Presbyterian actions on Israel
Archive # 1
July and August, 2004
This page contains reports and links
from July and August, 2004.
Reports and commentary from 2006 >>
For archives from 2005 >>
September - December, 2004 >>
Another petition for a special session of General Assembly
Does this sound familiar? New issue (Israel), old tactic
We have taken note of the stream of criticisms of the
actions of the 216th General Assembly in relation to Israel's
actions against Palestine, and have posted some of the criticisms and some
responses defending the GA actions. [Just scroll down for all that.]
The latest twist is another call for a special session of
General Assembly, reminiscent of that launched two years with charges of a
"constitutional crisis" in the Presbyterian Church, revolving around the
ordination of LGBT persons.
The latest call is for the special session to "re-examine
the Biblical implications of [the 216th Assembly's] divestment
actions and re-consider them in a fair and balanced forum by immediately
calling a Special Session."
This petition has been initiated by Larry Rued, an elder
in First Presbyterian Church, Bradenton, Florida.
petition website and read the document for yourself. The website
claims 69 signatures so far, but they are not currently visible there.
Gordon Shull says the real issue is the Israeli
Disagreements about the GA
resolution on the Middle East boil down to one basic issue: How seriously
must we take the Israeli Settlements in the West Bank and Gaza? Many, like
Erthein, feel that Israel has already made her share
of the concessions, and the fault lies mainly with the Palestinians. Others
believe, with Jewish Voice for Peace,
Americans for Peace Now, and the Tikkun Community, that deliberate,
determined, steadfast withdrawal from ALL of the Settlements in Gaza and the
West Bank - with a few agreed and compensated exceptions on the border - is
the FIRST prerequisite of peace. They (we) are distressed by Arafat's
failure to offer a hopeful counterproposal to Barak's final offer, as
Clinton urged - but equally distressed that even during the Rabin-Barak
years the number of Settlers was doubling (yes, DOUBLING! What message did
this send to the despairing Palestinians?)
Those who see the settlements as the first
and central problem believe that only a determined, steady withdrawal from
both the West Bank and Gaza can overcome the agony that drives Palestinians
to suicide; that such a withdrawal would do more than anything else to
strengthen the moderates on the Palestinian side, and enable them to
negotiate a decent two-state solution. They (we) see as the central tragedy
of US policy the inability of our President and Congress to state this
position strongly and repeatedly ever since the Egyptian-Israeli peace of
1974. They (we) would gladly support any international guarantees of the
arrangement set forth in the recent Geneva Accord.
Alas, there are domestic political reasons
why neither Rabin nor Barak could begin their terms in office with a freeze
on development of Settlements, and why so few American leaders have been
able to insist on one. Is it too much to hope that, once the smoke has
cleared, the Presbyterian resolution (which, after all, reiterates
traditional support of Israel; calls for exploration of SELECTIVE
divestment, not the "economic strangulation" that some allege; and
emphasizes that 90% of the Wall encroaches on Palestinian land) can draw
attention at last to this bedrock issue?
-Gordon L. Shull, Wooster, OH
Here's a chance to hear
and talk with national church leaders and respected authorities on the
Israel/Palestine issue, the recent GA statements, and much more.
Time of Terror, Violence, and War: A National Colloquium
September 27-29 (noon to noon)
Stony Point Center, Stony Point, New York
Sponsored by the Peacemaking Program, the
Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy,
and the Stony Point Center. [8-24-04]
Muslims, Christians, and Jews join together in urging action for peace
Amid all the allegations of anti-Semitism
being hurled at the Presbyterian Church as if it is the only group urging
reason and restraint for peace in Israel/Palestine, we hear a joint call for
peace from Jews, Muslims and Christians. They recognize how violence is
connected in Iraq, Israel/Palestine, terrorist groups, and more - and call
for a "Nonviolent Coalition" that will welcome all to their tent as Abraham
did, "to share his food and water with travelers from anywhere."
|Here's the latest
comment in the discussion of charges that the Presbyterian General Assembly
took actions that are anti-Semitic. [8-16-04]
A Presbyterian pastor writes (on August 12, 2004) about
the controversy over the Presbyterian Church's criticisms of current
Israeli policy toward Palestine - agreeing that some earlier notes have
expressed anti-Semitism, but asserting that these opinions need to be
heard and discussed.
I am writing to comment on the Witherspoon Society's
coverage of the Israel divestment controversy. I am also sending this letter
to Hans Cornelder at Presbyweb, as it
has been covering a lot of the same information as you have. Please feel
free to print my letter.
First off, the letter from the Boysens was sickening in
its rank anti-semitism. Having said that, I think you were correct in
publishing it. People should see what some of Israel's opponents ...
including some Presbyterians ... really think about Jews. And of
course publishing a letter does not automatically imply agreement with its
contents, so I don't think Witherspoon should be blamed for the bile coming
from the Boysens.
Concerning the larger issue of divesting from Israel: what
especially troubled me about the Assembly's action was that it happened at
the same time that the Assembly passed an overture condemning Israel's
"Wall" or security barrier. The impression I got was that the divestment
action was connected to Israel's construction of this security barrier.
That concerns me greatly for this reason: since Israel
began construction of its security barrier, suicide/homicide attacks by Arab
terrorists have dropped nearly to zero within Israel itself. Israelis,
including women and children, have a better chance of going about their
business without fearing a sudden explosion that would maim or kill them.
Israeli Arabs also benefit from this increased protection ... bombs have a
tendency not to discriminate based on religion or ethnicity, after all, so
stopping the suicide/homicide bombings is a good thing for all who reside in
Further, because of the drastic decrease in terrorist
outrages against Israel, Israel has not launched any massive retaliatory
strikes into the West Bank or Gaza. During these military actions, many Arab
civilians have tragically been killed. Those fatalities too have been
drastically reduced since the construction of the Israeli security barrier.
Nonetheless, our General Assembly has declared its
opposition to Israel's security barrier, and has expressed its
willingness to consider partial divestment from Israel. Implicitly, the
General Assembly is telling Israel that it must make itself more
vulnerable to terrorism today, so that tomorrow it might be safer
(by compromising some more, showing good faith, and so on. I would argue
Israel has already done such things, and has little to show for it). The
intent behind these two GA votes may have been good, but the result is a
terrible signal to Israel and to Jews worldwide: The PCUSA demands that
Israel allow homicide/suicide bombings to resume by dismantling its security
barrier. Otherwise, the PCUSA will work to increase economic pressure on
Israel. "Let your people die some more, or we will punish your state."
The General Assembly almost certainly did not intend to
send an anti-Semitic signal to the world, but can anyone blame Jews and
other supporters of Israel for interpreting its actions in such a light?
Rev. John B. Erthein
Elderton Presbyterian Church
Jewish group applauds Presbyterian Church's stand against Israel's
CA -- Monday, July 26, 2004 - Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP), the largest
grassroots Jewish peace group of its kind in the United States, applauds the
Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) for its recent vote to explore divesting from
companies who profit from the harming of "innocent people, Palestinian or
Israeli." Far from being an attack on Jews, the PCUSA decision to
investigate selective divestment as a way to end Israel's 37-year occupation
is in the best Judeo-Christian tradition of supporting universal human
rights and justice.
JVP supports PCUSA's decision because we believe that the
US government has failed to be an honest broker for peace, and that targeted
economic efforts by citizens' groups are therefore necessary to reach a
lasting peace in the region.
JVP asserts that working to end the Israeli occupation,
which is illegal according to international law, is the best way to help the
Jewish people build a future free from terror and anti-Semitism. We believe
that people who care deeply about the welfare of Jews, Israelis and
Palestinians should take a similar stand against a military occupation which
is harmful to all parties. Further, we deplore attempts to dismiss as
anti-Semitic any legitimate criticism of the policies of the state of
Responsible investment by institutions, including
churches, governments, corporations and individuals, is a vital tool in
bringing a just peace to the troubled region of Israel-Palestine. When a
3-million member institution with the fiscal clout and moral credibility of
PCUSA takes a stand, others will soon follow.
In the same spirit, JVP's campaign to persuade the
Caterpillar Corporation to stop providing Israel with US-funded specialized
bulldozers for destroying Palestinian homes is supported by groups like
Amnesty International and the United Nations. Strong economies on both sides
enhance the prospects for peace. Investment in Israel's occupation, in its
illegal separation wall and its settlements can only harm both Israelis and
Palestinians in the long run.
Founded in 1996, California-based Jewish Voice for Peace
is a national grassroots peace organization dedicated to promoting a US
foreign policy in the Middle East based on peace, democracy, human rights
and respect for international law. JVP teamed up with two groups of Catholic
nuns at the recent Caterpillar annual meeting to introduce the first
shareholder resolution in US history related to human rights violations in
the Occupied Territories. JVP's board of Jewish American and Israeli
advisors includes Pulitzer and Tony award winner Tony Kushner, actor Ed
Asner, poet Adrienne Rich and other respected rabbis, artists, scholars and
activists. JVP has 8,000 supporters from towns and cities across the
country, and calls for the suspension of all military aid to Israel until it
takes down its wall, removes illegal settlements and ends its 37-year
occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
You can join the Jewish Voice for
Peace to gather signatures in support of the PCUSA action.
for more about the organization.
Some other Jewish organizations deny that this group has any legitimacy,
as shown by a letter from Diana Appelbaum, of the
Action Committee, writing to PresbyWeb.
|One Presbyterian cheers the
church's stand for Palestine
We received this note on August 6, and are posting it on
8-9-04. Scroll down for earlier reports and comments, or
click here for
helpful links to various General Assembly actions on the PCUSA website.
We've received one very strong objection to this letter
as "horribly anti-Semitic," and we can certainly see the author's point.
Please click here to read Viola Larson's letter,
and see what you think.
As your WebWeaver, let me add a personal note: As
you may well be aware, we try to post almost all notes that we receive, as
long as the authors identify themselves in some way. Many of them
affirm views that are directly opposed to the general values of the
Witherspoon Society, while others say things in ways we would not choose
to express them. On reading Ms. Larson's note I realize that some of
the language in this note may indeed be deeply offensive to many --
Christians as well as Jews. I apologize for whatever offense it may
cause, but I will not play the role of censor.
If you have comments after reading both of these
send a note, and we'll share it here.
RE: Presbyterians Take Stand
Against Injustices in Palestine
the Presbyterians!!! Now I can FINALLY hold my head up as a Christian,
knowing my religious leaders have at long last taken a stand against the
gross human rights violations and atrocities the "civilized" world has
allowed to go on and on and on in Bleeding Palestine. I have waited for the
Pope, or ANY Christian religious leaders in America such as Billy Graham, to
find the courage to join with courageous Chuck Carlson of Strait Gate
Ministry, and a little handful of others, to say out loud what the rest of
the world has known for years about the conditions of the enslaved People of
Palestine and their plight for Justice.
American I am ashamed of my country's unforgivable limitless funding and
deceitful participation in the theft of Palestine from it's SOLE rightful
owners and the subsequent treatment of them by a colonial implant of
religious zealots ---- the guests from Hell who have remained on as the sole
owners from Hell. American "leaders" have overlooked the grievous theft of
ancestral lands, murder, imprisonment, torture (of children, too!), racism,
ethnic cleansing, the enforcement of completely unjust and discriminatory
laws against a people in their own land, in short, the complete
impoverishment and ruination of a people. They have "posed" only--- as
honest brokers of peace.
this has been accomplished via the complete corruption of my government and
it's laws and traditions by a fifth column of Jews from within whose first
allegiance is to the ersatz rogue state of Israel (who, incidentally, may
hold dual citizenship with my country and Israel....! ). In America our
senators and representatives are all for sale and have been "bought" by
money from the Jewish lobby. They are intimidated by threats of losing their
jobs. "My" senator from South Dakota has taken a staggering $533,000+ from
agents of this foreign government, and "my" two senators from California are
both Jewish and also take money from that source. These people then vote
"solidarity with Israel" in MY NAME! These people, these "dual-loyalty"
people in my government hold way too many high positions in relationship to
their numbers in our population----then they brag openly about it. They have
managed to wrest control of my country and twist it into a money and power
source for Israel to have its way.
people conceived of, and pushed for this terrible immoral and illegal war in
Iraq--- on behalf of Israel. It is, after all, Israel which has plans to cut
Iraq into three sections and to finally control all of the Middle East with
their Bully buddy, America. I must add, with the lives of OUR children and
the might of OUR treasury!
can imagine the thrill of finally finding that at least one major religious
denomination in my country has, at long last , found the courage to protest
this terrible, ugly situation in Palestine. I know they will be under
withering pressure to recant and probably will do so, and may have done
already....?, still I know in their hearts they recognized the injustices
and had the strength to protest. Bless them!
M. L. and
Pismo Beach, CA
|An elder in
Sacramento, California, objects strongly to the letter above as "horribly
anti-Semitic," and makes a strong case for her objections.
We hope you'll read both of these notes, ponder their
very important differences, and let us know what you think.
Please send a note
to be shared here.
Some in the Presbyterian Church are playing dangerous
games with public opinion in order to bolster their own views. The
Witherspoon Society has published, on their site, a letter,
One Presbyterian cheers
the church's stand for Palestine that
applauds the Presbyterian General Assemblies decision to look into divesting
from American companies in Israel. That Witherspoon or the letter writers,
Merry and Joe Boysen, agree with the decision is not the problem. One
problem is that the letter is horribly anti-Semitic and the other problem is
the Witherspoon Society does not seem to realize it. The Boysen's, in the
letter, refer to Israel as, "a colonial implant of religious zealots --- the
guests from Hell who have remained on as sole owners from Hell." They speak
of a "fifth column of Jews" who has corrupted the government of the United
States. They also state that it is Israel who intends to "cut Iraq into
three sections and to finally control all of the Middle East with their
Bully buddy, America."
Merry and Joe Boysen mention the "courageous" words of
Chuck Carlson at Strait Gate Ministry. Carlson was recently noted as one of
the featured speakers at the International Revisionist Conferences in
Sacramento, California. The Revisionists insist that the holocaust never
happened. Chuck Carlson offers
at his ministries book
store, various conspiracy and anti-Semitic books, including Elizabeth
Dilling's book, Plot Against Christianity, which pushes the idea
that the Jewish Talmud was influential in shaping Communism, and
The Thirteenth Tribe by Arthur Koestler who attempted to prove that
most Jewish people today are descendents of a medieval tribe in Eastern
Europe and are not related to ancient Israel. They also offer books by
Gordon Ginn who is not only an anti-Semite, but is also a revisionist.
I stated in my recent article, "Between
a Rock and a Hard Place: Presbyterians and The Jewish People," that "As
more and more groups form in the Presbyterian Church with differing versions
of the gospel based on various cultural whims and ethnic lore, the Jewish
people may find themselves both ignored, as far as evangelizing goes, and
maligned, as far as politics goes." It was a combination of liberal
Christianity, with theology based in creation rather than Christology and a
rising German nationalism that created Nazis. The inability of Progressive
theologies to stand against rabid anti-Semitism is telling.
Elder, Fremont Presbyterian Church
|Another charge of anti-Semitism
I have read with care the two letters recently posted on your website (from
the Boystens [sic] and the response from
Ms. Larson). I am stunned that you would
publish such an anti-semitic diatribe as the letter from the Boystens. It
goes far beyond raising legitimate issues. It is a piece of hate literature.
I would think that Witherspoon would have more sense than to provide any
form of platform. I hope that you simply have a policy of free speech and
have, therefore, accorded the Boystens to print this hateful peace. I
sincerely hope that your Board is not in support of such positions. Assuming
that this is the case, I would urge you to reconsider your editorial
position. Hateful "speech" such as is expressed in the Boysten letter does
not deserve your endorsement, implied or otherwise.
The Boystens are right in signing their letter, "Ashamed
Americans." What they should be ashamed of is their own hatefulness. I can
imagine a letter such as this being linked on websites around the world,
suggesting that now even the Presbyterians support the hate-filled rhetoric
and actions of those most extreme anti-semites who occasionally crawl out
from under their rocks to bomb innocent men, women, and children.
Please remove this bit of disgraceful literature. Their is
enough of its ilk already without the Witherspoon Soceity, of all groups,
Art Mills, Pastor
Stone Church of Willow Glen
San Jose, CA
|Another writer says
the charges of anti-Semitism are mostly "hyperbole," and offers helpful
There certainly has been a lot written about the
disinvestment action of the General Assembly. Most all of it from an Israeli
perspective and most of it hyperbole. Here are some very good resources on
the conflict from the Palestinian perspective:
Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern
National Consciousness, Rashid Khalidi, Columbia
University Press, 1993
The End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After,
Edward Said, Vintage Books, 2001
The New Intifada: Resisting Israel's Apartheid,
edited by Roane Carey, Verso, 2001
Middle East Research and Information Project -
Christian Peacemaker Teams -
The Palestinian people have suffered greatly at the hands
of the Israeli military and government and are ill served by a corrupt
|And a nice simple
THANK YOU for not playing the
role of censor! We're all adults here and can make our own decisions. Some
may be more passionate than others. So be it.
questions charges that the PCUSA has been anti-Semitic in recent actions
calls the criticisms "blackmail ...
simply to defend the
policies of the current government of the State of Israel from thoughtful
and nuanced discussion and attempts to influence those policies on the
part of legitimate if unintentional stakeholders."
What I saw in
looking at some of this stuff is lazy folks
engaging in blackmail. I have not got the time to look for the Lay Committee
or IDR fingerprints, perhaps someone else can compare their coverage with
the more public complaints and develop a timeline that would raise the
The point of the
blackmail is simply to defend the policies of the current government of the
State of Israel from thoughtful and nuanced discussion and attempts to
influence those policies on the part of legitimate if unintentional
While of course the
tacky simplifications made in describing the General Assembly's actions are
something of a challenge to God's reported distaste for false witness, it is
also important to grasp the complainants' inhospitable and undemocratic
intentions. The lazy part is also serious.
These are lazy folks
both because they did not bother to check out the GA's own reports on its
actions, and because they are rather clearly unwilling to bother to get a
sense of how Presbyterians have responded as a church to the century long
process that has brought us here, let alone a sense of how Presbyterians
structure such responses in general. Because they have neglected this
homework, what they say tells us more about their world views than it does
about the issues ostensibly at hand.
appear to be at the core of most of the world views presented. Each writer
assumes that it is appropriate to tell Presbyterians to bug off because he
knows better than we possibly could just what is going on and that the
policies of the Israeli government are entirely legitimate. The victim
posture that some of these folks assume does not make their demands any less
Given that each of the
General Assembly actions calls for careful study before certain actions
might be taken, it is fairly clear that the criticism presented is intended
to intimidate us into preempting that study, offering Red Guard style
self-criticisms, punishing certain leadership folks, and falling into line
so that the steady flow of US Government money that keeps the State of
Israel afloat will not be endangered.
Each of the actions
offers all sorts of folks opportunities to address the questions they raise
before action is taken, but it does not appear to me that these folks care
to allow the relevant groups of Presbyterians to make up their own minds.
This is pretty obviously undemocratic, but some of you may be wondering why
it is also inhospitable.
Lot's houseguests at
Sodom, and, to some degree, Lot, and more obviously, his daughters, were
subjected to rather exactly the same sort of nasty and ill-considered
exclusion from the decision making process that these folks are attempting
to impose on the PCUSA. Lot and Homer both knew that the obligations of
hospitality were profoundly serious. The men of Sodom brought considerable
trouble on themselves and their households for letting it slide.
Synod gets call denouncing PCUSA "anti-Semitism"
This message, dated July 26, comes from
Don Smith, on the staff of the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii
The Synod ... received a quite vicious phone message denouncing PCUSA on the
basis of a Dennis Praeger radio editorial last week. By considering a
divestment policy from corporations doing business with Israel, the caller
said we had issued a "fatwa" against the state of Israel. He denounced the
PCUSA as "Nazis" and pledged to use his cable television program to bring
harm to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Click here for a column on the subject by Dennis Prager.
He added a note later saying that he had "also visited the
Anti Defamation League website today since I had heard they had been quite
incensed. A more recent press release calls for dialogue with PCUSA."
If you have comments on this matter,
please send a
and we'll share it here.
|GA Peacemaking Committee chair responds to
charges of anti-Semitism in actions by the Presbyterian Church
Witherspoon's summary of General Assembly actions
mentioned -- just briefly --
two actions dealing with Israel, Israel's building of the wall, and the
possibility of disinvesting from corporations that support the Israeli
Numerous articles and letters have appeared in the past
week or two, charging that the actions taken by the 216th General
Assembly were anti-Israel and anti-Semitic.
For a few examples:
A letter to
Time magazine from a reader who says that the
long-standing "interfaith friendship" between Presbyterians and Jews is
being replaced by "a sense of betrayal ... among Jewish groups."|
Adam Sparks, writing to SFGate, charges that "the
Presbyterian Church's leaders, upset with Israel, which dares to defend
itself from incessant suicide bombers, voted to lock arms with Palestinian
terrorist martyrs in conducting their ceaseless jihad, which slaughters
Peter Smith, religion reporter for the Louisville
Courier-Journal, gives a less excited report, but describes this as "the
harshest action yet by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) toward Israel, which
the church has criticized for years for its treatment of Palestinians. The
church calls the occupation the 'root of evil acts committed against
innocent people on both sides of the conflict.'"|
If you have comments on this matter,
please send a
and we'll share it here.
The Rev. Bruce Gillette, who chaired the Assembly's
Committee on Peacemaking, which dealt with this proposed actions, sent a
response to the Philadelphia Inquirer, which had also published accusations
Philadelphia Inquirer article
[scroll down the page a bit] contained a number of misleading statements
concerning the recent actions by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church (USA). I write now as a commissioner to that national church meeting
who served as the moderator of the Assembly Committee on Peacemaking that
dealt with the resolutions relating to Israel and the Middle East.
Assembly actions have resulted in unfair accusations that Presbyterians are
anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. This simply is not true.
Critics of the
denomination's decisions need to consider the full context of the actions
taken by the church. The actual resolutions and other helpful resources are
available online at http://www.pcusa.org/interfaith
Inquirer article begins with a condemnation by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL),
saying the Presbyterians' vote "supported divesting from companies that do
business with Israel."
What the Presbyterian
General Assembly actually authorized was the exploration of a
selective divestment of church funds from those companies whose business in
Israel is found to be directly or indirectly causing harm or suffering to
innocent people, Palestinian or Israeli.
The church's top official, the Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, has written
that the "focus of this action is to explore use of a proven tool of
economic pressure to motivate real change in Israeli policies and movement
toward peace." This action came in response to an overture from the
Presbytery of St. Augustine [Florida]. Presbyterians there had visited
Israelis and Palestinians for many years. They were grieved by the terrorist
attacks against Israelis and frustrated with the continuing oppression
experienced by Palestinians, including many who are Christians.
The Philadelphia Inquirer goes on to state "The denomination's General
Assembly voted, 431-62, to direct its corporate-witness office to research
withdrawing church investments from the Jewish state, modeling the action on
the divestment campaign against South African apartheid two decades ago."
Dr. Kirkpatrick wrote "although the decision to ''initiate a process of
phased, selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in
Israel' may be presumed by some to invite comparison of Israeli policies
with those of apartheid South Africa, the assembly has not asserted any
moral equivalency between the two. The two situations are distinct."
Since 1948, Presbyterian General Assemblies have issued statements for peace
with justice in the Middle East, but with little impact. Middle East
Christians have made clear to American Christians that they would welcome
less talk and more action. A Lutheran pastor in Bethlehem told assembly
commissioners this year, "To have statements is not enough. They might be
good for discussions within churches, but they're not much help to us on the
ground." The Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem urged words and actions in support
of Palestinians and Israelis working for peace and justice: "[Speaking out]
is not anti-Semitic. It's not anti-Jewish. It is anti-Israel-government
policy." The Sharon government's policies, such as the "security wall" that
has resulted in great suffering among Palestinians, has been condemned not
only by the Presbyterian Church (USA), but also by the International Court
of Justice and the Israeli Supreme Court.
Philadelphia Inquirer's story stated "the delegates also rejected a
proposal that would have suspended funding to a Philadelphia "messianic"
congregation, Avodat Israel, that uses Jewish rituals as part of its efforts
to convert Jews to Christianity."
Many Presbyterians are troubled by the "messianic" congregation," Avodat
Israel. The General Assembly mandated a study to "examine and strengthen the
relationship between Christians and Jews and the implications of this
relationship for our evangelism and new church development." The focus of
this action is to re-examine our theological understanding of
Christian-Jewish relationship and to discern whether this particular form of
outreach contradicts that understanding or violates our intention to do
evangelism in a spirit of respect, openness, and honesty.
All of the assembly's actions this year are consistent with the commitment
of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) made in 1987 in
A Theological Understanding of the Relationship between Christians and Jews,
"never again to participate in, to contribute to, or (insofar as we are
able) to allow the persecution or denigration of Jews."
concludes that "Joel Kaplan, president of the international humanitarian
group, demanded an apology for the 'absolutely horrifying' statements of the
denomination, which he said ignored attacks against Israeli citizens."
General Assembly condemned violence by all sides in the Middle East. They
also approved a study paper titled "On
Violence, Religion and Terrorism" that looks at
this global problem. Presbyterians approved a resolution that stated that
the "security of Israel and the Israeli people is inexorably dependent on
making peace with their Palestinian neighbors, by negotiating and reaching a
just and equitable solution to the conflict that respects international law,
human rights, the sanctity of life, and dignity of persons, land, property,
safety of home, freedom of movement, the rights of refugees to return to
their homeland, the right of a people to determine their political future,
and to live in peace and prosperity." Presbyterians did not ignore "attacks
against Israeli citizens," but were also concerned about Israeli attacks
that have resulted in the suffering of Palestinians. We are all made in the
image of God. We are all called to work for God's desired peace with justice
for all in the world.
Grace and Peace,
Church, Pitman NJ
If you have comments on this matter,
please send a
and we'll share it here.
This page contains reports and links
from July and August, 2004.
Reports and commentary from 2006 >>
For archives from 2005 >>
September - December, 2004 >>
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly have now been acted upon by the presbyteries,
confirming most of them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.
We provided resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest have been:
which removes the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
Confessions. Disapproved, because as an amendment
to the Book of Confessions it needed a 2/3 vote, and did not
10-1, which adopts the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. Approved.|
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Some blogs worth visiting
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
John Harris’ Summit to
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
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!