflections on his year as Moderator of the PC(USA). Acknowledging the difficulties of his year as both he and the Presbyterian Church faced heated accusations of "apostasy" and more, he yet found hope in the church's persisting unity and its renewed affirmation of "hope in the Lord Jesus Christ."  He offered thoughts also on the need for a healthy way to deal with the issues raised by the "fidelity and chastity amendment" and the other tensions created by the very small group of "hard-core fundamentalists who continually and falsely try to represent themselves as the majority."

More notes of support for Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel

These expressions of support for the Moderator have come by e-mail since the first posting two days ago. If you'd like to add your name or a note, from yourself or some body of the PC(USA), please send a note.

3/8/03
Witherspooners speak out and pray in support of Moderator

The Witherspoon conference ended with a closing service of worship about 12:30 this afternoon - Saturday, March 8. It's been a great weekend, and there are lots of things to share, but for now, just this:

Friday evening someone suggested that we speak out in some way to express our support for Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel. So this morning we posted a very short statement to the Moderator, and invited anyone who wished, to write their own notes to him.

Here is the message from the Witherspoon Society, along with all the notes that people added to it. We will send the original sheets to the Moderator.

If you would like to add your name and message to this modest expression of support, please send a note and we'll add it to this list and forward it to the Moderator.

Click here to send your note.

3/5/03
Morrison ordination upheld

Sexual orientation alone is no disqualification, PJC rules

Click here for the full text of the GA PJC decision.

The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission has ruled on two recent appeals relating to LGBT concerns.

The Rev. Katie Morrison was ordained by the Presbytery of the Redwoods. The Presbytery of San Joaquin issued a complaint again her ordination on the grounds that she is a self-acknowledged lesbian, even though no matters of conduct were at issue. The Synod PJC dismissed the complaint, and the General Assembly PJC upheld that action. So Katie Morrison's ordination has been upheld.

But in another case, the GA PJS has ordered a trial in the case of the installation of a gay elder by West End Presbyterian Church, Albany, NY, in the Presbytery of Albany.

3/4/03

The threat of war against Iraq

Another way to let your voice be heard ... or seen! 

TrueMajority, one of the sponsors of last week's Virtual March on Washington, has said that "the Win Without War coalition (TrueMajority is a founding member) generated nearly a million phone calls, faxes, and emails.

As a next step in making know the people's opposition to the war, True Majority is suggesting that people wear a blue ribbon - "blue for the United Nations. Blue because we can Win Without War."

Find more details and links on our "Iraq" page.

Petition to Security Council

Another major group opposing the war, MoveOn.com, is circulating an emergency petition from citizens around the world to the U.N. Security Council. The petition's going to be delivered to the 15 member states of the Security Council on THURSDAY, MARCH 6.

They add: "If hundreds of thousands of us sign, it could be an enormously important and powerful message - people from all over the world joining in a single call for a peaceful solution. But we really need everyone who agrees to sign up today."

To add your name, go to http://www.moveon.org/emergency/

The website has been busy today, so it may take a few tries - but it may be worth it.

A Georgia pastor reflects on the impending war:  its costs for ordinary people, and the irony of a president who is leading us into war in the name of a God who calls for justice and mercy and humility. 
Do you have ideas, experiences, resources to share as we all struggle with the prospect of war?  Please send a note!
PJC schedules special-Assembly trial
Will decide whether Abu-Akel should have reconvened 214th GA

Presbyterian News Service reports that the Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) of the General Assembly has scheduled a trial for March 17 on whether or not Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel should have ordered a special meeting of last year's Assembly after receiving a petition bearing the requisite number of commissioners' signatures.

The full text of the PJC decision is available on another page.

Pressuring Taco Bell --
Tomato pickers, supporters start 2nd week of hunger strike

Presbyterian News Service reports on the second week of a fast by more than 50 farm workers and their supporters (including Presbyterians) outside Taco Bell's corporate headquarters in Irvine, CA,  in support of demands for negotiations for decent wages and working conditions.

3/3/03

The threat of war against Iraq

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has issued a new statement opposing the threatened war against Iraq.  They name two basic reasons: the death and destruction such a war will bring, and the increased hostility and fear it will create over the long term. 
Faith, Hope, and Love in Zababdeh

Marthame and Elizabeth Sanders are American Presbyterians working in the Palestinian Christian village of Zababdeh, near Jenin.

They share a close-up look at a West Bank community, and the Christians and Muslims for whom it's home. And they try to explain why, even now, they haven't left for the safety of the United States.

The answer? "We're still here because we believe. We came here out of a commitment to serve the Church in the land of its birth, to be in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. What our American government says or does cannot change that calling, or pry us from this place. ... We're still here because we hope. We hope that war will be avoided, for nothing made by human hands is inevitable. ... We are still here, because we love. We love the people of this region. From Baghdad to Beirut, we have visited them, eaten with them, laughed and cried with them, worshiped and prayed with them. Having done so, it's impossible for us to think of them as the enemy - or as candidates for collateral damage."

So your WebWeaver wonders: Living out of faith and hope and love, how might we in the U.S. face the threats that our national poses to the world today?

Thanks to Don Smith for sharing this.

An American returns to a more fearful home 

Sometimes we can see our own country more clearly after being away for a while. The Rev. Bob White returned to an America ruled by fear, and surrendering its freedoms.

Registration will soon open for WOW2003: God's Deliverance Is For All -- a gathering of sexually and gender diverse Christians from the U.S. and Canada.  August 14 - 17, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
PJC considers accusations against Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel and Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick

The Layman Online reports on the deliberations of the GA Permanent Judicial Commission on the complaint from Westminster Presbyterian Church in Canton, Ohio, that the Moderator and the Stated Clerk have violated the Constitution of the PC(USA) by not calling a special session of the 214th General Assembly. The PJC is expected to issue its recommendation for or against a trial shortly.

One observer noted that the reporter did a good job of outlining the positions of the two sides.

3/1/03

The threat of war against Iraq

Hundreds of thousands join "virtual march" against war  

MoveOn, one of the groups participating in the "Win Without War" coalition, has sent out this report on the massive call-in held on Feb. 26th.   They include links to reports from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and BBC.

Why this war?? 

Two writers look more deeply into the roots of a war that seems insane, but inevitable.  Simon Tisdall, writing in The Guardian, puts this war in context, and shows how it's really not unique, and is supported by the self-interest of many other nations.  Rabbi Michael Lerner points to the fear that underlies the moves toward war, and urges supporters of peace to offer a more positive message of hope: love and solidarity alone can outweigh the fear.

U.S. Foreign Service Officer resigns, offering an eloquent statement of his dissent from the current policy toward Iraq
Texas AFL-CIO issues statement opposing war against Iraq

Breaking from a long tradition of labor's support for US military actions, the Texas AFL-CIO has published a statement in which it supports efforts to disarm Iraq, but criticizes the present approach of the Bush administration. 

ACLU warns of more threats to privacy in "Domestic Security Enhancement Act" now being drafted as a New "Patriot Act"

Click here for the February archive page.

and here for a listing of all earlier archive pages

 

GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

We're providing resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest are:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which would remove the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.
 

If you like what you find here,
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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.

 

Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.

 

John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.

 

John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.

 

Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!

 

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