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Archives:  April 2007

This page lists all reports and commentary from April, 2007

For items from earlier in August, 2007
All postings from
July, 2007
June, 2007
May, 2007
March, 2007
February, 2007
January, 2007
December, 2006
November, 2006
October, 2006
September, 2006
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Our coverage of the 2006 General Assembly is indexed on a special page.
For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

4/27/07
Can gun control get a hearing now?

The killings at Virginia Tech have raised the question of limiting access to firearms with new urgency – and poignancy.

Christians and gun control: An idea whose time has come?

Dr. Ben Witherington, professor of New Testament at conservative Asbury Theological Seminary, takes on the question. He writes:

Where is the moral outrage about the ability of even mentally whacked out people to buy guns in this country? You heard none of the potential Presidential candidates saying anything about the need for tighter gun control laws last week. ... It is interesting to me that even most American Christians, when they discuss these things, discuss them in terms of their Constitutional rights to bear firearms. They don’t ask whether the New Testament might have anything to say about Christian conduct in this regard. ... [Are there] ethical teachings in the New Testament that have a bearing as to whether Christians, as private citizens, should be bearing arms? Well yes, in fact there are texts to consider. ...

The rest of his blog, and many interesting responses >.

.... and from The Thoughtful Christian ...

The excellent PC(USA) adult study resource series, The Thoughtful Christian, includes on booklet entitled Gun Control: Is There a Christian Response? It’s a 1-session study and is available online >>

Have you seen other good resources for this discussion,
or can you contribute some thoughts or questions of your own?
Just send a note,
to be shared here.

Sojourners announces:

Presidential candidates Clinton, Edwards and Obama will join in Pentecost 2007: Taking the Vision to the Streets, June 3-6 in Washington, D.C.

Jim Wallis writes:

I have some very exciting news to share - presidential contenders Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, and Barack Obama will be joining us at Pentecost 2007: Taking the Vision to the Streets, June 3-6 in Washington, D.C.!

Our nationally televised presidential candidates’ forum will be the first to focus exclusively on faith, values, and poverty. We'll be asking candidates the important questions - and you can be there in person.

For more information, and to register >>

Race, Toxic Waste, and Church

from Eco-Justice Notes, by the Rev. Peter Sawtell, executive director of Eco-Justice Ministries

In 1987, the Commission for Racial Justice of the United Church of Christ (UCC) released a report titled Toxic Wastes and Race in the United States. It was a detailed statistical analysis of census data, meticulously cross-matched with information on the location of toxic waste sites.

That report is widely recognized as a foundational document in the environmental justice movement in the United States, and in shaping similar efforts around the world. It made the well-documented assertion that the environmental risk from hazardous waste is more strongly correlated with race than with economics.

On this 20th anniversary of Toxic Wastes and Race, an important new report has been issued by the UCC. Toxic Wastes and Race at Twenty: 1987-2007 revisits the statistical analysis with more sophisticated tools, and finds that "by better matching the locations of people and hazardous sites, racial and socioeconomic disparities around the nation's hazardous waste facilities are found to be far greater than what previous studies have shown."

This new report is available for free download from the United Church of Christ website. I highly recommend this new report for your reading and study. The 175 page document is 6.5 Mb, so plan on a lengthy download time.

More on the report, from Peter Sawtell >>

Racial Ethnic Ministries Program Area seeks Young Adult Intern for Racial Justice and Advocacy

Announcement from Office of Racial Justice and Advocacy

The Office of Racial Justice and Advocacy is now recruiting for its next intern. This program is offered through the National Volunteers Office of the Presbyterian Church (USA). The position, detailed in a separate document, is open to persons between the ages of 20 and 35. The intern program is a one-year term, beginning mid-August or September. A stipend is provided, but housing is the responsibility of the intern. Please distribute this information to your networks.

This is an excellent opportunity for a young adult to spend a year learning about the connectional nature of the Church, issues of racial justice in the Church, and how to advocate for racial justice within and outside the Church. The internship provides inspiring exposure to the expression in and through the Church of God's justice and the power of the Spirit to use human vessels to effect change.

We are particularly interested in recruiting someone to work on the Facing Race in Theological Education project for the 2007-2008 internship position.

Please contact me if you have any questions about the position.

Peace,

Tiffany B. Gonzales
Young Adult Intern, Racial Justice & Advocacy
100 Witherspoon Street, Rm 3006A
Louisville, KY 40202-1396
1-888-728-7228, ext. 5014
www.pcusa.org/racialjustice/

4/25/07
We're back at last ...

We started a week ago to move this website to a new hosting service, and the past few days have been one of those ventures in technology for which your WebWeaver was not equipped by all his studies in theology. 

We apologize for our absence, and we thank the many of you who have sent kind notes of sympathy and encouragement.  And we'll do what we can to catch up on the many items we want to post.

Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps

A recent article in The Guardian/UK advances a harsh word of warning to the people of the United States: that this nation (or at least the current administration) is taking many of the steps toward dictatorship that we have seen before under such rulers as Hitler and Pinochet.

These "ten easy steps" include invoking e a terrifying internal and external enemy; creating a "gulag," a prison system outside the rule of law; developing a "thug caste" of private paramilitary forces, that we now call security contractors; setting up an internal surveillance system; harassing citizens’ groups; engaging in arbitrary detention and release; pressuring key individuals such as academics and civil servants to go along; controlling the media; equating dissent with treason; and suspending the rule of law.

Sound familiar? Yet this is a serious charge, and you may want to read the article and offer your own response. 
Just send a note, to be shared here.

The author, Naomi Wolf, has recently written The End of America: A Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, which will be published by Chelsea Green in September. A political activist, she worked with the Clinton team on his successful 1996 re-election campaign, and for Al Gore’s 2000 election bid. Wolf has written several other books, and is a co-founder of the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership.

Her closing paragraph:

"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands … is the definition of tyranny," wrote James Madison. We still have the choice to stop going down this road; we can stand our ground and fight for our nation, and take up the banner the founders asked us to carry.

Farm labor organizer murdered:
FLOC urges: Send e-mail calling for an investigation

In February, Santiago Rafael Cruz joined the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC) office in Monterrey México. His job involved helping H2A "guest workers" going to work in the fields of North Carolina and other locations. He investigated and helped resolve grievances concerning abuses in the recruiting systems and employment conditions.

On Monday, April 9, Cruz was found tied up and beaten to death in the FLOC office. Testimony by witnesses who found the body, indicate that he was tortured by more than one individual in the early hours of the morning. There were no signs of robbery.

Since opening the office in Monterrey, there has been constant harassment. The office has been broken into several times when files and equipment were destroyed. FLOC staff has been threatened with deportation by Mexican authorities. Their operations have been attacked in the local media for "destabilizing" Mexican businesses (labor recruiters).

The United Farm Workers urges our supporters to respond to FLOC's plea to ensure a prompt and thorough investigation of the murder of Santiago Rafael Cruz, one of FLOC’s staff members in Monterrey, Mexico.

Click here to send an email to the government of the State of Nuevo Leon >>

[Scroll down past the report of his death to the draft of a letter.]

"Liberating Love" is national theme for More Light Sunday, June 3, 2007

An announcement from More Light Presbyterians

This is the fourth year of the annual tradition of celebrating the presence, faith and gifts that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, their parents and families bring to the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Liberating Love

How does Love liberate us? What is liberating about God's love for us, and for all the world? What is liberating about being in love? What is liberating about our love for each other as part of the Body of Christ and the realm of God on earth?

What actions are required of us to liberate Love in our lives, churches, communities, nation and world? How is God calling us in this time and place to liberate Love? How might God be calling you, and all of us, to set God's Love free to do its life-giving, life-saving work? These are questions and meditations we offer for this More Light Sunday.

For more information, worship resources, and to sign up as a participating church >>

It’s time to call on Congress (again!) to cut funding for School of the Americas

A message from Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch)

Did you know that the U.S. Army School of the Americas (SOA) has graduated death squad leaders, human rights abusers and at least 11 high ranking military officials who went on to become dictators? Even though the school changed its name in 2001 to "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation" in order to distract critics, known human rights abusers have again appeared in its enrollment lists.

The people of the Americas demand that the School of the Americas be shut down without delay. Take action NOW to make the SOA history.

Please join me in taking the first step to close this school of death.

Click here to send a message to your Representative in Congress, urging her or him to support legislation that will cut funding, suspend operations at the school and investigate its connection to human rights abuses. Follow-up with a phone call if you can. You can contact the DC office of your Representative by calling the Capitol Hill Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Make a difference by adding your voice to the chorus of millions of people in the Western Hemisphere who strive for a life free from military repression.

Click here to learn more about the School of the Americas, its graduates and the impact that it has had on Latin America.

And finally ... some major trivia

At three minutes and four seconds after 2 AM on the 6th of May this year, the time and date will be 02:03:04 05/06/07.

This will never happen again.

4/17/07
Bearing the pain together – an act of prayer

Not long after the slaughter at Virginia Tech, John Shuck wrote this brief reflection. It says a lot about how we might respond not only to this awful event, but to all the other deeply painful things that keep happening to us and to the world around us.

As I sit here trying to think of something to say, the old hymn of my childhood runs through my mind:

O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear.
Just because we do not carry
Ev'rything to God in prayer.

How much pain do we bear alone? How much pain do our children carry? I know college students are adults, but as the father of two college students, they are, to me, grown children. How much peace do we all forfeit when we keep our pain inside ourselves?

I usually think of that hymn as a hymn of personal prayer. It is that. Yet, today, I think of it differently. What needless pain we bear when we go it alone. What needless pain the gunman must have been bearing. From needless pain to needless violence – and now to pain again. Let none of us bear this alone. We are to one another, the response to prayer.

Visit John’s blog to see this with a photo of students joining in a candlelight vigil in Blacksburg on Monday evening.


Presbyterian News Service reports on reactions from Presbyterian and other religious leaders, and on Presbyterian pastors and others in Blacksburg who have been directly affected. 
The report >>    [As we post this, the PCUSA website seems to be down, so you may need to try again later.)

4/16/07
A call to pray for pastors and all at Virginia Tech University
 
We have just received this note from a Witherspoon member in Salem, Virginia:

In response to the recent horrific shootings, I would like to ask the Witherspoon society to be in prayer for the community of Virginia Tech University, and in particular for those who minister to that community:

 
Catherine Snyder, Presbyterian Campus Minister and the staff and students at Cooper House, our Presbyterian ministry at Virginia Tech.
 
Alex Evans and Susan Verbrugge, Pastor and Associate Pastor, Blacksburg (VA) Presbyterian church.
 
Linda Dickerson, Pastor, Northside Presbyterian Church in Blacksburg.
 
There is so much work for them to do, attending to wounds that will never heal.  May our prayers help support them in this difficult time.
 
Thank you,
 
Dean Lindsey
 
Dean Lindsey
Salem Presbyterian Church
Salem, VA
Faithful America urges action to affirm that health care should be a RIGHT, not a privilege

Faithful America reminds us that Cover the Uninsured Week 2007 is next week (April 23 29) and faith communities across the country are getting involved to help get Americas kids covered!

This year, with reauthorization of the State Childrens Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) pending, Cover the Uninsured Week will focus on covering kids as an important first step toward covering all Americans.  By getting involved in Cover the Uninsured Week, people of faith can help spread the word that all children deserve access to affordable health care coverage.

Here are a few things you can do to get involved >>

Save Darfur Coalition calls for ... divestment!    

The Save Darfur Coalition is urging support for the sates which have already enacted resolutions to withdraw investments from companies that support the genocide in Darfur by doing business with the government of Sudan, putting economic pressure on the Sudanese government to cooperate with international efforts to end the genocide.

But the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) is trying to stop them, so the Coalition says "Please help secure the rights of states to fight the genocide in Darfur by urging your Senators to support a new bill that would stop the NFTC's attacks."   More>>

Norman Finkelstein under attack by pro-Israel campaigners as he is considered for tenure at DePaul University

Over the years, Norman Finkelstein has spoken out as a Jew, criticizing the State of Israel for its suppression of Palestinian freedom and dignity. He testified at the 2006 General Assembly as the issue of divestment and criticism of Israeli oppression of the Palestinian territories were hotly debated.

A friend writes that "Norman Finkelstein has long been the target of a sustained campaign from the Israel Lobby to discredit him as a person and a scholar, thereby undermining his critiques of the State of Israel and the occupation. The latest effort includes trying to prevent him from getting tenure at DePaul University, a Roman Catholic institution where he has taught for the past six years. He is down to the last phase of this process, having been approved by the faculty committee; the dean will be making a decision by May." Read the Chronicle of Higher Education account of this struggle >>

You’ll find much more information on Finkelstein’s own website, and also in a lengthy letter written by the Middle Eastern Studies Association to the President of DePaul University in his defense – and in defense of academic freedom.

IMF faces confidence crisis

While leaders of the World Bank debate what to do with Paul Wolfowitz, their embattled president, the IMF and World Bank are facing a deeper challenge , which the think-tank Foreign Policy in Focus calls a "confidence crisis."  The essay begins:

As International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank officials engage in their joint semi-annual meetings in Washington, the Fund has a nettlesome new task: convincing its shareholders (most of the worlds governments, represented at the meeting by Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors) that the institution should continue to exist.

After some 30 years of making "bail-out" and "structural adjustment" loans to indebted and impoverished countries in return for their adherence to a long list of neo-liberal economic reformstrade and investment deregulation, privatization, tightening access to credit, and rapid budget cuts and public-sector layoffs, to name a fewthe IMF has been confronting a crisis of confidence for the past two years. Demand for its services has been shrinking. Its reputation has never recovered from its disastrous interventions in the East Asian and Argentinean financial crises (1997-1998 and 2001-2002 respectively).

The full essay >>

4/13/07  --  from San Jose, CA
Witherspoon board begins to wind down after a brief, productive meeting

The Witherspoon board has been meeting for the past 30 hours or so (with a little time out for sleep) in San Jose, CA, which will be the site of the 2008 General Assembly.  We started a few hours late on Thursday evening, since three of our members enjoyed an extra-long layover in Dallas/Ft. Worth while their plane underwent a few needed repairs.

The group has dealt with issues such as planning for the September conference, set for Sept. 16-19, and focusing on the theme, "Becoming Neighbors: An Invitation to Global Discipleship."  For some details – with more to come.

We have also considered the nomination process for new officers, budgets for 2007 and 2008, and questions about what issues and concerns should be given more attention in our work and our publications.

We will be finishing up Saturday morning.  It’s been a very good time, and you’ll hear more about the results within the next few day ... or weeks.

Professor Doug Ottati headed to Davidson College

Union-PSCE Press release

RICHMOND, VA – April 10, 2007 — Douglas F. Ottati, the M.E. Pemberton Professor of Theology and a member of the faculty at Union-PSCE for nearly 30 years, is heading to Davidson College in a newly endowed chair in religion. [Your WebWeaver adds that for the past few years, Ottati has also contributed a regular column to Witherspoon’s Network News, and has frequently spoken at Witherspoon events during General Assemblies.]

Ottati’s stint as a visiting professor at Davidson this spring coincided with a search within the College’s religion department for a distinguished scholar-teacher in theology and Reformed theology.

Beginning in the fall of 2007 Ottati will occupy the new Craig Family Distinguished Professorship in Reformed Theology and Justice Ministry.

"It was not an easy decision to make, but it’s exciting," said Ottati. "It comes at a classic time of life when my two children have left the house, and I have an opportunity to do something different. Part of it is as simple as a guy being an auto mechanic for 30 years who gets a chance to work on another machine."

Ottati said he was attracted to leave his home and employment of thirty years in part to work within a broader scope of academic disciplines. "Seminaries like Union-PSCE have as a strength their focus on the clerical education of ministers," he said. "But at the same time that focus is their significant limitation. Seminaries don’t have arts and sciences departments, so it’s more difficult to study in the context of other disciplines. Coming to Davidson gives me a chance to have those conversations."

"From the time I first arrived in January I could tell that Davidson had wonderful students, strong and dynamic and interesting colleagues, and wonderful facilities at a school that seems to have a strong and generally acknowledged commitment to liberal arts education. That’s a pretty nice package."

4/10/07
Immokalee Workers, McDonald's, and McD's suppliers reach agreement to improve farmworker wages, working conditions!  

News release from Noel Damico, Campaign for Fair Food, PC(USA)

With the arrival of the 2007 Truth Tour in Chicago just days away, the CIW, McDonald's, and its suppliers gathered at the Carter Center in Atlanta on Monday to announce an agreement that guarantees:

  1. A penny more per pound to workers harvesting tomatoes for McDonald's;
  2. A stronger code of conduct based on the principle of worker participation;
  3. And a collaborative effort to develop a third party mechanism for monitoring conditions in the fields and investigating workers' complaints of abuse.

The PC(USA) commends the CIW and McDonald’s on this historic achievement. Special thanks goes to all Presbyterians who have written the company, hosted the workers on Truth Tours, or joined the CIW in protests. Together we have made a significant witness.   More >>

On the same page, you'll find more reports on this very important development:

bulletfrom the Coalition of Immokalee Farmworkers >>
bulletfrom the Presbyterian News Service >>
bulletfrom two "secular" sources: Reuters and AP >>

The Witherspoon Society gives thanks to God for this great step forward, and congratulates the Immokalee Farmworkers and all those who have worked with them over the months and years, as well as McDonald's.  We especially appreciate the role the Carter Center has played in helping in the negotiation of this settlement. 

If you have thoughts to share,
or details to add,
please just send a note!

Can Left and Right join to oppose the war and defend the Constitution?

For years Jim Wallis of Sojourners has called for a new faith-based approach to politics in which liberals and evangelicals can unite.

Now others, from different perspectives, are saying the same thing.

Jon Basil Utley, associate publisher of The American Conservative, says that some conservatives are becoming more critical of the war. Even if their opposition is rooted in different thinking from that of the liberals who oppose the war (and he notes that many of them, including many Democratic Party leaders, are really not standing against the war), the two sides need each other if they are to have any impact on the growing trend toward Empire. And, he says, they can work together for some goals that both sides value, such as true national security, a return to use of negotiations to settle problems, and avoiding further spread of the war, which would among other things be "bad for business."
His essay is on the Foreign Policy in Focus website >>

And from the Left, John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation, writes of a group of conservatives which is advancing a so-called "American Freedom Agenda," which calls for such radical measures as ending the use of military commissions to prosecute crimes, prohibiting the use of secret evidence or evidence obtained by torture, and ending National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping. (And lots more!)

He quotes conservative fund-raiser Richard Viguerie as saying, "Conservatives must not fail to oppose the massive expansion of presidential powers out of fear they will be aid and comfort to the Left. Concern about one branch of government acquiring excessive power should not be the providence of liberals, moderates, or conservatives. It must be the concern of all Americans who value liberty…"
Read Nichols’ article >>

A pioneering urban pastor tells the story of his congregation, his inner-city community in Nashville, and his ministry – To Love a City

The Rev. Bill Barnes has written about Edgehill Methodist Church in Nashville, where he has served as pastor for forty years.

Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon's Issues Analyst, who knew Bill Barnes first at Yale DIvinity School and then in Nashville, says that there is no one in the U.S. who knows more about the house church movement and base communities than Bill Barnes. He bummed his way around Europe in the postwar period, observing the worker priests in France and the house church movement in England.

He has devoted his life to the predominantly black Edgehill community in Nashville, near where he grew up. He has helped that community fight battles over urban renewal and affordable housing. Right now he is the chief advocate for doing more about housing displacement in Nashville, starting with keeping records. (The Mayor, although he has committed himself to promoting affordable housing, doesn't want too many statistics of this sort floating around.)

This book, then, offers not only the record of an extraordinary life but a series of observations on the urban situation, based on both extensive reading in urbanology and intense personal involvement. It's one of those books definitely worth having.

Barnes himself summarizes the book:

The book is about a small and diverse congregation making a go of it in a low income minority inner city neighborhood. There was giving and receiving, loving and fear, anger and reconciliation, tears and laughter, success and failure – all in trying to live out a Christ led vocation in the city. Herein is described a multitude of strategies and approaches, all emerging out of a foundation of love, sure that "we love because God first loved us."

Bill Barnes

Click here for the order form, in PDF format >>

4/7/07
An Easter gift:

A Restorative Theology of Easter

The Rev. Peter Sawtell, Executive Director of Eco-Justice Ministries, first posted this essay in his Eco-Justice Notes in 2002, and has re-posted it just before Easter.

He contrasts the views of justice at work in our traditional system of "punitive justice" with those affirmed in the growing movement for "restorative justice."

He outlines this briefly:

Restorative justice is an idea that is beginning to catch on in communities across the US. Restorative justice takes a very different approach than the punitive justice system that is common throughout western civilization. (While this is a new concept in some parts of the world, in many cultures these principles are ancient wisdom.)

Punitive justice sees a problem with the criminal, the "offender". The solution to crime is to punish the person who broke the laws. There may be an attempt at rehabilitation, but punishment is the guiding principle.

Restorative justice recognizes that the criminal has caused a problem, and that something must be done. But it does not believe that the problem can be solved through punishment alone. Because the offender has not just broken a law. He or she has caused hurt to victims, and has injured the entire community. The goal of restorative justice is to bring healing to all involved -- the victim, the offender, and the community.

He then considers the different ways we understand Easter, and the life and resurrection of Christ: either a sacrifice to pay a penalty, or a movement of restoration and healing, both for offenders and for victims, both for the whole human community and for our relationships with the whole natural world.

His essay >>

More reports and comments on the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq

"There is a new spirit sweeping across our churches ..."    

From Rick Ufford-Chase, writing for the CPWI Steering Committee:

March 16th, 2007 was a sign that there is a new spirit sweeping across our churches in the United States. Though many of you were frustrated by the weather and unable to join us as planned, we still numbered close to four thousand people on that cold, wet, snowy Friday night as we filled the National Cathedral and New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Rev. Raphael Warnock named the challenge we must help our nation reclaim its very soul.  More >>

To view the Cathedral Worship Service >>

Host Your Own Peace Vigil >>

We are Marching in the Light of God

David McPhail,  whose essays have been posted here before, including his reflections on participating in a vigil at the School of the Americas, now offers his thoughts on taking part in the Christian Peace Witness for Iraq.

More blogs
for the curious and the thoughtful

After recommending one blog of interest to progressive Presbyterians (and others!), we asked for other suggestions.  We’ve received some more very good suggestions:

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

Abundancetrek.com

Please consider my blog -- http://www.abundancetrek.com/blog . I think it's unique. I promote progressive Christianity, progressive Politics, the Perennial Philosophy and the New Church for the New Age. Sometimes I write my own stuff but usually I'm more like the webweaver finding good stuff and offering links and excerpts. I'm a retired Presbyterian pastor with too much time on my hands -- actively involved at First Presbyterian Church, Utica and Presbytery of Utica Church & Society Committee chaired by John Preston -- but I do enjoy blogging and I would love a little more attention from the Progressive Presbyterian community. Thanks. I do link to WS items from time to time, most recently March 27.

John A Wilde

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

Two blogs from San Francisco Theological Seminary students

The following pair of blogs are by myself and a good friend. We are both seminary students at SFTS who bring a unique perspective to the blogosphere.

Aric Clark: http://aricclark.blogspot.com/

Doug Hagler:  http://sftsexperience.blogspot.com/

We've been very active lately in commenting and debating on the conservative blogs of Jim Berkley, http://www.jimberkley.blogspot.com/ and Tom Gray, http://tomgrayofthekirk.blogspot.com/

In return we've drawn the attention of a variety of people who disagree with our progressive views, but we welcome the opportunity for meaningful dialogue.

Incidentally, I'm writing a series of rebuttals to the work of Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, that your readers might be interested in.

Aric

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

Preaching Peace

This suggestion comes from John Mann, formerly a PC(USA) pastor, now serving in the Church of Scotland. He has contributed a number of reports and essays here.  For one example >>

I would recommend the blog at Preaching Peace, www.preachingpeace.org; I must add though that I'm partial to it because I am one of the regular contributors.

Take Care - John Mann

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

Who’s next?

If you have one or two favorite blogs (even your own),
just send a note.
And unless we have serious doubts, we’ll post it here.

Planned Parenthood’s Pill Patrol achieves a victory with Wal-Mart
Next target is -- well -- Target.
4/4/07
An update from the PC(USA) Campaign for Fair Food 

McDonald’s Truth Tour heads for Chicago

Momentum for the McDonald’s Truth Tour builds as the workers prepare to leave Immokalee on April 7th. Presbyterians across the country are hosting workers and many are coming to Chicago. All the latest info on the tour stops, buses to Chicago and events in Chicago is available at http://www.ciw-online.org/2007truthtour/index.html

Read the Presbyterian News Service story to get a sense of the excitement.

The Peacemaking Update for April 4, 2007  

This update contains a link to an Advocacy Alert from the Washington Office, calling for immigration reform.  Its main focus is on Martin Luther King, Jr's. speech, "Beyond Vietnam" (with a good, long excerpt from his speech) and links to resources related to the war in Iraq.

An invitation from More Light Presbyterians:

April 15 - 17 Celebrations, Community and a Call for Justice & Equality in Washington, DC

The Open Doors Chapter of More Light Presbyterians in National Capital Presbytery, Washington, D.C., is offering an open invitation to a variety of events on April 15-17, in conjunction with the Clergy Call fo Justice and Equality in Washington.

Michael Adee, National Field Organizer for More Light Presbyterians, will be the featured speaker at two events on Sunday, April 15.

Everyone in the Washington area is warmly invited.  More >>

4/3/07
A blog for eager readers and explorers of faith

Your WebWeaver must confess he is a bit baffled by the current flood of blogs, but he’s slowly recognizing that there are good things worth a visit now and then.

Let me introduce just one of them today, and I’ll try to be back with more suggestions in the weeks to come.

And if you have suggestions, please send a note! We don’t want this website to become just a advertising list of blogs, and we won’t automatically recommend just anything that is mentioned. But if you can suggest a blog page that offers helpful news and commentary about church and/or society – and especially the interactions between them – we’ll be happy to consider mentioning it. (Even if it’s your own!)

Just send a note!

Enough introduction. Here’s our first venture into the wild world of blogs:

Shuck and Jive is the creation of the Rev. John Shuck, who describes his blog thus: "A Presbyterian minister blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus and lightening up. John Shuck is the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tennessee (a liberal church on the buckle of the Bible belt)."

A couple recent samples:

On March 29, as part of a series of blogs on readings for Holy Week, he gave very brief introductions to books such as Marcus Borg's latest, Jesus: Uncovering the Life, Teachings, and Relevance of a Religious Revolutionary; Borg and John Dominic Crossan’s The Last Week: A Day-by-Day Account of Jesus' Final Week in Jerusalem; and James Tabor’s The Jesus Dynasty – among others!

Shuck reads a lot, but he doesn’t limit himself to the library. He offers his own theological and ethical reflections on a wide range of issues, including the environment, politics, the church, the American Empire, and more. Much more.

For a slightly different tone, check out his thoughts for Saturday, March 31, on the topic "Sometimes I wish I was a RevGal," which begins: "Do you notice the difference between clergy boy bloggers and clergy girl bloggers? There really is a difference."

As with many bloggers, he invites visitors to subscribe to e-mail updates sent whenever he adds to his blog.

So – what do you think of blogs (either Shuck and Jive in particular, or others, or the whole proliferating genre)? Just send a note with your comments and recommendations, and we’ll share it here.

Who Gets to Define America?

The Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Assistant Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary, and a member of the Sojourners/Call to Renewal Board, has written a thoughtful response to the widely noted comments by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, as he equated bilingual education with learning "the language of living in a ghetto."

Noting that Gingrich is not alone in holding this attitude of "jingoism," he adds that the real issue today is "Who gets to define what America looks like in the 21st century? Should every effort be made to maintain a white majority that reflects the current Western European culture and ethos of American society?"

He closes:

As an evangelical Christian, I look towards scripture for my guidance. In my study of scripture, I have yet to find a single passage which supports the right to bear arms. ... I have, however, found numerous references (50+ and still counting) calling believers to care for the alien among them. Why is it then that I am more likely to find members of the NRA in a typical American evangelical church than I will find those who advocate for an immigration policy that shows compassion for the immigrant among us? How much of our view on immigration is driven by a political and social agenda rather than a biblical one?

His full essay >>

Two conferences on immigration coming in April

New York and Princeton will be the venues

Princeton, NJ, April 14, on Toward a Theology of Immigration: Embracing the Stranger.

On behalf of the Association of Latino and Hispanic American Students (ALHAS) and the Hispanic Leadership Program at Princeton Theological Seminary, we would like to invite you and your congregation to our event on immigration titled, Toward a Theology of Immigration: Embracing the Stranger. The event will take place on Saturday, April 14, 2007 and will begin at 10:00am. Our keynote speakers will be Dr. Maria Patricia Fernandez Kelly from Princeton University and The Rev. Dr. Samuel Cruz, Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Brooklyn, New York. Please join us as together we explore how the church can approach this issue that affects many people from different parts of the world.

For registration information please contact the Center for Continuing Education at Princeton Theological Seminary at (609) 497-7990, or register online at: www.ptsem.edu/ce. Once on the website, you can look for Courses and Events, or you can go straight to http://www.ptsem.edu/CE/Course-ImmigrationConference.php. You can register and find information about that event at this link. Space is limited, so please register soon. Please feel free to copy and distribute as necessary.

We hope to see you on April 14th. May God continue blessing you!!!

Sincerely,
Jose Gonzalez-Colon
Fernando Rodriguez-Quinones
ALHAS co-moderators

New York, April 21, on Immigration, Justice and Christian Hospitality

On April 21st the Presbytery of New York City is hosting a conference titled Immigration, Justice and Christian Hospitality. The conference will be held at the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church in Manhattan: 7 West 55th Street. A flyer is attached (we will have versions available in Spanish and Korean in a few days).

Please note that the plenary presentations are being offered with simultaneous translation into Spanish and Korean.

We invite all of our Presbyterian sisters and brothers to join us. We have organized this conference with the hope that it will prove useful to churches and Presbyteries in the greater metro NYC region - including on both sides of the Hudson River! The goal of the conference is to educate, equip and inspire both clergy and "people in the pews" so that they can ACT relative to immigration: through providing links to resources, through activism, and through other forms of solidarity.

We are delighted that Julia Thorne is joining us as the featured speaker of the conference!

For more information, contact:

Annie Rawlings, M.Div.
Interim Associate Executive Presbyter for Social Witness
Presbytery of New York City
475 Riverside Drive, Suite 240
New York, NY 10115
212/870-2221, ext. 4249

socialwitness@presbynyc.org

Just in Time for Tax Day: FCNL’s Flyer on Where Our Tax Dollars Go

How much of every dollar of federal income taxes you pay in 2006 goes to war? To health care? To humanitarian aid? The Friends Committee on National Legislation offers a nice, clear tax day flyer with the answers.

Get the flier, in PDF format >>

4/2/07

Announcing ...

BECOMING NEIGHBORS:
An Invitation to Global Discipleship

A Witherspoon conference
on global mission and justice

September 16 - 19, 2007
Louisville, Kentucky

For early details >>

This page lists all reports and commentary from April, 2007

For items from earlier in August, 2007
All postings from
July, 2007
June, 2007
May, 2007
March, 2007
February, 2007
January, 2007
December, 2006
November, 2006
October, 2006
September, 2006
August, 2006
July, 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.
 

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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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