Archives: November 2006
This page lists all reports and commentary from
Postings from earlier in
All postings from May
Our coverage of the 2006 General
Assembly is indexed on a special page.
For links to earlier archive pages,
More from the School of the Americas protest – a protest against torture
One of the speakers at the School of the Americas Watch
protest at Fort Benning, Georgia, on Saturday, November 17, 2006, was Ann
Wright, a colonel in the US Army Reserve. A career diplomat, she resigned in
March 2003 in opposition to the war on Iraq. She is now president of the
Camp Casey Veterans for Peace chapter located in Crawford, Texas.
She has written an essay elaborating on her remarks at the
protest meeting, enumerating some of the many questions that must be asked
about US policy and use of torture, but for years in Central and South
America through training given at SOA, and more recently in Afghanistan and
The reputation and stature of the United States have
been incredibly damaged by the torture and abuses from graduates of the
School of the Americas over the past thirty years and by torture
perpetrated by the US military and the CIA on behalf of the Bush
administration. For the integrity of our country and the moral structure
of our military, we, the citizens of the United States, must demand that
the new Congress, as one of the first items of business, close the School
of the Americas and repeal the torture and criminal free-pass provisions
of the Military Commissions Act.
We are complicit in the abuses if we do not get SOA
closed and the legalization of torture repealed.
Let's get to work on the new Congress - in December in
their home districts and in January in Washington!
Her full essay >>
Thanks to George Hungsinger, who spotted this.
Our earlier report on the
SOA protest >>
The looming question of Iraq – some comments
We recently posted a bit of Michael
Moore's declaration that in Iraq today, "cut
and run [is] the only brave thing to do."
We've quickly received three thoughtful -- and quite
different -- responses.
||We should follow Sen. McCain’s advice,
and send more troops as needed, to win.|
||We should admit "our past follies" and
||What the US should do, it won’t
for all three views >>
So what were the Constitutional Presbyterians saying?
On November 15 we posted
by Jake Young, co-moderator of the Witherspoon Society, giving his
impressions of the meeting of the Constitutional Presbyterians in
Greenville, SC, on November 3-4.
We quickly received two very different responses to his
report – both disputing his view of the meeting, but in strikingly differing
First came a note saying
"Jake Young is a nut."
Then came one saying "I was there as well. It amazes me
how, depending on our own perceptive, we hear different things from the same
words. I'm not saying that what was reported was not said, rather
there is a difference
You may find it interesting to read them both.
One little comment: We do not normally post communications
that are insulting to persons or groups, and we suppose someone might take
offence at being called a "nut." But we believe (and Jake Young agrees with
this, even though he was the one labeled as a nut) that the contrast in
these two comments may be instructive.
Judge rejects property claim by California dissidents
'Summary judgment' restores Torrance church to PC(USA)
Presbyterian News Service reports that aA California court
has issued a "summary judgment" rejecting a claim to the property of
Torrance First Presbyterian Church by a breakaway faction of the Korean
full story >>
Peacemaking Program provides
Advent worship materials
dealing with issue of detainee abuse
Wickersham of No2Torture calls our
attention to the availability of materials focusing on Advent 2 lectionary
texts, as well as on Human Rights Day (December 10). These materials
include: prayers, litanies, hymn suggestions, sermon possibilities and a
suggestion for a children's interpretation.
In a war running longer than our part of
World War II, what do we do now??
Many Americans are using the fact that our war in Iraq has gone on for
1,3478 days now – longer than our participation in
World War II – to offer their thoughts and suggestions about the war.
Here are two comments that provide food for thought:
Michael Moore declares that "cut and run [is] the only
brave thing to do."
He argues that trying to transform a nation into a
democratic state by invading is hardly likely to succeed, especially when
the venture is based on such vast misinformation and deception, and has no
real support from the people being "liberated."
He urges (well, "demand" is his word) that the US
government do three things:
1. Bring the troops home now. Not six months from now. NOW. Quit
looking for a way to win. We can't win. We've lost. Sometimes you lose.
This is one of those times. Be brave and admit it.
2. Apologize to our soldiers and make amends. Tell them we are sorry
they were used to fight a war that had NOTHING to do with our national
security. We must commit to taking care of them so that they suffer as
little as possible. ...
3. We must atone for the atrocity we have perpetuated on the people of
Iraq. There are few evils worse than waging a war based on a lie, invading
another country because you want what they have buried under the ground.
Now many more will die. Their blood is on our hands ... When the civil war
is over, we will have to help rebuild Iraq. We can receive no redemption
until we have atoned.
In closing, there is one final thing I know. We Americans are better
than what has been done in our name. A majority of us were upset and angry
after 9/11 and we lost our minds. We didn't think straight and we never
looked at a map. Because we are kept stupid through our pathetic education
system and our lazy media, we knew nothing of history. ...
The majority [of us] now feel a deep sadness and guilt and a hope that
somehow we can make make it all right again.
Unfortunately, we can't. So we will accept the consequences of our
actions and do our best to be there should the Iraqi people ever dare to
seek our help in the future. We ask for their forgiveness.
We demand the Democrats listen to us and get out of Iraq now.
His full essay >>
We need more realism
Another comment comes from George Packer, writing in the New Yorker,
says things are more complicated than that. He therefore urges that the US
maintain some involvement in order to have a little leverage in getting
other nations, especially Muslim ones, to play a continuing role in keeping
order and helping the Iraqis move toward some kind of compromise among the
three conflicting groups.
Packer's brief article >>
So what do you think the US
Just send a note,
and we’ll share it here.
Retailer, union activists wage high-stakes PR battle
Some progressive groups have been working for months to make
the public aware of problems with Wal-Mart – low wages, lack of health and
other benefits, and much more.
A report from the Cox News Service, published in the
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, traces the giant company’s creation and
support of a supposedly "grass-roots" organization,
Working Families for Wal-Mart, which
has been singing its praises, in spite of a number of little
public-relations disasters along the way.
Labor and other groups, including
Wal-Mart Watch, have been
supporting a number of efforts to get more critical information into the
This article traces both sides – their funding, the ways
they are working, and some of their successes and failures.
If you’ve been following this issue, this might be a
helpful survey; if you’re just getting engaged with it, here’s a good
introduction to the players.
And if you have comments on the article,
or on the issue,
please send a note,
to be shared here.
The full article >>
One of our own earlier
discussions of Wal-Mart >>
Presbyterian couple wins social-welfare honor
Todds were longtime advocates for social and economic justice
LOUISVILLE, Presbyterian News Service – November 22, 2006
– The Rev. George and Kathy Todd, longtime advocates for social and economic
justice in the Presbyterian Church, have been named recipients of the 2007
John Park Lee Award, named in honor of the person widely considered the
founder of health and welfare ministries in the Presbyterian Church
The award will be presented Jan. 13 in New Orleans during
social justice biennial conference of the Presbyterian Health, Education and
Welfare Association (PHEWA), which has sponsored the award since 1969.
The full story >>
Huntsville, AL, people of faith offer creative witness against Fred
You have probably read of the accident this past Monday in Huntsville, Ala.,
when a school bus carrying more than 30 students from Lee High School was
forced off of an elevated portion of Interstate 565 downtown.
Two teenage girls were killed at the scene, and two others
died later in the hospital. A number of other were listed in critical
For reasons not at all clear, the Rev. Fred Phelps, pastor
of Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, decided that the funerals of
the students needed to be attended by his group, which is most notorious
recently for protesting the funerals of US servicepeople with loud jeers and
posters reading "God Hates Fags" and so on.
Responding in a creative way that has been used in a
number of other such situation, Tom Moss, of the Social Justice Committee of
the Unitarian Universalist Church in Huntsville, invited people to pledge
contributions for each ten minutes that the Phelps demonstrated. Over
$2000 was pledged for the demonstration on Friday.
The rest of the story, plus
New directors named for PC(USA) programs
Presbyterian News Service has recently reported that General Assembly
Council (GAC) Executive Director Linda Valentine has appointed people for a
number of important leadership positions in the denomination:
Deputy Executive Director for Mission.
The Rev. Tom Taylor, a Southern California pastor touted
by colleagues as bridge-builder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has
been named Deputy Executive Director for Mission.
Taylor, currently pastor of the 1,400-member Glenkirk
Presbyterian church in Glendora, CA, will oversee all of the GAC's mission
activities, including supervision of six program directors who will be named
to manage the council's six restructured program areas.
Taylor, a member of San Gabriel Presbytery who was ordained to the
ministry in 1995, is a graduate of the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champagne, where he also earned a law degree. He received his M.Div.
from Yale University Divinity School and is a Ph.D. candidate at Fuller
Theological Seminary, where he also teaches a social justice course.
Executive Administrator of GAC
The Rev. Curtis A. Kearns Jr., who for more than a decade
has led the National Ministries Division of the PC(USA), has been named
executive administrator of the denomination's General Assembly Council (GAC).
Director of the Peace and Justice program area
Sara Pottschmidt Lisherness, who has served with the
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program since 1992, including the last seven years
as its director, will serve as director of the Peace and Justice program
In addition to the peacemaking program, the area will
include the GAC's social justice ministries, the Presbyterian Washington
Office and the church's United Nations office in New York.
Director of the Theology, Worship and Education program
The Rev. Joseph D. Small, who has overseen the
denomination's Theology and Worship area since 1993, will direct the
Theology, Worship and Education program area. The area includes the
council's offices of theology, worship, Christian education and curriculum
More on Lisherness and Small>>
The story of fair trade coffee
Equal Exchange, which pioneered fair trade
coffee two decades ago, now has told its story in print.
Also, there is a new documentary, Black Gold, that tells about the world
market in coffee, one of the most imported commodities. It begins with a
look at Ethiopia, where coffee cultivation began. And it notes that small
coffee farmers earn two cents out of every dollar spent on a cup of coffee
at a retail shop. Click here>>
Resources sought for training prospective elders for a
Vietnamese new church development
received a request for such materials, and if you have suggestions to offer,
we’ll pass them along!
Just send a note.
First Presbyterian Church in Columbus, Indiana,
is seeking a new Pastor/Head of Staff
See their Church Information Form >>
An Advent Calendar
Here's a creative way to observe Advent - a season
of waiting, expecting, hoping ... and a time for expanding our horizons
We now have this calendar available also in
easy-to-print PDF format, in 6 pages.
Click here to download it for your own
Voices of Sophia holds national meeting at Ghost Ranch
Voices of Sophia, a national advocacy group working for the
full inclusion and equality of women in the Presbyterian Church, met
recently in Ghost Ranch, Santa Fe from October 26-29, 2006, for worship,
reflection and re-connection.
Under the theme, "Recovering What Is Lost" participants
heard Craig Barnes of Santa Fe, lawyer, historian, philosopher, and author
of In Search of the Lost Feminine, a study of the myths that
radically re-shaped Western civilization; Rev. Judith Wrought of Loveland,
Colorado, former national staff person in Women’s Programs, who reviewed
changes in women’s lives in the denomination and in the world since the
1960's; and Rev. Anne McKee, chaplain, and Rachael Whaley, student leader,
from Maryville College, who led the group through an awareness process of
the minds and hearts of college women today.
Scott Anderson is received as an inquirer for ordination
by John Knox Presbytery
Scott Anderson, the only
openly gay member of the former Task Force on the Peace, Unity, and Purity
of the Church, has been enrolled as an Inquirer under the care of the John
Knox Presbytery after a unanimous vote of the presbytery on Nov. 14.
See the report in Presbyterian Outlook >>
For an earlier Outlook report on his decision to seek re-ordination
Songs and speeches at the Fort
Acting for peace ...
20,000 march to close the School
of the Americas
For the first time, your WebWeaver was privileged to be
present yesterday for part of the annual action to close the School of the
Americas, now renamed as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security
I just want to report on some of the things I saw and
heard yesterday (Saturday, November 18, 2006) -- especially the Presbyterian
Peace Fellowship breakfast. I was not able to stay through today, when the
main actions have been taking place.
For the latest and most complete reports, go to
the website of the School of the Americas
Watch (They report that fourteen people have been arrested today;
we don’t have their names yet.)
|An update on Tuesday, Nov. 21:
Rick Ufford-Chase has reported since the weekend that
there were an estimated 22,000 persons there for the actual vigil on
Sunday, with 16 persons who crossed the line and were arrested.
Three of those arrested were
Presbyterian. January 29, 2007 court dates have been set with an
expectation of 6 months' service time. Rick reported 80 people at the
PF Breakfast, high traffic at the PF Booth, and gratitude that was a
Presbyterian presence there.
Protest against the School of the Americas will happen
magazine reports on how this annual protest, which was begun in the early
1990s, is growing in participants and is spreading across Latin America.
[Thanks to Betty Hale for sending us this story.]
the story in The Nation >>
Your WebWeaver plans to be at Fort
Benning for the action on Saturday, and will report in a couple days.
School of the Americas
Watch will be posting complete and up-to-the-minute reports >>
And speaking of protests ...
pay fines for anti-nuke protest with canned food – and send a message for
As Presbyterians and many others gather this weekend at
Fort Benning, Georgia, to repeat their protest against the School of the
Americas, and some will likely be arrested and sentenced to prison, they
might keep this creative – and funny – form of protest in mind.
the nuns' story in the Denver Post >>
NCC member churches discuss new Social Creed
PC(USA) leads effort to commemorate 1908
creed with a new one
ORLANDO, FL - November 16, 2006 – The
National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) has received for
study the draft of a "social creed" that commemorates and builds upon the
original Social Creed of the Churches of 1908 calling for economic and
"It is not enough to celebrate the centennial
of the 1908 social creed," said the Rev. Chris Iosso, a Presbyterian
instrumental in the ecumenical development of the new document, entitled "A
Social Creed for the 21st Century."
"It can strengthen the common witness of our
communions on a broad range of social concerns - far broader than in 1908,"
he told the NCC's General Assembly here Nov. 9.
Some of the issues addressed in the new creed
that "were not touched upon in 1908," Iosso said, are women in the
workplace, temperance (alcohol and drug abuse), prison reform, racial
justice, environment, peace and "the global framework that presses on us
Indeed, the impact of globalization on the
world's social and economic order and sustainability of the earth's
resources give the new creed a far more international focus than was in the
1908 creed, Iosso noted.
The rest of the story>>
The current draft of the
new Social Creed >>
Thoughts from Pittsburgh on the dismissal of charges
against Janet Edwards
Darcy Hawk, treasurer of
the Witherspoon Society and pastor of Gibsonia Presbyterian Church in
Pittsburgh Presbytery, sends this note:
We engaged in a muted celebration here in Pittsburgh at
the conclusion of the Permanent Judicial Commission hearing on Janet
Edwards. The hearing resolved nothing and she is vulnerable to being
I can't understand why the investigating committee took so long to file
charges unless they were hoping for this irresolution. With the suicide of
an outed minister and a recent resolution against ordination of gay and
lesbian Presbyterians we are getting scads of local media attention. If
people inside this issue can't figure out what's going on, it seems
unlikely that those outside the denomination have a chance.
Scroll down just a bit for our first report.
Charges against Rev. Janet Edwards dismissed in Pittsburgh
Michael Adee, National Field Organizer for More Light
Presbyterians, has just sent this important good news:
More Light Presbyterians & Friends ----
This just in! Hello from Pittsburgh. The case against Rev.
Janet Edwards was dismissed this morning by the Pittsburgh Presbytery
Permanent Judicial Commission on procedural grounds. Hundreds of us were
gathered for the trial this morning to be of support to our friend and
colleague, Janet, who serves on the National Board of More Light
Presbyterians and as parish associate of her beloved church, Community of
Reconciliation, a More Light Church. A statement from Janet will follow this
report. Bear Ride, Co-Moderator, and Madeline Jervis, who serve on the
National MLP Board of Directors with Janet were also present today to stand
in solidarity with Janet and to support marriage equality in our Church and
Special thanks to all of you who have been praying for
Janet and her family.
with hope and grace,
Michael J. Adee, M.Div., Ph.D., National Field Organizer,
More Light Presbyterians
report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette >>
And now you can read a report from
"Constitutional Presbyterians" gather to plan for separation
The Rev. Jake Young, co-moderator of the Witherspoon
Society, attended the meeting and sends this report.
Along with a couple other observers from a progressive
affinity group, I spent Friday and Saturday, November 3-4 at a gathering of
the "Constitutional Presbyterians" (CPs) in Greenville, SC. There were
approximately 200 registrants. Slightly less were in attendance Friday,
slightly more Saturday. (You may learn more about this group, from an
indigenous point of view,
on their own website >>
The gist of the presentations follows: "We are committed
to the unity of the church. But we are also committed to correct theology
and polity. We fear the 217th General Assembly is guilty of bad
theology and bad polity. [I find "bad" to be such a lame descriptor, but
that’s the word that was used…repeatedly.] But, we are not prepared to leave
the denomination until cases against the 217th GA’s acceptance of
recommendation 5 of the PUP report are decided by the GA PJC." So, it’s
going to come down to an ecclesial court decision.
Come Together to Say No! To Torture
19-20, Los Angeles, CA
News release from Carol Wickersham, No2Torture
Phone number (608) 676-4583
Los Angeles, CA -- November 13, 2006 — No2Torture,
a grass-roots Presbyterian movement, will hold a gathering at Covenant
Presbyterian Church, Los Angeles, CA: Friday, January 19, 2007, 7:00 p.m.
and Saturday, January 20, 2007, 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Join us as we study,
discuss, pray, worship and strategize our efforts. We will come together to
witness to God who says "Yes!" to life and "No!" to torture.
On Friday evening at 7 p.m. the Rev. Dr. Richard Mouw, the
President of Fuller Theological Seminary, will present our keynote address.
Throughout the day on Saturday, our
presenters and facilitators will include:
|Richard Abel, Law Professor, University of California,
Los Angeles |
|Philip Carter, former U.S Army Officer, attorney and
|Catherine Gordon, Associate Director, Presbyterian
Church, USA, Washington Office|
|George Hunsinger, Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of
Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary |
|Shannon Parks-Beck, Activist, Song Writer and Musician
|Program for Victims of Torture |
|Rick Ufford-Chase, Executive Director of the
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship |
|Carol Wickersham, No2Torture Coordinator|
"As people of faith and patriots we must say "No!" to
torture. This work needs to take place at the grassroots–in congregations
and communities across the country. In Los Angeles we will gather to
strategize, network and equip ourselves to speak truth about torture, so
that we might pursue justice, healing and true global security,"says
All participants must register; there is no fee.
Registration is available online at
www.no2torture.org or by calling (818) 788-3330.
Childcare will be available if you are registered by Jan. 8. A free-will
offering will be received to cover costs.
Out of town guests are welcome to bring sleeping bags and
stay at the church or book a room at a nearby hotel (details at the web
site). Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be provided on Saturday; meals will
be simple and there will be a vegetarian option.
Covenant Presbyterian Church is located in the Westchester
region of Los Angeles at 6323 West 80th St. The church campus is
right off of Sepulveda, so there is great transportation access. Cab fare
from the airport is about ten dollars, and the Metro 439 and Culver City 6
bus lines run in front of the church.
Co-sponsors of the event include the No2Torture and the
National Religious Campaign Against Torture.
and resources related to the issue of torture >>
Robert M. Gates: named to replace
Rumsfeld, will he help or hurt?
President Bush’s post-"thumpin’" dismissal of
Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has received lots of attention, and
many people committed to some kind of end of the US war in Iraq have reacted
critically to Bush’s nomination of Robert Gates, former director of the CIA,
as his replacement.
We won’t try to repeat the many arguments for
and against his nomination, but we are happy to offer here a slightly
different perspective. The Rev. Kyle Walker is the Presbyterian campus
minister at Texas A&M University, where Dr. Gates is currently serving as
the president. So he considers the man’s style and apparent values from an
"up close" vantage point. (And following Kyle’s essay, we’ll point you to a
variety of other opinions.)
The "Social Creed" of 1908 -- some background
We recently reported on
the meeting of the Advisory Committee
on social Witness Policy, which received a draft of a new "social creed"
for the 21st century, made some changes, and passed it along to
the National Council of Churches, which will be considering it as their
statement commemorating the 1908 creed adopted by a number of Protestant
churches to articulate their vision of society and political life in light
of the Gospel.
Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon’s Issues
Analyst, has written this background paper on the 1908 statement.
GA resolution against torture soon to be available on-line
and in print
As we raise our voices again
against torture – with a little more hope of a hearing – you may find it
help to refer to th resolution against torture that was approved by the 2006
General Assembly, both to inform your communications with legislators, and
for study groups in congregations and elsewhere.
Copies can be ordered from
#6860006002, or download PDF soon
Spiritual Progressives conference is a union of hope
We reported in September about plans for a conference in Minneapolis
growing out of the Network of Spiritual Progressives, founded by Rabbi
Your Web-Weaver has recently moved to Georgia from the
Twin Cities area, and one thing he has lost in that move is the chance to
continue his involvement in the Minnesota chapter of NSP, and in the
planning of this event.
But he can’t resist reminding you of the conference, coming up this
Saturday, November 18.
Read a recent
report on the conference plans in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
For details on the conference, and to register if you can possibly get
there, go to the
NSP-Minnesota web site >>
ACSWP tweaks new Social Creed, passes it on to NCC
The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP),
during a meeting in San Antonio, TX, Oct. 11-14, made minor changes in a
draft document called the "Social Creed for the 21st Century," before
forwarding the proposal to the Justice and Advocacy Commission of the
National Council of Churches.
The Advisory Committee also appointed a panel to examine the impact of
the loss of the PC(USA)'s Church & Society magazine to recent
downsizing on communicating ACSWP's social justice-minded work to members of
In addition, the committee heard a report on immigration issues, and
reviewed a resolution calling on the United States government to forswear
the use of torture against terrorism suspects.
The whole story
See some of our earlier reports on this
updating of the "Social Creed" of 1908 >>
Hospitality and National Borders"
New York attorney Jonathan Robert Nelson has
prepared a very thorough listing of study materials on immigration issues as
seen through the lens of Christian hospitality -- and he provides
links to all of them as well. He plans to update the listing soon in
light of the recent elections.
Phillip: the story of two
brothers, and what exclusion does to both of them
Witherspooner John C. Bush recently sent us this very
personal statement, which was written by a participant during a Montreat
Youth Conference, "Crossing Boundaries," last summer. He received it through
his daughter and granddaughter, who were at the conference.
The author, Nate, has kindly given us permission to share his statement
Said to Visit the Imprisoned. Not Torture Them."
Here’s one way any little group – or congregation – can
speak out against torture.
Carol Wickersham of the Presbyterian-related group
No2torture recently shared this idea for a clear protest against torture --
and effective ways of making it public and getting young people involved.
By the way, Carol Wickersham and
George Hunsinger, both Presbyterians very actively involved in the campaign
against torture, were among ten people honored as leading members of the
National Religious Campaign Against Torture, by the Bellevue/NYU Program for
Survivors of Torture.
Congratulations – and our thanks to both of them for the great work
they’ve been doing.
Two takes on the mid-term elections
Pressing for steps toward peace
The Friends Committee on National Legislation
urges that given the general rejection by voters of the Administration’s war
policies in Iraq, supporters of peace should press for four steps toward
negotiating some kind of settlement, through a bipartisan congressional push
1. Setting a date certain for U.S. military withdrawal;–
including Syria and Iran -- to support
and stabilize Iraq; and
2. Bringing the armed Iraqi nationalist resistance to the negotiating table;
3. Simultaneously starting up a regional process
4. Providing U.S. underwriting for Iraqi-led reconstruction.
Read the full
statement >> [Registration is
required to access the statement, but there’s no charge.]
Outlaw Empire Meets the Wave: Five Questions for Our
We have posted and published reflections before about the
"New American Empire," and the theological and ethical objections many
of us have to the whole enterprise.
Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's
Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote
to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project.
He helps us see the recent history of the President’s
imperial adventure, and is not sad to see the election as a desperately
needed challenge to it. But he closes by offering five questions that
challenge Democrats, especially, to face the realities in which they just
might be able to play a little more effective role. But that’s no sure
thing, he makes clear.
The five questions:
||Will Iraq Go Away? (My short
version of his answer: Nope – so you’d better pay attention.)|
||Is an Attack on Iran on the Agenda?
(His answer: It would be "madness, of course" – and pretty likely.)|
||Are the Democrats a Party?
(They are largely "the not-GOP Party," and they’ll have to work hard (and
work together) to become anything more.|
||Will We Be Ruled by the Facts on the Ground?
(The realities are so bad that they will have to strive mightily to
achieve any change at all.|
||What Will Happen When the Commander-in-Chief
Presidency and the Unitary Executive Theory Meets What's Left of the
Republic? (This will be "the Mother of All Constitutional Crises."
Congress may try to exercise a little oversight, and it’s impossible to
know what "the failing Outlaw Empire of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney"
might do about it.)|
So just case you’re feeling too cheery about the election,
spend a few
minutes with this essay >>
Constitutional Presbyterians urge separation from PC(USA) if it ceases to
be a ‘true church’
A group calling itself the
"Constitutional Presbyterians" gathered about 215 people to Greenville, SC,
on November 3-4, to consider the possibility of separating from the PC(USA),
if it is felt that the denomination has ceased to be "a true church." Some
participants said that is already the case, since the 217th
General Assembly last summer approved an authoritative interpretation on the
church’s Constitution, which might make it possible for some lgbt candidates
for ordination to declare on grounds of conscience that the provisions in
G-6.0106b of the Book of Order (the "fidelity and chastity" amendment)
should not be applied to them.
Some sample overtures were distributed for introduction in
congregations and presbyteries, which would essentially invalidate the
Assembly’s authoritative interpretation.
Keynoter James C. Goodloe, IV, pastor of Grace Covenant
Presbyterian Church in Richmond, VA, argued that it congregations decide to
separate themselves from the PC(USA), they will not be leaving the
denomination, but simply acknowledging that the denomination has ceased to
be a "true church."
The Rev. J. Howard Edington, pastor of the Providence
Presbyterian Church on Hilton Head Island, SC, preaching on the second day
of the conference on Jesus cleansing the temple, said in his sermon: "Here
in your hearing I publicly want to say that I denounce those leaders of our
denomination who dare to suggest that at the PC(USA) is the true church.
A thought from your WebWeaver: I can’t recall ever hearing
any leader of the PC(USA) ever claiming that this denomination is "the true
church." The very notion seems to fly in the face of the basic teachings of
the Reformation, but clearly it’s a claim that some in the conservative wing
of the church are quite prepared to claim for themselves.
Read the report from
Presbyterian News Service >>
The headline over a report from The Christian Post
put the tone of the conference a little more sharply:
Unhappy Presbyterians Urge, Legitimize Separation
Unhappy Presbyterians urged fellow members to separate
from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in their attempt to counteract the
leeway granted for gay ordination.
Former PC(USA) moderator Rick Ufford-Chase speaks out
for marriage equality, and against anti-LGBT legislation in Arizona
In a guest opinion essay for the Arizona Daily Star, Rick Ufford-Chase,
former Moderator of the Presbyter Church, and current Executive Director of
the Presbyterian Peace
Fellowship, recently stated his reasons for opposing Proposition 107 on
the Arizona ballot, which would deny benefits to same-sex couples, and would
define marriage as between one man and one woman.
He concluded his plea by saying:
— a safe haven
for those who might be targeted elsewhere because of who they are or what
Questions of how marriage is defined will continue to be debated within
our faith communities and across our society. In the meantime, let's
assure that our laws embody the best of what our country has always been
Let's honor our country's history as a place of tolerance, mutual
forbearance, care and concern for all members of our communities. Those
are values that all of us, both in and out of the church, ought to be able
The full essay >>
PBS Religion and Ethics program takes a close look at the role(s) of
religion in the coming elections
Their introduction to
the final report in the series:
Religion is playing a multi-faceted role in the
approaching mid-term elections. Candidates across the political and
theological spectrum are making unprecedented religious campaign appeals
as political strategists strive to find the winning mix of religion and
politics. Democrats, who have struggled in recent years with how to deal
with religion, are not only shoring up their traditional Black Church
base, but also reaching out to Catholic, Mainline Protestant and even
evangelical communities. Republicans are trying to mobilize their
religious conservative base while at the same time pulling in new voters.
And experts say whatever happens at the polls on November 7 will help both
parties hone their faith-based outreach plans for the next two years.
In the final report of the show’s special series exploring the
intersection of religion and politics in the 2006 elections, Kim Lawton
looks at how the faith factor is transforming the political landscape and
what it means for the 2008 presidential race. According to Allen Hertzke,
director of religious studies and a professor of political science at the
University of Oklahoma, "In my 20 years of following the religious scene,
I have never seen religion as politicized as it has been this year in the
congressional and gubernatorial races. And so, what we’re going to see, I
think, is it set the stage for a highly politicized religious environment
this final report >>
more election-related reports, interviews and surveys >>
ACSWP seeking suggestions of people to serve on Study
Teams for the coming 2 years
The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy is
extending the deadline for responses to its request for suggestions of
persons for service on Study Teams 2006-08. If you would like to recommend
someone with expertise in the areas needed, please go to the ACSWP webpage
to find the
invitation for nominations, and
Witness for Peace is seeking participants for an emergency response
delegation to Oaxaca, Mexico, December 1-8, 2006.
Members of the delegation will learn first hand about the
current situation and the roots of the uprising, and will talk with members
of Mexican civil society, including prominent independent Mexican human
rights organizations and member organizations of the APPO.
On returning to the US they will be expected to support a
non-violent solution to the Oaxaca situation, promote non-interventionist
solutions to conflicts on both sides of the border, and encourage economic
policies that foster respect for human rights and non-violent solutions to
conflicts on both sides of the border.
For details and background on the situation in Oaxaca,
Witness for Peace website >>
We’ve just received a note from Lynne Reade, an attorney and a veteran of
service on Permanent Judicial Commissions, correcting our hasty
interpretation of the action of the GA PJC in a case relating to Heartland
Presbytery. Our apologies for the error, and our thanks to Lynne for
Please see our original
report, with her correction added >>
Postings from earlier in
All postings from
Our coverage of the 2006 General
Assembly is indexed on a special page.
For links to earlier archive pages,
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
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove 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
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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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!