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Archives for October 2008

This page lists our postings from all of October

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.

10/31/08 --- and Happy Halloween!
Reflecting on
“Rebuilding the Presbyterian Establishment”

Early in 2008 a paper was published by the PC(USA)’s Office of Theology and Worship, arguing that the key to restoring the Presbyterian Church to its old glory lies in giving the reins of control back to “the Presbyterian Establishment,” which means the tall-steeple pastors and mature, successful elders (mostly male, white, straight, and otherwise decent and orderly).  The author, Dr. William “Beau” Weston, professor of sociology at Presbyterian-related Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, speaks out of his own discipline of sociology and his years of participation in and study of the Presbyterian Church.

We encourage you to download the paper, which is at http://www.pcusa.org/re-formingministry/papers/rebuilding.pdf .

The paper has attracted a good deal of interest and has aroused discussion, some of it quite critical.  We offer some comments of our own, and welcome comments from others as well. 

The first essay here is by Doug King, Communications Coordinator for the Witherspoon Society.  The second comes from the Rev. Ann Hayman, who is a minister member of Pacific Presbytery.

If you have thoughts to contribute,
just send a note,
to be shared here!
 

Click here for comments received.

PC(USA) stated clerk denounces effigies depicting political candidates

Presbyterian News Service reports that the Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has issued a statement condemning the hanging of effigies of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama and Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

His brief statement goes beyond the immediate incidents to add: 

On the eve of a popular “scary” holiday, however, we also encourage all citizens to “take the noose out of Halloween,” as the display of hung figures can engender a moral numbness to actual tragedy and dishonor. While for some the noose is a painful reminder of the contemporary incidence of suicide, its associations with racial injustice and vigilante mobs remain too strong to ignore.

One of our Church’s statements of faith, the Confession of 1967, affirms that God “breaks down every form of discrimination based on racial or ethnic difference, real or imaginary. … Therefore the church labors for the abolition of all racial discrimination and ministers to those injured by it.” Whichever way our national presidential election may go, we encourage all citizens to respond to the “better angels of our nature” in repudiating such threatening gestures.

The full report >>

Gradye, we thank you!

Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

Be Not Afraid

Jim Wallis of Sojourners offers this bit of pre-election advice, in the face of increasing efforts from the Right “ to stir the fears of the electorate that ‘he’ [Obama, of course] is not really like ‘them.’ ”

He says also:

Regardless of whether one favors Obama or McCain, this development should be of concern to all Americans, and especially people of faith. There is now a new spiritual dimension to this election, and it is decidedly evil. Christians believe that “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out all fear...” (1 John 4:18.) There are, of course, good and decent motivations to vote either way in this election. Strong people of faith will be marking different boxes on Election Day, but for people of faith there will be a spiritual decision to be made as well. Will we put our trust in the power of fear or hope?

More >>

More on the election

Presbyterian Kay Hagan, candidate for Senate in North Carolina, is labeled “Godless”

So says Elizabeth Dole, defending her seat in the Senate in a TV ad that calls her challenger, Kay Hagan (who has taught Sunday school in her church) Godless, and accuses her (falsely, need we add?) of associating with a group called Godless Americans PAC.

So now, kids – be scared of your Sunday school teacher!

The report from Campbell Brown of CNN >>

AOL offers links to Dole's ad, and Hagan's response >>

Delegations to visit Congressional offices across the country in witness against torture

Solemn Procession to the White House

Here's an update on plans for the November 12 event, from the National Religious Coalition against Torture

10/30/08
On discerning the way forward through Amendment 08-B

10 resources for discernment, from MLP

Toby Rogers, the newly appointed Associate Director of More Light Presbyterians, is providing all of us with another very helpful resource as our presbyteries begin to consider the proposed amendment of our Book of Order, number 08-B, which would replace the text of G-6.0106b (which has divided our church for years) with language that more accurately reflects our Presbyterian polity and traditions.

He offers a list of resources, suggestions for action, and a series of frequently asked questions. (And answers to the questions, which is nice!)
Two more takes on problems of voter suppression, and charges against ACORN


ACORN Fights Back Against Voter Suppression
Releases 30-Second Ad, Announces Lawsuits

On Oct. 29, ACORN released its first-ever 30-second ad on voter suppression, calling on Sen. John McCain to put an end to these tactics. ACORN also announced lawsuits intended to combat a series of attempts at voter suppression.  Click here >>

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If the GOP had listened to ACORN's advice, the mortgage industry wouldn't be in meltdown

An article in The Nation argues that, in spite of all the accusations against the community organizing group ACORN, they have been urging for years that Congress should “protect borrowers from the banking industry's irresponsible, risky and predatory practices – subprime loans, racial discrimination (called "redlining") and rip-off fees. ACORN has persistently called for stronger regulations on banks, private mortgage companies, mortgage brokers and rating agencies. For years, ACORN has alerted public officials that the industry was hoodwinking many families into taking out risky loans they couldn't afford and whose fine print they couldn't understand.”

10/29/08
More on voting problems

Voter fraud? No, the real problem is voter suppression – but it’s not getting the attention.

David Morris, vice president of the Institute for local Self-Reliance, which is based in Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., writes about this in today’s Minneapolis Star Tribune.

It’s worth reading, to put some of the flap over ACORN and voter registration into perspective. Voter fraud has been rarer than getting killed by lightning, he says. “An analysis of the 2004 presidential election in Ohio revealed a voter fraud rate of 0.00004 percent.”

The real problem, says Moarris, is “election fraud – voter suppression by election officials and state governments – is widespread and validated.” He cites the New York Times’ investigative report that "tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law." And that doesn’t include “efforts by state officials and private parties to discourage, intimidate or challenge eligible voters.”

The full essay >>

More on voting concerns:

bulleta statement from the PC(USA) on voting rights and election reform
bullet practical suggestions to ensure your vote is counted
10/28/08
Another step for Fair Food

Settlement reached in Smithfield Foods labor struggle

This news has just come from Dr. Christian Iosso, coordinator of the PC(USA)’s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP).

Today's news indicates that an agreement on the conduct of a (third) union representation election appears to have been reached between the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) and Smithfield Foods. The National Labor Relations Board had found the Company to have violated workers' rights through intimidation and other infringement on the "secret ballot" elections that were conducted in the 1990's, prompting union supporters to push for the employee card check method that is anticipated to receive support under an Obama administration. ...

The 2004 and 2006 General Assemblies took actions encouraging the monitoring of this employee rights/working conditions situation, representatives of both Coastal Carolina (where the plant is located) and New Hope (which originated an overture) met with company, worker and union representatives and were hosted in a visit to the massive pork packing plant by Joseph Luter, III, President of the Company.

The full note from Dr. Chris Iosso >>

On taxes and the redistribution of wealth

We’ve all heard quite a lot lately about people who want to “raise taxes and redistribute wealth.”

Well, Dr. William (Beau) Weston, who teaches sociology at Presbyterian-related Centre College in Kentucky, has offered one of the most concise clarifications of this question that I’ve seen.

Here it is, from his creatively titled blog, “gruntledcenter”

All Taxes Redistribute Wealth – That's What They Are For

There has been some very foolish talk on the campaign trail lately that one side is bad because they want to use taxes to redistribute wealth. This is silly – all taxes redistribute wealth. They take from everyone to serve the common good. We all pay taxes so we can all have roads and schools and mail and security and thousands of other common goods. Some of our taxes go to individuals for their individual needs, such as school loans or medicare payments. Even the small fraction of Americans receiving straight-up welfare in order to take better care of their kids are serving the common good. The Earned Income Tax Credit is better than old-fashioned welfare because it only goes to people who are working, and only goes to working people who do not make quite enough to take care of their kids.

Rich people get back less money in services because they need them less, and poor people get more because they need them more. That is just. That improves the common good.

See it on Weston’s blog >>

We received this note (within a couple hours of posting this item)  from the Rev. Herb Valentine, Moderator of the 203rd General Assembly, and a strong Witherspoon member:

You should send the Weston tax observation to Obama and Biden.  Perhaps you  should consider sending it to McCain and Palin -- they could use an update on the purpose of taxes.

The Trillion Dollar Tag Sale: How the Pentagon Could Help Bail Out America

An essay with this interesting title came to us recently from Jane Hanna, former President of the Witherspoon Society.

She sent it with this note, which we have edited slightly at her suggestion:

This essay, it seems to me, provides vital information about how much it is costing our nation to support our present military system. The money that is going into our military machine would easily be enough to fund a single-payer health system, public education from pre-school through college, living wage for all workers and assistance for those unable to work. The list could go on and on.

And this article doesn't mention the environmental cost to the planet of our military system, nor the total devastation of Iraq where its infrastructure is destroyed and a quarter of its people either dead or refugees.

We could reduce the number of our so-called "enemies" around the world in no time, if the money spent supporting our present military system were spent to build schools and health facilities, guarantee adequate safe water for all, and rebuild the world's agricultural practices to sustainable, healthy and safe levels. Instead of teaching and training young people around the world to be killers, could help nations train teachers, doctors, nurses, sustainable farmers.

How would we feel if every nation where we had military bases were to be allowed to have one in the US? President Correa of Ecuador suggested that his country should have a base in the US, in exchange for permitting ours in his country. President Bush talks about spreading democracy yet when the South Koreans, the Italians, the Okinawans, the Poles and citizens of the Czech Republic voted overwhelmingly against US military installations in their countries – they had to accept them anyway.

I pass this on thinking that every one of us should know the extent to which our assets are being drained by a military that has been allowed to run out of control. Even if people are only interested in their own pocketbooks, with no concern for what we are doing to the rest of the world, that would be a step in the right direction.

It doesn't speak well of us as a people that the economic situation that impacts our personal lives seems more important to us than what we do to the people of other countries. However, I'll push for a bit more reality-based thinking whenever it can be encouraged.


Click here for The Trillion Dollar Tag Sale. [The first four paragraphs are an introduction, so you may want to scroll down a bit to find the article itself.]

The author of the article, Nick Turse, is the associate editor and research director of Tomdispatch.com. His work has appeared in many publications, including the Los Angeles Times, Le Monde Diplomatique (German edition), Adbusters, The Nation, and regularly at Tomdispatch.com.

The End of International Law?

Robert Dreyfuss, a Nation contributing editor, describes the growing US readiness to invade nations which it views as hostile – with US interests overriding such boring old notions as international law and national sovereignty.

He begins:

A parallel new Bush doctrine is emerging, in the last days of the soon-to-be-ancien regime, and it needs to be strangled in its crib. Like the original Bush doctrine – the one that Sarah Palin couldn't name, which called for preventive military action against emerging threats – this one also casts international law aside by insisting that the United States has an inherent right to cross international borders in "hot pursuit" of anyone it doesn't like.

They're already applying it to Pakistan, and this week Syria was the target. Is Iran next?

Let's take Pakistan first. Though a nominal ally, Pakistan has been the subject of at least nineteen aerial attacks by CIA-controlled drone aircraft, killing scores of Pakistanis and some Afghans in tribal areas controlled by pro-Taliban forces. ... The U.S. raid into Syria on October 26 similarly trampled on Syria's sovereignty without so much as a fare-thee-well.  .....

On October 24, I went to hear Mike Vickers, the assistant secretary of defense for special operations and low-intensity conflict, speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israeli thinktank in Washington. He spoke with pride about the vast and growing presence of these commando forces within the U.S. military, noting that their budget has doubled under the Bush administration and that, by the end of the decade, there will more than 60,000 U.S. forces in this shadowy effort.

The full article >>

10/27/08

With election one week away, PC(USA) releases voting rights and election reform report

‘Lift Every Voice’ sent to members of Congress, election officials

Adding its voice to the widespread public concern for possible voter disenfranchisement, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) today (Oct. 27) released a report entitled, Lift Every Voice: Democracy, Voting Rights, and Electoral Reform.

Lift Every Voice: Democracy, Voting Rights, and Electoral Reform cover

The report — which includes the full text of a policy statement adopted by the 218th General Assembly of the PC(USA) in June in San Jose, CA — is being sent to all members of the U.S. Congress, as well as to state election officials and congregations in state capitals that are most likely to contain church members involved in the electoral process.

More >>

If you -- or someone you love -- has trouble voting ...

Not ten commandments, but ten very helpful suggestions are offered by Voters Unite, a nonpartisan organization.

They include:

1) Know the Rules Governing Elections in Your State
2) Check Your Registration and Check Your Polling Place
3) Early Vote, If You Can
4) Avoid "Straight Party" Voting
5) Verify Your Vote.

That's the first five.  For details on all ten - and for links to helpful online resources - just click here.

And we encourage you to share this!

10/25/08
If Obama Wins, No More Boy Scouts ???

This dire warning has just been posted by the Rev. John Shuck on his Shuck and Jive blog.

Thus predict the Christians. The lovers of Christian truth and right belief are at it hot and heavy on the eve of the election. They are predicting apocalyptic doom if Barack Obama becomes president.Terrorist strikes on four American cities. Russia rolling into Eastern Europe. Israel hit by a nuclear bomb. Gay marriage in every state. The end of the Boy Scouts. All are plausible scenarios if Democrat Barack Obama is elected president, according to a new addition to the campaign conversation called "Letter from 2012 in Obama's America," produced by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family Action.

[From your WebWeaver:  The "Letter from 2012" is a PDF document running to 16 pages -- mostly telling of the terrible things that will happen to the "Christian values" that Focus on the Family is striving to uphold.]

The end of the Boy Scouts? This is one of their dire predictions, should Obama (who, according to them, is not a real Christian) be elected. Get this:

    • A 6-3 liberal majority Supreme Court that results in rulings like one making gay marriage the law of the land and another forcing the Boy Scouts to "hire homosexual scoutmasters and allow them to sleep in tents with young boys." (In the imagined scenario, The Boy Scouts choose to disband rather than obey).

There you have it. Christians witnessing to the truth of the gospel. Fortunately, there really are folks out there who do claim Christian identity but have a different view. These are Christians who when they actually read the Bible and the gospels find in there a call to do justice and relieve poverty. This is in today's Johnson City Press:

At a time when more than 37 million Americans are in poverty, including many who are newly poor and paying keen attention, spiritual leaders are encouraging the young to vote and urging voters to select candidates who will fight poverty.

“I feel more momentum, energy and focus on poverty than I have in churches in three decades or more,” said Jim Wallis, chief executive officer of Sojourners social justice ministries in Washington.

“Partly, it’s a new generation. Baby boomers are becoming church leaders and speaking to a new generation that wants their lives to make a difference. It’s a new altar call, if you will,” he said.

A question for beginners:

Which of these two organizations, Focus on the Family or Sojourners is more faithful to the gospel?

---

Posted By John Shuck to Shuck and Jive at 10/25/2008 10:09:00 A

10/24/08

Washington Report to Presbyterians
September-October Issue

There’s very good stuff in this issue, from the Presbyterian Washington Office: 

bullet

Fair Trade Policy, by Catherine Gordon

bullet

The Moral Crisis in the United States, by Leslie G. Woods

bullet

The Earth is the Lord’s…, by Mary Anderson Cooper

bullet

Introducing Presbyterian Legislators: Representative Lynn Woolsey (D-CA)

bullet

ECUMENICAL ADVOCACY DAYS – “Enough for All Creation” – March 13-16, 2009

10/23/08
California Presbyterians urged to witness for Marriage Equality

Two Presbyterian witness events for marriage equality – and against the discriminatory California Proposition 8 – will be held in Los Angeles and San Francisco on October 28

From More Light Presbyterians:

Please join the Presbyterian Witness Event for Marriage Equality and to Say No to Prop 8 near you, either in Los Angeles or California on Tuesday, October 28 at noon. These events are being organized by California Faith for Equality and Covenant Network of Presbyterians, and supported by PEP, the Presbyterian Equality Project of More Light Presbyterians.

October 28 at Noon

Immanuel Presbyterian Church
3300 Wilshire Blvd.
Los Angeles
, CA 90010
(213) 389-3191 phone

October 28 at Noon

Calvary Presbyterian Church
2515 Fillmore Street at Jackson
San Francisco
, CA 94115
(415) 346-3832 phone

Clergy are encouraged to wear ministerial collars or stoles; elders, deacons and other church leaders are encouraged to wear identifiable religious symbols such as stoles or crosses.

Proposition 8 seeks to eliminate equal rights for same-gender loving couples to marry in the State of California. Proposition 8 strikes down the historic decision for civil marriage equality by the California State Supreme Court in June, 2008. Proposition 8 would relegate LGBT persons and same gender loving couples to second class citizens in the State of California once again.

The failure of Prop 8 will not change the religious definition of marriage nor compel any person or church to act against their conscience. The 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted in June 78% in favor of an overture that reaffirmed support of "the right of same-gender persons to . . . all the benefits, privileges, and responsibilities of civil union."

Special thanks to California Faith for Equality, Covenant Network and GLAAD for planning these Presbyterian Witness Events. More >>

More Light Presbyterians name Toby Rogers as Associate Director for Marketing and Development
 

Toby Rogers

The National Board of Directors of More Light Presbyterians is pleased to announce that it has named Toby Rogers as its Associate Director for Marketing and Development.  This is a new position created through the generosity of The Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, San Francisco, CA and donations from More Light Presbyterian churches, chapters and supporters.    More >>
Maybe there's a better way to sail through a meeting

Sue Spenser, a Witherspoon member living in Lakeland, Florida, sends this thoughtful reflection on how we run our meetings.

Many religious organizations waste time and money by relying on Robert's Rules of Order in governing their groups. In being overly time-honored, the Rules are misunderstood. They are believed to provide a straightforward, orderly path to adjournment. But frequently groups have had to hire trained parliamentarians to guide them through the tedious thicket.

"There has to be a better way," lamented Bishop Timothy Wright after presiding over many hours dealing with a contentious issue at a recent United Methodist General Conference. And there is, indeed, a better way.

More and more non-profit groups are finding the help they need in Roberta's Rules of Order.    More >>

10/21/08
The economic crisis and the churches' message

Gene TeSelle says that, in thinking about the current crisis in the economy, he was reminded of the Accra Declaration by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC). He engages in what Tillich would call "correlation" between current events and this confessional statement by the WARC. He says the lectionary reading for last Sunday (Matt. 22:15-22) helped him make these connections.

You may also want to see ...

Responses from the global South to the world economic crisis

The International Conference on Political Economy: Responses from the South to the World Economic Crisis took place in Caracas, Venezuela from October 8-11, 2008, and was attended by academics and researchers from Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, South Korea, Cuba, Ecuador, Spain, the United States, the Philippines, France, England, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela.   More >>

Our earlier reports on the economic crisis >>

Iran clamps down on Christians

Execution, once a penalty for conversion to Christianity, is being advocated anew

The report by The Telegraph (U.K.), dated October 11, 2008, begins:

A month ago, the Iranian parliament voted in favour of a draft bill, entitled "Islamic Penal Code", which would codify the death penalty for any male Iranian who leaves his Islamic faith. Women would get life imprisonment. The majority in favour of the new law was overwhelming: 196 votes for, with just seven against.

Imposing the death penalty for changing religion blatantly violates one of the most fundamental of all human rights. The right to freedom of religion is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and in the European Convention of Human Rights. It is even enshrined as Article 23 of Iran's own constitution, which states that no one may be molested simply for his beliefs. ...

David Miliband, Britain's Foreign Secretary, stands out as one of the few politicians from any Western country who has put on record his opposition to making apostasy a crime punishable by death. The protest from the EU has been distinctly muted; meanwhile, Germany, Iran's largest foreign trading partner, has just increased its business deals with Iran by more than half. Characteristically, the United Nations has said nothing. [Webweaver’s note: The U.S. is not mentioned.] ...

For one woman living in London, however, the Iranian parliamentary vote cannot be brushed aside. Rashin Soodmand is a 29-year-old Iranian Christian. Her father, Hossein Soodmand, was the last man to be executed in Iran for apostasy, the "crime" of abandoning one's religion. He had converted from Islam to Christianity in 1960, when he was 13 years old. Thirty years later, he was hanged by the Iranian authorities for that decision.

Today, Rashin's brother, Ramtin, is also held in a prison cell in Mashad, Iran's holiest city. He was arrested on August 21. He has not been charged but he is a Christian. And Rashin fears that, just as her father was the last man to be executed for apostasy in Iran, her brother may become one of the first to be killed under Iran's new law.

The Telegraph report >>

But now, a glimmer of hope.

The Farsi Christian Network reported on October 17 that judicial authorities had ordered the release of Ramtin Soodmand, who is identified in their report as a minister of the Evangelical Church of Iran in Mashhad. He was to be released on bail, after being held since August 21.

What may come next is not clear.

The report from the Farsi Christian Network >>

Tulsa church approves buying back its property

Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, OK, whose members had already voted to leave the PC(USA), has decided to pay $1.75 million to Eastern Oklahoma Presbytery for the congregation’s land and buildings. Members voted 508 to 483 to pay for the 100,000-square-foot church building, located on nearly 10 acres of prime real estate, instead of continuing legal battles to try and prove Kirk of the Hills already owns it.

The full report from Presbyterian News Service >>

Margaret Howland celebrates 50 years as minister – one of the first women to be ordained

Peg Howland has been a Witherspoon member for some years, and has been very active in the leadership of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.

Click here to view a WNBC report on the celebration of the 50th anniversary of her ordination at her congregation in White Plains, NY – or read a report from the Westchester Journal News.

10/16/08
Another voter guide -- on health care issues

Another voter guide has been suggested by Gene TeSelle – this one focusing on health care issues, prepared by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Voters have identified health care as the leading domestic issue for the government to address and for the presidential candidates to discuss in the 2008 campaign. In particular, voters would like to hear the candidates' positions on reducing the cost of health care and health insurance and expanding coverage to the 47 million uninsured Americans.

This side-by-side comparison of the candidates' positions on health care was prepared by the Kaiser Family Foundation with the assistance of Health Policy Alternatives, Inc. and is based on information appearing on the candidates' websites as supplemented by information from candidate speeches, the campaign debates and news reports. The sources of information are identified for each candidate's summary (with links to the Internet). The comparison highlights information on the candidates' positions related to access to health care coverage, cost containment, improving the quality of care and financing. Information will be updated regularly as the campaign unfolds.

Click here >>

Progressive Presbyterians are big lost apes?

The Rev. Jerry Andrews of the conservative Presbyterian Coalition says liberal “Goliaths” in the Presbyterian Church are leading the church astray.

Presbyterian News Service provides a fairly long report, which begins:

Newport Beach, CA — Liberalism is a “Goliath” in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) that has led the denomination down a path to a “faith in which it cannot live faithfully,” said the Rev. Jerry Andrews, co-moderator of the conservative Presbyterian Coalition, an umbrella group for more than a dozen “renewal” organizations in the denomination.

Along these “false paths,” liberals have lost their way and their ability to lead, the suburban Chicago pastor told more than 220 participants meeting here at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church for the Coalition’s Gathering XI.

“[Liberalism] has been the Goliath in our life. I think the Goliath has fallen,” he said.

In his “State of the Denomination” address on Oct. 13, the first day of the three-day event, Andrews told the group that “the progressives had great success in taking over the institutions of the church, our own church at least two generations ago . . . even if it never fully convinced the church, you and me, of its presumptions.”

Now we are in engaged in an exercise to see “how far the corpse will walk,” said Andrews, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.

The full report >>

Presbyterian Outlook has also posted a report on this event, beginning:

“Our team lost this Assembly. Badly. But the Coalition has already reloaded,” said Presbyterian Coalition Co-Moderator Jerry Andrews in his presentation, “The State of the Denomination,” at the 11th annual Presbyterian Coalition gathering Oct. 13 in Newport Beach, Calif.

“The progressives have had great success in taking over the church,” Andrews explained, “but like all false paths they too have lost their way.”

Three words— post-modern, post-denominational, and post-Christian — describe the denomination in the aftermath of the General Assembly, he added.

For the full Outlook report >>

IRD reduces staff

The Rev. Jim Berkley, Director of Presbyterian Action, part of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, is laid off as part of staff reduction reflecting financial stresses.

Berkley has reported this in his own blog, while reaffirming what he sees as “the positions advocated by the Institute on Religion and Democracy and the work its people do.”

At the same time, he offers some sharp words for conservatives who have not been providing needed support for IRD – and some equally sharp words for progressives. For example:

Too few conservative Christians seem to understand and embrace the importance of a biblically faithful social witness. They tend to cede that territory by default to the progressives, who revel in that playground as political players largely cut free from biblical constraints. The progressives run mostly unchecked, except for the nagging IRD whistle blowers. However, with somewhat of a collective evangelical yawn, evangelicals have insufficiently funded the IRD’s ministry, and therefore the cutback.

For Berkley’s blog >>

10/14/08
Have you noticed there's an election coming?

Wondering whom to vote for? Or wanting to help others who are wondering?

Here are three very helpful voters’ guides, one on labor concerns, one on environmental issues, and the third dealing with human rights and civil liberties.

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

Vote Your Values 2008: A Guide for Faith-Based Voters on labor issues

As the 2008 elections approach, our economy is in turmoil and workers are struggling more than ever. The next Congress and administration will have to establish policies that not only improve our economy but ensure that workers are not forgotten and their rights are protected.

Interfaith Worker Justice has published an exciting new resource, Vote Your Values 2008: A Guide for Faith-Based Voters, which highlights issues of major importance for working people in this election cycle. The guide frames pressing, national labor concerns so that voters may carefully examine matters such as wage theft, immigration reform, and the right to organize a union, and take them into account when selecting candidates.

Kim Bobo, Executive Director of Interfaith Worker Justice, concludes her note: “We hope you will find this guide helpful. Please share it with your friends, families, and congregations!”

Click here for the Voter Guide, which is 28 pages (in PDF format).

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

Utne Reader recommends a guide to the candidates’ positions on environmental issues

Do voters really know exactly how the presidential candidates stack up on issues like drilling, animal protection, and conservation? Encyclopedia Britannica's Advocacy for Animals site has created a quick overview of their respective records.

The summary is not exhaustive, but still gives readers a good idea of what they can expect from the nominees.

Part 1: Drilling, Mining, and Energy

Part 2: Animal Welfare and Protection

Part 3: Global Warming

Part 4: Environmental Conservation

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

AlterNet provides a Voter Election Guide to Human Rights and Civil Liberties

They link to a variety of resources on domestic spying, torture, Guantánamo and the U.S. government's secret prisons, the Supreme Court, state secrets privilege, Americans’ right to dissent, wrongful convictions, politicization of the Department of Justice, expansion of the federal death penalty, and signing statements.

Click here for the whole thing -- in html format.

10/10/08
The economic crisis is a moral crisis too

by N. Gordon Cosby, who with his wife Mary founded the pioneering, ecumenical Church of the Saviour, in the 1940s in Washington, D.C.

It appears on the Inward/Outward blog of the Church of the Saviour

I have a friend who is an attorney with a deep knowledge of the national economic crisis. He made two interesting comments:

He first said that "liquidity" is not the real problem in the market right now---it is that no one knows what anything is worth. So much stuff of questionable value is hidden on balance sheets that buyers no longer know if something is worth what it is trading for, less, or more. So no one really knows how bad things are and cannot put an efficient, valid price on things. In other words, blindness about value. That destroys the logic of the "free market" because efficiency is based on "transparency" of value.

Second, he said that as a result of the first problem of blindness about value, it is difficult to know if persons you are selling to can meet their commitments to you. In other words---blindness about the solvency of parties in the market. That also kills an "efficient" market because it destroys the needed trust that makes the market work.

In spiritual traditions of all kinds, blindness is an old theme----people who corruptly set out to blind others end up blind themselves. We ignore that wisdom at our peril. Morality, once again, is proven to be fundamental to an efficient marketplace.

Source: Conversation with a friend, September 28, 2008

For more on this Witherspoon site about the economic crisis >>

Connecticut ruling overturns ban on same-sex marriage

The New York Times (among many others) reports today:

The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled on Friday that same-sex couples have the right to marry, reversing a lower court decision that had concluded that the civil unions legalized in the state three years ago had offered the same rights and benefits as marriage.

With the 4-to-3 ruling, Connecticut becomes the third state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. California legalized gay marriage in May 2008, and Massachusetts in 2004.

More from the N Y Times >>

And a statement from More Light Presbyterians >>

Presbyterian Peacemaking Program Update
October 10, 2008

The latest listing of resources and events from the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program includes links to resources for the Peacemaking Offering, domestic violence, the coming election, HIV/Aids, Darfur, the Middle East, torture, nuclear disarmament, Sudan, the coming witness against the School of the Americas/WHINSEC (November 21-23), and much more.

Click here for selections which include most items from the update >>

From Rita Nakashima Brock:

"Soldiers of Conscience" will air on PBS on Thursday, October 16. Don't miss it.

This compelling, disquieting documentary profiles eight soldiers in the Iraq War as they face the moral decision to kill or not to kill. Four decide not to kill and become conscientious objectors; four believe it is their duty to kill if necessary.

Each wrestles with the morality of killing in the split-second combat decision that can never be forgotten or undone. All struggle with the aftermath of their decisions. In addition, the film interviews those who train soldiers for war, and we hear them discuss their moral reasoning process.

More >>

Witherspooners in the news

from a Presbyterian News Service report dated October 9, 2008, by Jerry L. VanMarter.
 

The Rev. Richard W. Irwin, a retired Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission worker who served in Brazil from 1947-1995, died there Sept. 26. He was 88.  [And he has been a member of the Witherspoon Society since 1991.]   More >>

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

Yale Divinity School has presented its Alumni Award for Distinction in Theological Education to the Rev. V. Bruce Rigdon, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) pastor, theological educator, ecumenical leader and social activist. [Not to mention a member of the Witherspoon Society since 1994.]   More >>

10/9/08

More food for reflection and discernment on moving to a more welcoming church

We recently posted, in html format, most of the articles in the Summer 2008 issue of Network News, to make them more easily accessible, with clickable links to the many resources that are listed.

You can also download the regular PDF version, which is easily printable to share with others.

We're finally adding the last few articles in html format, including:

Jesus was a community organizer -- Co-Moderator Trina Zelle introduces this special issue of Network News.

Guidelines for Presbyterians during times of disagreement

Assembly moves forward on the Heidelberg Catechism, by John Harris

Also in this issue of Network News:

Farewell reflections from outgoing co-moderator Trina Zelle

Thoughts About the Review of the Presbyterian Washington Office, by Gene TeSelle

Witherspoon News: We welcome new officers, say thanks to two outgoing ones

Visiting San Jose?  We can recommend a great place to stay.

For a list of the articles already posted, with links to reach them >>

Five steps to end torture

George Hunsinger, professor of systematic theology at Princeton Theological Seminary and the founder of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), tells of the advice of Darius Rejali, a distinguished torture researcher and analyst, who lists “five steps which would bring torture to an end.”

He summarizes them: “In short, there must be (1) a single set of operating procedures, (2) a clear chain of command, (3) outside monitoring by accredited agencies, (4) a fair and timely grievance procedure and (5) above all, a strict observance of procedures for accountability.”

You can read his brief article in The Christian Century >>

Uprooted: The Impact of Free Market on Migrants

A special report from the Oakland Institute

"The borders between our countries should be common grounds to unite us, not lines that divide us."

Since NAFTA’s passage in 1993, the U.S. Congress has debated and passed several new trade agreements – with Peru, Jordan, Chile, and the Central American Free Trade Agreement. At the same time it has debated immigration policy as though those trade agreements bore no relationship to the waves of displaced people migrating to the U.S., looking for work.

Meanwhile, a rising tide of anti-immigrant hysteria has increasingly demonized those migrants, leading to measures that deny them jobs, rights, or any pretense of equality with people living in the communities around them. To resolve any of these dilemmas, from adopting rational and humane immigration policies to reducing the fear and hostility towards migrants, the starting point has to be an examination of the way U.S. policies have both produced migration and criminalized migrants.

Read Uprooted: The Impact of Free Market on Migrants, by David Bacon, Senior Fellow at the Oakland Institute. This 23-page report is presented in PDF format.

More from Witherspoon on immigrant rights >>

Iraqi nonviolence network grows

The Christian Peace Witness of Iraq reports on a hopeful Iraqi movement, LaOnf, which is working with Iraqi civil society organizations to create and support nonviolent strategies to oppose occupation, terrorism and corruption in Iraq. More >>

10/6/08
PC(USA) leaders send letter to churches about economic credit crisis

Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow, along with Linda Valentine, Executive Director of the General Assembly Council and Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk, sent this letter to the church on October 4

Churchwide Letter: Economic Credit Crisis

One forceful paragraph reads:

As followers of Jesus Christ, let us join in a call to our own people and to our fearful nation to hear God's word that "perfect love casts out fear;" and let us look anew at our economic system-one which has been immensely productive in many respects, but which has tended to favor the strong and aggressive, often at great cost to the weak. Let us all repent of our own decisions, both personal and corporate, regarding our use of the earth's resources and of the financial resources of which we have been made stewards. And let us make clear to our legislators and to those whose are charged with the management of this nation's financial resources that any recovery of fiscal accountability must be accompanied with moral accountability for the unfortunate, so that the burdens and blessings of the future are fairly shared.

For the full letter >>

And for a list of helpful resources from the PC(USA), click here >>

PC(USA) weighs in on national financial crisis

Leaders send letters to church, Congress; Washington Office publishes background, analysis

Presbyterian News Service, Louisville — October 6, 2008 --- As the U.S. Congress grappled with a financial services industry bail-out package late last week, leaders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) took part in the national debate, sending letters to Presbyterians and to Congress. The Presbyterian Washington Office today (Oct. 6) published background and analysis of the crisis, including General Assembly policy germane to the crisis and its fallout.

The three documents are

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A background paper prepared by Leslie Woods of the Presbyterian Washington Office

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A letter to Presbyterians (already posted here)

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A letter to members of Congress, signed by Sara Pottschmitt Lisherness, Director of Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministries

We have posted or linked to all three of these documents already, but now they are gathered in one spot -- and they're worth your attention.

Ten Commandments, Political E-mails & Ads

from the Rev. Bruce Gillette

Have you, like me, been receiving a lot of email notes about political candidates? Some of these emails, like the political ads on TV, are not true. Before you forward an e-mail to others about anyone, political candidate or any other human being, please remember the Ten Commandments: "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Ex. 20:16; Deut. 5:20). Our church’s Heidelberg Catechism explains it: “Q. 112. What is required in the ninth commandment? A. That I do not bear false witness against anyone, twist anyone’s words, be a gossip or a slanderer, or condemn anyone lightly without a hearing. Rather I am required to avoid, under penalty of God’s wrath, all lying and deceit as the works of the devil himself. In judicial and all other matters I am to love the truth, and to speak and confess it honestly. Indeed, insofar as I am able, I am to defend and promote my neighbor’s good name.” Please keep this biblical teaching in mind when you get political email or see ads on TV.

Please encourage your online friends and all political candidates to keep this commandment. If you have questions about the truthfulness of any ad (and you should about any ad), check it out at the web site for the Annenberg Political Fact Check, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania which is “a nonpartisan, nonprofit, ‘consumer advocate’ for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.”

More >>

More on the case of Janet Edwards

Presbyterian News Service provided a report on October 3, the day after the Rev. Janet Edwards was exonerated of charges brought against her for presiding over the marriage in 2005 of two women.  The report provides some more details about the arguments in her defense, and offers comments from Ms. Edwards and others involved in the case.

The full report >>

10/5/08
Sarah Palin scolded Presbyterian pastor in Wasilla for urging crackdown on bars

On Wasilla City Council, she opposed earlier closings -- and told a Presbyterian pastor that faith had nothing to do with such things

The Chicago Tribune offers an interesting insight into the religious faith of the Republican candidate for Vice President:

Sarah Palin may be the heroine of the religious right, but Rev. Gene Straatmeyer vividly recalls a public run-in he once had with the now Republican vice presidential candidate over clergy support for a crackdown on bars.

In short, Straatmeyer, as a Presbyterian pastor in Wasilla, supported the police chief in urging the City Council to shorten the traditional 5 a.m. last call by a few hours, partly to reduce drunk driving and domestic violence. Palin, then a city councilwoman, sided with the saloon keepers, and scolded the pastor for interfering.

"She said, 'I go to Assembly of God Church and I am a Sunday school teacher there and I see no relationship between my Christian faith and what hours the bars close,' " recalled Straatmeyer, now living in Texas.

The report adds:

Tavern owners then rallied around Palin's successful challenge to Wasilla's longtime mayor, with campaign records showing that two of them alone provided 15 percent of the campaign cash she took in from supporters. 

“Within months of taking office, Palin fired veteran Wasilla Police Chief Irl Stambaugh, the author of the bar hour reduction plan.

The full story >>

It might also be noted that this pastor's actions were very much in keeping with our church's teachings.

Hunger resource for pastors 

The anti-hunger group “Bread For The World” has launched an e-mail newsletter, “Bread For The Preacher,” featuring preaching aids and worship resources surrounding issues of hunger and poverty. The free news letter is delivered directly to the inbox of church leaders who sign up for it at www.bread.org. Gary Cook, Bread For The World’s director of church relations and former coordinator of the Presbyterian Hunger Program, says the new resource was created in response to requests from member churches.

To sign up, find the “newsletter signup” box toward the upper right of the home page. Type in your email address, and if BFW doesn’t know you, you can register first, and then, as you scroll down, request the “Bread for the Preacher” newsletter and anything else that interests you.

Thanks to John Jackson

10/3/08

Food for reflection and discernment on moving to a more welcoming church

We promised to provide the contents of the Summer 2008 issue of Network News in html format, along with the regular PDF version which is already posted here.

It will take a while to reformat and post all the articles, but we're starting today.  Bear with us, and please let us know if there are particular articles you want to see posted here sooner rather than later -- or send your comments about any of them.  Just click here to send a note!

The contents of this issue, as listed (with page numbers) for the print version

Each title will link to the item as soon as it's posted.

Some background on a complicated issue, by Gene TeSelle    5

The main documents, and advisory opinion from Office of the General Assembly   7

Why LGBT Equality Leads to a More Missional Church, by Dr. Jack Rogers, former Moderator   8

How to help presbyteries to discern the best steps to take, by Tricia Dykers Koenig, Covenant Network    9

A little poem about being right, by Bobbie McGarey   11

Setting the Record Straight ... and Stewardship of the Spirit’s Gift, by Mchael Adee,   More Light Presbyterians    12

A thousand conversations across the church, by Lisa Larges, That All May Freely Serve    13

Biblicism: Protestantism’s distinctive form of idolatry, by Paul E. Capetz    14

What does the Bible tell us?, by Tricia Dykers Koenig    16

Guidelines for Presbyterians during times of disagreement, adopted by 204th General Assembly    18

also in this issue:

Thoughts about the review of the Presbyterian Washington Office, by Gene TeSelle    20

News from the Witherspoon Society    23

Officers of the Witherspoon Society    24

More on the case of Janet Edwards

The Rev. Darcy Hawk, of Gibsonia, PA, and the treasurer of the Witherspoon Society, sent this comment soon after the PJC decision was announced.

Word has just come down that Rev. Janet Edwards was acquitted of all charges brought against her for conducting a ceremony uniting two women here in Pittsburgh. I was able to attend the trial yesterday but not the continuance this morning. Yesterday's witnesses for the defense were very good at articulating the plurality of opinions justified by the Bible, our Confessions, Reformed theology, and church polity. Most of the non-clergy I spoke with yesterday were amazed and relieved to find out just how much more freedom our tradition allows. We have been much bullied by "evangelicals" and fundamentalists in Western PA and I believe Rev. Edwards has succeeded in her efforts to make this trial a teaching moment.


More Light Presbyterians now has posted a summary of the decision.

 

Another observer reports:

Heather Reichgott, a seminary student in Berkeley, California, and a member of the board of More Light Presbyterians, was at the trial, and provides her own insightful commentary. She notes that this decision, like that in the most recent case of the Rev. Jane Spahr, is based in part on the inference from the Book of Order that a same-sex marriage is in fact not a marriage.  Much remains to be done.

10/2/08

Rev. Janet Edwards found not guilty, 0-9

Today at 2:40 PM, the Permanent Judicial Commission of Pittsburgh Presbytery presented their verdict in the case of Rev. Janet Edwards.

They found Rev. Edwards not guilty on both charges, by a margin of 0-9. A summary and quotations from their decision will follow shortly.

Edwards was accused of presiding over the marriage in 2005 of two women, Nancy McConn and Brenda Cole.  This was the second time these charges had been prosecuted against Rev. Edwards, the first occasion having ended based on procedural issues.

This morning, the prosecution's witness failed to appear, so both parties moved immediately to closing arguments.

The prosecution argued that Rev. Edwards performed a marriage, that she knew it was wrong, and that it was contrary to Scripture and the Constitution. The prosecutors suggested that if Rev. Edwards had wanted to perform a same-sex marriage, the proper approach would be an attempt to change the Book of Order.

The defense argued, mostly, that the prosecution has failed to demonstrate any of the points of their argument. No evidence was presented to confirm that Rev. Edwards actually performed the ceremony. (The burden of proof rests with the prosecution.) No argument was made as to how Rev. Edwards' actions violated either the Scriptures cited in the charges or a mandatory provision in the Constitution.

In addition, the defense observed that it is impossible to amend the Book of Order to change a mandatory provision, if no such mandatory provision exists.

Thanks to More Light Presbyterians, for the reports we're summarized above.

For more, go to the web site of More Light Presbyterians >>

Lots of good Presbyterian talk in Snowbird, Utah

Over the past few days, a number of important meetings have been held in Snowbird, Utah, involving some of the top leadership and committees of the PC(USA).

Preparing for discussions on 08-B

One of the first meetings included middle governing body leaders, who (in the words of a Presbyterian News Service report from Erin S. Cox-Holmes, associate general presbyter for Kiskiminetas Presbytery, “received denominational updates and pondered strategies for leading their organizations calmly and courageously during a time of change

For anyone committed to helping our denomination move through its deliberations on the proposed amendment of G-6.0106b, the “fidelity and chastity” requirement in the Book of Order, it might be helpful to get a sense of the thinking of those who will play a large role in shaping those discussions.    Click here for the PNS report >>

Developing styles of leadership for the process

Another report covers the gathering’s focus on “exploring how to lead in partnership, identifying next action steps, all centered in a spirit of worship.” The report opens with a pretty catchy quote from Carol Adcock, chair of the General Assembly Council: “We are here as co-creators of a new way, sharing springs of living waters in a time of alligators.”    For that report >>


Other groups have also been meeting, and considering other vital aspects of the church’s life and mission.


A broad role for theological education

Dr. Laura Mendenhall, President of Columbia Theological Seminary, told the General Assembly Council’s Vocation Committee that Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) seminaries and presbyteries and congregations need to work ever more closely together to prepare leaders for a rapidly changing church and world.      For the full story >>

Some varied views of evangelism

The GAC’s Evangelism Mission Committee explored the variety of ways that Christians are seeking to live a life that faithfully witnesses to Jesus Christ, ranging from street preaching to community outreach programs. One committee member said that “Actions speak louder than words,” and was supported by others who saw community programs, and local mission and ministry projects as evangelism, while others focused more on speaking about one’s faith, actively witnessing, and sharing the gospel.

And one member managed to propose a middle way: “We witness by what we say and do, but also by what we are.”    The full report >>

‘Unprecedented’ disaster response highlighted

The GAC’s Justice Committee heard from PDA about an unprecedented number of relief efforts this year, as Presbyterian Disaster Assistance responded to more than 40 “events” that have affected nearly one-quarter of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) presbyteries were much on the mind of the Justice Committee of the General Assembly Council.

Sara Lisherness, director of Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministries — which includes — updated the committee on responses to devastating flooding in the Midwest in the spring and hurricane recovery in the aftermath of four summer hurricanes that wreaked havoc in Texas and Louisiana as well as Caribbean island nations such as Haiti and Cuba.      The rest of the story >>

Greed gets blamed for our Wall Street woes – but hey, is it really that bad?

Everybody is blaming greed for our current financial crisis. But if you’d like to think a little more deeply about the subject of greed, you might take a look at a blog on the Utne website, which gathers together bits from a number of perspectives, and links you to them the original sources – including Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun, and Dr. Rebecca Blank, who says in an interview on Religion & Ethics Newsweekly that greed does have its value, too.

Click here for the story and the links >>

More of our own posts about the economic crisis >>

Seeing the varieties of American religion

“What Americans Really Believe,” by Rodney Stark and team, presents landmark news on the values and beliefs of the American public

from a news release from Baylor University

In 2006, Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion released the groundbreaking Baylor Religion Survey, which included the most extensive battery of religion-related questions ever administered to a national, random sample of U.S. citizens. The results of this study resonated throughout the world and hit most major newspapers and media outlets in this country.

WHAT AMERICANS REALLY BELIEVE takes the study one step farther. The results of the 2008 study are a compilation of mailed questionnaires collected by the Gallup Organization from a nationally representative sample of 1,648 non-institutionalized, English-speaking American adults aged 18 and older. ISR researchers analyzed responses to more than 350 items on multiple topics, including:

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megachurch and “scattered” church congregations

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views on God, heaven and evil

bullet

atheism and irreligion

bullet

religious and paranormal beliefs and experiences

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faith and politics

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incivility and

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civic participation, among others.

The authors believe that the data and accompanying analysis will provide important background and content to current debates about religion in American life.       More >>

JOKES THAT CAN BE TOLD IN CHURCH

A Sunday School teacher was discussing the Ten commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to “honor thy father and thy mother” she asked “Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters? 

Without missing a beat one little boy answered, “Thou shall not kill.” 

More >>

10/1/08

Network News is here!

It’s time for the PC(USA)
to take that big step forward
toward inclusion and justice

and here’s some material to help you
help the Church

The Summer 2008 issue of Network News is coming to you only online, because the board of the Witherspoon Society has determined that there is currently not enough money in our treasury to cover the costs of printing and mailing it to our members.

We regret this deeply, and hope we’ll soon be back in print with the Fall 2008 issue.

In the meantime, to make this PDF version of Network News as easy to use as possible, we’re putting the list of contents on the inside of the front cover. Just click on the "next page" arrow on the top line of your PDF reader.

Then to jump to any particular page, just type in the page number in the space just to the right of the right and left arrows.

All of the articles in this issue will also be available shortly on our web site, in normal html format, so you can jump around, click on links to visit suggested sites, and all that.

One other note:

This special issue of Network News has been prepared with one major purpose in mind: to provide Witherspoon members with material that will help them to help others in their presbyteries, as the PC(USA) again engages in a process of reflection and discernment (and maybe a wee bit of argument) on Amendment 08-B to the Book of Order, which if approved will remove the specific ban established over the past few years on the ordination of practicing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Presbyterians.

The Witherspoon Society has worked for this change for many years, and we are hopeful that the time may finally have come to take this step forward. But the process will be difficult, and so we have gathered some of the most helpful materials we can find – along with links to many more – from our own ranks and from other individuals and groups that share this commitment. Our thanks to all of them!

Doug King2

Click here for the full issue, in PDF format.08

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
4007 Gibsonia Road
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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