Archives: March 2007
This page lists reports and commentary from
For items from earlier in
All postings from
Our coverage of the 2006 General
Assembly is indexed on a special page.
For links to earlier archive pages,
Two PC(USA) responses to the steps toward peace in Northern Ireland
From the Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church
The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick has sent letters of
appreciation to government and church leaders in Northern Ireland in the
wake of this week's agreement by the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn
Fein to form a power-sharing government.
The news report plus the
text of his letter >>
step forward has occurred – and a long journey remains."
Rev Doug Baker, PCUSA Regional Liaison for Ireland and
the United Kingdom, offers an update and analysis on the important steps
that have been taken toward peace between the Protestant Democratic
Unionist Party and the Roman Catholic Sinn Fein.
The new Federal Budget –
questions of priorities
The Friends Committee on National Legislation has created
and gathered very helpful resources on the proposed Federal Budget and
questions of what priorities will shape it over the coming months.
The huge proportion of the budget that will go to military
programs is given careful analysis.
here for earlier analyses prepared by the Presbyterian Washington
National Network of Presbyterian College Women
announces a national Leadership Event, July 25-29 in Washington, DC
This is a unique opportunity for young women in college to dialogue
with and learn from women of faith on Capitol Hill and from other women of
faith in college. We will celebrate those women who work for justice and
fairness and will equip you with the skills and motivation to get involved
and make a difference in your own communities and on your campuses.
NNPCW is also seeking applications for membership on Coordination
Committee. More >>
NAE rebuffs critics, affirming commitment to
The National Association of Evangelicals
recently affirmed its stance on caring for the environment—indirectly
rebuffing complaints that its vice president for governmental affairs,
Richard Cizik, is too engaged in environmental issues—and endorsed a
statement condemning torture.
Focus on the Family chair James Dobson and two dozen other evangelical
leaders had asked the NAE board to oust Cizik because of his "relentless
campaign" against human-induced global warming. Other signers of the letter
included Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council; Gary L.
Bauer, onetime Republican presidential candidate and now head of Coalitions
for America; and Paul Weyrich, a veteran political strategist.
The only NAE board member who opposed Cizik
publicly was Jerald Walz, recently named vice president for operations of
the Washington-based Institute on Religion and Democracy.
Preaching for Palm Sunday and Good Friday
struggling with what to say to your congregation as we all confront the
mystery and majesty of these days, you might find some help in these
readings. If you have other good sources to suggest (for Easter, too!),
please let us hear from you.
For Palm Sunday / Passion Sunday
Daniel B. Clendenin looks at Palm Sunday through Luke’s
Gospel, seeing the political dimensions of Jesus’ actions and his arrest as
On Palm Sunday Jesus invites us to join his subversive
counter-procession into all the world. But he calls us not to just any
subversion, subversion for its own sake, or to some new and improved
political agenda. Rather, Christian subversion takes as its model Jesus
himself, "who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with
God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very
nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in
appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even
death on a cross." Dying to self and the many demons of egoism, and living
to serve others, will prove itself as sufficiently and radically
subversive. And so Paul instructs us in his epistle for this week: "have
this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus."
The full essay >>
For Good Friday: "The Ones at the Foot of the Cross"
Preaching on Good Friday in 2003, the Rev. Dr. I. Carter
Heyward focused on Jesus words of forgiveness from the cross. Among many
good things she says is this:
Forgiveness is a psycho-spiritual, social, and political
leap out of the past -- its wrongs and wounds -- into the shaping of the
present and future. It is a refusal to get stuck in resentment over what
has been done in order to generate creative energies for living today and
tomorrow. Forgiveness usually has at least as much to do with the desire
and capacity of those who've been wounded to move forward as with the
desire or need of those who have inflicted the injury.
No Pollyanna He: Following Jesus in a Time of Fear
sermon following the Christian Peace Witness
On the Sunday morning following the Christian Peace
Witness, Rick Ufford-Chase, now executive director of the Presbyterian Peace
Fellowship and one of the organizers of the Witness, preached at New York
Avenue Presbyterian Church, just a few blocks from the White House.
He led the congregation in reflecting on the Witness as an
expression of hope in the midst of a society and a time dominated by fear,
and imagined some of the ways that new hope may take form in the months and
years ahead. He concluded:
We have a choice. We can opt – on this morning – to
continue to live into the bland and uninspiring work of institutional
maintenance that characterizes so many of our churches today. We can
choose to continue our commitment to place a theological veneer over a
culture of emptiness, unfulfilled promises, and fear. We can choose, if we
wish, to continue to create churches that bless our affluence and our
power based on a corrupted reading of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Or . . .
We can choose on this day to dedicate all of our lives
to the creation of a new movement of followers of Jesus Christ who know
that we are called to transform the world. Someday, this weekend could be
understood to have been the tipping point. The choice is ours.
full sermon >>
Wise words of warning on the 4th anniversary of
the war in Iraq
This short speech was delivered in the House of
Representatives by Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, on March 19, 2007.
"Mr. Speaker, I rise with deep concern that on this very
day 4 years ago, our Nation inaugurated a conflict, an unnecessary war, a
war of choice, not a necessity.
The most comprehensive intelligence we have, the National Intelligence
Estimate and the latest Pentagon report, tells us that Iraq has descended
into a state of civil war. Over 3,000 Americans have died, and hundreds of
thousands, some even say up to 1 million citizens of Iraq, have lost their
lives in this unnecessary conflict.
And while we are telling our veterans of this war, the elderly, the poor,
and the sick that there is no room in the budget for them, the American
people have spent over $400 billion on a failed policy. We cannot do more of
the same. Mr. Speaker, violence begets violence. It does not lead to peace.
President John F. Kennedy once said, ‘‘Those who make peaceful revolution
impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.’’ My greatest fear is
that the young people of Iraq and of the Middle East will never forget this
war. My greatest fear is they will grow up hating our children and our
children’s children for what we have done. Mr. Speaker, the Bible is right.
Even a great nation can reap what it sows.
More death threats in Colombia
This message is from
Bob Leslie and Shelley
Ritchie, accompaniers with the Presbyterian Church here in Barranquilla,
What follows is a rough translation of a document we
received late last week concerning death threats in a town of Uraba called
San Jose de Apartado, an area controlled by paramilitaries and which has
suffered a lot of the last years.
Brief Summary: This document
tells the story of a man, a paramilitary, who was co-opted by the military
and police working in the area, and eventually brain-washed and forced to do
the dirty work that they deemed necessary. Ultimately this has meant death
threats to 7 families living in a small town near this city, who although
they are not part of the Peace Community are well known in the area, and are
now on a hit list. We are not told exactly why they are so threatened but
the given reason is that they attacked a person with the same last name of
the member of the paramilitary group. This is the pretext, but the real
reason is hidden. Nevertheless the threats are very real and our effort is
to try to prevent any violence by telling this story far and wide and asking
for letters to various officials who can investigate and order an end to
such impunity. Please consider reading the complete text below outlining
recent death threats in San Jose de Apartado, Colombia as reported by this
Human Rights Network. Please email the listed individuals raising this
serious matter and asking the officials to do all they can to prevent these
threats from being carried out.
The rest of
the document >>
More Light Presbyterians to participate in the historic
Clergy Call for Justice & Equality, April 16 - 17, Washington, DC
A note from Michael Adee, National Field Organizer for
More Light Presbyterians, with a call for your participation, your voice
Calling for Justice and Equality
Clergy committed to spiritual and civil equality for LGBT
persons and their families from all 50 states will converge upon Washington,
DC to rally and lobby Congress on Capitol Hill on April 17.
Focusing upon lobby visits with Congress, we will meet
with our representatives to call for the end of discrimination by lobbying
for ENDA, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act that protects LGBT persons
from discrimination in the workplace. We will also lobby for the passage of
hate crimes legislation that is inclusive of hate crimes against sexual
orientation and gender identity.
BBC interview on creationism and evolution
A BBC interview is now posted, until Saturday night, of Eugenie C. Scott,
Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education,
interviewing people about their religious views regarding creationism and
evolution. She interviewed Ken Ham, Lutheran theologian Ted Peters, old
earth creationist Hugh Ross, cosmologist Paul Davies, and also Richard
Dawkins about the importance of evolution.
The interview >>
|More reports from the Christian
Peace Witness in Washington
Presbyterian presence at the Peace Witness in Washington
Eva Gray Stimson has provided two excellent
reports on the event, for Presbyterian News Service
|Thousands gather in Washington for
ecumenical war protest|
Six former GA moderators among Presbyterian
|What church should be |
Presbyterians of all ages connect faith and
action in peace witness
Christian Peace Witness – in Colombia too
This is Bob Leslie writing from Barranquilla,
I am here as an Accompanier with the
Presbyterian Church (USA) through the Presbyterian Peace
Fellowship. I just wanted to add a special note to Witherspoon
website about an event that occurred here at the IPC (Presby.
Church of Colombia) Seminary in Barranquilla last Friday night.
The rest of his
Ending the war is a moral, not a political issue
FaithfulAmericans urge lawmakers to end war now
Thousands of members of
the online community of the National Council of Churches USA,
are urging their Members of Congress to take the moral step to
end the war in Iraq. "The moral imperative to end this
horrendous war should far outweigh any political compromise,"
FaithfulAmerica.org letter to Representatives.
From the Pentagon to California,
antiwar protests sweep
across the country
ANSWER - Act Now to Stop War and End Racism –
reports on the "March on the Pentagon" protest on Saturday,
March 17th and on related protests held around the
No2Torture, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and other
human rights groups are holding a call-in week to urge Congress to reform
the Military Commissions Act to stop torture, to comply with the Geneva
Conventions, and to provide due process to detainees. Call your members of
Congress any day this week through the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121.
The Rev. Bobbie McGarey shares with us her poem,
celebrating the hope of Easter in the midst of a war-torn world.
Several School of the Americas prisoners of conscience report to prison
We're encouraged to send them letters of
Marilyn White, of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, has
just sent this note:
Several of the "SOA 16" report to prison today,
including two of our 4 Presbyterian POCs. Due to their shorter sentences,
many of them have been assigned to jails instead of camps - this is a hard
life, and mail is SO important. Graymon is only 20 years old, and will be
serving his 30 day sentence in a county jail. Many of you know Phil from
the Colombia Accompaniment program - he will be at the LA MDC for 2
months. The other two Presbyterians, Julienne Oldfield and Don Coleman,
will report in April. Please take a few minutes to write them!
PHILIP E. GATES #92947-020
MDC LOS ANGELES
METROPOLITAN DETENTION CENTER
P.O. BOX 1500
LOS ANGELES, CA 90053
See his recent note about
facing time in prison >>
VANCE COUNTY JAIL
516 BRECKENRIDE ST.
HENDERSON, NC 27536
Isabel "Dr. Izzie" Rogers dies
Former GA moderator "was an educator through and
Isabel Wood Rogers, lovingly known by generations of
students at Union Theological Seminary-Presbyterian School of Christian
Education as "Dr. Izzie," died March 18 of cancer. She was 82.
Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick said of Rogers: ""Her
leadership did not begin or end with the assembly, as she continued to be a
voice for social justice concerns – the environment, women's issues, and
inclusive language for God and the people of God, as well as the gifts of
all of God's people."
Presbyterian News Service story and photo >>
Home from Washington – with a little new hope
on the Christian Peace Witness, Washington, DC, March 16, 2007
from Doug King, your WebWeaver
Last Thursday evening (though it seems like weeks ago) I
joined about 35 others from the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta for a bus ride
to Washington, DC, to join the Christian Peace Witness that you’ve been
reading and hearing about for the past few weeks.
I want to share a few of my own impressions, and provide
links to some of the accounts that have been printed or posted by others.
This event differed from most of the protests that many of
us have joined over the years, because it was very explicitly Christian. The
center-piece of the event was not the procession to the White House, not the
arrests of the dozens who committed acts of civil disobedience (or as Rick
Ufford-Chase is teaching us, acts of "divine obedience"), but the 90-minute
service of worship at the National Cathedral. The reason, as the Rev. Jim
Wallis explained at the end of the service, was that a number of religious
leaders felt the need for a clear statement that many Christians see the war
as wrong, precisely because the Administration and so many Americans, along
with many Muslims and others around the world, have tended to view it as
some kind of "Christian" enterprise.
The rest of the story >>
"Letting Go of
Fear" -- a sermon
John Shuck was one of the many Presbyterians at the
service and procession, and preached about his experience on Sunday
morning. Focusing on "letting go of fear," he describes nonviolent action
as a loving way of acting against the fear that has ruled our nation for
the past few years. This kind of action, he concludes, may hold the only
real hope for peace. "It was a witness to love that is always at work to
reunite that which has been torn apart. If asked if I thought standing
there would do any good, that the President would suddenly change his mind
and change course, I would have to say, probably not. If asked if my
standing there would change the world from fear and violence to love and
peace, I would have to say, probably not. But I stood there not to change
the world, but so that the world would not change me."
Links to other reports
Bearing witness in D.C.
Presbyterians and other Christians
to rally against Iraq war
Thousands of Christians from around the country,
including numerous Presbyterians, are expected to descend on Washington D.C.
this week to demand an end to the war in Iraq.
Peace Witness for Iraq, to be held on Friday (March 16), will include
worship, public prayer, and a candlelight vigil outside the White House that
could land some demonstrators in jail.
More than 3,500 Protestants and Catholics, including
clergy and other church leaders, have already registered for the one-day,
nonviolent, anti-war witness. The event will begin with an ecumenical
worship service at the Washington National Cathedral at 7 p.m.
The witness is partly the brainchild of Rick Ufford-Chase,
executive director of the
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) and moderator of the 216th General
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 2004.
Your WebWeaver will be there, and will report as soon as
Lenten readings just for our unpeaceful times
Even cracked pots can carry life and light in times of death and destruction
from your WebWeaver, Doug King
Yesterday evening some people of our congregation gathered for our
regular Lenten observance of a simple supper and a time of prayer using the
I listened to the three scripture readings after a day of hearing about
the continuing concerns about the Bush Administration’s actions in firing a
number of US Attorneys, and the Attorney General’s lame efforts to deal with
those concerns. And I sat there knowing I would be leaving the next day
(this evening) to join thousands of others for the
Christian Peace Witness
for Iraq, to be held Friday in Washington, DC.
The progression through the three readings led me ...
|from the psalmist’s lament at the evil all around him,
and rejoicing at God’s promise to stand against the evil-doers and the
|through God’s word to Jeremiah that we are clay in the
hands of the divine Potter, with the hope of being useful vessels, but
only if we repent and change our ways as a people |
|to Paul’s ringing affirmation that while we are just
clay pots, we can serve as life-giving vessels even in times of death and
Nothing new here, but for me it was the right Word at the right time. And
I’d like to share it with you.
The passages >>
|The girls' school at Aida Refugee Camp
PC(USA) mission volunteer visits West Bank town of
"I would rather live in the refugee camp than here"
by Shannon O’Donnell
I never imagined I would have such a thought. I was
traveling with a group of international participants that Sabeel was hosting
for the spring "Witness Visit." We went all over the West Bank, met with
mayors, priests, political leaders, and regular people to hear about their
The rest of her report >>
Also from Shannon O'Donnell: Meeting the Real
Another recent report from Shannon has been published in
Network News, describing her experience at a Palestinian farm and
vineyard outside Bethlehem, where she finds a project dedicated to "prepar[ing]
young people for a positive contribution to their future and culture by
bringing values of understanding and tolerance into their life
experience." Click here for the PDF
version of Network News (Winter 2007), and jump to page 5.
More on apologies
We received this good note
yesterday from Dean Lindsey, a Witherspoon member in Salem, VA
In reference to the recent article
"Is it Time for a Presidential Apology?"
I would like to mention an outstanding book by Psychiatrist Aaron Lazare
called On Apology. It's the kind of book that any preacher could
use as the basis for three or four good sermons. Lazare analyzes why we have
trouble apologizing and what makes for both good and bad apologies.
For instance, apologies that are conditional, make excuses
or shift blame simply cannot hit the mark. Examples would be "I am sorry if
my remarks hurt your feelings" or "I am sorry that I hit you, but I thought
you were planning to hit me." However, a genuine apology – ordinarily it is
simple and to the point – is a completely cleansing and freeing thing both
for the person who apologizes and the one who receives the apology.
If the United States, or more specifically the President,
could make an apology for what we have done both to ourselves and Iraq these
past four years, it would be an amazing step toward healing and correcting a
disastrous state of affairs which currently exists. Such an apology would
require, first of all, that we recognize and acknowledge the damage we have
done, and that could be painful for us all. I have considerable doubts that
the President is able to make such an apology or is able to engage in the
kind of self-examination that ordinarily leads to apology. However, that
does not mean that the rest of us can't do anything in the meantime. I
believe that we can all apologize to God, to one another, to our own
soldiers, and to the people of Iraq for our silence and our indifference,
among other things. As Presbyterians, we confess our sins each week. We
should be accustomed to admitting our weaknesses and faults. We shouldn't
have to wait for the President to do it for us.
Evangelical Christians attack use of torture by US
The Guardian reported on March 13, that the National Association of
Evangelicals, which represents about 45,000 churches across America, has
endorsed a declaration against torture drafted by 17 evangelical scholars.
The authors, who call themselves Evangelicals for Human Rights and campaign
for "zero tolerance" on torture, say that the US administration has crossed
"boundaries of what is legally and morally permissible" in the treatment of
The Guardian interprets this as a further step in "the uncoupling of
American evangelism [do they mean evangelicalism?] from the administration
of George Bush."
The full article >>
Presbyterian SOA protester
prepares for 60-day prison term
Phil Gates, one of the
Presbyterians arrested during the witness against the School of the Americas
last November, will enter prison on March 21st. He sends a letter
about ways people can support him and the other 13 who will be entering
prison on that day.
Among other things, he urges us to support the bill that
will be introduced by Rep. James McGovern (D- MA) this month or next. Last
year, it failed by only 15 votes, and given the changes wrought by last
fall’s election, he says "our hopes are high for its successful passage this
time around." He includes a sample
draft letter to Congress, for your use.
Is it time for a Presidential apology?
Malotky, Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy, and Director of
Ethics across the Curriculum at Greensboro College.
President Bush has acknowledged on several occasions that
mistakes have been made in Iraq. His statements, however, have been framed
to present him as a strong leader who is willing to take responsibility for
his actions. None of his public remarks has constituted an apology, and he
scrupulously avoids any suggestion that the invasion as a whole was a
In these non-apologies, we confront the tragic gap between
the ideal and the real. Repentance is at the heart of the faith this
president so publicly espouses; the intersection of spirituality and
morality, for Christians, lies in the ironically positioned capacity for
admitting one's moral failure. The redemption that the President surely
desires is only possible by shedding the sense of his own — and, by
extension, America's — inherent righteousness by admitting wrongdoing.
The rest of the essay, from Sightings, published by The
Martin Marty Center at the University of Chicago Divinity School >>
Finding a new place to answer call
Gay graduate of Austin Seminary leaves denomination to pursue ministry.
A message from Michael Adee, National Field Organizer
of More Light Presbyterians
Karen Thompson said she is sad, but not bitter that the
Presbyterian Church is still struggling with sexuality issues in ordaining
ministers. God led her to the seminary, she says, though now she'll be
answering his call to serve elsewhere
Please join us in prayers of blessing for Karen Thompson,
Austin Theological Seminary graduate, who is leaving the Presbyterian Church
(USA) to follow God's call to serve as a pastor in another denomination, the
Metropolitan Community Church.
The rest of
Adee’s note >>
World Council of Churches launches new Israeli-Palestinian peace
The World Council of Churches (WCC) says it will launch
in June an international, ecumenical peace initiative for peace in Israel
and the Palestinian territories. An initial meeting will occur June 17-21 in
"The initiative is a major step toward the WCC’s goal of mobilizing churches
around the world for peace with justice in the Middle East," the WCC said in
a March 7 statement. "Its launch will take place during this year's
observances of 40 years under occupation
The full report, from Ecumenical News International
Who Are You to
Secretary/Coordinator of the
Global Network Against Weapons &
Nuclear Power in Space, has shared with us his poem reflecting on the
way the media have become the unquestioned -- and unquestionable --
authority in our society. The media seem able to dismiss movements of
protest against the war -- defining reality for us in ways that distort it
until there's little left of reality or truth.
Rolling Stone publishes good discussion on Iraq:
the influential magazine that young people still read, has published a
blue-ribbon discussion on Iraq in its latest issue.
"Beyond Quagmire" includes the views of
Middle East Policy Council
President Chas. Freeman, along with those of Zbigniew Brzezinski, Juan Cole,
Richard Clarke, Michael Scheuer and others. The "news" is this: the United
States has lost the war, and its presence can only prolong the conflict and
inflame terrorism worldwide.
Suburban Chicago elder tapped as PC(USA)'s communication
and funds-development officer
Senior GAC leadership complete with appointment of
The slate of top-level leaders in the newly-restructured
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Council (GAC) is now complete
with the hiring of Elder Karen L. Schmidt as Deputy Executive Director for
Communication and Funds Development.
Schmidt, a Presbyterian elder from Glen Ellyn, IL, has
more than 25 years experience as a senior executive with Fortune 500 and
other high-powered companies. She is a member of First Presbyterian Church
in Glen Ellyn, IL, pastored by conservative evangelical leader the Rev.
full story from Presbyterian News Service >>
Chalmers Johnson talks about his new book, "Nemesis: The Last Days of the American
In his new book, CIA analyst,
distinguished scholar, and best-selling author Chalmers Johnson argues
that US military and economic overreach may actually lead to the nation's
collapse as a constitutional republic. It's the last volume in his
Blowback trilogy, following the best-selling "Blowback" and "The Sorrows
of Empire." In those two, Johnson argued American clandestine and military
activity has led to un-intended, but direct disaster here in the United
In an interview with Amy Goodman, Johnson summarizes his
argument from the book.
Johnson says early in the hour that he is serious about
the subtitle of his book:
This is not just hype to sell books - "The Last Days
of the American Republic." I'm here concerned with a very real, concrete
problem in political analysis, namely that the political system of the
United States today, history tells us, is one of the most unstable
combinations there is - that is, domestic democracy and foreign empire -
that the choices are stark. A nation can be one or the other, a
democracy or an imperialist, but it can't be both. If it sticks to
imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of
our system was modeled, like the old Roman Republic, it will lose its
democracy to a domestic dictatorship.
leads us on a new path through Lent
The Rev. Peter Sawtell, the Executive Director of
Eco-Justice Ministries, is posting a very provocative and helpful
exploration of what he calls the four core norms of an eco-justice ethic:
solidarity, sustainability, sufficiency, and participation.
The one for this week, on sufficiency, asks "How much is
enough?" – "one of the central questions for those who seek eco-justice in
The current meditation, on Sufficiency, is entitled
The first meditation, on Solidarity, bears the title
"All In It Together."
The second, on Sustainability, he calls
"Nothing Left for the
The final one, due out in a couple weeks, will deal with
Go to the
archive index of his Eco-Justice Notes to find all these essays (and
many more) listed.
A Jewish perspective on the
"New Anti-Semitism" conference
from Craig Wiesner
We recently posted
a report by Geoff Browning
on a conference held in the San Francisco Bay Area on the topic, "Finding
Our Voice: The Conference for Progressives Constructively Addressing
Anti-Semitism." Sponsored by a number of Jewish organizations, it
focused largely on what was described as "the New Anti-Semitism."
Also attending the conference was Craig Wiesner, who
sometimes describes himself as a "Jew-byterian," a Jewish man whose life
partner, Derrick, is a Presbyterian. He has written
detailed report-with-commentary on the event, and we encourage you to
take a look at this perspective along with that presented by his friend,
also a Presbyterian, Geoff Browning.
A comment from New Wineskins
Gerrit Dawson, a CoModerator of the New
Wineskins Association of Churches, has sent a word of thanks to Gene TeSelle
for his recent article on the New Wineskins movement
I'd like to thank Gene TeSelle for
on the New Wineskins. I suspect he has reared a child or two. He
clearly knows something about how letting go is often a more effective
strategy of love than clinging or demanding. I'm very grateful for his
gracious words concerning those of us who are considering changing
Presbyterian affiliation to a denomination (the EPC) with whom the PCUSA
is in communion but which also seems more compatible with our core
beliefs. ... It's very refreshing not to be anathematized for even
considering the subject of affiliation. Gene's irenic spirit draws me
whereas commentaries that center on possessiveness ("not on my dime") and
control ("you're dreaming if you think you can have your property") and
paternalism only drive me away. This, perhaps, is a lesson that I, as an
evangelical, need to heed about my own rhetoric as well. So, thank you.
Gerrit Dawson, CoModerator
New Wineskins Association of Churches
For Mr. Dawson's complete note >>
We'd like to say "thanks" to Gerrit Dawson for his
gracious and thoughtful note.
"Has Anyone Asked The Women?" Or, well, how about
asking the LGBT folks?
Becce Bettridge, Director of the Network of
Presbyterian Women in Leadership, attended the recent New Wineskins
Association of Churches' Convocation in Orlando, Florida. As she summarizes
her experience, "New Wineskins [has] issued
congregations to leave the PCUSA and join with the EPC (Evangelical
Presbyterian Church). New Wineskins perceives this realignment as an
opportunity for PCUSA congregations to be united with a denomination they
consider to be a more faithful body of believers. As I engaged in
conversations with members of the EPC and listened to speakers representing
the EPC, I found myself asking questions about the ordination of women as
officers in the proposed New Wineskins-EPC churches."
In response to this experience, she
wrote an essay entitled
"Has anyone asked the women?"
One concerned Presbyterian woman, Karen Ellen
Kavey of Chappaqua, New York, responded to her with
a very thoughtful open
letter, which she has kindly shared with us.
Update for 4 March 2007
There are (as usual) many good and important
events and resources listed in the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program's latest
update. Among the major ones:
Program Intergenerational Conference
Jesus: Proclaiming Peace
A WEEK OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIANS IN THE MIDDLE EAST
Between Easter (April 8) and Pentecost (May 27)
Presbyterians are invited to celebrate a Week of Prayer and Witness with
Christians in the Middle East. Resources to observe the week are available
|And a major witness against
the war in Iraq -- coming soon
CHRISTIAN WITNESS FOR PEACE IN IRAQ
Worship at the National Cathedral at 7:00 PM
Candlelight procession to the White House
Prayer vigil and witness for peace in Iraq
NOTE: Registration is required for the worship at the cathedral.
Presbyterian Gathering on March 17
11 AM to 4 PM.
New York Presbyterian Church
13th and New York Avenues, NW
Future planning and worship.
If you cannot come to DC, consider:
holding an event in your community;
visiting the local offices of your Congressperson or Senators;
writing letters to your elected officials;
writing a letter to the editor; or praying for those affected by the
war in Iraq.
A recent book offer tools for
reflection and action in a global economy
a Global Economy: Strategies for Home, Community, and World
Edited by Pamela K. Brubaker, Rebecca Todd Peters, Laura A. Stivers
Published by Westminster John Knox Press, July, 2006. List
Price: $19.95 (Paperback)
In addition to the editors, contributors include John B.
Cobb Jr., Wylin Dassie, Mary Elizabeth Hobgood, W. Anne Joh, Shannon Jung,
Daisy L. Machado, Marcia Allen Owens, Larry Rasmussen, and Carlton
Today’s complex social and economic problems leave many
people in the affluent world feeling either overwhelmed or ambivalent. Even
the small percentage of us who have examined the ethics behind our financial
decisions and overcome the often-deterring factors of self-interest rarely
know what to do to make any difference. By providing tools for examination
and concrete actions for individuals, communities, and society at large,
Justice in a Global Economy guides its readers through many of today’s
complex societal issues, including land use, immigration, corporate
accountability, and environmental and economic justice. Beginning with a
basic introduction to the impact of economic globalization, these ethicists
and theologians provide both critical assessments of the current
political-economic structures and examples of people and communities who are
actively working to transform society. Each chapter concludes with questions
for discussion and reflection.
If you have read this book and would
be willing to offer your comments,
or even a more complete review, we’d be happy to hear from you!
Just send a note.
Social justice intern sought in New York City
Hus Presbyterian Church is seeking a Social Justice Intern for a one-year
position (with the possibility of an additional year), which will involve
outreach work with homeless clients, an advocacy network made up of
neighborhood churches working on affordable housing, assistance with Global
Concern Program on different initiatives designed to support a more
equitable, peaceful and healthy world.
You may want to check out these topics in
Presbyterians Today’s March
Church property—who owns it?
A Presbyterian congregation's property is held in trust
for the use and benefit of the whole denomination. Read about challenges to
this policy in the
March cover story.
Film review: Amazing Grace
Ed McNulty reviews Amazing Grace, a film study of William
Wilberforce, a man deeply involved in the movement to abolish the slave
trade in the British Empire in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Read the review
of Amazing Grace
What Presbyterians Believe: "Our radically connectional church"
Michael Jinkins writes that we are one body, not because
we find each other’s views congenial, but because God has called us
The Church in Society: "Where is forgiveness?"
Vernon Broyles III, former associate for corporate witness
in the PCUSA's National Ministries Division, offers monthly commentary on
the issues that shape today's world, in a column titled The Church in
In this month of Lent he asks about the meaning and
necessity of forgiveness.
Comparing the execution of Saddam Hussein with the work of
the Truth and Reconciliation Commission process in South Africa, he says
that "only through the awful, painful gift of the victims of brutality and
their families to reach out to the perpetrators with grace rather than
vengeance, could the healing of that society have ever reached the stage it
is now, imperfect though it still is."
So, he concludes, "Where violent people need to be
restrained, so be it. But let us ask our leaders to seek a new spirit of
openness that leads to reconciliation among warring peoples and a new
opportunity for the healing and rebuilding that must come before attaining
full short essay >>
A 'tidal wave of justice' began years ago, now continues
through Coalition of Immokalee Workers
An article by Ronald A. Wells, titled "A ‘tidal wave of
justice’," tells of minister Chris Hartmire's ground-breaking efforts in the
1960s, which set the stage for the church's support of farm workers. It
mentions the more recent support for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and
the Alliance for Fair Food to promote socially responsible purchasing
practices among major retail food corporations.
This piece is not included in the on-line material from
the magazine, so you’ll just have to find the paper version.
Wineskins congregations move toward separation from the PC(USA)
This is obviously a development of
concern to all of us in the Presbyterian Church (USA), and one
which calls for thought and reflection on all sides. We
offer here, for starters, three essays on this movement for
separation, along with a brief sketch of the background of the
|Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon's Issues Analyst,
lays out the
two options that seem to getting serious consideration among
the conservative churches.|
|TeSelle also gives a
brief look at the
background of these developments.|
John Harris, a
member of the Witherspoon board, gives his personal view that
the movement toward separation looks more like "whining" about
things the conservatives don't like, than a real move for
views these developments through his knowledge of the Civil War,
and says to those who would separate, "Leave if you must ... but
not on my dime."|
|For more background, you might look at the
Presbyterian News Service report on the New Wineskins
conference in February.|
|See also our reports on the
Convocation in 2005.|
If you have comments of your
or would suggest other comments on this matter,
send us a note,
to be shared here.
The new issue of Network News is at the printer - but
you can read it here and now, in PDF
Some of the contents:
|Witherspoon Co-Moderator Jake Young writes about how "
'Schism happens' but being a neighbor is hard work. (pp. 2 - 3)|
|Mission volunteer Shannon O'Donnell writes from
Jerusalem about "meeting the real Holy Land." (pp. 5 - 6)|
|Gene TeSelle gives a progress report on the "New Social
Creed," plus the latest draft of the document. (pp. 9 - 10)|
|Victoria Furio asks, "Who cares about the Iraquis?"
(pp. 14 - 16)|
|Doug Ottati considers the coming (already?!?)
presidential election, and hopes modestly for "A Pretty Good President."
(pp. 17 - 19)|
|Gene TeSelle and John Harris comment on the moves among
some conservative churches toward separation from the PC(USA). (pp.
20 - 22) [also here in html format at
New Wineskins 2007]|
New complaint filed in Pittsburgh same-sex marriage case
14 accusers say Janet Edwards willfully defied ordination vows, church
A new complaint has been filed against the Rev. Janet Edwards, the
Presbyterian minister in Pittsburgh who last year was taken to church court
for marrying a lesbian couple, only to have the charges dropped because the
court found they were filed four days late.
The Rev. James C. Yearsley, a Presbyterian minister who is currently
serving in Florida, filed a complaint against Edwards shortly after she
performed the marriage in June 2005, only to see the charges against her
dismissed because a special investigating committee filed charges against
Edwards after its deadline for doing so.
But now a new case may be brought against Edwards, who has been an
activist for the full participation of gay and lesbian people in the church.
Yearsley announced last month that he has submitted a new grievance
against Edwards that alleges she acted in "willful and deliberate defiance"
of her ordination vows and of the constitution of the Presbyterian Church
Yearsley and the 13 other ministers and elders are being represented by
Paul Rolf Jensen, a southern California attorney who has filed dozens of
similar complaints against Presbyterian ministers and governing bodies
throughout the United States.
The full report
from Presbyterian News Service >>
A little background >>
Stated Clerk sends letters to Presidents Bush and Ahmadinejad
Urges 'direct, unconditional talks' between the U.S.
Sharon Youngs, Office of the General Assembly
communications officer, sent this news release on March 1:
Amid growing tensions between the United States and Iran,
Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), sent letters late last week to Presidents
George W. Bush and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, encouraging them to hold "direct,
unconditional talks" between the two nations.
The Stated Clerk joins a chorus of religious leaders
worldwide who are appealing for the direct talks amid deepening concern
after the passing of the deadline for Iran's compliance with United Nations
Resolution 1737 to end its move toward the development of nuclear weapons
Late word yesterday of the possibility of direct talks
happening next month is "very encouraging news to receive," said
In his letters, the Stated Clerk lifts up the decades-long
commitment of the General Assembly to "the preferential use of nonviolent
means for conflict resolution and social change."
For the full texts of both letters >>
Burger King rejects request to pay extra penny to tomato pickers
Farmworkers protest decision outside hamburger
Fast-food giant Burger King has told the Coalition of
Immokalee Workers (CIW) that it will not pay a penny more per pound to
farmworkers harvesting its tomatoes.
The CIW, a Florida-based group of farmworkers receiving
support from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and other faith groups, is
calling on some of the nation's largest fast-food companies to do their part
to improve wages and working conditions for the laborers who pick their
PC(USA) General Assembly Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick
said in a statement to Burger King in January that workers who pick tomatoes
in Florida for Burger King continue to face poverty wages and exploitative
working conditions. "They still lack rights enjoyed by workers
in other industries," Kirkpatrick wrote.
Kirkpatrick said in his letter that Burger King is
"morally and ethically" obligated to correct the deficiencies because the
company profits from the exploitation of the workers.
The full report from Presbyterian News Service >>
|A Lenten reflection ... or vision
The Best of the Temptations
On the first Sunday of Lent, Lisa Larges preached a
profound – and funny – sermon on Luke’s account of the temptations of Jesus.
She began by lamenting what so many are experiencing these days: that it
seems the Presbyterian Church would rather be right than be in love.
She went on to explore Satan’s temptations of Jesus as
inviting him to escape his human vulnerability – and he refused, because for
him the Scriptures were about loving and being loved, not about being right
and being invulnerable. That view of Scripture she offered is what the
church needs now, for itself and for the well-being of the lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender people who are still seeking a place within that
Larges has just been named the Minister-Coordinator of
That All May Freely Serve.
Read the sermon – for its sly humor or for its warm depth, or both.
Supreme Court Gives Gore’s Oscar to Bush
Stunning Reversal for Former Veep
Just days after former Vice President Al Gore received an
Academy Award for his global warming documentary "An Inconvenient Truth,"
the United States Supreme Court handed Mr. Gore a stunning reversal,
stripping him of his Oscar and awarding it to President George W. Bush
the rest of Andy Borowitz’ delightful take on the Academy Award given to
our former Vice President.
For items from earlier in
All postings from
Our coverage of the 2006 General
Assembly is indexed on a special page.
For links to earlier archive pages,
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!