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Archives:   May 2004

Reports from April, 2004, are indexed on the April archive page.
All items from March, 2004, are listed on the March archive page.

For links to earlier archive pages, click here.
5/28/04
For Memorial Day:

Lights for Dignity  

A number of religious and other groups are encouraging people of faith and good will to reflect on "how we can demonstrate compassion to all victims of violence and foster reconciliation within our human community." As a public demonstration of this concern, they invite people to leave on the lights in their homes and houses of worship, through the night of Sunday, May 30th, into the morning of May 31st, Memorial Day.

Click here for details.

Also, Bruce Gillette offers some good suggestions for resources.

5/27/04
Meditation for Memorial Day

Charles Henderson, Presbyterian minister and "your editor and guide" for the "Christianity - General" section of About.com, offers creative thoughts on what we might celebrate as Memorial Day coincides with Pentecost.

So, he begins, "If we could bring just some of the enjoyment associated with picnics into our theology, while at the same time recognizing that God is as much the provider of our picnics as of any of the other things that constitute our daily bread, then thinking about God would suddenly become a whole lot more fun, and even our moments of gaiety and pleasure would take on added moment and meaning."

Virginia moves to tighten laws against gay couples

Associated Press reported on May 25 that "gay activists in Virginia are toying with a new motto for the state: 'Virginia is for lovers. Some restrictions apply.'" The legislature is considering an amendment to the law which already bans same-sex marriage, to extend that ban to civil unions, partnership contracts and other "arrangements between persons of the same sex purporting to bestow the privileges or obligations of marriage."

So ... this is where we'll gather for General Assembly?

The Transforming Families paper
A comment by the Rev. Dr. Barbara Gaddis  

This study and policy document will be an important item of business for the 216th General Assembly. An earlier draft was substantially rewritten in response to criticisms at last year's General Assembly, orchestrated by the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy.

The Rev. Dr. Barbara Gaddis, a family therapist, served on the Task Force that drafted the original document, and we have asked her to comment on this revised version.

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has announced plans for its GA events:  the Peace Fellowship Breakfast on Wednesday, June 30 (with NCC General Secretary Dr. Bob Edger as guest speaker), and a variety of good conversations at the Peace Fellowship booth.  
NOW with Bill Moyers looks at immigrants and poverty in South Texas


PBS Airdate: Friday, May 28, 2004 at 9 p.m. on PBS
(check local listings at http://www.pbs.org/now/sched.html)

The working poor of South Texas are surrounded by signs of prosperity: new houses, new malls, new construction. But the economic boom in the area is actually widening the gap between the wealthy and the working poor. The dream for many immigrant families of working hard, educating their kids, and moving up the economic ladder is becoming increasingly that, just a dream.

On Friday, May 28, 2004 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), NOW with Bill Moyers takes viewers inside the hardscrabble world of two migrant families trying to break out. One is a family of migrant farm workers who are forced to choose between barely earning a living in the fields or educating their kids. The other is a grandmother who's starting her life over again after the factory where she worked shut down and moved to Mexico.

NOW correspondent Michele Mitchell examines this unique cycle of poverty and looks at the potential outcomes of a public policy debate that may mean the difference for the nation's poorest workers.

Thanks to the Presbyterian Washington Office

5/26/04

Observing Memorial Day

NCC plans Memorial Day observance in Washington, DC, on Thursday, May 27,
suggests resources for other services.    

More on the atrocities at Abu Ghraib  
Click here for our index to this sad subject.

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

Our Soldiers and Us

Eliot A. Cohen, Robert E. Osgood professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies, looks at the actions of US soldiers at Abu Ghraib as reflecting the culture from which they come, and as effects of poor military and political leadership.

His essay was published in the Washington Post on May 25, 2004.

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

A suggestion for protest:
Wear red every Friday, "so we can see that we are the majority."

A Witherspooner forwarded this interesting note -- a suggestion for protest that borrows from the heroic (and non-violent) resistance of Norwegians to the Nazi occupation in World War II.  

Church people unite to protest migrant deaths along the US/Mexico border - and to save lives

Thanks to the Presbyterian Washington Office for this information 

The number of migrant deaths along the US/Mexico border is significantly higher this year as compared to those in the first five months of 2003. A large number of faith-based groups, including many Presbyterian churches in the Tucson area, have begun the No More Deaths movement in Arizona to protest US border policy and to bring attention to the skyrocketing numbers of persons dying in our deserts each year.

It kicks off this Memorial Day weekend with a solidarity desert walk from Sasabe (Sonora, Mexico) to Tucson, and will continue throughout the summer with life-saving camps in Arizona's West Desert. If you want to learn more or are interested in volunteering, visit www.nomoredeaths.org.

Co-op America seeks a fair chance for Fair Trade coffee in supermarkets

With coffee prices plummeting, there is more need than ever to send more revenue back to farmers and communities in crisis. Co-op America's Fair Trade Supermarket Campaign calls on individuals and communities across the country to get involved in grassroots action to make supermarket shelves full to the brim with Fair Trade Certified coffee.

Go to their website for more information, including a downloadable organizing guide for promoting Fair Trade to supermarkets in your community, sample letters to be used when writing to major supermarket chains, corporate addresses for the major supermarket chains, and links for where to find Fair trade products.

Land Research Action Network provides one-stop resource on global land reform struggles

The Land Research Action Network (LRAN) is launching a new website, www.landaction.org, devoted to land reform struggles throughout the world.

This new website provides easy access to the latest news articles, research papers and periodic updates on past and current struggles for genuinely progressive land reform. Coverage includes topics on land reform such as land titling for women, violence against land reform activists, agribusiness, the World Bank and grassroots land reform movements.

LRAN is a network of researchers and social movements committed to the promotion and advancement for the right to land and equitable access to the resources necessary for a life of human dignity and respect.

Catholic bishops play politics

Anna Quindlen, writing in Newsweek, dissects the current efforts by Roman Catholic bishops to use their ecclesiastical power to influence national politics - barring from communion any politician who dares to defend women's right to choose, and more.

"It is one thing," she writes, "to preach the teachings of the church, quite another to use the centerpiece of the faith [the eucharist] selectively as a tool to influence the ballot box, that confessional of democracy. Even a member of Congress opposed to abortion complained that church leaders were 'politicizing the eucharist.'" This will be one more step, she warns, in the long process of the Catholic Church's loss of authority among its own people.

5/24/04
We're losing the moral high ground in Iraq   

A Floridian notes shifting views of the Iraq war among his friends, both liberal and conservative. When torture is something we do just like "the bad guys," and when our supposedly good purposes justify any evil means (which was what Marxists used to claim, right: "The ends justify the means"?) it's hard to claim a role as liberators.

Women's Action for New Directions calls for sharp shift in U.S. policy in Iraq

Their short statement says:

WAND calls on Congress and the administration to establish a clear and coherent plan for U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq and the handover of control to Iraqis. We must replace U.S. combat troops with international peacekeeping forces according to a timetable that begins immediately and proceeds without delay. Insistence that we stay the course in Iraq implies that our course is a viable one. U.S. ambitions to transform Iraq into a model pro-western democracy have failed.

They offer more details and suggestions for contacting Congress and the President.

New York Times highlights efforts of the Right to expand control in the PC(USA)

The New York Times, in a May 22 story, carried an extensive look at the growing power of the right in the Presbyterian Church, particularly through the work of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. The same group, with strong funding from conservative foundations and other donors, pushed the United Methodist annual convention toward the right a few weeks ago.

IRD's Presbyterian director, Alan Wisdom, told the Times that his representatives will "be there in force" at the Presbyterian General Assembly. According to the reporters, they will be "calling attention to any liberal positions coming out of the church, distributing position papers to delegates and lobbying them in a conservative direction."

Alfred F. Ross, president and founder of the Institute for Democracy Studies, a liberal New York-based think tank which produced A Moment to Decide: The Crisis in Mainstream Presbyterianism, by Lew Daly, is quoted as saying that efforts to take control of mainline churches are really aimed at putting the influence and the money of the churches to work for the political right.

Covenant Network announces events planned for General Assembly  

New resources are also being made available.

New ways to find Presbyterian congregations and ministers

The Office of the General Assembly now offers new, improved search engine for churches, ministers, statistics, and more - all on-line.  [You need a password to access the statistical reports.]

5/21/04
Candidates for Moderator respond to Witherspoon questions 

One of the first acts of the 216th General Assembly will be the election of a new Moderator. To help our readers weigh this important choice, the Witherspoon Society has asked each of the three candidates to respond briefly to five questions that reflect Witherspoon concerns — and, we believe, concerns of the wider church.

With thanks to the candidates for their cooperation in responding, we are happy to share their comments here -- listed in alphabetical order.

bulletThe Rev. Dr. David McKechnie
bulletThe Rev. Dr. K. C. Ptomey, Jr.
bulletRick Ufford-Chase

Click here for background reports on the three candidates.

Presbyterian pastor wants U.S. Christians to write letters 

The Rev. Milton Mejia, the executive secretary of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia, has asked U.S. Christians to mount a letter-writing campaign to protest the government's targeting of church leaders who defend Colombians whose rights have been violated.

Mejia made the request after learning that security forces are using video surveillance to monitor visitors to the church's synod office in Barranquilla, a facility that includes a college, administrative offices and a small human-rights staff.

Why is the race for President still so close?

Liberals need to get beyond the story of being victims

After all the disasters that current Administration policies are creating, it seems odd that polls still show a rather close race between President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry. Joshua Wolf Shenk, a former editor of The Washington Monthly, suggests in a Mother Jones article that the presumptive Democratic candidate has yet to present a story as gripping and convincing as the Bush story of a battle between good and evil.

"Perhaps the fundamental problem for the left," says Shenk, "is that it has long defined itself in opposition to the powerful. But it needs a story that is consistent with exercising power, and taking action. And it does have a powerful, true story to tell."

Christians, and especially students of the biblical narrative, should know all about stories and the telling of them. (Preachers do it all the time, right?) You may find Shenk's thinking interesting for any progressive concerned about contributing to the political discourse in the coming months.

5/19/04
Synod of Covenant decision permitting same-sex marriages will stand, as GA PJC refuses to hear appeal

The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission has concluded that there can be no appeal of the controversial decision of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Synod of the Covenant. The decision that the Constitution of the PC (USA) does not prohibit same-sex marriages, consequently, shall stand.
Marrying in Massachusetts - an occasion of joy for all

On Sunday, May 16th, on the eve of the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts, the Right Rev. Steven Charleston, Episcopal bishop and now President and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, offered remarks at an interfaith celebration sponsored by the Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry.

Titling his talk "Behold, I am doing a new thing," Charleston called the occasion a time for celebrating three things:

First, we celebrate a victory of freedom over oppression. We celebrate justice. The dawn of a new hope for justice for millions of people who have been denied equality before the law. ... Secondly, we have come to celebrate a victory of love over fear. We celebrate marriage. We honor the beauty, the dignity, the holiness of two human beings who make a life-long vow to love, cherish, and support one another. ... Finally, we come to celebrate a victory of human dignity over blind prejudice. We celebrate community. We celebrate a new unity -- not just between couples -- but between whole communities who have joined together to proclaim that we choose love, not hate; freedom, not fear; respect, not bigotry. Tonight is not just a celebration for gay, Lesbian, bi, or transgendered people, but for all people.

United Methodists continue struggle over gay ordination

The right-wing Institute for Religion and Democracy had a hand in the Methodist Annual Conference's votes against LGBT ordination. Even as they won a number of votes, conservatives continued to talk of "an amicable divorce," in much the same way as some Presbyterian conservatives say they are seeking "gracious separation."

We have mentioned before the recent book United Methodism @ Risk, by Leon Howell, who traces the efforts for a right-wing take-over of the denomination.

FREEDOM RIDES 2004 - JUNE 9th thru JUNE 25th 2004!

The Chaney Goodman Schwerner Justice Coalition, a project of the James Early Chaney Foundation, is currently accepting registration for Freedom Summer 2004 Ride for Justice. This historic North-South caravan will journey from New York City throughout the South, stopping along the way at cities of special significance to the Civil Rights movement.  You're invited to join in this historic commemoration and action.

More on the atrocities at Abu Ghraib
Click here for our index to this sad subject.

Two more contributions to our conversation on the atrocities at Abu Ghraib

Prof. Earl Tilford argues back at the comments by Jonathan Justice, and Pat Lucy, a Commissioned Lay Pastor and jail chaplain, shares his sermon on the relevance of Jesus' saying "my peace I give to you."

More than just "a few bad apples"

A few days ago your WebWeaver offered some thoughts on the deep roots of the brutal mistreatment of detainees in Abu Ghraib Prison, involving the false quasi-theological assumptions of the current administration in Washington.

A new article just posted by Newsweek International provides strong evidence of just how clearly the practice of torture in Iraq reflects the values and policies of the US administration.

The article (a long one!) is posted on Truthout.org, and on the Newsweek section of MSNBC.

5/17/04
More on the atrocities at Abu Ghraib

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

Jonathan Justice comments (in part responding to the letter from Dr. Earl Tilford) on the broader dimensions of the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib. He sees the US military effort as seriously inadequate for the huge task (including cultural and religious conflict) assigned to them.

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

Torture at Abu Ghraib:

More than just "a few bad apples"

A few days ago your WebWeaver offered some thoughts on the deep roots of the brutal mistreatment of detainees in Abu Ghraib Prison, involving the false quasi-theological assumptions of the current administration in Washington.

A new article just posted by Newsweek International provides strong evidence of just how clearly the practice of torture in Iraq reflects the values and policies of the US administration.

The article (a long one!) is posted on Truthout.org, and on the Newsweek section of MSNBC.

Condoleeza Rice honored by Vanderbilt University

Gene TeSelle ponders some of the thoughts inspired by the appearance of Condoleeza Rice at Vanderbilt University on May 13, the day before Commencement. They include the university's commitment to truth-telling, and the urgent question today "of how diverse traditions will live together in a shrinking world."

A systems-theory view of the ordination debate

Witherspoon President Kent Winters-Hazelton looks at the ongoing discussion about LGBT ordination through the lens of system theory, and sees the current Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity as offering a healthy move away from anxiety and polarization toward a more objective approach to the issues. 

5/14/04
More on the atrocities at Abu Ghraib
Click here for our index to this sad subject.

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

The Witherspoon Award for Creative Scapegoating:

Religious Right leaders blame Iraqi prison abuse scandal on MTV

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

Fellowship of Reconciliation urges people contact Congress

FOR sees the torture of detainees in Abu Ghraib as reflecting the US administration's "demonization of the Arab and Muslim world since Sept 11, 2001." They conclude: "The "enemy" holds no monopoly on evil and "our side" no monopoly on good."

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

A visitor comments on the resolution passed by the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, on the abuse of detainees in Iraq.

The Rev. Carl Grosse shares in the resolution's dismay over "the horrible abuses being reported from Iraq," but questions the right of the church in "prescribing the government's work.

50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education: a reminder for action, provided by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights

Here's a helpful list of items that define the problems providing equal educational opportunity for every child in America -- along with steps toward solutions.

New Jersey church defends neighborhood ministries in zoning case

Leaders of First Presbyterian Church in Pitman, NJ, are hoping for a more favorable ruling from the local zoning board when it meets next month to reconsider a request that the congregation be permitted to continue operating an ecumenical food pantry and counseling service in a church-owned house.  

5/13/04
More on the atrocities at Abu Ghraib
Click here for our index to this sad subject.
 
bullet NCC releases ecumenical pastoral letter on Iraq, urges local churches to read it aloud at services 

In an ecumenical pastoral letter, leaders of the National Council of Churches USA and its 36 Protestant and Orthodox member communions call for a change of course in Iraq. Their goal, they agree, is peace and a renunciation of violence as contrary to the will of God. "In a sinful world, some of us may hold that there may be times when war is a necessary evil," they write. "But Christians should never identify violence against others with the will of God and should always work to prevent and end it." They call on the United States "to turn over the transition of authority and post-war reconstruction to the United Nations - and to recognize U.S. responsibility to contribute to this effort generously through security, economic, and humanitarian support - not only to bring international legitimacy to the effort, but also to foster any chance for lasting peace." The NCC encourages local churches to read the pastoral letter aloud in services during the coming month.

Click here for the full text of the letter and the signatories.

bulletWe've received more responses to our postings on the revelations of -- well, what would you call it? -- in Iraq.  One writer laments that "We have become a lawless nation."  One says "It's good to be an American."
 
bullet America and Torture: Do We Still Recognize Ourselves?  

FaithfulAmerica.org is "an online community for people of faith who want to build a more just and compassionate nation." It has issued one very good, brief statement of this issues arising from the actions of the US military in Iraq.
 

bullet"This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts."
bulletConservative columnist George F. Will, in his column entitled "Time for Bush to See The Realities of Iraq."   Published on May 4, 2004, in The Washington Post.
bulletSource: Sojourners 2004 (c)  http://www.sojo.net
 
bulletPresbytery passes resolution on Abu Ghraib
The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, meeting on May 11, passed a resolution expressing "shame and penitence" for the actions of the United States, and calling on the President to offer apologies and compensation to the victims, and to take clear steps to halt such practices.

Prayer

It helps, now and then, to step back and take a long view.

The kingdom is not only beyond our efforts; it's even beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God's work.

Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us.

No statement says all that should be said.

No prayer fully expresses our faith.

No confession brings perfection; no pastoral visit brings wholeness.

No program accomplishes the church's mission.

No set of goals and objectives includes everything.

We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

We lay foundations that will need further development.

We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

This enables us to do something and do it very well.

It may be incomplete, but it's a beginning -- a step along the way.

It's an opportunity for God's grace to enter and do the rest.

We may never see the result.

But that's the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are the workers, not master builders.

We are the ministers, not messiahs.

We are prophets of a future that is not our own.

Amen.

This prayer is attributed to Archbishop Oscar Romero, who was assassinated in El Salvador.

It came to us from Witherspooner Arch Taylor in Louisville, who received it from the General Presbyter of the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky.

Click here for a permanent posting of this prayer.

Budget cuts win final approval from General Assembly Council

Women's ministries most affected.

28 workers lose jobs under plan approved by GAC panel. Click here for the list of people who have been dismissed.

The executive committee of the General Assembly Council (GAC) last week approved a 2005-2006 budget-cutting plan that will cost 28 employees at the Presbyterian Center their jobs. The most hotly debated proposal was the elimination of women's ministries staff deployed in synods, which saved eight positions and $487,000, along with a separation of Presbyterian Women (PW) and women's ministries into different offices.

"Cloud of Witnesses" seeks more signers of pledge to "[Uphold] our ordination vows as we seek an inclusive church."

Grassroots Movement Grows into a "Cloud of Witnesses"

5/12/04
What's coming to General Assembly?

Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon's Issues Analyst, examines many of the studies, overtures, and other items that will be considered during the 116th General Assembly in Richmond.

He also offers an updated essay on the question, "How can we deal with our differences and disputes?"  He examines some of the options that have been considered in the Episcopal Church over the past few months, and looks at their relevance for the PC(USA) -- and at other options.

5/11/04
More on the atrocities at Abu Ghraib

We've received many comments on our recent postings about US actions in Abu Ghraib and other detainment facilities in Iraq.  We are grateful for all of the responses, and will post them as quickly as we can.  Here's the first installment.

For our earlier postings:

bulletA listing of resources and comments
bulletReflections from your WebWeaver
bulletA sermon on the element of fear in the treatment of prisoners ... and more
What we have been seeing from Abu Ghraib is nothing less than torture - and it should be investigated by the UN

Douglas A. Johnson, as executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis, knows about torture from working with the many victims of torture who have come to the Center from around the world for rehabilitation and healing.

He wrote in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on May 9, urging that "the United States must allow - and in fact invite - the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture to conduct an independent investigation. The rest of the world wouldn't believe an investigation performed by the U.S. government."

Sojourners calls on Christians to take action:
"Demand Rumsfeld's resignation, independent investigation"  

They continue:

"Republicans, Democrats, and internationally respected humanitarian and human rights organizations agree: the abuses committed in U.S. military prisons in Iraq are systemic, and the responsibility for them reaches to the highest levels of leadership. An independent investigation is required to determine the extent of and persons responsible for these crimes - including military police and intelligence officials, the CIA, and independent military contractors. The system that allowed these abuses to occur cannot be trusted to fully correct them."

They provide a form for sending letters to Congress, and more information on the issues.

Ring bells for Brown vs. Board of Education

The Presbyterian Washington Office has passed along a call for churches to rings bells May 17, 2004 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision on Brown vs. the Board of Education, which declared that segregation in public schools solely on the basis of race denies children of color the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Van Kuiken moves on 

Following the decision by the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Synod of the Covenant, essentially vindicating his assertion the he rightly officiated at gay marriages, the Rev. Steve Van Kuiken has sent word that he has now been granted "privilege of call" status by the Southwest Ohio Northern Kentucky Association of the United Church of Christ.

Four All Who Reed and Right
You think the world is a bit mad these days?
For relief, take a couple minutes to enjoy the innocent madness of the English language. In poetry, yet!

We'll begin with a box, and the plural is boxes;
but the plural of ox became oxen not oxes.

... and there's more!

5/8/04
Abu Ghraib - How can we make sense of this horror? How are we called to respond?

These are huge questions raised for us by a monstrous violation of humanity. We make no pretense to provide answers at this early point, but we offer a few thoughts from your WebWeaver, and a variety of other resources you may find helpful.

We hope after you've looked at some of the things listed here, you'll share your own thoughts and resources with us.  Just send a note!

The Van Kuiken case -- a history and analysis

Paul Peterson, Minister of Outreach and Education for That All May Freely Serve - Michigan - offers a careful tracing of the history of this very important case, and analyzes its possible significance.

5/7/04
Synod PJC declares that PC(USA) constitution does not prohibit gay marriage
R
everses presbytery in Van Kuiken case  

On April 30, 2004, the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Synod of the Covenant (Ohio and Michigan) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) ruled that the Constitution does not prohibit same-sex marriages and that "the decision of the Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of Cincinnati is reversed and the rebuke of Rev. Van Kuiken is removed."

On May 3, Van Kuiken issued a press statement expressing his gratitude for the vindication of his stand, while asserting that he still believes he must resign his ordination in the PC(USA) in order to continue to serve the new congregation, The Gathering, that formed in the wake of presbytery actions against him.

Transforming Families report is available online

The much-debated report on changing American families has been posted on the PC(USA) website as a 50-page document in pdf format.

You may want to look at our earlier discussions of the report, and we promise further comments before it comes to the 2004 General Assembly for further debate and action.

A new hymn celebrates God's gift of families

Sunday, May 9, is Mother's Day (just in case you hadn't noticed!) and marks the beginning of Christian Family Week in the Presbyterian calendar. To mark these occasions, we're happy to share with you a hymn, "You Formed Us in Your Image, Lord," by the Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.

Sixty former US diplomats protest Bush's alignment with Sharon

Some 60 former U.S. diplomats and other government officials who served overseas have signed a letter to President George W. Bush, protesting his support for the Israeli government's position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The letter was inspired by a similar protest signed by 52 former British ambassadors and senior government officials and sent to Prime Minister Tony Blair last week. That letter warned that Blair's strong support for Bush's policies in both Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were "doomed to failure."

The US diplomats' letter, which applauded their British colleagues' initiative, is focused far more on the Israel-Palestinian issue, noting in particular Bush's Apr. 14 endorsement of Sharon's plan to unilaterally withdraw Israeli settlers from the Gaza strip while consolidating five large settlement blocs on the West Bank.

Thanks to Darrell Yeaney

Good news on the Taco Bell boycott:

United Methodist Church endorses the boycott
Notre Dame delays renewal of contract with Taco Bell

The Campaign for Labor Rights reports on the latest successes of efforts to create more just working conditions for farm workers through a boycott of Taco Bell.

Clergy and religious leaders invited to support the Climate Stewardship Act
[from the Eco-Justice Programs of the National Council of Churches]
Ethics lived out in business:

29 Firms Make 100 Best Corporate Citizens List Five Years in a Row

Minneapolis-based Business Ethics magazine has released its annual listing of the 100 Best Corporate Citizens -- this year celebrating 29 firms that made the list five years in a row. The most consistent performer was Procter & Gamble, which this year ranked No. 2 and has been in the top five all five years. Hewlett-Packard has made the top ten all five years and placed No. 8 this year.

All items from April are listed on the April archive page.
Stories from all of March are listed on the March archive page.
Check earlier months through the general archive page.
 

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.
 

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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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