Presbyterian Voices for Justice 

A union of The Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia

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Our reports about the 219th General Assembly, July 2010

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General Assembly 2004

Candidates for Moderator

Rick Ufford-Chase

An elder member of DeCristo Presbytery, Rick Ufford-Chase is co-founder and co-director of BorderLinks in Tucson, AZ

Website -
[posted 5-21-04]

Click here for background report.

Ufford-Chase's address to the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship at the 215th GA is posted here on the Witherspoon website. It was entitled "Empire and Church: Pitfalls and Priorities for the Presbyterian Church in a time of Globalization."

bulletThe Christian Century has published many articles on the theme "How My Mind Has Changed." What would you say are the most significant changes in your mind - and heart - in recent years?

Last year when the United States went to war against Iraq, I was absolutely opposed to that decision. As a Christian pacifist, that wasn't difficult at all. What was hard was the commitment my wife and I made to become reservists with Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT). Responding to a strong sense of call to do nonviolent, direct-intervention in situations of extreme conflict like Colombia or Iraq was very difficult for us as parents of an eight year-old.

Yet our CPT training was one of the most important experiences of our twelve-year marriage. We spent a month with fourteen other Christians, who ranged in age from twenty-two to seventy-seven years old. Together we explored the roots of non-violence in scripture, trained in techniques of conflict transformation, and role-played how to respond effectively when confronted with soldiers or extremists who are addicted to violence.

Violence and terror will continue to reign unless and until we who profess Christ follow his nonviolent example. This must become matter-of-fact, much as few of us blink when we send Christian soldiers off to war. As challenging as this decision has been, I know that our nonviolent witness in those situations of conflict is the greatest gift I can offer my son.

bulletWhat have you learned from the Theological Task Force? How would you as Moderator help to build peace, unity, and purity in our church? Would greater specificity about the "essentials of the Reformed faith," as sought by several overtures this year, help in this process?

Most of us in the church don't know very much about the work of the Task Force.

Still, the Task Force is important! As a church in the reformed tradition, we must constantly rethink the way we express our faith in light of God's continual revelation to us. Just as important, the Task Force is modeling how to work respectfully with one another to find common ground.

However, in spite of the best efforts of the Task Force we are likely to remain a church deeply divided over important theological matters. Affirming the core convictions that unite us as the people of God is the best way to deal with that reality. We must celebrate our common faith in Jesus Christ, one Lord and Savior of us all, and follow that Christ into a suffering world.

bulletThere are many who feel that adding G-6.0106b to the Book of Order was a mistake, and most Presbyterians expect it to be removed within a matter of years. When it is removed, how can we avoid the tensions that we have recently seen in the Episcopal Church?

No one I know is qualified for ordination in Christ's church. All of us fall short of what God desires for us. For instance, few Presbyterians have sold everything they own to give the proceeds to the poor and follow Christ. Not many of us, in a time of terrorism, are genuinely prepared to respond to Christ's radical call to turn the other cheek and love our enemies. Most of us can point to broken relationships in our lives and we must confess that we often don't have the strength to make things right.

Ordaining our leaders is a humbling task in a church where no one is qualified. Each of us would do well to remember our own brokenness as we accept that challenge. With God's grace and some humility from us, we can nurture good leaders. We can be a community of believers who support one another as we each discern our sense of call and what God has in mind for us.

There is no way to avoid tension and disagreement over this important issue. I pray that we will remain mindful that we are one body - the body of Christ crucified and suffering but also resurrected in the world.

bulletThe nature and definition of marriage and the family is a matter of considerable debate both in our national life and in our church. How would you like to see our church deal with marriage and family, both in pastoral care to individuals and families, and in the national debate?

I try to remember three things:

· Jesus constantly challenged his community's definition of who was in and who was out. We should do no less.

· My heterosexual marriage is in no way threatened by someone else's nontraditional, loving marriage and family.

· The goal for the church is to nurture and care for all families, and to support them as they are called into the world to do God's work.

bulletAs we move into an era of economic globalization and of U.S. dominance in military and diplomatic affairs, what responsibilities do we have as the PC(USA) in the life of our nation?

Eighty percent of the world's citizens live on the underside of the global economy. For the few of us who are the winners in the global economy, it's hard to imagine what it is like to work hard every day without any chance of securing our families' futures.

In Matthew 25, Jesus is clear about how we will be judged, not just as individuals, but as nations. "I was hungry and you gave me food, thirsty and you gave me drink, sick and without clothing and a stranger and you cared for me."

As Presbyterians of great wealth, we face hard choices. Will we choose to take Jesus at his word? Or will we refuse to see Jesus in the face of the homeless person in our neighborhood, the undocumented migrant crossing our border, the Palestinian living under occupation, the fifty-hour per week factory worker in Mexico who still can't feed her kids.

It is daunting to take up the challenge to be Christ's church in the world. Still, I think Jesus meant it.


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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