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Archives for January 2008

This page lists our postings from earlier in January

For an index to all our reports and analyses
on the 219th General Assembly

For links to all our archive pages, listed by months, click here.

How shall we deal with all those “shalls”? (Or is it how will we deal with them?)

We have reported recently on the action by the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area, restoring Dr. Paul Capetz to his former status as an ordained minister.  One very helpful response has come from Lynne Reade, a retired attorney and former member of the Witherspoon board. She deals specifically with the urging by opponents of Capetz’ restoration, that every portion of the Book of Order that contains the word “shall” be regarded as an “essential,” and therefore not subject to claims of "scruples" or "departures."

Capetz develops his case   

As background material for the discussion on Paul Capetz’ application for restoration to the ordained ministry, the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area posted a number of resources. If you are pursuing the issue of ordination and “departures,” or “scruples,” these might be helpful.  They include articles he has published in Church & Society, Theology and Sexuality, and The Journal of Presbyterian History.

A Prayer of Confession  

A prayer of confession was part of the liturgy for the service of communion held at the beginning of the afternoon session.  The Rev. Kimberly Goodman, a member of the Presbytery, commented later,  “I found myself rereading it several times, lingering. . .”   Your WebWeaver felt the same way, so here it is.

What are other sources saying?   

Links to reports from Presbyterian News Service, Presbyterian Outlook, Covenant Network, That All May Freely Serve, and More Light Presbyterians.

For the view from “the other side”

The Layman Online carries four reports by Craig M. Kibler, a staff writer

If you have comments or insights into this very important action by one presbytery, please send a note, so we can share it here!

Eleven SOA protesters sentenced to prison
News release from School of the Americas Watch, Jan. 28, 2008

“I crossed the line at WHINSEC and prayed on the grounds to bring attention to the teaching of torture and assassination. When enough people learn the truth about this school and act to end these practices, the healing can begin.”

– Diane Lopez-Hughes, one of the SOAW 11

The Eleven courageous souls who willingly put their freedom and bodies at risk to stand in witness against the SOA/WHINSEC during the November 2007 Vigil were sentenced on January 28 to federal prison on charges of “trespassing on a military base.”

The trial took place in a courthouse located just a few miles from Fort Benning, the current site of the SOA/WHINSEC. An institute known around the world for its ties to brutal dictatorships and human rights abuses, which continues to operate, unchallenged by our government but not by the people.

Two of the people headed to prison are Presbyterians: Le Anne Clausen, a seminary student in Chicago, and Chris Lieberman, a minister in Albuquerque.  

The rest of this story >>                And for more about the SOAW 11 >>

On faith and science – a new website

The United Church of Christ has just opened a web site entitled “Not Mutually Exclusive.” The opening statement reads as follows: “For too long, science and faith have had a combustible relationship. But even churches evolve. In the UCC, we're not afraid of science and technology. In fact, we embrace it.” The site includes some beautiful and provocative videos, and much more. You may want to take a look >>

For more on faith and science, evolution, and such >>

Openly gay theologian Paul Capetz restored to ministry of word and sacrament
A report from Doug King, Witherspoon WebWeaver

On Saturday, January 26, Dr. Paul Capetz, who laid aside his ordination in 2000 as an act of personal integrity and theological protest against the passage of “Amendment B,” not in the Book of Order as G-6.0106b, was restored to the status of Minister of Word and Sacrament in a six-hour meeting of the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area.

By a more than 2/3 margin, the presbytery expressed its discernment that Dr. Capetz' refusal to accept the demand for a "vow of celibacy" imposed by G-6.0106b does not constitute the denial of an "essential" provision of the Book of Order, and that he therefore is restored to the ordained ministry.

More >>

We now have the full text of Paul Capetz' statement to the Presbyterian explaining the reasons -- both personal and theological -- for his assertion  of a departure from G-6.0106b in the Book of Order.
On returning home from the Twin Cities, I've found a note from Laurie Fox, an elder in West Hollywood Presbyterian Church, who asks nicely whether the Presbytery meeting was held on Friday the 25th, or Saturday the 26th -- since I called it Friday the 26th, which may happen sometimes, but not this month.  Well, I never was good with numbers.  So thanks to Laurie, I've corrected it:  The Presbytery meeting was held on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2008.   [posted 1-29-08]

She also writes:

THANK YOU for sharing this incredible story of God’s Spirit at work in our church!

Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon’s Issues Analyst, sends this note of gratitude for the life of Jack Stotts

Jack Stotts was one of the first people I met when I went to Yale for graduate study. My carrel in the library was near his (and near the more controversial Jim Nelson's), and I learned much about ethics from them.

Jack Stotts was always notable for his quiet wisdom. He did not need to raise his voice; his thoughtfulness and the content of what he said were enough. While I know only indirectly of his contributions to McCormick and Austin, all that I have heard constitutes a tribute to him.

We invited him to be a speaker at the Witherspoon Society luncheon at a crucial time in the life of the church, and I am glad that Doug King will be making his address available once again.

I also recall that, in his capacity as chair of the Special Committee drafting the new Brief Statement, he attended the Witherspoon "gathering" in 1988 at the Bergamo Center in Dayton. If we in Witherspoon can brag a little, several of the suggestions made at that conference were incorporated into the final draft for the Brief Statement, and I am sure that Jack in his diplomatic way helped ease the way.

We will miss him greatly. But we can also be thankful for the many contributions he made to us, individually and together.

Gene TeSelle

Jack Stotts dies in Austin, Texas, at age 75, after long and brilliant theological service to the PC(USA)

Theological giant’s career spanned pastorate, classroom and seminary president’s offices

[Headline for the report by Jerry Van Marter of Presbyterian News Service]

The Rev. Jack L. Stotts, whose ministry in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) took him from the pastorate to the classroom to the president’s office of two seminaries and into some of the most crucial theological deliberations of his generation, died Jan. 24 at Christopher House, a hospice care center in Austin, TX.

He was the featured speaker at a Witherspoon Society luncheon at General Assembly some years ago, and we will post his talk as soon as we get home from our current wanderings.

For the story from Van Marter >>

Presbyterian Outlook carries a tribute to Jack Stotts from James S. Currie, associate dean of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, where Stotts served as president from 1985 to 1996 – among the many great things he did.

Currie notes that early in his ministry, Stotts served as chaplain at the University of Tulsa. His tenure there was brief because he invited Jim Lawson to speak to students and faculty there. Lawson had been expelled from the Vanderbilt Divinity School for leading non-violent civil rights sit-ins. As a result of this invitation to Lawson, the University did not renew Stotts’ contract as chaplain.

That seems to reflect that moral stature and courage that Jack showed throughout his ministry.

SOA grads implicated in Bogota bombings

When many participants in the November vigil against the School of the America went onto the SOA base to hear a “briefing” for some of the leaders of the school, one of their main points was that “our graduates have never been proven to be involved in the actions they have been accused of.”

Here’s the latest from SOA Watch:

A director of Colombian military intelligence and another officer implicated in a series of false attacks and a bombing that killed a civilian and injured 19 soldiers in Bogotá in 2006, attended the US Army School of the Americas, an examination of records shows.

The Colombian Public Ministry is investigating Colonel Horacio Arbelaez, former director of the Army’s Joint Intelligence Center; Major Javier Efrén Hermida Benavides; and Captain Luis Eduardo Barrero for orchestrating placement of bombs in a Bogota shopping mall and other sites in July 2006, on the eve of President Uribe’s inauguration for his second term. At the time of the bombing and false attacks, they were attributed to guerrillas of the FARC. In most cases, the bombs were not detonated, but were denounced by the accused officers and deactivated to demonstrate the FARC threat and show military intelligence was doing its work.

Read more about this breaking news >>

Americans United cautions Southern Baptist Convention about partisan politicking

SBC President’s call for united evangelical front against Giuliani raises tax law issues, says church-state watchdog group

More >>

July 1-5, 2008 -- Montreat Conference Center

When are we going to stop complaining about the Church we see and start becoming the Church we dream of? What is standing in the way? What are you going to do about it? Who else can you work with to make this dream a reality?

Come together with Presbyterians across boundaries of age, gender, culture, race, theology, and other barriers to envision a Church Unbound. Experience speakers who are diverse, provocative, and challenging; workshops that hone skills; small groups that foster relationship-building; energizing worship and Bible study; and real conversations with real people doing ministry in different settings.

Register soon because of limited Montreat housing during the week of July 4th. Fee structures are designed to encourage students, spouses, newer ministers, and families. Recreational programs for children of conferees are provided. For more information (including speakers, program, costs, and more) and to register, go to

Co-sponsored by Presbyterian Outlook, Cross Cultural Alliance of Ministries, and Montreat Conference Center

Jim Wallis publishes new book following up on God’s Politics

Jim Wallis of Sojourners gained wide attention three years ago for the religious perspectives of the left, arguing that the right should have no monopoly on spiritual and moral concerns in political life.


His new book, The Great Awakening: Reviving Faith & Politics in a Post-Religious Right America, calls for spiritual revival as the foundation for real social and political change. A revival of faith, he argues, is the only force big enough to take on the greatest challenges of our time: senseless poverty, deadly pandemic diseases, alarming climate change, massive violations of human rights, and the endless cycle of terrorism and war.

Sojourners is again urging people to buy the book now, in order to move it onto the New York Times’ best-seller list, thereby giving it a huge boost to a wider audience. That happened with God’s Politics, and they hope it will happen again.

You can read more about the book, and even order it, by clicking on the box to the right, where you'll save money, and your order will provide a small (but important!) bit of support for The Witherspoon Society. 

Wars, Lies, and Google

I use Google’s News service to get a fresh page of news headlines on my laptop every day, updated through the day. I get reports on US and international news, medicine, business, the arts and entertainment (today, yet again, featuring Britney Spears), the PCUSA, and various other topics. This morning’s news provided a trio of stories right next to each other, that I feel compelled to share with you all.

First, the New York Times report headlined:

Web Site Assembles U.S. Prewar Claims

Students of how the Bush administration led the nation into the Iraq war can now go online to browse a comprehensive database of top officials’ statements before the invasion, connecting the dots between hundreds of claims, mostly discredited since then, linking Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda or warning that he possessed forbidden weapons.

The database is online at
The rest of the Times' story >>

Just below that was the headline from Alaska Report, leading a brief report on the same database.  The headline -- a little less subtle than the Times', read:

Bush administration officially called liars over Iraq

And in the column right next to them was the headline for a very long Wall Street Journal article by Norman Podhoretz, one of the leading “neo-con” figures behind Administration policies for invading Iraq, next Iran, and then who knows? He is Editor-at-Large of Commentary magazine. His new book is entitled World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism.

His opinion column is titled:

Stopping Iran
Why the case for military action still stands.

The full essay >>

Ah, the wonders of the World Wide Web.

Where are the presidential candidates on trade?

Presidential candidates are increasingly talking about the impact of bad trade deals. Global Trade Watch urges: Please write your local paper today urging the candidates to make clear their opposition to expanding the current NAFTA/WTO model!

The Global Trade Watch message begins:

With all the news coverage focusing on the horse race aspects of the presidential primary, it's been hard to follow a fascinating - and hopeful - trend: criticism of our current NAFTA-WTO trade model has been a prominent aspect of all of the Democratic and a number of the GOP candidates' campaigns. We wanted to share with you the most comprehensive compilation of candidates' trade positions ever released.

Check out what the candidates are saying about trade and globalization here >>

Read what they're saying and you'll see that current candidates are now more critical of our failed status quo than even the most critical candidates in past presidential elections. Could it be that we have finally reached the tipping point where candidates must reflect the public's views on these issues - even though it flies in the face of their major corporate funders?

Please take action by sending a Letter to the Editor to your local paper urging the candidates to provide the public with more details about what they intend to do to fix what they now agree is a failed NAFTA/WTO model.

Presbyterian Welcome announces 4th annual retreat for GLBTQ inquirers and candidates

Set for July 17–20, in rural Indiana

Details >>
Remembering the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – echoes from history, a Call for today

More Light Presbyterians reflect on King and his meaning and call for us today

This statement was prepared by Michael Adee, National Field Organizer of MLP

Today we are called to remember the life, teachings and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. Today we mark the forty-fifth anniversary of Dr. King’s powerful “I Have A Dream,” speech delivered at the Lincoln Memorial at the March on Washington in 1963.

More Light Presbyterians is committed to ending racism along with removing sexism, heterosexism and homophobia from the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the body of Christ. Today, we call all Presbyterians to study for the first time, or again, the teachings and writings of Martin Luther King, Jr. and his challenge to end prejudice and discrimination against African-American persons and their families. Today, we call upon all Presbyterians to take seriously the life-taking force of racism within our Church and world… and for those of us who are white, to be mindful of white privilege and internalized racism within us.

We have much to learn from and be grateful for from the Civil Rights Movement and the Women's Movement, to be sure. What are some of the parallels and lessons for us, for the LGBT Equality Movement in the Presbyterian Church (USA)?

The rest of the statement >>

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., speaks to our condition

"I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.  We must rapidly begin the shift from a 'thing-oriented' society to a 'person-oriented' society.  When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered."

-- speech at Riverside Church, New York, 1967

Reclaiming King: Beyond "I Have a Dream"

People usually focus on the historic "I Have a Dream" speech, but it's the work King was doing at the end of his life that deserves more attention.

Adam Howard, an editor with AlterNet, the son of a “a Black Baptist preacher in the King tradition.”

He writes: 

During the final two years of his life, King took on the far more complex de facto racism of northern cities like Chicago, addressed labor inequality, and took a very bold and highly criticized stance against the Vietnam War.

The full essay >>

Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley passes overture to endorse “Amman Call” for Arab-Israeli peace.

For the full text of the overture including the World Council of Churches’ statement, the “Amman Call” >> 

Creating a Culture of Peace

The innovative design of this national training program provides a holistic and practical foundation in spiritually-grounded active nonviolence. Participants come to recognize their own power for making personal and social changes without violence and improve their skills for respectful engagement with opponents, instead of confrontation that polarizes and demonizes. Unlike trainings that focus only on anti-war protest, Creating a Culture of Peace training is an incubator for participants to raise issues which most concern them — group controversy and conflict, neighborhood violence, domestic violence, climate change, war and militarism, discrimination, video games, homelessness, peace education, and lack of health care. The training helps build a working community for peacemaking, through a shared foundation, learning new skills, and a guided experience in struggling and celebrating together.

More >>

One more small step toward an inclusive church

More appreciation expressed for San Francisco Presbytery action furthering the candidacy of Lisa Larges

We reported yesterday on the the decision of the Presbytery of San Francisco, allowing Lisa Larges to move forward in the ordination process.  Now there's more:

More Light Presbyterians offers a comment praising the decision. They also include a number of reports from other sources.

Bear Ride, of Pasadena, CA, Co-Moderator of More Light Presbyterians, is quoted as saying: "We are so delighted to see the Presbyterian Church (USA) recognize and confirm the call and gifts for ministry of our friend and sister, Lisa Larges. We have known for many years that God called and gifted Lisa for ministry and it's time for Lisa to be ordained by the Church that she loves and so deeply cares about!"

They also have posted Lisa’s personal “Statement of Departure from G-6.0106b And Affirmation of Essentials of Faith and Polity,” which she provided to the Presbytery. It’s good reading!

The Rev. John Shuck, Witherspoon member and very busy blogger, has been posting a number of comments on his blog site.  

The Board of Covenant Network has also issued a statement, which expresses appreciation for the careful, discerning work of the Presbytery, and then says:

We also celebrate this week with Lisa Larges.  She has been an inquirer or candidate for ministry for twenty-two long years, waiting patiently for her gifts and call to be affirmed while the church fought its battles.  She has preached at national conferences including our own, and her extraordinary gifts for ministry are recognized around the country.  On Tuesday, January 15th, she was examined by San Francisco Presbytery and found ready to receive a call.  The presbytery responded to her stated departure from G-6.0106b and her call to ministry with a civil debate and a positive vote.

We have a long way to go as a church to be as just and generous or as bold and missional as the church God needs and desires.  The church has not solved its division over sexuality and ordination.  But yesterday it took a modest but significant step forward.

The full statement >>

Bigotry is an ugly word.

Rabbi Jack Moline, The Board Chair of The Interfaith Alliance, offers some cautions on the way legitimate concerns about the faith of presidential candidates are easily being exploited into scurrilous attacks. Those attacks, he says, are often effective because they exploit the bigotry that is still part of our national culture.

New resource on Israel/Palestine

The Israel/Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has a new website, offering current news, resources, resources for advocacy, and much more.

Thanks to Witherspoon member Heidi Saikaly

Capetz seeks to declare a scruple on “celibacy” in Twin Cities Area Presbytery

Paul Capetz, a professor at United Theological Seminary in the Twin Cities, set aside his ordination in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in 2000, because he could not accept the exclusionary policy enacted by the church in what was then known as “Amendment B.” He has now asked the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area to allow him to declare a scruple regarding the denomination’s ordination standards on sexual practice, and to be reinstated to the ministry.

The Presbytery had been scheduled to vote on Capetz’ request at a special meeting on Dec. 1, but postponed that discussion. The presbytery’s Committee on Ministry, which voted 11-3 to support Capetz’ request, was asked to provide “a clear statement of what the departure from the constitution is and what was the rationale of the committee on ministry to recommend his reinstatement.” The Committee on Ministry has now provided that statement, and Capetz’ request has now been scheduled for consideration at another special called meeting of the presbytery, on January 26.

Capetz’ case is one of the first in which a presbytery is being asked to decide whether to grant a scruple — a deviation from the standards based on conscience — regarding the language in the PC(USA)’s ordination standards, which limit ordination to those who practice fidelity if they are married or chastity if they are single. (See the report on the action by San Francisco Presbytery approving Lisa Larges’ claim of a “scruple.”)

Read the rest of this report (written in December) in Presbyterian Outlook >>

Read Capetz' statement explaining the reasons for his decision in 2000 to lay aside his ordination, and his decision now to request reinstatement to the ordained ministry.

We plan to report on the Presbytery’s action as soon as possible after the meeting on January 26.

San Francisco Presbytery allows Lisa Largess to move one more step toward ordination

Wednesday, 16 January 2008 – report from That All May Freely Serve

In a landmark decision the San Francisco Presbytery (a regional jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church encompassing 80 local churches) voted for Lisa Larges, an open lesbian, to be moved forward in the process toward ordination.

A 2006 action of the national Presbyterian church allowed Presbyteries some greater freedom in determining whether open lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons can be ordained. Larges made a statement of conscience regarding the church’s policy of exclusion and the Presbytery determined that she was fit for ordination and that her statement of conscience did not counter essential beliefs of the church. Larges has been a candidate seeking ordination since 1985.

The 167-151 vote represents the first vote on an lgbt candidate for ordination under the new policy.

That All May Freely Serve is deeply grateful to the Presbytery of San Francisco for its commitment to find a way to live more graciously with one another. We remain committed to the full and complete removal of all barriers to ordination for all whom God calls to serve the church.

See also the Associated Press report, which notes that “Those who oppose Larges' application said they would appeal Tuesday's decision through the church court.”

Lisa Larges serves as the Minister Coordinator of That All May Freely Serve

Witherspooner John Shuck comments:

Congratulations, Lisa!  Actually, I should say Congratulations, SF Presbytery for doing the right thing. Lisa is a woman blessed with all the gifts for ministry. We are fortunate to have her.

A “Jerusalem Gym Rat” reflects on the Christian calling to peaceful resistance

Shannon O’Donnell is a Presbyterian Mission Volunteer, serving with the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem.  A recent visit to Germany led her to reflect on the courageous Germans who chose the dangerous path of peaceful resistance to Nazism. She says, “I have been thinking of the many ways that people can break away from the mainstream crowd when it is not quite headed in the right direction.”

The Witherspoon Society is proud to be providing a portion of her support.

Her report from Jerusalem >>

Witness in Washington Weekly offers helpful guidance on major current political concerns: Israel/Palestine peace process, MLK’s call for just wages, and the coming Ecumenical Advocacy Days
from the Witness in Washington Weekly, published by the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), January 14, 2008

Members of the House of Representatives will return to Washington tomorrow to open the second session of the 110th Congress. The Senate will return on Tuesday of next week, after observing the Martin Luther King holiday. The PC (USA) Washington Office is working on a “wrap-up” of the 2007 legislative year and an “outlook” about what to expect in the coming 2008 legislative season. Please stay tuned to our website for these publications.

This week’s messages are—

bulletCall for Progress on the Peace Process — including a sample letter to Pres. Bush urging him to take concrete steps in support of the peace process.
bullet The Reverend Dr. King’s Last Issue – Wage Justice
bulletRegister for Ecumenical Advocacy Days!
bulletAmos 5:24 – Let Justice Roll

For all of these (in PDF format) >>
The Reverend Dr. King’s Last Issue – Wage Justice
from the Witness in Washington Weekly, published by the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), January 14, 2008

NOTE: The forthcoming issue of Witherspoon’s Network News will focus on just this issue, within a the wider concern for the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor in the US and around the world, under the title of “The Other Inconvenient Truth.” We will post it here (in PDF format) as soon as it comes off the press.

As we prepare to honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. this weekend, the year 2008 is important for remembering this prophet of our time. This year is the forty-fifth anniversary of Dr. King’s now famous, “I Have a Dream” speech. The year 2008 is also fortieth anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, of his last speech, of his last march.

In 1963, the Reverend Dr. King led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and stood in front of the Lincoln Memorial to deliver his “I Have a Dream” address. A key demand of the march was “a national minimum wage act that will give all Americans a decent standard of living.” Certainly, Dr. King did not dream that the value of the minimum wage would be lower today than it was in 1963.  More >>

Accountability: not just a virtue for the Right

Simon Zadek, in an essay posted on the British-based website openDemocracy, writes that “the foundation of a healthy public realm is effective accountability of governments, businesses and organisations. Each day, there are reminders of how much goes wrong when this quality is absent - not least in corroding the trust of citizens, employees and consumers in those who govern, employ, or sell to them. When accountability practices fail, individual rights quickly erode in the face of those in power pursuing personal agendas and enrichment over the common good.”

He lists five current examples of the failure of accountability:


the turmoil in global financial markets


the slowly growing global awareness of the threat from climate change


the continuing failure to agree on a new round of international trade liberalisation -- the so-called Doha development round -- due largely to the continuing subsidization of well-off American and French farmers


the series of scandals over allegedly unhealthy Chinese-produced products – partly a failure of Western companies that import them


a loss of confidence in democratic governance and in democracy itself, as shown by several international surveys.

The full essay >>
1/8/08 urges protest against Guantánamo  --
his Friday, Jan. 11!

Witherspoon member Betty Hale has suggested that many of you may be interested in this appeal from the American Civil Liberties Union.  It begins:

This Friday, you can join thousands of people across the country in marking a sad anniversary with an act of hope.

The first prisoners arrived at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay on January 11, 2002. Guantánamo quickly became an international embarrassment. It has made a mockery of our laws and values for six long years. We won't allow seven; this is the year we are going to end the national disgrace.

Nationwide, the ACLU has set January 11th as a day of protest, declaring that it's long past time that we put an end to illegality and close down Guantánamo. The ACLU and organizations across the country are asking people of conscience to wear orange to protest Guantánamo. I hope you will consider standing in solidarity by wearing orange on Friday as well.  More >>

Five moral questions for presidential candidates

R. Gustav Niebuhr, Director of the Religion & Society Program, Syracuse University, offers these on the “On Faith” Web page of Newsweek and The Washington Post.

Here’s a brief version of the five questions he raises:

bullet First, are you able to admit a mistake and ... take responsibility for it ...?
bullet Second, will you listen to others ...?
bullet Third, will you show ... curiosity about the world ....?
bullet Fourth, will you demonstrate enough respect to other human beings to be truthful with them ...?
bullet And finally, will you state categorically that you will not start a war?

For the complete (and still very brief) version >>

Thanks to the Rev. Bruce Gillette

1/4/08 -- ... with our best wishes for the New Year!!

Did you know God has endorsed Mike Huckabee?

Utne blogger Bennett Gordon reports this momentous fact, discovered through a campaign lawn sign in Des Moines, Iowa.

Why the Conservative Turn in the Catholic Church?
And What Can We All Learn From It?

Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon’s Issues Analyst, reviews a recent book of four thoughtful chapters, mostly by Jesuits, analyzing efforts in the Catholic Church to deal with the changes initiated by the Second Vatican Council (“Vatican II”) – largely by backing away from them. The authors see the Catholic Church’s conservative trends as efforts to restore a “healing balance” to the tensions between continuity and change in the church – a struggle which is familiar to us Presbyterians as well.

TeSelle focuses on three particular aspects of the church’s life in recent decades, as examples of the difficulties in finding that healing balance. First he considers how these tensions have affected Catholic bishops around the world, many of whom (especially in Latin America) have struggled with the tension between engagement in progressive social movements, and ecclesiastical resistance to such activities.

Second, he looks at efforts by Catholics, as members of one of the most diverse organizations in the world, to deal with global tensions ranging from the Cold War to the current struggles over globalization. Nurturing the global community of the Catholic Church in the midst of all these tensions presents great challenges.

And those challenges are sharpened by the third reality: the growing secularization of nations and peoples around the world, which often is represented as a threat of “cultural liberalism” that denies deeply held Catholic values and weakens the commitment of many Catholics to their tradition.

TeSelle suggests that understanding these struggles – the “major ruptures of our time” – might be helpful to Presbyterians as well.

The book is Vatican II: Did Anything Happen?, edited by David G. Schultenover.

The full essay -- and a link to order the book.

 You're Invited!

Stony Point will join in Interfaith Dialogue on “Untangling the Roots of Conflict”

Every day, religious violence affects people around the world. While people of all faiths claim to worship a God of peace, in the 21st century we're seeing religious conviction increasingly breed extreme violence, threatening our very survival. This year's Trinity Institute conference brings together a panel of prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim voices to explore the deep roots of religious conflict and illuminate each faith's vocation as a force for peace – in ourselves, our families, our communities, and the world.

Webcast from Trinity Institute:
an Interfaith Dialogue,
Untangling the Roots of Conflict

January 21- 23, 2008
Stony Point Center, Stony Point, NY

Featured Speakers
   James Carroll
   James H. Cone
   Susannah Heschel
   Tariq Ramadan

Opening Preacher:
   Katharine Jefferts Schori

Visit our Stony Point Center website for more information on these respected theologians.

For more information and to register for this event, please call (845) 786-5674 or visit our website.

Explore with a panel of theologians how religion becomes entangled with violence and what are the resources within each tradition for living together in peace, without losing our unique identities.

Our satellite gathering offers the full conference experience – keynotes live via webcast from New York, and discussion groups to promote the discovery of individual and community call to action, and the realtime Q/A with the presenter through e-mail! Plus a special reception with a classical piano concert and the special viewing of Constantine's Sword.

All these at a cost far less than attending the originating site in NYC, without the stress and hassle of going to the biggest city, parking and exorbitant lodging cost. View the conference in the comfort of our Auditorium and participate in reflection groups.

Rev. Charles Ryu, Program Director
Stony Point Center

For an index to all our reports and analyses
on the 219th General Assembly

For links to all our archive pages, listed by months, click here.


GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

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

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

Our three areas of primary interest are:

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

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

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

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

Please consider making a special contribution -- large or small -- to help us continue and improve this service.

Click here to send a gift online, using your credit card, through PayPal.

Or send your check, made out to "Presbyterian Voices for Justice" and marked "web site," to our PVJ Treasurer:

Darcy Hawk
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Gibsonia, PA  15044-8312


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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