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News of the PC(USA) -- 
archive for 2006

Click here for all the more recent stories on the PC(USA).

Earlier stories are indexed:

bullet June - December 2008
bullet January - June, 2008
bulletAll of 2006
bulletAll of 2005
bulletJuly - December, 2004
bulletJanuary - June, 2004
bulletJune - December 2003
bulletJanuary - May 2003
bulletJuly through December, 2002
bulletJanuary - June, 2002
bulletApril through December, 2001
bulletDecember '00 through March '01
bulletJuly through December, 2000
Evangelical minister Tom Taylor unanimously confirmed for top GAC mission job   [12-13-06]

From Presbyterian News Service, December 8, 2006

The General Assembly Council’s (GAC) Executive Committee has unanimously confirmed GAC Executive Director Linda Valentine’s appointment of the Rev. Tom Taylor as the GAC’s deputy executive director for mission.

Valentine praised Taylor as "intelligent, creative and deeply committed to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)." She said that during the search process in which 50 candidates were considered, "Tom Taylor really stood out as someone who would articulate a theology of mission service that matches the realities in the church and world today."

Moreover, she added, Taylor "has been a healer in a presbytery (San Gabriel) that is deeply polarized … is a modern thinker with an affinity for tradition …and has a flair for communication, which is the concern most frequently heard out in the church."

The rest of the story >>

Materials for church officer training   [12-7-06]

We recently posted a request from someone seeking training material for the Vietnamese new church development that he is serving. Receiving no great flood of suggestions, your WebWeaver sought help from Mardee Rightmyer, Director of the Resource Center of the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta.

She quickly provided this list of ideas, for which we thank her.

As long as the church is not looking for resources in Vietnamese (although I believe you can get the Book of Order on-line in Vietnamese), I would recommend these resources to start with:

The newest one is Making Disciples, Making Leaders: A Manual for Church Officers by Steve Easom. (Geneva Press) A great manual to help the leader plan lessons. There is a good bibliography in the back of the book. I would start with this one and build from there.

Other good books: Christian Doctrine by Shirley Guthrie (WJKPress) For those of us who grew up in the South, this is our second Bible. A classic on Reformed theology.

Presbyterian Polity for Church Officers by Joan Gray & Joyce Tucker (Geneva Press)

Selected to Serve: A Guide for Church Officers by Earl S. Johnson, Jr (Geneva Press)

Good videos: "So You've Been Elected An Elder" (PDS) and the series called "The Presbyterians," which has five videos covering The People, History and Tradition, Polity, Belief and Doctrine, Vision & Mission (PDS)

Also, "Essential Tenets of the Reformed Faith" & "Tour of the Creeds" (same video) by Jack Rogers

"Across the Centuries: The Book of Order Today" and "Across the Generations: The Book of Confessions." Essential Media Services

There are dozens of other resources but these are a good start. Hope this helps. Tell them to be sure to see if their presbytery resource center has these to borrow rather than buy them all.

Mardee

Advent messages from Moderator Joan Gray and Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick point to signs of hope in the midst of conflicts in the church and the wider world.   [12-6-06]

Moderator Joan Gray's article is entitled "The Politics of Christmas." She reminds us that the deepest message of Christmas is that God is in control of our world, sovereign over our lives and the powers and principalities of every age.

Stated Clerk Cliff Kirkpatrick brings us an Advent message of "Great Hope and Expectation." In addition to reflections on the season, he brings you up-to-date on signs of hope for our denomination.

Judge rejects property claim by California dissidents

'Summary judgment' restores Torrance church to PC(USA)    [11-30-06]

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 >>

Presbyterian couple wins social-welfare honor

Todds were longtime advocates for social and economic justice   [11-27-06]

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 >>

New directors named for PC(USA) programs   [11-25-06]

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>>

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 >>

"Constitutional Presbyterians" gather to plan for separation   [11-15-06]

The Rev. Jake Young, co-moderator of the Witherspoon Society, attended the meeting and sends this report.

Read an earlier report from Presbyterian News Service >>

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.

The "Social Creed" of 1908 -- some background    [11-13-06]

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.

ACSWP tweaks new Social Creed, passes it on to NCC    [11-9-06]

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 >>

Constitutional Presbyterians urge separation from PC(USA) if it ceases to be a ‘true church’    [11-8-06]

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 >>

The Presbyterian Office of the General Assembly announces:

Form of Government task force issues proposed outline for briefer, leaner polity   [10-30-06]

October 25, 2006 – LOUISVILLE – Members of the Form of Government Task Force have met only twice since being created by this year’s General Assembly in June, and already they are posting initial drafts of their work online.

A progress report issued by the group at the end of its meeting on October 22, 2006, detailed the work to date. Highlights include "The Foundations of Presbyterian Polity," a proposed new section of the Book of Order that "preserves the basic contents of the present Chapters I-IV but in a reorganized and somewhat shortened form," and a proposed outline for the remainder of the Form of Government. The task force has also produced a sample Chapter One.

Drafts of these documents are available at http://www.pcusa.org/formofgovernment.

A Web site dedicated to the work of the task force will be available in the coming weeks, featuring surveys that will allow readers to share their comments, questions, and insights.

Members of the task force are elder Diana Barber, associate synod executive for leadership, Synod of Lakes and Prairies; elder Cindy Bolbach, attorney, clerk of session, National Capital Presbytery; elder Sharon Davison, attorney, member of committee on ministry, New York City Presbytery; the Reverend Gemechisa Guja, new immigrant pastor, Donegal Presbytery; the Reverend Paul Hooker, executive presbyter and stated clerk, St. Augustine Presbytery, representative to the task force from the Advisory Committee on the Constitution; the Reverend James H Y Kim, pastor, Grace Presbytery; the Reverend Neal Lloyd, pastor, Rochester Presbytery; the Reverend Paige McRight, executive presbyter, Central Florida Presbytery; and the Reverend Stephen Smith, associate executive and stated clerk, Pacific Presbytery.

For more details, see the report from Presbyterian News Service >>

A Proposal to Use Girardian Anthropology to Analyze and Resolve the Present Challenge to the "Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church"

by the Rev. Britton W. Johnston    [10-12-06]

Britt Johnston and his wife participated in the Witherspoon "Dancing with God" conference on mission at Stony Point in September, 2005, just before leaving for a second term in Colombia as accompaniers. Currently living in Iowa, he is a Member at Large of the Presbytery of Santa Fe.

He has written this essay in an effort to offer some fresh thinking for the Presbyterian debate on sexuality and ordination.

Following the "mimetic theory" of French anthropologist René Girard, he suggests that we radically revise our thinking about sexuality, about morality, and about human desire. Our thinking about sexuality, he says, is shaped by our human (and religious) need to structure our world into "differences," just as the Hebrew people saw creation as God’s acts of differentiating – light from dark, land from water, and all the rest. But the Biblical faith sees these differences as never to be granted sacred status.

We must also recognize, he goes on, that our notions of sexuality and sexual desire are culturally conditioned, and that desire is by no means a "good thing" in itself. So liberals must recognize their error in considering desire (of whatever kind) a legitimation for sexual relationships (of whatever kind). And conservatives need to get over their conviction "that so-called ‘biblical’ standards are divine absolutes."

Finally, he urges both sides to follow Calvin in regarding ordination as less than sacred. Then perhaps conservatives could be less anxious about "protecting" it, and liberals less determined to claim its supposed sacredness to give full legitimacy to the place of lgbt people in the church.   For the full essay >>

New Presbyterian executive director starts work by dealing with staff cutbacks   [9-25-06]

The Louisville Courier-Journal reported on Sunday, Sept. 24, that Linda Valentine, having recently moved into her new job as Executive Director of the General Assembly Council, is spending most of her time reorganizing the newly reduced staff. The report quotes Moderator Joan Grey as commenting that "She has a great deal of fortitude and a very cheerful spirit. ... She doesn't seem to let all this get her down."     The full report >>

Witherspoon Board reaffirms unity of the church, laments divisive moves  [9-15-06]

The Board of the Witherspoon Society, meeting from September 13 through 16 at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago, today adopted a statement expressing dismay at the actions and statements by some Presbyterians, congregations and presbyteries that seem to violate the spirit of "harmony and covenanted partnership" that were fostered by the Theological Task Force and experienced by many at the 217th General Assembly in Birmingham. 

The statement concludes:  "We pledge to join with all Presbyterians in carrying out the letter and the spirit of both the AI and our broader Presbyterian tradition: to defend our Constitution against anarchy and misinterpretation, to seek more thorough discernment, and to assist candidates and committees as we all try to live our way into the new opportunities brought to us by the Theological Task Force, the actions of the 217th General Assembly, and the Reformed heritage upon which the Presbyterian Church (USA) stands."

The full statement >>

Charges filed against Rev. Janet Edwards in Pittsburgh Presbytery for performing marriage for two women   [9-13-06]

Michael Adee, National Field Organizer for More Light Presbyterians, has issued a call for prayers for her, her witness, her family and her presbytery.

Read his statement, along with an AP report >>     And see the Presbyterian News Service report >>

Update on Thursday, 8-31-06

Congregation Decides: Kirk of the Hills votes to leave denomination

Members cheer after overwhelmingly voting to affiliate with a more conservative grou
p.

The latest report from the Tulsa World >>

The earlier report [8-30-06]:

2,700-member Tulsa church poised to leave the PC(USA)

Kirk of the Hills congregation meeting Wednesday to "affirm" session decision


Members of the Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Tulsa will meet tonight (Aug. 30) to "affirm" the unanimous decision of the church's session two weeks ago to leave the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and affiliate with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).

The congregation – which will meet in closed session – will also be asked to "affirm the ordinations" of the Kirk's co-pastors, the Revs. Thomas W. Gray and Roger Wayne Hardy. Both of them renounced the jurisdiction of the PC(USA) when the session voted to bolt the denomination and have not as yet been received as ministers by the EPC.

The report from Presbyterian News Service >>

New York State judge rules that separatist congregation can leave with its property    [8-28-06]

State Supreme Court Justice John K. McGuirk ruled on Wednesday that the First Presbyterian Church of Ridgebury, NY (which now calls itself modestly The Church at Ridgebury) can keep its property as it pursues its intention to leave the PC(USA). The Presbytery of Hudson River will be considering an appeal of the decision.

See the full story in The Journal News of Westchester County >>

Moderator, stated clerk nix 'moratorium' call

Tell New Wineskins they lack authority to suspend Constitution    [8-28-06]

August 25, 2006 -- (PNS)  --  General Assembly Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick and Moderator Joan Gray responded this week to correspondence they received from the New Wineskins Association of Churches that calls for a moratorium on disciplining churches that seek to leave the denomination.

The New Wineskins approved the call for a moratorium in July, and the association subsequently empowered their moderator, the Rev. Dean Weaver, to send a letter and details of their action to Kirkpatrick and Gray.

The full story by Presbyterian News Service >>

Joel Hanisek joins Peacemaking Program staff as new Presbyterian Representative to the United Nations    [8-24-06]

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program has announced that Joel Hanisek is joining their staff as the Presbyterian Representative to the United Nations.  Joel's responsibilities include helping equip Presbyterians for discipleship in the global arena through making connections with the UN community.  A graduate of Davidson College and Yale divinity School, he has served as the Young Adult Intern for educational and advocacy initiatives at PUNO. He also served on the UN Israel-Palestine Working Group — a coalition of humanitarian nongovernmental organizations. He has also studied in Syria and Ireland.   The full story >>

PC(USA) leaders gather at Montreat to share hopes for the future of the church –
through building a new culture in the denomination

by Toya Richards Hill, Presbyterian News Service
Also on the PC(USA) website >>

MONTREAT, NC – July 11, 2006 [posted here 7-19-06] – The hope for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) lies in a Christ-like love for people even when you are diametrically opposed, empowering young leaders and recognizing that being multicultural isn’t simply absorbing those different from you into your religious culture.

Certainly not groundbreaking revelations, but deemed important enough to the survival of the denomination that PC(USA) leaders gathered to make sense of what’s going on in the church repeated these themes — and others — again and again during a four-day conference here.

It was "The Hope of the Church: Celebrating Common Ground" conference July 5-8 at Montreat Conference Center, and it united an unprecedented body of PC(USA) heavyweights, including 16 general assembly (GA) moderators and nearly all of the 11 PC(USA) seminary presidents.

"It’s time to build a new culture in this denomination," said Elder Barbara Wheeler, president of Auburn Theological Seminary and a member of the Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity & Purity (PUP) of the Church.

A culture in which there is less symbolic position taking, and instead "a church in which we honor each other’s struggles," she told the group of several hundred conference attendees during a panel discussion.

The task force’s report — five years in the making — was adopted by the recently concluded 217th General Assembly. Its recommendations — including a controversial "authoritative interpretation" of the Constitution that gives ordaining bodies greater flexibility in determining fitness for ordained office — has prompted widespread speculation about how and whether the PC(USA) can stay together.

Ultimately, everyone shares one faith, one baptism and one Lord, Wheeler said. It was one of the conclusions reached in the laborious process of creating the PUP report, and a conclusion that the task force has urged others to try and arrive at as they seek to strengthen the denomination.

The PUP report has left everyone disappointed, Wheeler said of the various groups who took issue one way or the other with the task force’s conclusions. "But all of us … are still in the church. I think that is deeply pleasing to God," she said.

Others, like the Rev. Jack Rogers, echoed the theme.

The Holy Spirit is calling us to transform into an "opening, welcoming and accepting family," said the moderator of the 213th (2001) GA. Then, once that happens, that becomes the setting for evangelism, he said.

Recognizing that people come to the table from different places also builds trust, something that has eroded in the PC(USA) particularly since reunion in 1983 of the northern and southern streams of the Presbyterian Church, said the Rev. Joan Gray of Atlanta, the current PC(USA) moderator.

"We need to pay attention to the level of trust in our church," she said. "If we don’t have trust, we don’t have anything."

Integral also to the conference discussion was the role the next generation of pastors plays in serving the denomination in the future, with various seminary leaders and one former moderator leading that panel discussion.

Advocates for the poor, people of good humor, "biblical theological sense-makers" and strong preachers were just some of the attributes called for from the up-and-coming pastoral pool.

Hopefully the next generation "will learn to celebrate diversity," said the Rev. Douglas Oldenburg, former president of Columbia Theological Seminary and moderator of the 210th (1998) GA. "I, frankly, don’t want a church all like me."

And, the Rev. Dean Thompson, president of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, talked about the need for younger pastors to have mentors and to "ask lots and lots of questions."

Ironically, no younger adults were included among the panelists originally scheduled to take part in the conference, and some at the event spoke openly about the lack of age diversity present.

But organizers quickly adjusted on site to hear from voices younger than 40 by calling on them specifically to ask questions during the panel discussion focused on the next generation of pastors. Conference planners also pulled from the group of under-40 participants to utilize them during a panel that looked at where the church needs to go from here.

The Rev. Joel Tolbert, pastor of Rehoboth Presbyterian Church in Decatur, GA, spoke of building younger people as leaders as the denomination moves ahead. Let young people "get a shot at ruling the church," he said.

Tolbert also spoke strongly about the divisive nature of lobbyist groups who separate themselves out within the denomination, and called on participants to question their allegiance to these sub-groups.

The Rev. Shannon Kershner, pastor of Woodhaven Presbyterian Church in Irving, TX, also talked about rebuilding the body that has been segmented out and divided. "We are the body of Christ. We have got to learn to live like it," she said.

The conference also addressed the issue of multiculturalism in the denomination.

Multiculturalism "is not about saving the church," said Elder Patricia Brown of Cincinnati, moderator of the 209th (1997) GA. It’s about becoming "so much more" than what we already are through others, she said.

"We tend to put people into boxes too quickly," said the Rev. William Carl III, president of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. But, "Jesus never separated" out people who were different, he said.

"We need to cultivate a culture of embrace," said the Rev. Syngman Rhee, a professor at Union Theological Seminary/Presbyterian School of Christian Education in Richmond, VA, and moderator of the 212th (2000) GA, "a culture of mutual understanding."

"This is actually a very exciting time right now in the church," Carl said of the multicultural age. "I’m very confident about the future."


Let’s think about this!

One of the members of the Theological Task Force, Elder Barbara Wheeler, president of Auburn Theological Seminary, said in the conference that "it’s time to build a new culture in this denomination." She interpreted this as a culture in which there would be less taking of symbolic positions, and instead a willingness to "honor each other’s struggles."

This would seem to suggest that advocacy groups such as the Witherspoon Society (or the Covenant Network or the Presbyterian Lay Committee or the Presbyterian Coalition or [name your own list!]) are part of our church’s problem.

We invite you to consider Wheeler’s point, as an invitation to groups like Witherspoon to consider our purpose and role in the PC(USA). Would it be better for all these groups to fade quietly into the sunset, or to change substantially what we do and how we do it?

Send your ideas, and let’s talk about it!  Just send a note, and see what ideas we have to share.

Surprise announcement electrifies Assembly

PC(USA) receives historic $150 million gift for church growth

Report from Presbyterian News Service   [6-16-06]

A Colorado businessman and elder has contributed a historic $150 million gift to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) aimed at helping presbyteries start new churches, transform struggling congregations and develop new racial-ethic congregations.

The money from Stanley W. Anderson of Denver, CO, for the new Loaves and Fishes Church Growth Fund will be distributed to presbyteries through grants ranging from $250,000 to $1 million each. Presbyteries will be required to apply for the grants and will have to match a portion of it.

Word of the money came through a surprise announcement Thursday that electrified those attending the opening of the PC(USA)’s 217th General Assembly here, prompting commissioners to stand and cheer.

Presbytery mission causes and Presbyterian seminaries will also benefit from the money.

The rest of the story >>

Budget and staff cuts are regrettable at many levels

A comment by Witherspoon Issues Analyst Gene TeSelle   [6-4-06]

The General Assembly Council (GAC), on the basis of recommendations by Executive Director John Detterick, has made drastic staff cuts and reorganized its agencies, citing a serious budget shortfall.

We want first to express our sympathy with and concern for those who are being terminated at various stages of their careers, and for those who remain in positions that will be more demanding and stressful than ever.    More >>

PC(USA) membership declines, giving is up

Membership loss is largest since 1975
      [6-4-06]

The Presbyterian News Service reports that membership in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) declined by more than 2 percent in 2005, but total giving to the church increased by more than 5 percent, topping $3 billion for the first time.   The full story >>

Montreat conference will assess hope, future of the PC(USA)

Seminary presidents, former GA moderators head participants list for early-July summit     [6-4-06]

Presbyterian News Service provides more information on the high-powered Presbyterian church leaders planning to gather at Montreat Conference Center next month to dialogue and share visions for the future of the denomination.

The North Carolina-based center is hosting "The Hope of the Church: Celebrating Common Ground" July 5-8 as a consultation for church leaders and laity across the U.S. Fifteen GA moderators, the 11 PC(USA) seminary presidents or their representatives and various pastors, elders and lay leaders will address four key questions during the event in an effort to share ideas and network.

The four questions are: How is the church being called to transform itself? How is the church being called to transform the world? What is God calling the next generation of pastors to do to faithfully serve the church in the future? What are the opportunities for ministering to a diverse and multicultural, 21st century church?     More>>

Linda Bryant Valentine elected to head GAC    [5-25-06]

Linda Bryant Valentine, a lifelong Presbyterian and corporate lawyer, has been tapped as the next executive director of the General Assembly Council (GAC), the national mission program arm of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

By a vote of 41-13 with one abstention, the council elected Linda Bryant Valentine at a special meeting in Chicago on May 23. If confirmed by the upcoming 217th General Assembly in Birmingham, AL, Valentine will succeed retiring executive director John Detterick on July 1.    More >>

Corporate executive Linda Valentine tapped as nominee for GAC executive director position    [5-11-06]

LOUISVILLE – May 10, 2006 – Lifelong Presbyterian Linda Bryant Valentine, a lawyer and former executive at Motorola Inc., has been tapped by the Executive Director Search Committee as its candidate for the General Assembly Council (GAC)’s top post.

The 56-year-old elder at Fourth Presbyterian Church in Chicago would bring to the post 30 years experience as a senior executive and corporate attorney in both the business world and the church.

The full report from Presbyterian News Service >>

Post-GA conference planned at Montreat: "a potentially pivotal moment for PC (USA)"
 [5-10-06]

"The Hope of the Church: Celebrating Common Ground" takes place July 5-8 at Montreat Conference Center in the Blue Ridge mountains of western North Carolina.  

An unprecedented gathering of church leaders and laity, the conference follows on the heels of the 217th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Birmingham, AL, and is being promoted as a timely and important consultation about the future of the denomination. The conference will bring together 15 General Assembly moderators and 11 Presbyterian seminary presidents, as well as pastors, elders, deacons, seminarians, Christian educators, and concerned lay people from across the nation.  

More in the news release from Montreat Conference Center >>

The Rev. Hal Porter shares his appreciation for William Thompson, former Presbyterian Moderator and Stated Clerk, who died in April at the age of 87.    [5-10-06]

He begins:  "We all had our experiences with William P. Thompson. I shared the podium with him at a couple of events and certainly remembered his steady hand at many Assemblies. I want to be among the many to give thanks for his life. I offer a few remarks I made a few years ago that speak of one aspect of his life not often mentioned."     More >>

More on GAC staff reductions    [5-3-06]

Exclusion from meetings raised ire of corresponding and at-large members

A report, published before the staff cuts were announced, described how the GAC sessions to decide on reductions in program and staff were closed to corresponding and at-large members, after a brief debate, by a vote of 26 to 23 . As a result, only 72 voting council members took part in the downsizing debate, while 18 others were left out.  Details >>

Presbyterian Washington Office reports on the impact of staff reduction on their work

Over the last ten years, the Washington Office staff has gone from 7 ½ positions to 4 with these last reductions.  They will need to go through some "regrouping" to see which parts of their program can be continued.  More >>

GAC releases names of those laid off    [5-2-06]

Most departed May 1; others set for October 1

General Assembly Council Executive Director John Detterick today (May 2) formally released the names of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) national staff employees who have lost their jobs in the "reduction in force" needed to reduce the 2007-2008 General Assembly mission budget by $9.15 million.

Seventy-five employees lost their jobs May 1, the largest single layoff at the Presbyterian Center since 1993, when 140 jobs were eliminated.

Fifty-nine staff members concluded their service immediately. Sixteen others received notice that their jobs will end October 1, when the transition to a radically new organizational structure in Louisville will be complete.   The list of people dismissed >>

GAC announces sweeping restructure of GA offices $9.15 million budget cut costs 75 jobs, including top management    [5-1-06]

The General Assembly Council has approved the most radical restructuring of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s mission program since 1993, as it moves to reduce the 2007-2008 General Assembly mission budget by $9.15 million.

In all, 75 national staff positions in Louisville have been eliminated - most effective May 1 - as well as 55 overseas mission co-worker positions. Staff cuts in Louisville account for $4 million of the budget reduction, while the price tag for the overseas mission positions is $1.2 million.

For details, including a list of programs and positions being eliminated >>

News from the PC(USA)  (and lots of it!)
[4-28-06]


William P. Thompson, Presbyterian and ecumenical leader, dies at 87
'Stately clerk' had long and distinguished career

William P. Thompson, 87, a towering figure in Presbyterian and ecumenical circles in the last half of the 20th century, died on April 27 at Plymouth Place, a Christian retirement community in suburban Chicago. He had been in declining health for several years.    More >>


PC(USA) group will get first-hand look at Israel/Palestine
Presbytery teams will meet with officials, plan future ministries

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is sponsoring a travel study seminar in Israel and Palestine. A group of more than 100 Presbyterians left on Wednesday (April 26) and is expected to return to the United States on May 5.    More >>


Moderator urges GAC to seek task force on Middle East issues
Ufford-Chase proposes ‘effort to listen to one another and seek a solid consensus’

A document proposing that the 217th General Assembly create a task force to listen to Jews, Christians and Muslims and to monitor the politics of the Middle East for the next two years is under consideration by the General Assembly Council (GAC).

The task force, proposed by Rick Ufford-Chase, the moderator of the 216th GA, would "develop guidance" to honor each group’s concerns while the denomination "considers how to move forward on these issues," Ufford-Chase said.   More >>

WCC protests settlers' violence against Christian volunteers in Hebron

Expressing "alarm and concern," the World Council of Churches (WCC) has made a formal protest to the Israeli ambassador in Switzerland over two recent incidents involving violence by Israeli settlers against Christian volunteers from the Ecumenical Accompaniment Program in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).   More >>
 

For 3rd year running, PNS named country's top religious news service

Presbyterians Today, Noticias also winners in church-press competition

For the third year in a row and the fourth time in five years, the Presbyterian News Service has been named the best religious news agency in North America in 2005 in a competition sponsored by the Associated Church Press (ACP).   More >>

Decisions near on budget cuts, layoffs

PC(USA) leaders trying to trim $9.15 million from spending blueprint ‘in a pastoral manner’
[4-25-06]

From Presbyterian News Service, April 18, 2006 – A 16-person staff team is scheduled to finish its work on a drastically reduced General Assembly mission budget for 2007-2008 today (April 18). That will pave the way for General Assembly Council (GAC) Executive Director John Detterick to add finishing touches and start sending it out to GAC members by Friday, April 21.

A detailed budget, including proposed program and staff cuts needed to balance it, will be given to council members when they arrive on April 26 for their four-day meeting here.

The Mission Work Plan (MWP), approved by the GAC in February, includes four goal areas Evangelism and Witness, Justice and Compassion, Spirituality and Discipleship, and Leadership and Vocation and eight objectives. It is the sole basis for the budget decisions now being made.

Because the GAC’s budget deliberations next week will include staff cuts, it will be meeting for about 10 hours in closed session. Final action on the mission budget is due on Saturday, April 29. Presbyterian Center staff who now number about 600 will be notified of their employment status on Monday, May 1.  The rest of the story >>

Messages from Moderator and Stated Clerk    [4-19-06]

In his bimonthly message to the church, Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase tells of experiencing truly multicultural worship at Pasadena Presbyterian Church.

Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick reflects on the various important anniversaries that will be celebrated at the coming General Assembly, including the 300th anniversary of organized Presbyterian life in America.

But then again ...

Pittsburgh minister under scrutiny for performing same-sex marriage
[3-17-06]

Pittsburgh Presbytery is investigating one of its ministers, the Rev. Janet Edwards, for officiating at a same-sex union last year. Edwards said she doesn't think she violated her ordination vows or the Book of Order by performing the same-sex union.

"Marriage is a sacred union between people who are committed to each other, without regard to gender," said Edwards, who advocates the full inclusion of gay persons in the Pittsburgh Presbytery.

The case is presently being studied by an investigative committee, which will decide whether to bring charges against her.

Edwards is a distant descendant of the great 18th century preacher and theologian, Jonathan Edwards, most known for his sermon, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." Janet Edwards notes that for her ancestor, the threat of divine judgment hung over every person, and no one group is singled out for that judgment.

The whole story >>

2 new Web sites offer splashes of diversity

Latest website offerings highlight multicultural and Asian-American ministries
   [3-16-06]

Two new Internet Web sites reflecting the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s commitment to racial-ethnic diversity are now up and running on the denomination's Web site.

One of the sites, www.pcusa.org/diversity, is dedicated to multicultural ministry; it was launched by the PC(USA)'s Office of Evangelism and Racial and Cultural Diversity (ERCD).

The other, www.pcusa.org/asianamerican, is dedicated to Asian-American ministry; it is sponsored by the PC(USA)'s Office of Congregational Leadership (Asian-American), part of the Theology and Worship program area of the Congregational Ministries Division (CMD).

The rest of the story >>

Jim Andrews dies in traffic accident

Longtime stated clerk helped bring about Presbyterian reunion   [3-9-06]

The Rev. James E. Andrews, who served as stated clerk of the General Assembly for 23 years, was struck and killed by a car on March 7 while walking near his Decatur, GA, home. He was 77.

See the Presbyterian News Service report >>

Bimonthly letters to the Church

An Around-the-World Glimpse at Amazing Work

Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase, in his bi-monthly letter to the church, shares glimpses of the church at work around the world, from his recent visits to south Korea, Taiwan, North India, Pakistan, Jordan, Israel and Palestine.

God, in your grace, transform the world!

Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, in his bimonthly letter to the church, reports on the coming Ninth Assembly of the World Council of Churches, which will convene on February 14, 2006, in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

[2-7-06]

Theological Task Force members in their own words   [1-12-06]

The Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity has spoken collectively in its final report. Presbyweb has offered to post an op-ed article by the members individually. They are posting the 16 articles they have received in alphabetical order, one or two at a time.  More >>

Click here for all the more recent stories on the PC(USA).

Earlier stories are indexed:

bullet June - December 2008
bullet January - June, 2008
bulletAll of 2006
bulletAll of 2005
bulletJanuary - June 2004
bulletJune - December 2003
bulletJanuary - May 2003
bulletJuly through December, 2002
bulletJanuary - June, 2002
bulletApril through December, 2001
bulletDecember '00 through March '01
bulletJuly through December, 2000
 

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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