Archive for August, 2009
This page lists our postings from all of August, 2009
For an index to all our reports
from the 218th General Assembly
For an index to all our reports from
conference on global mission and justice >>
Earlier in April,
For links to earlier archive pages,
|A note from your WebWeaver:
Just a word of apology: We're packing to move
house, so my time (and energy) for this website is are a bit
limited. But I'll try to post any really important items that
In the spring of 1995 (in response to the backlash about the
groundbreaking feminist theological gathering, ReImagining), 55 women
and men met in St. Louis to create a new affinity group of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Celebrating and reclaiming the wisdom/sophia
tradition of Bible and church, Voices of Sophia was organized to support
women staff and women's advocacy in the church, and speak with a bold,
prophetic, fearless feminist voice to the church and world. In a
delightfully messy and participative style, the “St. Louis 55" drafted a
faith statement for the group and titled it the ’95 Illuminations (in
the year 1995, borrowing from Martin Luther's 95 Theses and Hildegaard
of Bingen's Illuminations). For years, members of Voices of Sophia read
the entire '95 Illuminations aloud at PC(USA) General Assemblies. They
stand as the most defining and memorable work of this wisdom-seeking
This introductory note
has been prepared by Sylvia Thorson-Smith, who was deeply involved in
the beginnings of Voices of Sophia, and is now an active member of the
Board of Witherspoon Society / Voices of Sophia.
Here's how the statement begins:
The ’95 Illuminations
“Does not wisdom call,
and does not understanding raise her voice?”
VOICES OF SOPHIA
at the 207th Meeting of the
of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
July 16, 1995
“Does not wisdom
call, and does not understanding raise her voice?” (Proverbs 8:1)
Voices of Sophia, to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
and the larger Christian community: Grace and peace to all.
We are your sisters and brothers. being reformed by
God through the Spirit of the living Christ and bearing witness to the
need for love and justice in the church.
“Out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it
to light” (Luther), we present our ’95 (1995) theses as Illuminations, a
term used by the 12th century Christian mystic, Hildegaard of Bingen.
In the name of Jesus Christ, Wisdom of God, Sophia, we
call the church to repentance and transformation, to its truest self, to
the work of justice and compassion
Recognizing that these Illuminations reflect too few
voices of people of color, people who are economically disadvantaged.
other marginalized persons, and people from other traditions, we leave
space to symbolize the voices that are missing...
We invite conversation on these Illuminations with all
who affirm the full and equal humanity of women and men.
* * * * * * *
Illuminations on our
Faith and Vision
“Write the vision;
make it plain on tablets so that a runner may read it.”
We call the church to reclaim the long-silenced Sophia
language of our ancient biblical and theological tradition.
We affirm God-Sophia,
chokmah in Hebrew, Woman Wisdom present at the dawning of
creation (Prov. 8), who fashioned us in the image of the divine as women
We affirm Jesus-Sophia,
wisdom incarnate in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (Matt.11:18, Lk.
7:35, Lk. 11: 49, I Cor. 1:21-31), who liberates us for the work of love
Spirit-Sophia, God’s interpretive wisdom, indwelling, sustaining,
and enlivening us for community and relationship (I Cor.2: 1-13).
For the full statement, '95 Illuminations >>
We invite your comments,
questions ... and whatever else you'd like to share in response
to this bold affirmation of faith.
send a note!
|ACSWP releases three new study
Resources designed to help churches
explore Social Creed, homelessness, serious mental illness
from Presbyterian News Service
Connecting to the Creed
is a new guide to help Presbyterians study and discuss "A Social
Creed for the 21st Century," which was adopted by the 2008 Genera
Assembly by a 5-1 margin.
Introducing From Homelessness to Hope:
Constructing Just, Sustainable Communities for All God's People,
General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons writes: "Hope for
homeless persons - often sisters and brothers in Christ, and
increasingly whole families - is the cornerstone of this resolution,
and there is frank recognition of the personal difficulties that
contribute to, and are reinforced by, homelessness. Holistic
responses are here, along with practical guidance, examples, and
many resources for caring and effective action.
About Comfort My People - the resource on
the serious mental illness resolution adopted by the Assembly -
Parsons says: "This policy statement is the result of a three-year
development process that included wide consultation and
participation throughout the church. It draws upon biblical sources
and insights from the Reformed tradition in renewing Presbyterian
understandings of how we live as a church that welcomes persons
living with serious mental illnesses and their families. After
offering comprehensive and working definitions of mental illness and
serious mental illness, the paper provides an historical account
organized around two major biblical themes.
For more information about how to acquire these
resources, visit the ACSWP Web
For the full
|ELCA votes to allow gay pastors
Congratulations to our Lutheran sisters and brothers
for their church’s great step forward toward inclusion and justice!
One little thought: Any marriage or other
partnership that can thrive while carrying a label as an
“accountable lifelong, monogamous, same-gender relationship,”
deserves all our respect. That’s the definition the ELCA study group
used in its report to the Assembly – for very good reasons, no
doubt. But it still seems like a lot for a couple people who love
each other to carry around with them.
More on this
historic action -- press reports, warnings seen in wind storms,
and a statement from
in historic faith call on health reform, with President Obama
Conference call on health reform co-sponsored by PC(USA)
Presbyterian News Service
An estimated 140,000 people of
faith gathered on an historic national conference call with
President Barack Obama Aug. 19 to discuss health care reform.
The 90-minute conference call was
sponsored by more than 30 churches and other religious groups,
including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). One purpose of the call
was to help launch a campaign —
“40 Days for Health Reform”
— to mobilize people of faith to press Congress to finish work on
health care reform when it returns after the Labor Day recess.
A recording of the call is
available at Faith for
Health or the
Blog Talk Radio
The rest of the
|In all the uproar over the
Scotland’s release of the "Lockerbie bomber" ...
Church of Scotland welcomes decision to release Lockerbie bomber
Ecumenical News International reports from
The (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland has said it
fully supports a decision taken by the Scottish Government on Aug.
20 to release the convicted Lockerbie bomber, Abdul Baset Ali al-Megrahi,
on compassionate grounds.
“This decision has sent a message to the world
about what it is to be Scottish,” the Rev. Ian Galloway, convenor of
the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, said in a
statement. “We are defined as a nation by how we treat those who
have chosen to hurt us. Do we choose mercy even when they did not
Within minutes of the decision by the Scottish
government, the United States expressed deep regret and
disappointment that its pleas were ignored not to free the dying
man, a former Libyan intelligence officer, convicted of the
Lockerbie bombing. Al-Megrahi is in the final stages of prostate
Galloway also said in his statement:
“Nor is it about whether he had the right to
mercy, but whether we as a nation, despite the continuing pain of
many, are willing to be merciful. I understand the deep anger and
grief that still grips the souls of the victims’ families and I
respect their views. But to them I would say justice is not lost in
acting in mercy. Instead, our deepest humanity is expressed for the
better. To choose mercy is the tough choice and today our nation met
the challenge. We have gained something significant as a nation by
this decision. It is a defining moment for us all.”
The rest of the
|Form of Government Task Force approves final
'We commend this work to the church'
Sharon Youngs, communications coordinator of the Office of the
General Assembly, has issued this news release on August 19, 2009:
DALLAS - The Form of
Government Task Force has unanimously approved and submitted to the
stated clerk of the General Assembly the final version of its work
to revise the Form of Government of the Presbyterian Church
The 11 members of the
task force spent a major portion of their August 12-14 meeting here
reviewing and refining their work before taking a final vote on
Thursday (Aug. 13).
The task force
released the initial draft of its work last fall. It invited
feedback from across the church, which was taken into consideration
as the group made final revisions to this portion of the PC(USA)'s
Among the key items
the task force members discussed last week prior to their vote was
whether an interim pastor of a congregation could become that
congregation's installed pastor. The task force voted to include
that provision in its work. ...
The task force plans
to post its final draft online by Sept. 1, which will be nearly six
weeks ahead of the Oct. 15 deadline to submit its work to the stated
clerk of the General Assembly for consideration by the 219th General
Between now and next
summer's assembly, members of the task force will be making
themselves available to interpret their work to governing bodies and
other groups. Requests for visits can be made by calling (888)
728-7228, ext. 5808, or by sending an email
Green in the Department of Constitutional Services..
The full news
|More on marriage
and civil unions:
Comments on Civil
Union and Marriage
Ray Bagnuolo, Minister of Word and Sacrament
Jan Hus Church and Neighborhood House
New York, New York
Ray Bagnuolo invites us, as we again ponder the
way Presbyterians might most faithfully deal with issues of marriage
and same-sex relationships, to "consider the Bible's prohibition of
women from serving in the early church and the Bible’s acceptance of
He looks at some of the texts cited against
ordination of women, and for slavery, and says "Something was as
wrong back then about women and slavery as it is wrong now about
folk who are LGBT. Regardless of how the Bible was used then...these
practices were always wrong. Regardless of the how the Bible is used
today against LGBT folk...these practices are always wrong."
Then, he asks, "After all, can we really hinge our
love and justice on the same rationalizations that kept women and
slaves quarantined from God as full and free creations of God? Who
is wrong here? The Bible or God? Is God going to change God's mind
To read his full essay >>
|Call to Prayer for Lutherans & Churchwide
More Light Presbyterians
The National Board & Staff of More Light
Presbyterians invite you to join us in holding our sisters and
brothers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) in
prayer as they begin their Churchwide Assembly in Minneapolis on
Monday, August 17.
Lutherans Concerned North America, a sister
organization to More Light Presbyterians, is in a collaborative
partnership called Good Soil: Where Justice Takes Root that works
for the full participation for persons of all sexual orientations
and gender identities within the ELCA.
To stay informed about LGBT initiatives and
decisions at the upcoming ELCA's Churchwide Assembly you can go to
with hope and grace,
Michael J. Adee, M.Div.,
Ph.D., Executive Director & Field Organizer,
More Light Presbyterians
News from the ELCA church-wide assembly, as reported
by the Minneapolis Star Tribune
clergy remains 'an issue of tension’ for ELCA
Questions about gay
clergy provide a hint of what's likely to come up in the ELCA's
August 19, 2009
If the members of the
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) were looking for
assurances that everything is going to be resolved after the
church-wide assembly votes on the question of gay and lesbian
clergy, they didn't get what they expected Tuesday. The task force
that drew up a proposal to repeal a ban on gay and lesbian ministers
from leading churches unless they promise to be celibate wasn't
sugar-coating the depth of the rift that might be looming.
The rest of the story >>
Early victory for gay clergy at ELCA assembly
August 18, 2009
The first skirmish of
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's churchwide assembly was
won Monday night by those advocating for the acceptance of gay and
lesbian clergy, but people on all sides of the issue said that there
still is much arguing to come.
The ELCA's weeklong
meeting at the Minneapolis Convention Center eventually will
consider a proposal to repeal a ban on gay and lesbian ministers
from leading churches unless they promise to remain celibate. At
issue in the first plenary session Monday night was a push by
opponents to have the vote on that matter changed from a simple
majority to a two-thirds supermajority.
The motion was
rejected by 57 percent of the voters, but supporters of the gay
clergy proposal warned against reading too much into the result.
This was a parliamentary issue, not a vote on gay rights, said Emily
Eastwood, executive director of St. Paul-based Lutherans
Concerned/North America, a group that supports the change in rules.
The rest of the story >>
|Another testimony on behalf of marriage
This just in from a long-time Witherspoon member and
former national staff member:
On May 23, 2009, at North Garden, Virginia, I had
the honor and privilege of conducting the marriage ceremony for my
grandson, Patrick Evans, and his partner, Jason Becton. It was a
wonderful, Spirit-filled service with about 200 friends and family
standing by in support and breaking into enthusiastic applause when
I pronounced them joined in marriage. They had actually been married
in Connecticut a month earlier, but this service with its Christian
connection together with the full support of both families and of
the caring community was exceedingly important. Of course I support
the marriage of two people who clearly love each other and who yearn
for the positive support of family and friends as they seek to
fulfill their covenant promises to each other. The fact that they
are of the same gender is irrelevant.
August 15, 2009
Rev. Lew Lancaster HR
more statements, many of them being sent to the General
Assembly Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and
Christian Marriage >>
|On health care reform:
Stated Clerk issues statement on current health
"Reforming our health care system cannot wait"
The Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the
General Assembly, has issued a statement in light of the national
attention on health care reform:
He presents the resolution adopted by to 2008
General Assembly, adding that "The General Assembly has been clear
that Congress must enact comprehensive health care reform that will
provide all persons with access to health care services."
The news release includes an invitation for people
to participate in a
conference call with people of faith, dealing with the health
care issue. President Obama has accepted an invitation to join
in on the conversation.
The release also presents specific points from a
statement on "Advocacy on Behalf of the Uninsured,"
For more of
our recent posts on the health care issue >>
|Seven Falsehoods About Health Care
Big myths about the current debate
They list these “seven falsehoods” – and provide
detailed corrections, with citations for each:
So much for a slow news month. August feels
like campaign season, with claims on health care coming at us
daily. Does the House bill call for mandatory counseling on how
to end seniors’ lives sooner? Absolutely not. Will the
government be dictating to doctors how to treat their patients?
No. Do the bills propose cutting Medicare benefit levels? No on
that one, too.
But on the other hand, has Congress figured
out how to pay for this overhaul? Not yet. Or will it really
save families $2,500 a year as the president keeps claiming?
Good luck on that one, too.
In this article we offer a run-down of seven
falsehoods we’ve taken on recently, with some additional
updating and research thrown in.
|False: Government Will Decide What Care I Get
(a.k.a. they won’t give grandma a hip replacement)|
|False: The Bill Is Paid For|
|False: Private Insurance Will Be Illegal|
|False: The House Bill Requires Suicide
|False: Families Will Save $2,500|
|False: Medicare Benefits Will Be Slashed|
|False: Illegal Immigrants Will Be Covered|
Get the full story >>
|Two more Witherspoon friends offer comments on
marriage and civil unions
recently posted a number of letters that have been sent to the
General Assembly Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union
and Christian Marriage, which have been requested by the Committee
to inform its work.
Scott, writer and former Witherspoon board member, has
shared with us her letter relating her experience in her own family.
Edith Sinclair Downing
sent a note relating an experience in her own family, too, along
with some hymn texts she has written on this subject, including one
-- "We Stand with Those Excluded" -- which we are posting here.
We welcome your
letters and comments, too.
send us a note!
|You can’t read this and stay in a bad mood!
1. How do you catch a unique rabbit?
Unique up on it.
2. How do you catch a tame rabbit?
3. How do crazy people go through the forest?
They take the psychopath.
tribute to Burma's opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi
Desmond Mpilo Tutu, the former Archbishop of Cape
Town and recipient of the Nobel peace prize, has written:
I think of my sister Nobel laureate Aung San
Suu Kyi every day. Her picture hangs on the wall of my office,
reminding me that, thousands of miles away in Asia, a nation is
oppressed. Every day I ask myself: have I done everything I can
try to end the atrocities being committed in Burma? And I pray
that world leaders will ask themselves the same question. For if
they did, the answer would be "no", and perhaps their conscience
will finally force them to act.
Humankind has the ability to live in freedom
and in peace. We have seen that goodness has triumphed over
evil; we have witnessed political transitions in South Africa,
and elsewhere, evidencing that we live in a moral universe.
Our world is sometimes lacking wise and good
leadership or, as in the case of Burma, the leadership is
forbidden to lead.
Aung San Suu Kyi has now been detained for
more than 13 years. She recently passed her 5,000th day in
detention. Every one of those days is a tragedy and a lost
opportunity. The whole world, not just the people of Burma,
suffers from this loss. We desperately need the kind of moral
and principled leadership that Aung San Suu Kyi would provide.
And when you add the more than 2,100 political prisoners who are
also in Burma's jails, and the thousands more jailed in recent
decades, the true scale of injustice, but also of lost
potential, becomes heartbreakingly clear.
Aung San Suu Kyi and the people of Burma
deserve nothing less than our most strenuous efforts to help
them secure their freedom. Every day we must ask ourselves: have
we done everything that we can? I pledge that I will not rest
until Aung San Suu Kyi, and all the people of Burma, are free.
Please join me.
The complete essay >>
Amnesty International USA offers a way to join
Archbishop Tutu in protesting:
Click here to send your message
to Than Shwe, the head of the military junta, calling on him to act
immediately to release Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners
Health Care Reform: The Voice of
Among the many voices
being raised in the debate over health care reform, this message
from Interfaith Worker Justice seems to say some important
things, to offer suggestions for action, and to provide some
good resources through the links at the end of the note.
Everyone in this country knows that our health
care system is broken. Doctors and hospitals, as well as patients
and communities, deal with the crisis every day. But there is no
consensus yet on what reforms are needed. Legislation may pass this
fall because the President, members of Congress, and health care
activists are committed to reforming health care in America.
Interfaith Worker Justice, recognizing the fundamental dignity of
all human beings as children of God, believes that everybody
deserves affordable, quality health care. The person who mows your
lawn or cares for your elderly mother should receive the same
quality of care as Bill Gates.
As people of faith, our voices must be heard now
in the debate over what health care reform will look like. Call your
two Senators and your Congressperson today and ask to speak to their
legislative staffer for health care. Tell them that, as a person of
faith, you support universal, affordable, quality health care for
all. Call the Capitol switchboard for your Representative's phone
number. The numbers are 202-224-3121 for your two Senators, and
202-225-3121 for your Congressperson. Please e-mail
Ted Smukler, to let us know
you have made this important call.
IWJ's resources on health care justice -- or you can download
these pdfs directly:
Another great religious resource on the issue is
Faithful Reform in Healthcare. Their website is
In peace, justice and health,
Public Policy Director, Interfaith Worker Justice
More of our
posts on health care policy >>
If you have thoughts to share
-- or resources to recommend --
send a note, to be shared here!
to share your thoughts on same-sex marriage and holy unions?
Get them to the GA study committee by this Sunday, August 16!
What is the place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the
is a question the General Assembly Special Committee to Study Issues
of Civil Union and Christian Marriage is posing to the church for
input. And now’s the time – before Sunday, August 16 – to let them
hear from you!
firm rule: Say what you want to say in a maximum of 1000 words.
Responses can be sent electronically to
, or mailed to Civil Union and Christian Marriage Committee, Office
of the General Assembly, Room 4621, 100 Witherspoon Street,
Louisville, KY 40202-1396.
For the full
news release from the Office of the General Assembly >>
Click here for a
couple good examples, in addition to what we have posted before
(just scroll down that page and you'll find them).
|Lutherans prepare to debate gay clergy
Religion News Service reports:
The nation’s largest Lutheran denomination will
consider lifting its ban on gay and lesbian clergy who are in
lifelong, monogamous relationships as it gathers this month for a
churchwide meeting. More than 1,000 delegates will debate church
policy Aug. 17-23 at the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s
biennial General Assembly in Minneapolis.
As at previous assemblies, the role of gays and
lesbians in the 4.6 million-member church is expected to be among
the most contentious issues on the agenda.
The question is not whether openly gay and lesbian
clergy can be ordained. They already are—as long as they remain
celibate. The question is whether they can have committed
relationships and still be called to ELCA pulpits. Partnered gay
clergy are technically prohibited, though some congregations break
the rule without punishment.
The rest of the story >>
|August 11, 2009: GLOBAL DAY OF ACTION FOR
Donna Laubach, a friend of the
Witherspoon Society, and a retired mission co-worker now living in
Spain (or Venezuela -- we're not quite sure), has asked us to post
this notice about an important action of protest tomorrow.
It has been posted on the School of the Americans
Watch website, but only in Spanish, and Donna has said in her note:
“Please pass on this info in Spanish to Witherspoon. It is about
time we give out news in Spanish, since it is a rather large group
of folks in the States.”
So here it is, with links to further information
on the SOA website.
Click here for the
English language SOA website.
11 de Agosto de 2009:
DIA DE ACCION GLOBAL POR HONDURAS
AQUI el informe final de la Misión de DDHH en Honduras (7 Agoto
de 2009) la que fue conformada por representantes de organizaciones
y redes de derechos humanos.
Marchan a Tegucigalpa
600 personas provenientes de diferentes municipios de los
departamentos de Olancho y Francisco Morazán han caminado cientos de
kilómetros y su moral de resistencia se mantiene intacta a pesar de
las inclemencias del sol o las torrenciales lluvias. Su objetivo de
llegar a la capital está cada vez más cerca. Defensoresenlinea.com
localizó la marcha pacífica cuando se desplazaba por la aldea La
Cañada y la siguió hasta el sector de Monte Redondo a unos 23
kilómetros de la capital. Al realizar el recorrido se ha podido
constatar que personas que se transportan en vehículos particulares
apoyan a los manifestantes con agua y alimentos Las mujeres son tan
entusiastas como los hombres, en la movilización hay campesinos,
ganaderos, comerciantes, maestros, estudiantes y profesionales.
Gladys Núñez ha acompañado la movilización desde Juticalpa.
More on Honduras >>
And now in English:
Tomorrow: Global Day of Action for Honduras
The coup regime in Honduras has now clung to
power for six weeks. Meanwhile, the U.S. response has remained
sluggish and two-faced. Late last month, the State Department
finally revoked the diplomatic visas of four coup-plotters.
But just last week the same State Department
sent a letter to the Senate that incredibly names President
Zelaya, not the coup-plotters, as responsible for his own
ouster. The U.S. response to the coup should not be a
matter of supporting or rejecting the prior actions of Manuel
Zelaya; it's a matter of supporting or rejecting the flagrant
usurpation of Hondurans' right to exercise their democratic
will. The illegitimate coup regime merits clear, consistent
condemnation from the U.S., not the schizophrenic response seen
More on actions to be taken tomorrow >>
Reform, not Fear
In the past 10 years,
health insurance premiums have doubled, and
millions of Americans still struggle to afford health care.
The health reform proposals currently before the
Senate will ease the burden on us all, from those most in need to
middle class families. There’s a lot on the line in the health care
debate, yet special interests, even those who claim to be speaking
for people of faith, are
trying to block
reform with distortions and distractions.
Faithful America – a non-profit 501(c)(3)
organization – is encouraging people to sign on to this brief letter
to U. S. Senators:
Our families, congregations and communities
feel the impact of our broken health care system every day. Too
much is at stake to get sidetracked by distortions and
We in the faith community call on you to focus
on facts, not fear, in your deliberations and to pass meaningful
health care reform that makes quality, affordable health care
available to all.
This new package should include, at a minimum,
reforms such as stopping insurance companies from denying
coverage for pre-existing conditions, a cap on out-of-pocket
health care expenses and a strong affordability standard that
makes families up to 400% of the Federal Poverty Level able to
Click here to add your name to the letter >>
What's Happening with Health Care?
Witness in Washington Weekly,” published by the Washington Office of
the PC (U.S.A.), offers a very helpful summary of the ongoing
Congressional debates on health care reform, along with summaries of
recent General Assembly policy statements on this vital the matter.
For more of
our recent posts on the health care issue >>
|Psychologists repudiate gay-to-straight therapy
The AP reports:
The American Psychological Association
declared Wednesday that mental health professionals should not
tell gay clients they can become straight through therapy or
In a resolution adopted by the APA's governing
council, and in an accompanying report, the association issued
its most comprehensive repudiation of "reparative therapy" — a
concept espoused by a small but persistent group of therapists,
often allied with religious conservatives, who maintain gays can
No solid evidence exists that such change is
likely, says the resolution, adopted by a 125-4 vote. The APA
said some research suggests that efforts to produce change could
be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies.
Instead of seeking such change, the APA urged
therapists to consider multiple options — that could range from
celibacy to switching churches — for helping clients live
spiritually rewarding lives in instances where their sexual
orientation and religious faith conflict.
The rest of the report >>
APA press release on the report >>
For the full text of the Task Force report (138 pages, in
PDF format) >>
|Women at Risk
Or: Misogyny Lives
Witherspoon board member Sylvia Carlson recommends
this article by Bob Herbert, published in yesterday’s New York
Times. It begins:
“I actually look good. I dress good, am
clean-shaven, bathe, touch of cologne — yet 30 million women
rejected me,” wrote George Sodini in a blog that he kept while
preparing for this week’s shooting in a Pennsylvania gym in
which he killed three women, wounded nine others and then killed
We’ve seen this tragic ritual so often that it
has the feel of a formula. A guy is filled with a seething rage
toward women and has easy access to guns. The result: mass
The concluding paragraph:
We would become much more sane, much
healthier, as a society if we could bring ourselves to
acknowledge that misogyny is a serious and pervasive problem,
and that the twisted way so many men feel about women, combined
with the absurdly easy availability of guns, is a toxic mix of
the most tragic proportions.
The full op-ed article >>
invited to participate in review of Washington Office
News release from General Assembly Mission Council, July 31,
Washington Office of
the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is “a central and important
instrument through which Presbyterians make witness to their faith
on matters of public affairs,” says Sara Lisherness, director for
Compassion, Peace and Justice
ministries of the General
Assembly Mission Council.
Witherspoon Society encourages you, as someone who is likely
committed to the social witness and mission of the PC(USA), to
speak up in response to this invitation. Our voices need to be
In 2008, the Rev. Eileen Lindner,
a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) pastor, presbytery executive and
social research specialist, was engaged to lead a study of the role
and purpose of the Washington Office. Presbyterians are now invited
to provide feedback and responses to the study.
The study includes a provisional
mission statement, eight principles to guide the work of the office
in the future, and a request for input from Presbyterians. The
mission study and feedback will be reported to the General Assembly
Mission Council at the September 2009 meeting.
The effort that culminated in the
initial report included analyzing previous research; assessing the
work of ecumenical partners’ Washington presence; scrutinizing all
correspondence regarding the office received over the last several
years; empanelling a distinguished group of Presbyterians for
additional consultation; conferring with leading secular partners in
public witness activities; and reviewing related literature.
In preparation for the
presentation of the report to the General Assembly Mission Council,
the guidelines and comment section are now posted on the
PC(USA) Web site.
Lindner stated, “The public voice
and public witness of the PC(USA) is the business of all
Presbyterians in keeping with our Reformed theology. As we move
closer to making decisions about the future of our public witness,
we will be strengthened in our discernment by the shared thoughts of
a diversity of Presbyterians sharing their views.”
Cowardice Among 'Christian' Leaders:
Why the churches are
largely mum on torture
Ray McGovern, a
former CIA analyst and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence
Professionals for Sanity, explores the ways in which Christian
churches seem to be “riding shotgun for the system, even regarding
heinous sin like torture.” This appears through a recent Pew
Research Center survey, which showed that a majority (54%) of white
non-Hispanic Catholics, white Evangelicals, and white mainline
Protestants who attend church regularly “said torture could be
‘justified,’ while a majority of those not attending church
regularly responded that torture was rarely or never justified.”
fairly long essay, but well worth reading >>
|To Hell with Health Care Reform: Religious Right
leaders attack Obama, spout GOP dogma about “socialism” while
fanning flames on abortion
People for the American Way
leaders have enthusiastically joined Republican-led opposition to
health care reform efforts.
Much of the Religious
Right’s organizing energy has been devoted to incendiary and false
claims about the administration’s alleged stealth plan to force
every health plan to cover - and force all doctors to provide -
abortion services. None of these approaches are actually included in
the plans working their way through Congress. In fact, anti-choice
members of Congress are using health reform to institute a new
nationwide abortion ban in private insurance plans taking away
coverage women already have.
Religious Right leaders have joined the parade of talking heads
spouting bogus right-wing talking points about health care plans
moving in Congress, falsely claiming that reform constitutes a
socialist government takeover of the entire health care industry.
Focus on the Family’s
James Dobson, on a recent conference call for anti-choice activists,
sounded both those charges, calling reform legislation a “huge
abortion industry bailout” as well as a “health care power grab by
the federal government.” Operation Rescue similarly conflates the
anti-choice and anti-government arguments, urging activists “to act
now to stop Obama's radical, socialistic abortion agenda…” The
Christian Broadcasting Network has provided a major platform for
The full article >>
|Update on the crisis in Honduras – and
legislation in Congress
The Latin America
Working Group provides a brief and helpful update on the situation
in Honduras after the coup that ousted President Manuel Zelaya.
The group also urges support for proposed
legislation in the House: “H.Res. 630 condemns the coup d’etat, and
calls for the restitution of the elected government of Manuel Zelaya.
It urges the Obama Administration to suspend non-humanitarian aid to
the de facto Micheletti government, and calls for international
observation of the November elections. Lastly, it welcomes the
ongoing mediation of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias.”
More reports on
important step for stopping and deterring wage theft
Interfaith Worker Justice applauds legislative action
News release from
Interfaith Worker Justice
Justice applauds leading House Democrats, who today introduced a
critical piece of legislation to ensure that workers do not lose
their wages while the U.S. Department of Labor investigates wage
theft by employers who drag the process out. The legislation is a
welcome response to a stinging Government Accountability Office
(GAO) investigation that revealed the federal government's abysmal
failure to enforce the nation's wage and hour laws.
The Wage Theft
Prevention Act (H.R. 3303) is based on a GAO recommendation made in
a report released this week. The bill would ensure that delays in
investigating claims of wage theft will not result in a permanent
loss of back pay for workers. The GAO found many investigations of
wage theft were inadequately handled by the Bush administration's
Wage and Hour Division and were dropped because the statute of
limitations is too short and investigations took too long. To ensure
that workers do not lose their hard-earned wages, the bill would
freeze the statute of limitations from the date an employer is
informed of an investigation until the agency notifies the employer
that the investigation has concluded.
And for other reports on labor issues >>
|Observe Bread for the World Sunday, October 18
A message from
Bread for the World:
Encourage your church or faith community to renew their
commitment to end hunger by taking part in Bread for the World
Sunday! On October 18 and other Sundays in the fall, congregations
and faith communities will recommit to help end hunger in God’s
You can order FREE resources to help your church observe Bread
for the World Sunday. This year’s reflection, on Mark 10:35-45, is
written by Rev. John Buchanan, editor and publisher of the
Christian Century. A new song composed by Marty Haugen in honor
of Bread for the World’s 35th anniversary, a call to
worship, a litany, worship bulletin inserts, and offering
envelopes—all are available to make your celebration a success.
Order your FREE Bread for the World Sunday resources.|
See the creative ways that churches are observing Bread for
the World Sunday. |
With the global economic crisis, more people are hungry here in
our country and around the world. Participating in Bread for the
World Sunday is one way your congregation can make a difference. I
hope you will join with us.
President, Bread for the World
|MLP Posts Two Positions: Operations Coordinator
and Grant Writer
A notice from More Light Presbyterians
Presbyterians now has two job openings. The openings are for a grant
writer and an operations coordinator. Both are part-time, contract
positions. Deadline for applications is August 14, 2009. To
see the position descriptions, click on the links below:
For an index to all our reports
from the 218th General Assembly
For an index to all our reports from
conference on global mission and justice >>
Earlier in April,
For links to earlier archive pages,
Some blogs worth visiting
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
Witherspoon’s Facebook page
Mitch Trigger, Witherspoon’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.
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!
Plan now for our 2010 Ghost Ranch
GHOST RANCH SEMINAR
July 26-August 1, 2010
WE’RE ALL IN
CONFRONTING THE STRUCTURES OF INJUSTICE
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