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Archive for February, 2009

This page lists our postings from all of February

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.

2/24/09
The Friends Committee on National Legislation suggests for this evening's State of the Union message:

Two Questions for Obama

Tonight, President Barack Obama will lay out his priorities for the nation in his first address to Congress. The president has a lot on his plate right now. One of the key questions for him is how to make good on his promises to end the killing in Afghanistan and initiate a new U.S. diplomatic initiative with Iran.

As you listen to the president's speech tonight, we hope you'll pay particular attention to how he answers two key questions.

When will the United States begin talking with Iran?
Iran's cooperation is essential to peace in Iraq, to stabilizing Afghanistan, to helping advance Israeli-Palestinian peace, and to rebuilding nuclear nonproliferation. The president has pledged to open diplomatic talks with Iran. The news that Iran is close to opening its first nuclear power plant makes the need for talks all the more urgent.

How will the United States help bring peace to Afghanistan?
Expanding the U.S. war isn't the answer. Instead, our government should expand U.S. diplomatic reach (including talks with the Taliban), invest in that country's long-term development, and provide aid for Afghan refugees, who with Iraqi refugees make up half the world's refugee population.

Take Action

Listen to the speech or read the text. Then write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper in response. We've provided a sample letter that focuses on the two questions above.

To increase the chances that your letter will be published, you should submit it tonight or first thing tomorrow morning.

Background

bullet FCNL calls for diplomacy with Iran
bullet FCNL calls for New Strategy toward Afghanistan
Christians have a role to play in rebuilding Iraq, church leaders say

World Council of Churches News Release – Feb. 17, 2009

Representatives of churches in Iraq confirmed their commitment to work together with all Iraqi citizens for reconciliation and rebuilding peace in the country.

"The solution to current conditions lies not in emptying Iraq of its human resources," said the participants at a 10-11 February meeting in Dar Sayedat Al Jabal, Fatka, Lebanon. The meeting was organized by the World Council of Churches (WCC).

Some 12 representatives of Iraqi churches attended the gathering, which addressed the challenges facing Christians in Iraq today, particularly issues of safety and security as well as forced migration. They affirmed the status of Iraqi Christians as "authentic children of [the] land," emphasizing the values of equal citizenship and constructive co-existence.

"Christians have belonged to Iraq since the nation's birth," and as "an essential part of Iraqi society … deeply rooted in its history and civilization," they "have the right to live freely" in the country, enjoying "equal rights and responsibilities along with all other citizens," they said.

Participants in the meeting, some of whom went through the experience of being kidnapped in Iraq, called upon Iraqi Christians "to stay in their homeland and participate actively in its rebuilding and development". Iraqi Christians have a role "in building educational and social institutions that contribute to national reconciliation, peace building and stability," they said.

The gathering also called on Western churches "not to encourage migration and resettlement programs for refugees outside Iraq," but rather to "focus their efforts on bringing back security and stability inside Iraq for all Iraqis," with the aim of enabling Iraqis to "work together, healing wounds and building a better future".

Participants at the meeting emphasized the importance of continued dialogue "among Christians and their Muslim brothers and sisters." They pledged to establish an "ecumenical forum" in order to allow "all Iraqi church leaders … to speak in a common voice to religious and political authorities inside and outside Iraq".

Full text of the statement of Iraqi church representatives >>

Middle East Council of Churches >>

WCC programme on accompanying churches in conflict situations >>

WCC programme on Churches in the Middle East: solidarity and witness for peace >>

More from Witherspoon on the U.S. war in Iraq >>

New Amnesty report calls for freeze on arms sales to Israel 

In the Israeli newspaper Ha-Aretz, Amira Hass summarizes Amnesty International’s report that as many as 20 countries, led by the United States, have sold Israel weapons and armaments which may have been used to commit war crimes during Israel’s 22 day assault on Gaza. In an unusually blunt statement, Amnesty International's Middle East director, Malcolm Smart, unequivocally declared, “The Obama administration should immediately suspend U.S. military aid to Israel.” This is one more indication that Israel is losing its standing in the international community (outside the United States), although its political elite and its American camp followers still publicly dismiss all such criticism as anti-Semitism.

The full report >>

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

Here’s another report on the same subject, from The Guardian UK:

Amnesty, citing phosphorus shells, urges Israeli weapons ban

Detailed evidence has emerged of Israel's extensive use of US-made weaponry during its war in Gaza last month, including white phosphorus artillery shells, 500lb bombs and Hellfire missiles. In a report released today, Amnesty International detailed the weapons used and called for an immediate arms embargo on Israel and all Palestinian armed groups. It called on the Obama administration to suspend military aid to Israel. The human rights group said that those arming both sides in the conflict 'will have been well aware of a pattern of repeated misuse of weapons by both parties and must therefore take responsibility for the violations perpetrated. 

The full story >>

More from Witherspoon on Israel, Palestine, and the war on Gaza >>

Lugar: "Time to Rethink US Sanctions on Cuba"

Agence France-Presse reports:

The time is right for reevaluating US sanctions on Cuba, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says in a new report, calling for allowing Cuba to buy US goods on credit, US media reported Sunday. Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana's opinions are attached to a report due to be released Monday that could add fuel to momentum toward change in almost five decades of US policy seeking to isolate Cuba, the Americas' only communist country. The full story >>

More presbyteries voting on Amendment 08-B this week

These presbyteries will be moving through the process of discernment on 08-B in the days ahead. We continue to witness a strong movement of the Spirit in the decisions of many presbyteries, as we seek ratification of this amendment and an inclusive and unified church for all. We invite you to keep all those who will be part of these meetings in your prayers.

02/24/2009

Cherokee
East Iowa
Geneva (?)
Hudson River
Milwaukee
Shenango

02/26/2009

Missouri Union
Peace River

02/27/2009

Indian Nations
South Alabama
South Dakota
Yukon

02/28/2009

Central Nebraska
New Harmony
North Puget Sound
Northeast Georgia
Tampa Bay

Thanks to Ray Bagnuolo

First reports from today's presbytery votes on 08-B
 
Hudson River Presbytery approves 08-B.
 
Today, February 24, at Stony Point Conference Center, Stony Point New York, Hudson River Presbytery affirmed the 218th General Assembly's Ordination Amendment 08-B by a vote of 94 YES, 12 NO with 1 Abstention.

If you have news of the vote in another presbytery,
please send a note!

2/23/09
Calls for immigration reform continue in Postville, Iowa

At public vigil in Presbyterian church, community asks lawmakers to 'have courage to do something'

Roughly 100 people gathered at various locations Thursday night in Postville, a small town still reeling in the aftermath of an unprecedented May 2008 immigration raid, to pray for reform. Many of those gathered at Community Presbyterian Church, shown above, were detainees in the raid and were released back into the community with ankle tracking devices. At least 24 individuals in Postville with such devices continue to exist by charity while they await their day in court.

Read the report in the Iowa Independent >>

Thanks to PresbyWeb for alerting us to this report.

NOTE:  You might recall that concern for this case was raised on the floor of the 2008 General Assembly, by a commissioner from Iowa.  More >>

More on immigration concerns >>

U.S. use of torture is still an issue!

"You can't sweep unlawful activities under the table"

Abu Ghraib investigator Antonio Taguba talks to Salon about why he backs a commission to examine Bush torture policies.

Mark Benjamin, writing for Salon.com, opens his article:

President Obama vowed that "the United States will not torture" only two days into his new administration. But one big question Obama hasn't answered is whether and how to investigate notorious Bush-era interrogation and detention policies. On Thursday, 18 human rights organizations, former State Department officials and former law enforcement and military leaders asked the president to create a nonpartisan commission to investigate those allegedly abusive detention practices.

Retired Maj. Gen. Tony Taguba, who investigated the famed abuses at Abu Ghraib, signed on to the effort. He explained his support in an interview with Salon. Taguba agrees with many attorneys who think it would be difficult, and perhaps impossible, to prosecute former Bush administration officials. A nonpartisan fact-finding commission, however, might provide some degree of accountability for official U.S. detention and interrogation policies that Taguba called misguided and illegal.

He concludes:

We have a lot of unanswered questions on accountability, questions that need to be answered and hold responsible officials -- civilians and military -- accountable. These include contractors. We ought not to refer to accountability as a bumper sticker or to be used loosely. We have an integrity issue to contend with if we are to prevent this matter from recurring.

The full article >>

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

The National Religious Coalition Against Torture (NRCAT) suggests this concrete action:

Tell President Obama to end Bush Administration Secrecy!

An important legal case being argued in a United States Court of Appeals concerns allegations of torture by five victims of the Bush Administration’s extraordinary rendition program. Unfortunately, last week, the Department of Justice affirmed the “state secrets” argument used by the previous Administration to bar crucial evidence from the courtroom.

You can read more about the case in this Andrew Sullivan piece and this commentary by legal scholar Scott Horton.

Please contact President Obama and Attorney General Holder and ask them to uphold President Obama’s commitment to transparency.

Click here for a sample email for your use, created by NRCAT. Please feel free to personalize it before sending it – personalized messages receive more attention.

More on the issue of torture >>

Lutherans move to allow gay clergy – sort of

Religion News Service reports:

A blue-ribbon panel recommended on Thursday (Feb. 19) that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America lift its ban on partnered gay and lesbian clergy, but only after the church agrees in principle on gay relationships and respecting the consciences of those who dissent.

A majority of the 15-member Task Force for ELCA Studies on Sexuality believes that “it is possible to devise guidelines and policies that would allow ... some flexibility” in its ordination standards.

The 4.8 million-member ELCA currently allows gay or lesbian clergy who pledge to be celibate; partnered or sexually active homosexual clergy are technically not allowed in ELCA pulpits, though some buck the rules without punishment. ...

If adopted by the ELCA’s Churchwide Assembly in August, the proposals would remove the blanket ban on non-celibate gay and lesbian clergy, empowering local congregations and governing bodies to make their own decisions on whether to allow them.

The full story >>

~~~~~~~~~~~

And for a report from the heartland (or should it be Mighty Fortress?) of the ELCA, here’s a story from the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Presbyterian young adult conference set for May 27-30 in Austin, Texas

Early registration deadline for the YAM Jam Conference is this Wednesday, February 25.

News Release

Austin Texas - the “Live Music Capital of the World” – is the location for YAM-Jam – a gathering of Presbyterian young adults and young adult leaders throughout the PCUSA that will take place on and around the campus of Austin Theological Seminary from May 27-30. Bruce Reyes-Chow (Moderator), Carol Howard-Merritt (author of Tribal Church, and Ted Wardlaw (President of Austin Seminary) are scheduled to keynote this first time event. Hosted by PACHEM (Presbyterian Association for Collegiate and Higher Education Ministries) and sponsored through the Office of Collegiate Ministries YAM-Jam is an event for people seeking creative ways to be in ministry with young adults and college students in the PCUSA.

More >>

2/21/09
More heartening results from presbyteries voting today on Amendment 08-B

The Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, the largest presbytery in the PC(USA), met today at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church, Atlanta, and voted by 243 to 233 to approve Amendment B, which would effectively remove the ban on ordination of lgbt Presbyterians. This is the first time Greater Atlanta has voted for inclusive ordination.

Another shift came in the Presbytery of New Hope, meeting at Cary Presbyterian Church, Cary, North Carolina. They approved Amendment 08-B by a vote of 177 Yes to 139 No, with 10 abstentions. In 2001-02, New Hope voted 153 Yes to 159 No, rejecting a similar move toward equality.

Yet another shift came in the Presbytery of Ohio Valley. Today they voted 57 to 44 to approve Amendment B, while in 2001-02 they voted 90 to 74 against it. Also, the Presbytery of Arkansas voted 116 to 64 in favor of Amendment B, after opposing such changes in the past.

Continuing their earlier support for full inclusion, the Presbytery of Santa Fe and the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky (formerly known as Louisville) both approved Amendment B. Santa Fe voted 110 Yes to 23 No, with 1 abstention. Mid-Kentucky voted 90 Yes to19 No. Giddings-Lovejoy also continued its support for inclusion, voting 125 to 83 for Amendment B. The Presbytery of John Knox voted 39 to 13 for the change -- in a snowstorm.

The presbyteries of The James, Lake Erie, North Alabama, Homestead, and Tropical Florida all remained steadfast in their opposition to this change.

Of 77 presbyteries reporting so far, 34 have voted Yes, and 44 No. And of the presbyteries voting Yes, 15 have shifted from previously opposing inclusive ordination to supporting it this time.

Thanks to Presbyweb and to Bruce Hahne
for most of this information.

More news and resources on Amendment 08-B >>

2/20/09
The Vote on Amendment 08-B Marches On: Analysis and Prospect

Dale Johnson offers a thoughtful survey of the voting by presbyteries so far on Amendment 08-B.  He suggest some reasons for shifts from past votes, and some points that might be emphasized to help in the voting yet to come.   His essay >>

Another presbytery switches for inclusion

Today, February 20, at Grace Presbyterian Church of Midland, Texas, the Tres Rios Presbytery affirmed the 218th General Assembly's Ordination Amendment 08-B by a vote of 37 YES to 34 NO.

The Ordination Amendment vote in 2001-02 by Tres Rios Presbytery was 17 Yes, 54 No. This is a remarkable 28% positive shift from the previous vote to the one today.

So the totals in the voting so far:

YES:  25 presbyteries
NO:    39 presbyteries

Needed to "win" (to approve or reject Amendment 08-B for inclusive ordination standards:  87 presbyteries

More news and resources on Amendment 08-B >>

For the latest voting, check Bruce Hahne’s very helpful blog, at http://yeson08b.blogspot.com/

An ecumenical opportunity for young adults:

Stewardship Programme at World Council of Churches

This comes to us from the Collegiate Ministries office of the PC(USA)

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Here's a wonderful opportunity for a young adults you may know for a 3 week international program in Geneva to serve as a steward for the World Council of Churches Central Committee meeting in Geneva, Switzerland. It is both a wonderful international focus and also faith formation in an ecumenical setting.  DEADLINE IS MARCH 31, 2009

More information and to apply >>

2/19/09

Breaking news

Another presbytery (in Alabama) shifts to support equality in ordination

Sheppards & Lapsley presbytery, in central Alabama, voted today to approved Amendment 08-B, to restore ordination to its proper role as a commissioning of people for service in leadership of the church, and not as a test of sexual orientation.  The vote was close -- 77 for the amendment and 75 against.  But it was a major shift from a history of strong opposition to equality in past votes.

Western Colorado presbytery continued to reject the change, but by a narrower margin than in the past (11 yes and 23 no votes).

More news and resources on Amendment 08-B >>

Financial "downturn" hits the PC(USA)

Commentary by Gene TeSelle 

The head of the Presbyterian Board of Pensions recently commented on the economic downturn. We must applaud his saying something publicly about it. But much of his language is that of the corporate world, from which he came, and we note with concern that his own salary is in the neighborhood of ten times that of most ministers and most GA staffers.

Gene TeSelle offers some reflections on the economic situation and its impact on the PC(USA), and on the views expressed by Robert W. Maggs Jr., President and Chief Executive PC(USA) Board of Pensions.

Witherspoon is on Facebook!

The Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia have joined the "Web 2.0" world with our Witherspoon Society page on Facebook.

It's been a treat to see so many friends join us from around the country and even around the world. One of the people joining us as a member of our Facebook community is the Rev. Roberto Jordan of Argentina, one of the people instrumental in drafting the Accra Confession and the featured speaker at our 2007 fall conference on global discipleship.

By joining us on the Witherspoon Society Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=50517709365), you can keep connected with other friends passionate about social justice issues and keep up-to-date with notes about the latest news from a variety of PC(USA) social justice groups.

If you don't know much about Facebook, it's a simple way of getting connected with old friends, people with similar interests and it's free. If you are a first-timer, simply go to www.facebook.com and register. By joining as a member of our Facebook page, you too can post news from your church or presbytery that might be of interest to the rest of us or begin a discussion on a topic close to your heart. It's fast, fun, and free – something we all enjoy! See you there...

Mitch Trigger, Secretary/Communicator of the Witherspoon Society

And our hearty thanks to Mitch for leading the way!

Celebrate the Gifts of Women

Celebrating women during this year of Calvin’s Jubilee

Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday honors women who contribute their gifts to the church and community and lifts up issues of women’s rights. March 8, 2009, is Celebrate the Gifts of Women Sunday and International Women’s Day.

The 2009 celebration also coincides with the 500th birthday of John Calvin, foreparent of the Presbyterian Church. Your congregation or women’s group may, however, use this resource on any date that you choose to celebrate women.

The Celebrate the Gifts of Women resource, written by Dale Lindsday Morgan, includes

•          a worship service with a call to worship, prayer of confession, assurance of pardon, suggested hymns, scripture and program suggestions

•          a dramatic approach applying Calvin’s thoughts to women’s leadership in the church today

•          recommended resources for further study

Help spread the word — download a flier (in PDF formt) about the resource.

Download the 2009 Celebrate the Gifts of Women resource.

Order the resource from Presbyterian Marketplace.
     Free
     PDS#2750109001

Download the 2008 Celebrate the Gifts of Women resource which celebrates the young woman within.
    in English >>

    in Spanish >>

Download the 2007 Celebrate the Gifts of Women, which celebrates the diversity of spiritual and cultural gifts of the young women who are active in our denomination.

Amnesty International USA urges:

Help leverage U.S. influence for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

Tell Secretary Clinton to Stop the War on Women in the DRC

 This call for action has come to us from Larry Cox, Executive Director of Amnesty International USA

The ten-year tangle of alliances, invasions and proxy warfare centered in the Democratic Republic of Congo has made the region the world's deadliest killing ground since WWII.

Rape is systematically used as a weapon of war and children are forced to fight for armed groups. Peace in the DRC means putting an end to the institutionalized violence against women and children. Click here to watch a video of Congolese children speaking about their experiences as child soldiers.

The recent dramatic reversal of alliances between the DRC and its conflict-entangled neighbors, Uganda and Rwanda, combined with the withdrawal of Hutu rebels has opened a small window for peace in the region.

Your action today can help us make real progress on ending violence against women and children across the region.

The U.S. has considerable economic and political influence over both the DRC and Rwanda—no other country combines such influence. Sign our letter to Secretary Clinton asking her to leverage our voice to strengthen support for the UN peacekeeping mission and protect women and children in the DRC.

Rape is used in the conflict as a calculated strategy to destabilize opposition groups as well as promote fear and submission. It is not unusual for mothers and daughters to be raped in front of their families and villages. Human rights activists working to end violence against women often face grave threats of violence themselves.

Justine Masika Bihamba is one such activist. Because of her work to end violence against women, she and her family have been targeted.

Justine described the current situation in Congo as a war against women. "When two sides fight, the one punishes the other by raping women," she said.

Putting an end to the rampant sexual violence and the use of child soldiers is essential to ensuring peace in the region.

Secretary Clinton has said that women's rights are one of her top priorities. Make sure her promises become reality.

Add your name to our letter to Secretary Clinton urging her to take concrete steps to protect women in the DRC.

Sincerely,

Larry Cox, Executive Director
Amnesty International USA

2/18/09
Latin America Working Group urges:

End the Travel Ban on Cuba

Their email, dated February 17, 2009:

Dear Cuba Policy Advocates,

S. 428, "Travel for All," is the Senate companion to H.R. 874 introduced two weeks ago by Representatives Delahunt (D-MA) and Flake (R-AZ). The Senate bill, introduced by Senator Dorgan (D-ND) with Senators Enzi (R-WY), Lugar (R-IN), and Dodd (D-CT), calls for the lifting of travel restrictions so ALL Americans can travel freely to Cuba.  More information >>

S. 428, like H.R. 874, is an important step toward a changed Cuba policy; and we need your help to make this a reality. Contact your senators and ask them to co-sponsor S. 428.

To find your senators' contact information, you can call the Senate switchboard at 202.224.3121; or you can look it up here.

Here is the message:

Please co-sponsor S. 428, "To allow travel between the United States and Cuba."

This bill introduced by Senators Dorgan (D-ND), Enzi (R-WY), Lugar (R-IN), and Dodd (D-CT) calls for lifting travel restrictions to Cuba for ALL Americans, restoring our right as citizens of the United States to travel freely, and takes a giant step toward restoring our country's reputation in Latin America and the world.

Thank you for your support in ending this inhumane and out-dated travel ban. To co-sponsor S. 428, please contact Wendy Gnehm in Senator Enzi's office or Brian Moran in Senator Dorgan's office.

Support "travel for all" rather than "travel for none" or even "travel for some."

Click here to send your senators an e-mail using our webform.

If you haven't contacted your congressperson yet, please take a moment to ask her/him to co-sponsor H.R. 874. See our alert from last week here and take action on H.R. 874 today!

And don't forget to register (remember PRE-REGISTRATION IS REQUIRED FOR EVERYONE) for Cuba Consultation 2009, March 5 and 6 in Washington DC. Click here for more information, and continue checking our website for updates about the agenda.

Sincerely,

Mavis Anderson
Paulo Gusmao
www.lawg.org

NOTE: The Presbyterian Church (USA) is a participating member in this organization, through our Washington Office.

Amendment 08-B -- What to do now??

Considering the voting so far in presbyteries on Amendment 08-B, the Rev. Ray Bagnuolo offers this analysis, with suggestions for ways to give further support to change toward a more inclusive church. 

Why marriage matters

Leonard Pitts, Jr., a thoughtful columnist with the Miami Herald, reports a moving story of life and death for a lesbian couple.

The whole story >>

2/17/09
Three more presbyteries make the shift to support an inclusive church

In meetings today, three presbyteries switched from their opposition to ordination of lgbt Presbyterians (in 2001-02) to supporting it by approving Amendment 08-B.

bulletMaumee Valley (Northwestern Ohio and Southeastern Michigan) voted 65 to 58.
bulletGreat Rivers (Western Illinois) voted 85 to 74.
bulletScioto Valley (Central Ohio) voted by 115 to 88.

The only presbytery we’re aware of that voted today against the amendment is Glacier, which rejected it by 28 against, to 7 for.

For the latest voting, check Bruce Hahne’s very helpful blog, at http://yeson08b.blogspot.com/

For more on the whole subject of ordination, and Amendment 08-B >>

2/16/09
An alternative view of globalization as it seems to unravel

A report on the World Social Forum: Is Another World Possible?

The Nation magazine carries a report by Tim Costello and Brendan Smith, that begins: 

The recently concluded World Social Forum is a good gauge for assessing the state of the world's alternative social, economic and political movements. Organized in 2001 as a counterpoint to the World an emerging globalization from below. It's a massive affair--this year more than 100,000 people gathered here for the five-day event. Part political convention, part carnival, part countercultural happening, the WSF serves as the center of gravity for the global justice movement that emerged in the late 1990s to contest corporate globalization.

The question on the minds of many was how to respond to what some call the "crisis of crises"--the economic, climate, political and cultural catastrophes that have engulfed the planet--and whether social movements can provide a unifying alternative vision for a better world. Economist Walden Bello of Focus on the Global South summed it up: "There is a sense of urgency and seriousness combining both pragmatism and principle. There is much less rhetoric. Things are taking place very fast outstripping what many predicted. There is a clear collapse of neo-liberalism. We have been triumphant over Davos.... Now we need alternatives and must get down to the hard work of creating them."

The full article >>

We have money problems, right?

Let’s look to the military (budget) for help

Rep. Barney Frank (D - Mass.) urges looking to the military budget as a source of funds for health care and more

Frank’s article, published in The Nation, begins:

I am a great believer in freedom of expression and am proud of those times when I have been one of a few members of Congress to oppose censorship. I still hold close to an absolutist position, but I have been tempted recently to make an exception, not by banning speech but by requiring it. I would be very happy if there was some way to make it a misdemeanor for people to talk about reducing the budget deficit without including a recommendation that we substantially cut military spending.  [Emphasis added.]

Sadly, self-described centrist and even liberal organizations often talk about the need to curtail deficits by cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that have a benign social purpose, but they fail to talk about one area where substantial budget reductions would have the doubly beneficial effect of cutting the deficit and diminishing expenditures that often do more harm than good. Obviously people should be concerned about the $700 billion Congress voted for this past fall to deal with the credit crisis. But even if none of that money were to be paid back – and most of it will be – it would involve a smaller drain on taxpayer dollars than the Iraq War will have cost us by the time it is concluded, and it is roughly equivalent to the $651 billion we will spend on all defense in this fiscal year.

The full article >>

Latest presbytery voting on Amendment 08-B

One more shift to Yes on more inclusive ordination

The Presbytery of Charlotte, meeting on Saturday, February 14th, at Johnson C. Smith University, became the sixth to switch from 'no' in 2001-2 to 'yes' this time. The vote was 133 to 124.

The Presbytery of Miami Valley (in the area of Dayton, Ohio), continued their consistent support for change, beginning by rejecting a motion to “take no action,” and then approving Amendment 08-B by 72 to 48.

Other presbyteries continued their rejection of change, but all by narrower margins than in 2001-02. These included Mid-South (Memphis), Inland Northwest (Eastern Washington, Northern Idaho), and the Pines (Northern Louisiana, Southern Arkansas). The Presbytery of the Pines, we note, rejected 08-B by a vote of 34 to 36 – pretty close!

So the count of presbytery votes so far stands at 20 for Amendment B, and 37 against. There’s still lots of work to be done!

For the latest voting, check Bruce Hahne’s very helpful blog, at http://yeson08b.blogspot.com/

And more on the whole subject of ordination, and Amendment 08-B >>

More information released about the members of the GA special committees on Israel Palestine, and the Heidelberg Catechism

Presbyterian News Service has released brief bio sketches of the recently appointed members of the special committees created by the 2008 General Assembly to study issues related to Israel Palestine, and concerns about inaccurate translations of the Heidelberg Catechism, which have been cited as reasons against the ordination of lgbt Presbyterians.

60-minute documentary chronicles life of John Calvin

Presbyterian News Service reports on a new documentary – John Calvin: His Life and Legacy – which examines the life and thought of the seminal Protestant Reformer as the 500th anniversary of his birth approaches in July of this year.

According to officials of the Congregational Ministries Publishing (CMP) in the General Assembly Council’s Theology Worship and Education ministries, which is one of the sponsors of the project, the film "is poised to debunk such myths as predestination being at the heart of Calvin’s theology and that he relished the burning of heretics at the stake, and reclaim Calvin’s perspectives on Christian faith and life that have shaped Reformed churches throughout the world.”

The full news release >>

2/12/09
More presbyteries vote on Amendment 08-B

The Presbytery of Southeastern Illinois voted today, by 68-56-3, to approve Amendment 08-B. That was a shift for them, from opposing ordination to supporting it. 

And the Presbytery of Pueblo (southeastern Colorado) voted ‘no’ but by a margin of 27 votes, as compared to a difference of 54 votes in 2001-2. So the current count of voting as far as we know, is 18 ‘yes,’ 32 ‘no,’ with 5 presbyteries so far switching from opposition to support compared to 2001-2.

One of those ‘no’ votes was the result of a tie, in the Presbytery of Cincinnati, which counts as a "no" vote.  This reminds us of the importance of talking with people about the issue, and helping be sure they get to the meeting where they can vote.

Bruce Hahne, recent National MLP Board Member and Elder, First Presbyterian Church, Palo Alto, CA, is keeping a tally of the voting, analyzing trends, and more. Click here for his data >>

Thanks to Tricia Dykers Koenig of Covenant Network,
and Michael Adee of More Light Presbyterians.

More on Amendment 08-B >>

Biographical information on members of Civil Union/Christian Marriage Committee

13-member group mandated by 218th General Assembly

The Office of the General Assembly has released biographical information on the 13 Presbyterians named yesterday (Feb. 5) to the General Assembly’s Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Unions and Christian Marriage. 

The full story on the committee members >>

Lenten resources are offered to help people reflect on torture

No2Torture and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program have worked together to prepare resources for Lent, with a focus on the continuing concern for torture. These have been prepared through the partnership and courtesy of singer/songwriters Tom Zehnder and Tim Gibbs Zehnder.

There are reflections and sermon notes by the Rev. Kirsten Klepfer, which are posted on the No2Torture page >>

Carol Wickersham of No2Torture describes this resource: “The work is deep and solid and should help connect the considerations of torture to larger issues of violence. It is rooted in study of this year's lectionary passages and theological considerations of atonement. It is short, relevant and accessible so preachers and lay leaders can readily use it."

On the Peacemaking Program's page there are prayers and a devotional reflection by Elsbeth Pollack, a student at Beloit College.  Click here >>  

Finally, Tim and Tom offer the free use of their song "Breathe In, Breathe Out" in mp3 format and as the lyrics. Click here for the details >> 

During this Lent, as we prepare to celebrate again the events of Holy Week – the arrest, torture, and execution of Jesus – and God's response of resurrection – may these resources sustain and challenge us in our efforts to stop the use of torture.

The Rev. W. Mark Koenig
Coordinator, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program

(502) 569-5936
(888) 728-7228 ext. 5936 (toll-free)
mark.koenig@pcusa.org
www.pcusa.org/peacemaking

Immokalee Workers leader addresses UN
This report comes from the Rev. Noelle Damico, who staffs the Campaign for Fair Food, of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), dated Feb. 11, 2009.

Yesterday, Lucas Benitez of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers spoke at the United Nations to mark the first-ever "World Day of Social Justice." He emphasized the practical steps that state and federal government officials could take to address the grave human rights abuses faced by farmworkers. Read on to learn more.

The writer of 1 John exhorts us to love "in truth and action." If you haven't already done so, do take a moment to read and consider signing on to the Religious Community Letter to Florida Gov. Charlie Crist concerning modern-day slavery. It calls on the governor to meet with the CIW and to urge the Florida Tomato Growers Exchanges to stop impeding the CIW's agreements with food corporations. To read the letter, get background, and to sign on, click here >>. Please download the letter and encourage members of your church to join in this important public witness.

Peace, PC(USA) Campaign for Fair Food

~~~~~~~~~~~

Lucas Benitez speaks at UN's first "World Day of Social Justice"

At the invitation of the Honorable Mary Robinson (President of the Ethical Globalization Initiative and former UN High Commissioner on Human Rights), Lucas Benitez of the CIW spoke yesterday at an event marking the first "World Day of Social Justice," organized by the EGI, the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the UN.

You can find the full text of his speech at the CIW website, http://www.ciw-online.org

The invitation to the inaugural event, held at UN headquarters in New York, was a great honor. Lucas spoke of the history of the CIW's struggle and of practical policy steps that state and federal government actors could take to help improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of farmworkers. He concluded his presentation:

With this sort of practical and political support from elected leaders, consumers and the corporations that purchase produce will be able to demand a new product from the US agricultural industry – not just good, cheap, and safe food, but fair food, food that respects human rights and doesn't exploit human beings.

Food is at the very heart of any society. The workers who plant, pick, and pack food throughout the US – and around the world – have suffered generations of poverty and degradation. On this day, the very first World Social Justice Day, let us recognize the fundamental dignity of farm labor and the men and women who put the food on our tables. Thank you.

The Rev. Noelle Damico
Campaign for Fair Food
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
noelle.damico@pcusa.org
NY Office: 631-751-7076
Mobile: 631-371-9877
www.pcusa.org/fairfood

More on the Immokalee farmworkers' campaign for justice >>

Don’t Forget to Register for Ecumenical Advocacy Days
From Witness in Washington Weekly, published by the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), February 11, 2009

Register Now for Ecumenical Advocacy Days - "Enough for All Creation" - March 13-16

"The Thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." John 10:10

Join us at the 7th annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days, as we explore ways to bring about a world with Enough for All Creation. Learn about the connections between climate change, migration and poverty in the U.S. and around the world. Come together with faith-based advocates and activists from across the United States in the nation's capitol March 13-16 as we discuss the abundance of our world and how it can be allocated in a way that is fair and just for all creation.

We live in an increasingly interconnected world and have an enormous impact on each other and creation. As the earth's temperature rises we see a strain on resources. Food, while plentiful for some, is desperately scarce for others. Lack of clean water makes children sick and burdens women. Global warming and growing resource deprivation forces some people to migrate and others to wage war over food, water and oil. Our increasingly co-dependent economies lift a few individuals up to great heights while keeping others living lives of destitution.

This year, Presbyterian delegates will again have the opportunity to gather for dinner on Saturday night, as well as for lunch and a special “denominational” time earlier that day. Don’t miss it!

For more information and registration go to http://advocacydays.org/

2/10/09
Another presbytery shifts to support 08-B

Cimarron Presbytery approves Ordination Amendment 08-B.

Today, February 10, at First Presbyterian Church, Alma, Oklahoma, Cimarron Presbytery affirmed the 218th General Assembly's Ordination Amendment 08-B by a vote of 19 Yes, 16 No.

In 2001 Cimarron Presbytery rejected the ordination amendment by a vote of 16 Yes to 20 No.

Within less than 2 weeks, this is the fourth presbytery to "flip" from opposition in 2001 to approval in 2009, with Western North Carolina as the first presbytery to flip.

 Thanks to Michael Adee of More Light Presbyterians

For more on Amendment 08-B >>

For justice for Florida farmworkers

Join in asking Gov. Crist of Florida to oppose modern slavery in Florida’s fields, and to support improvement for farmworkers

The Witherspoon Society supports the PC(USA) Campaign for Fair Food, in inviting you to sign on to and collect signatures for a letter from the religious community to Florida Governor Charlie Crist.  The letter calls upon Gov. Crist to work with the CIW to address modern-day slavery and abuses in Florida's fields and to urge the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange to stop blocking improvements for farmworkers.

More >>

It's time for a Truth Commission on torture

Human Rights First seeks a truth commission on torture from Torin Nelson, a professional interrogator who just returned from Afghanistan. We hope you will join him and Human Rights First in calling for a truth commission.

The group Human Rights First is distributing this note from Torin Nelson, a professional interrogator who just returned from Afghanistan. They urge you to join him and Human Rights First in calling for a truth commission.  Read Nelson's note >>

A participatory sermon about Jesus

The Rev. John Shuck posted this note on Monday, Feb. 9, reporting on his “sermon” from the day before.

No text for Sunday's sermon. It was "off the cuff." I will tell what I did as it was kind of fun.

I put the congregation to work.

The ushers handed out pencils. During the sermon I asked them to write a paragraph about Jesus, about the personality of Jesus. What kind of person was he? I played some music while they wrote about Jesus.

Then I asked them (and it only really works if they don't know this is coming) to circle three things they wrote about Jesus that described themselves as well (or who they would like to be). Then I asked them to tell the person next to them about the Jesus they found and the characteristics that describe themselves.

It was well-received and far more eye-opening than if I had merely told them how our ideas about Jesus reflect our attitudes. Tell me your Jesus and you will find yourself.

I offered some closing thoughts about how Jesus is a spiritual icon and can be a "lure" inviting us to discover our deepest or best selves.

This is the real value of Jesus and why his story continues to be retold.

 

I hope folks will tell me about the Jesus they found.

I learned this exercise from Walter Wink when he and his partner, June Keener-Wink led a workshop at Kirkridge. He was working on his book The Human Being: Jesus and the Enigma of the Son of Man. A good read by the way.

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

Posted By John Shuck to Shuck and Jive

Detained immigrants paraded through Phoenix in shackles by Sheriff Arpaio

The National Council of Le Raza (NCLR) begins its report:

[On Wednesday, Feb. 4,] at 1:00 p.m. Sheriff Joe Arpaio paraded hundreds of detained immigrants in shackles through the streets of Phoenix, Arizona to a "tent city" where they will be held indefinitely. In true Arpaio form, his office sent a press release to the media inviting them to this event, proving that he's more interested in drawing attention to himself than actually doing his job. In reference to the electric fencing around the tent city, Arpaio said, "This is a population of criminals more adept perhaps at escape. But this is a fence they won't want to scale because they risk receiving quite a shock-literally."   More >>

2/8/09
More presbyteries vote for 08-B

The Presbytery of East Tennessee became the third to change its vote from 'no' in 2001-2 to 'yes' this year, when they voted on Saturday, Feb. 6, to approve Amendment 08-B by 81 to 66, with 2 abstentions. They thus joined in supporting a proposal to make the Presbyterian Church more welcoming, more inclusive, more just, especially in relation to its lgbt members who believe they are called to ordained office.   More from John Shuck’s blog >>

Also on Saturday, the Presbytery of the Redwoods (California) and the Presbytery of Winnebago (Wisconsin), which have supported inclusive ordination in the past, did so by stronger majorities than ever.

The total of presbyteries voting so far stands at 15 “yes” votes for the amendment, and 27 “no.” And as a number of observers have noted, even in presbyteries that continue to reject the amendment, the margin is narrowing between the “no” votes and those favoring the change.

More details are provided by More Light Presbyterians >>

Bruce Hahne has prepared a spreadsheet listing all the votes so far, comparing them with voting on a similar action in 2001-02.

Membership named for two GA special committees

Topics of study to include Heidelberg Catechism and Israel Palestine

The membership of two General Assembly special committees have been released, bringing the total of special committees named by the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to three this week.

Reyes-Chow earlier named his appointees to the Assembly’s Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Unions and Christian Marriage.

All three special committees were formed out of actions of the 218th General Assembly (2008), which met last summer in San Jose, Calif.

2/5/09
Obama announces new faith-based council

President Barack Obama has announced that the office established by President George W. Bush, for providing government support for religiously based social programs, will be continued – but apparently changed in some significant ways. While Bush’s program was primarily a grant-making body, Obama is going beyond that, creating a new board of advisers whose recommendations will be woven directly into his policy-making apparatus.

The New York Times reports today:

President Obama signed an executive order Thursday to create a new White House office for faith-based programs and neighborhood partnerships, building upon the initiatives started by the Bush administration to administer social services to people “no matter their religious or political beliefs.”

More >>

What are your thoughts about this potentially significant development?

Please look at the reports, then send a note, so your hopes and concerns can be shared here.

GA Moderator announces names for special committee to study civil union and Christian marriage

Committee of 13 will begin work in March

The Reverend Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has selected members for the General Assembly Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage.

Last summer’s General Assembly directed the Moderator to “appoint a special committee, representing the broad diversity and theological balance of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), to study the following … including any policy recommendations growing out of the study:

 •          The history of the laws governing marriage and civil union, including current policy debates.

•          How the theology and practice of marriage have developed in the Reformed and broader Christian tradition.

•          The relationship between civil union and Christian marriage.

•          The effects of current laws on same-gender partners and their children.

•          The place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community.

More >>

On Amendment 08-B

A pastor calls for change

As Palisades Presbytery met on January 27 and debated the proposal to amend G-6.0106b in the Book of order to remove the effort to ban ordination of lgbt Presbyterians, one of those speaking for the amendment was the Rev. Richard Hong, pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Englewood, New Jersey, and co-chair of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry of Palisades Presbytery – and a former treasurer of the Witherspoon Society.

The Presbytery voted 35 to 20 in favor of 08-B.

We think his brief statement may be helpful to others. He began:

I am on the Bills and Overtures Committee representing the Committee on Preparation for Ministry, and it is from that perspective that I comment on 08-B. On CPM, our job is to discern whom God has called. For pastors, elders, and deacons, the question to the congregation at our installations asks that they affirm that the person being elected was “chosen by God through the voice of this congregation.”

“Chosen by God” – that is why I oppose the sort of categorical limitations that were so unwisely added to G-6.0106 a decade ago. Every time we categorically exclude persons from office: persons of color, women – we’re wrong. God has and will continue to surprise us by the people God chooses.

More >>

TORTURE IS A MORAL ISSUE

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture is sponsoring two important events in the Washington, DC area in March. 

This announcement has come to us from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture

First, NRCAT is a co-sponsor again of the Ecumenical Advocacy Days which will take place March 13-16 at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, Alexandria, Virginia, across the river from Washington, DC. It is an important gathering of Christians who come to DC to lobby on a variety of issues. Click here to learn more and to register: http://www.advocacydays.org/.

During Ecumenical Advocacy Days, there will be a workshop called "Next Steps in Ending U.S.-Sponsored Torture". It will provide an opportunity to talk about the tasks ahead for the religious community as we work to end U.S.-sponsored torture once and for all, including advocating for an independent nonpartisan commission to investigate our torture policies and practices since Sept. 11, 2001.

The workshop will be held on Saturday, March 14, 2009, from 3:45 - 5:30 p.m. Speakers include Scott Horton, a New York attorney known for his work in human rights law and legal affairs and national security contributor at Harper's Magazine and Dr. George Hunsinger, founder of NRCAT and Professor of Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Second, the Catholic Leadership Council of NRCAT, the Life Cycle Institute and the Center for International Social Development of the Catholic University of America will sponsor a conference on "Torture, Conscience and the Catholic Moral Tradition" at Catholic University on Thursday, March 19, from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.   More on this event >>

Sincerely,

Linda Gustitus, President, NRCAT
Richard Killmer, Executive Director, NRCAT

2/3/09

Announcing ...

GHOST RANCH PEACE & JUSTICE WEEK
July 27 - August 2, 2009

Now is the time to make reservations to be a part of the 2009 Peace & Justice Week at Ghost Ranch, July 27-August 2. There are eight seminars to choose among, including the Witherspoon-sponsored class “New Eyes for Peace & Justice from the World Church” led by Clifton Kirkpatrick.

Other seminar opportunities include “Organizing Alternatives to Military Service” planned by Rick Ufford-Chase, “Faith in Action & Stone Building” led by brothers David William Abazs and Andrew Kang Bartlett. Mark Koenig and Joel Hanisek will be guiding “Chariots & Horses: Weapons of Mass Destruction, Weapons of No Discrimination” and Jean Richardson is providing opportunity for renewal in “Moving to Wholeness.”

Three other classes are designed to provide ways to respond to some of today’s challenges. Greg Garrett offers “Speaking Out for Peace & Justice: Writing, Preaching & Speaking that Make a Difference.” Amy Franklin and Kay Pranis will lead “Fundamentals of Peacemaking: Exploring Connectedness” and “Climate of Fear, Climate of Hope” will be led by Kolya Braun-Greiner and Pamela Sparr.

You can read descriptions of all these classes at www.ghostranch.org and of the camp culture alternative for lower cost housing and food option. The Rev. Corey A. Nelson will serve as Worship/Music Leader for the week as well as working with the children/youth program. The Rev. Nancy Copeland-Payton will be available all week for one-on-one sessions of spiritual discernment. There will also be an opportunity to attend the commemoration at Los Alamos of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Family members seeking other kinds of classes can choose from among a wide variety in the Creative Arts Festival lineup, plus several other opportunities including Casa del Sol Retreat Center or just rest & relax.

Note: Send your registration in now, to get your housing choice.  Also, the registration fee is $250 until May 15, when it goes to $350. It pays to sign on early.

For details on each of the seminars >>

New Eyes for Peace and Justice From the World Church

Years ago Robert McAfee Brown reminded us of the important "gift of new eyes" that we receive from the world church to help us see that Christian faithfulness in witness for peace and justice in North America. That has never been more true than today! This course will explore several recent global, ecumenical developments that have the potential for reshaping our witness for justice in the 21st century.

Each day we will focus on a different development and what it might mean for our work for justice and peace and will use our final session to pull the threads between these movements together. These developments include:

bullet The Accra Confession (WARC's call for Covenanting for Justice in the Economy and the Earth);
bullet Decade to Overcome Violence (WCC-sponsored movement of Christian communities around the world seeking alternatives to violence that lead to justice);
bullet Calvin Jubilee (2009 is Calvin's 500th birthday and churches around the world are exploring what it means to have a Calvinist revolution in the 21st century);
bullet A Common Word Between Us and You (the dramatic call from 138 Muslim scholars and leaders to find common ground around our common calling to love God and neighbor).

The Rev. Dr. Clifton Kirkpatrick, of Louisville, KY,  serves as President of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC). He has completed forty years of service as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA). For the last twelve years he has served as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly Council, and at the conclusion of his term of service in 2008, was elected by the General Assembly as Stated Clerk Emeritus. He is a graduate of Davidson College, and he received his theological education at Yale University Divinity School and his doctor of ministry degree from McCormick Theological Seminary. On January 1, 2009, Rev. Kirkpatrick became a Visiting Professor of Global Ministries and Ecumenical Studies at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

 

On Amendment 08-B, another presbytery shifts to support inclusion

Today Lake Huron Presbytery voted 43 to 32 in favor of Amendment 08-B, which would restore the PC(USA) to a more biblically based view of ordination, no longer barring those who by reason of their sexual orientation have been deemed unfit to serve in ordained office. Lake Huron Presbytery originally opposed “Amendment B,” which became G-6.0106b in the Book of Order, but since then has voted twice to reject amendments that would have moved to less restrictive requirements for ordination.

According to Presbyweb, so far 22 presbyteries have voted against 08-B, while 12 have voted to approve it.  That's a shift of two presbyteries so far to approve the amendment.

Doing the Recovery Right: joining concern for environment and justice

Robert Pollin writes in The Nation:

For most of the past generation, the aims of environmental sustainability and social justice were seen as equally worthy, yet painfully and unavoidably in conflict. Tree huggers and spotted owls were pitted against loggers and hard hats. Fighting global warming was held to inevitably worsen global poverty and vice versa. Indeed, the competing demands of the environmental and social justice agendas were frequently cited as a classic example of how public policy choices were fraught with trade-offs and unintended consequences – how you could end up doing harm while seeking only to do good.

Over the past couple of years, there has been a dramatic reversal of thinking: the idea has emerged that protecting the environment – in particular, defeating global warming – can also be an effective engine of economic growth, job creation and even poverty reduction.    The full article >>

Ending US Torture:
A Time for Hope and Healthy Skepticism

Published on January 24, 2009 by CommonDreams.org

George Hunsinger, who is the McCord Professor of Theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, and founder of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, http://www.nrcat.org/ expresses hope for the steps President Obama has taken to end the use of torture, to close Guantánamo, and abolish secret prisons. He writes: 

The decision to shut down Guantanamo is most welcome, yet it is not only lacking in detail but also allows too much time for its implementation. Guantanamo should be closed in less than a year. The many men who can go home should be immediately repatriated. Safe havens must be found for the others who would face torture or persecution if sent back. A handful will need to be tried in domestic courts. 

Closing the CIA black sites is also enormously important. Secret prisons have no place in a democratic society. Their only purpose is to get around the Geneva conventions and other laws so that torture and abuse can be carried out. No option should be left open for reviving those sites. 

Establishing a single standard for interrogation, also promulgated in principle, is essential if torture is to be flushed out of our system.

 

He concludes: 

In short, the new executive orders are full of promise. They overturn illegal and immoral tactics in the defense of national security. But they do not mean that the struggle is over.

Hunsinger deals with the issue of torture very helpfully in his recent book, Torture Is a Moral Issue: Christians, Jews, Muslims and People of Conscience Speak Out.

The full essay >>

 

Voting on Amendment 08-B as seen by The Layman

“Opponents of ordination standards get key win; more likely to follow.”

John Shuck offers this look at the view from the Right:

It’s on his blog, but here it is in full

Lamenting over Western North Carolina's approval of the new B (so sweet), the LayMAN is worried the tide may be turning. Check this:

Overall, the tally on the proposed revision of G-6.0106b now stands at 11 presbyteries voting to change it and 22 voting to keep it on the books as it is now. But the margins of support for the ordination requirement have trailed off in this referendum. If it continues that way among presbyteries that had close votes in 2001, the requirement could be defeated.

In 2001-02, 50 presbyteries that opposed repealing G-6.0106b had margins as close as Western North Carolina’s this year. That includes 12 with margins of 10 or fewer votes and 15 with margins of 11-30 votes. If all 50 voted to changing G-6.0106b, the opponents of the “fidelity/chastity” requirement would win by a vote of 96-77.

Cool! If Western North Carolina (home of the LayMAN's former Pontiff, Parker Williamson) can vote for inclusion, so can the rest of the PC(USA)!

The LayMAN spoke this truth as well:

And even if the proponents of ordaining gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people come up short this year, they will declare that “close” is sufficient grounds to ask the General Assembly to approve another referendum.

Right again, O LayMAN. Justice never sleeps. We will keep knocking on that door. Little by little, one heart and mind at a time, the church will finally get it.

Click here for the Layman’s report >>

By the way, Shuck also offers this late news from the environmental front:

Hundreds protest global warming.

 

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.
 

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we hope you'll help us keep Voices for Justice going ... and growing!

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

Mitch Trigger, PVJ's Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!

You can post your own news and views, or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.

 

Voices of Sophia blog

Heather Reichgott, who has created this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:

After fifteen years of scholarship and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy, students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and thoughtful community.

 

John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.

 

John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.

 

Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!

 

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