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Archives:  November 2006

This page lists all reports and commentary from November, 2006

Postings from earlier in June, 2007
All postings from May
April, 2007
March, 2007
February, 2007
January, 2007
December, 2006
November, 2006
October, 2006
September, 2006
August, 2006

Our coverage of the 2006 General Assembly is indexed on a special page.

For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

11/30/06
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 Iraq.

She concludes:

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We are complicit in the abuses if we do not get SOA closed and the legalization of torture repealed.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.

bulletWe should follow Sen. McCain’s advice, and send more troops as needed, to win.
bulletWe should admit "our past follies" and get out.
bulletWhat the US should do, it won’t likely do.

Click here for all three views >>

So what were the Constitutional Presbyterians saying?  

On November 15 we posted a report 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 tones.

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 in emphasis."

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 congregation.

The full story >>

Peacemaking Program provides Advent worship materials dealing with issue of detainee abuse

Carol 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.

11/27/06
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 should do?
Just send a note, and we’ll share it here.

Spinning Wal-Mart
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 public awareness.

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 (U.S.A.).

The award will be presented Jan. 13 in New Orleans during the social justice biennial conference of the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA), which has sponsored the award since 1969.

The full story >>

11/25/06
Huntsville, AL, people of faith offer creative witness against Fred Phelps’ bigotry 

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 condition.

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 photos >>

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.  More>>

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).   More>>

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 area.

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 area

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 publishing.

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. Click here>>

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

We have 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 >>

11/21/06

An Advent Calendar

Here's a creative way to observe Advent - a season of waiting, expecting, hoping ... and a time for expanding our horizons of caring.

We now have this calendar available also in easy-to-print PDF format, in 6 pages. 
Click here to download it for your own use.

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.      More >>

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 >>

11/19/06

Songs and speeches at the Fort Benning gate.

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 Cooperation (WHINSEC).

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.

11/16/06
Protest against the School of the Americas will happen this weekend.

The Nation 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.]

Read 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 ...

Three nuns pay fines for anti-nuke protest with canned food – and send a message for "peas"

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.

Read 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 social justice.

"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 today."

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 charged again.

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.

11/15/06
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 country.

Special thanks to all of you who have been praying for Janet and her family.

with hope and grace,

Michael
Michael J. Adee, M.Div., Ph.D., National Field Organizer, More Light Presbyterians

Read the report in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette >>
And now you can read a report from Presbyterian News Service >>

"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

January 19-20, Los Angeles, CA

News release from Carol Wickersham, No2Torture

E-mail >>
Website >>
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:

bulletRichard Abel, Law Professor, University of California, Los Angeles
bulletPhilip Carter, former U.S Army Officer, attorney and author
bulletCatherine Gordon, Associate Director, Presbyterian Church, USA, Washington Office
bulletGeorge Hunsinger, Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Theological Seminary
bulletShannon Parks-Beck, Activist, Song Writer and Musician
bulletProgram for Victims of Torture
bulletRick Ufford-Chase, Executive Director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
bulletCarol 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 Wickersham.

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.

Other events and resources related to the issue of torture >>

11/13/06
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 Marketplace: #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 Michael Lerner.

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 >>

11/9/06
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 the denomination.

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 >>

"Christian 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 here.

"Jesus 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.

11/8/06
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 for:

1. Setting a date certain for U.S. military withdrawal;
2. Bringing the armed Iraqi nationalist resistance to the negotiating table;
3. Simultaneously starting up a regional process
including Syria and Iran -- to support and stabilize Iraq; and
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 Future

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:

bulletWill Iraq Go Away? (My short version of his answer: Nope – so you’d better pay attention.)
bulletIs an Attack on Iran on the Agenda? (His answer: It would be "madness, of course" – and pretty likely.)
bulletAre 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.
bulletWill 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.
bulletWhat 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. Rubbish!"

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.

Their full report >>

11/4/06
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:

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 a safe haven for those who might be targeted elsewhere because of who they are or what they believe.

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 to affirm.

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 in 2008."

Read this final report >>                         For 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 the nomination form.

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, see the Witness for Peace website >>

Correction:

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 the correction.

Please see our original report, with her correction added >>

Postings from earlier in June, 2007
All postings from May
April, 2007
March, 2007
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December, 2006
November, 2006
October, 2006
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July, 2006
June, 2006
 
May, 2006

April, 2006
March, 2006
February, 2006
 January, 2006

Our coverage of the 2006 General Assembly is indexed on a special page.
For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

 

GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

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

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

Our three areas of primary interest are:

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

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

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

If you like what you find here,
we hope you'll help us keep Voices for Justice going ... and growing!

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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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