Archive for July, 2009
This page lists our postings from all of July, 2009
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
For links to
all our archive pages, listed by months,
|"We need advocacy groups!"
Does the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) still need to
support advocacy work? [Hint: Yes!]
Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty , a PC(USA) minister and a
member of the theology faculty at Bellarmine University in
Louisville, Ky, recently published an essay dealing with this
critical issue in Presbyterian Outlook. She begins:
This key question arises in many discussions
related to restructuring at the denominational offices in
Louisville, a global economic recession, reviews of the PC(USA)
Washington Office as well as a review of the relationship
between the Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns (ACWC), the
Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC), and the
Advisory Committee for Social Witness Policy (ACSWP). These
discussions are adding to perennial theological debates about
the church’s social mission.
My response to the question could simply be
“yes.” Recognizing the need to take seriously the current
context of these conversations in church and society, I want to
offer three reasons why we as a denomination cannot afford to
lose advocacy groups.
|Advocacy groups were formed to assist our
church in reaching out and looking in|
|There is still reason to be concerned about
|Advocacy groups help to cultivate and equip
leaders for church and society|
We urge you to look seriously at this article >>
Do you have thoughts on this
send a note,
to be shared here!
|On health care reform:
Have you heard about the six senators who are out to kill health
This message comes from Credo
part of the WorkingAssets program
Of course, that's not how they'd phrase it. Sens.
Baucus, Bingaman, Conrad, Enzi, Grassley and Snowe say they're
striving for "bi-partisan compromise." But what they're actually
doing is working to make sure reform won't include a public option
or mandatory employer-based insurance - two key policies needed for
There are 100 members of the Senate, but these
six, inexplicably, seem to be holding all the cards when it comes to
So you probably won't be surprised to learn that
all six have taken a huge amount of money from the health insurance
industry and pharma. Take a look:
contributions from Insurance/Pharma
Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT)
|Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM)
|Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND)
|Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)
|Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
|Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME)
These six senators -- who, by the way, represent only 2.74% of
Americans between them -- are writing bad policy, and they're doing
it while they take money from the very companies who stand to
benefit the most.
You may want to sign a
petition to tell Sens. Baucus, Bingaman, Conrad, Enzi, Grassley and
Snowe: Give back every dime you've ever received from health
insurance companies and big pharma.
For our other recent posts on health care reform >>
|New Mission Network for Syria-Lebanon
The initial meeting of a PC(USA) partnership network
with the Presbyterian Evangelical Synod of Syria and Lebanon will be
held on Sept. 8-10 in Louisville. After many months of preparation,
and in coordination with three representatives of the Synod, this
meeting will bring together those who've had long-term relationships
with the Synod, those who share an interest in supporting the
witness of the churches there, and who also wish to explore how the
Synod may help us in the U.S. in many ways, such as in our
ecumenical and interfaith relationships. For a copy of the letter of
invitation, you may contact a member of the organizing group, Rev.
Dr. Len Bjorkman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
in Owego, NY.
Thanks to Len Bjorkman, of the Presbyterian Peace
|On women's right to choose:
Why is the Presbyterian Church not supporting the Ryan-DeLauro
This query comes to us from Witherspoon member
The bill, bearing the weighty title, the
'Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion
and Supporting Parents Act,' has received support from such groups
as the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC), the
Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Catholics for Choice, the United
Methodist Church - General Board of Church and Society, the United
Church of Christ, and the Religious Action Center for Reform
A representative of the Episcopal Church has
joined some 50 other religious leaders and groups in supporting the
House of Representatives' Ryan-DeLauro Bill, which, if passed, would
aim to reduce the need for abortion by preventing unintended
pregnancies and supporting pregnant women and families.
Maureen Shea, director of the Episcopal Church's
Office of Government Relations, in a statement released on July 24,
behalf of the Episcopal Church, I am pleased to endorse the
'Preventing Unintended Pregnancies, Reducing the Need for Abortion
and Supporting Parents Act' sponsored by Representatives Tim Ryan
[Ohio] and Rosa DeLauro [Connecticut].
believe 'that the beginning of new human life, because it is a gift
of the power of God's love for his people, and thereby sacred,
should not and must not be undertaken unadvisedly or lightly but in
full accordance of the understanding for which this power to
conceive and give birth is bestowed by God. [This language is from a
resolution first passed by the 1967 General Convention and
reaffirmed in modified form at several subsequent meetings.]
order to ensure that the gift of life not be 'undertaken unadvisedly
or lightly,' this legislation seeks to prevent unintended
pregnancies particularly for teens; it restores and expands family
planning programs for low-income women; it gives childbirth support
to women and new parents, as well as students so that they can
continue their studies; and it provides important information and
financial support for those wishing to adopt.
|An interview with Honduran President Manuel
“Democracy has a price and
I'm willing to pay it”
The elected president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya
Rosales, has been much in the news since he was ousted from the
country in what to many appears to have been a military coup –
though the situation is much more complicated than that.
A reporter for SIREL, the website of the
Geneva-based International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel,
Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Unions,
interviewed him recently in Managua, Nicaragua, before his recent
attempts to re-enter Honduras.
It may be helpful to hear more of Zelaya’s own
thinking in the midst of all the other reports.
The full interview >>
problem with the photos? If your
browser, like mine, displays a number of photos covering some of the
text, try right-clicking on one of the photos, then click something
like “delete photos,” or “Do not allow photos from this site.” I
make no promises, but it might get rid of the pictures so you can
read what the man said.
Thanks to Gene
More on Honduras >>
|More on guns in
church. And why not in Congress?
passed along news about a “God and guns” rally in a Louisville
church back in June – and then about a “Leave Your Gun at Home”
rally presenting the other side.
Peter Smith, religion editor for the Louisville
Courier-Journal, now reports the latest: The initiator of the
un-gun event posted a thank-you note to the pastor who hosted the
pro-gun rally, grateful for giving Interfaith Paths to Peace “a
chance to tell its story literally to the world. Taylor told the
BBC, New York Times and other media that he couldn't fathom why
someone would promote bringing weapons into a place of worship.” And
beyond that, Terry Taylor, executive director of Interfaith Paths to
Peace, thanked the Rev. Ken Pagano, sponsored the God and Guns
But Taylor also thanked Pagano for his
graciousness in the conversation the developed between them.
Find Smith’s report on his blog >>
And then – why not let our legislators carry
their guns in the halls of Congress?
E. J. Dionne, Jr., of The Washington Post, offers this
Heck, let’s let
guns into the U.S. Capitol
Isn’t it time to dismantle the metal
detectors, send the guards at the doors away, and allow
Americans to exercise their Second Amendment rights by being
free to carry their firearms into the nation’s Capitol building?
I’ve been studying the deep thoughts of
senators who regularly express their loyalty to the National
Rifle Association and have decided that they should practice
what they preach. They tell us that the best defense against
crime is an armed citizenry and that laws restricting guns do
nothing to stop violence.
If they believe that, why not live by it? ...
Don’t think this column is offered lightly. I
want these guys to put up or shut up. If the NRA’s servants in
Congress don’t take their arguments seriously enough to apply
them to their own lives, maybe the rest of us should do more to
stop them from imposing their nonsense on our country.
The rest of his column >>
Nominee to be Secretary of the Army has poor record on
church-state issues, says watchdog group
News release from Americans
United for Separation of Church and State, July 29, 2009
Americans United for Separation
of Church and State today asked the Senate Armed Services
Committee to question U.S. Rep. John M. McHugh about his views
on religious liberty and the rights of religious minorities.
McHugh, who currently represents New York's 23rd District in the
House of Representatives, has been nominated by President Barack
Obama to be the Secretary of the Army. His confirmation hearing
Americans United says McHugh has a troubling record when it
comes to separation of church and state.
"As a member of the House, McHugh repeatedly voted for or
cosponsored proposals that would undermine the wall of
separation between church and state," said the Rev. Barry W.
Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "We must have
assurances that as Secretary of the Army, he will support the
rights of men and women of all faiths and none."
Thanks to the Rev. Betty Hale
Converge on Fort Benning, Georgia
Mass Mobilization to Shut Down the School of the
Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC)!
The military coup by SOA graduates in
Honduras has once again exposed the destabilizing and deadly effects
that the School of the Americas has on Latin America. The actions of
the school's graduates are unmasking the Pentagon rhetoric and
reveal the anti-democratic results of U.S. policies. It is
time for a change towards justice.
From November 20-22, 2209, thousands
will vigil at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, to stand up for
justice, to shut down the School of the Americas and to end the
oppressive U.S. foreign policy that the school represents.
|Speak out for same-sex marriage!
We've mentioned this before, but John Shuck offers
another strong nudge:
I see that Jim Berkley, formerly of the IRD, now
of the LayMAN, has
written his letter to the
Civil Union and Christian Marriage Committee. Presbyweb
posted it. Here is a snippet:
We do not love others by setting up
faux “covenants” so that they may feel confident and encouraged
to continue in sexual sin. We do not love others by failing to
warn them about the consequences of their actions, but instead
just let them continue in sin to their own destruction.
That is what he thinks of your relationships, my gay
and lesbian friends,
faux covenants. Allies,
that is what he thinks of your friends' and family members'
New study booklet and DVD report on efforts by
Muslim, Jewish, and Christian peacemakers working for justice and
Thanks to Len Bjorkman of the Presbyterian
Peace Fellowship, for news of this important resource.
Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace
is a 48-page perfect-bound booklet with a free companion DVD.
Steadfast Hope challenges common myths and misperceptions about
the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, presents a
compelling snapshot of the present situation on the ground, and
offers a guide to the challenges that lie ahead in the quest for
Steadfast Hope offers
an inspiring view of the activities currently being undertaken
by Muslim, Jewish, and Christian peacemakers working for justice
and reconciliation. It also gives helpful guidance on how your
congregation can contribute to the cause of just peace for the
people who share the Holy Land.
Download the flyer to
share with others!
low-resolution (smaller file)
hi-resolution (larger file)
Buy it now!
Israel/Palestine Mission Network by email at
to order the 48-page booklet and the accompanying free DVD.
• 1–9 copies............ $10 each
• 10–19 copies......... $7 each
• 20+ copies............ $5 each
Moderator of the Israel/Palestine Mission Network, says:
Steadfast Hope as an excellent resource for Presbyterian Women
as well as pastors, educators, and congregations. It grows from the
Israel/Palestine Mission Network purpose to demonstrate solidarity,
educate about the facts on the ground, and change the conditions
that erode the humanity of both Israelis and Palestinians."
more information >>
More on Israel/Palestine concerns
Collaboration for Social Justice
A new book,
Journeys into Justice: Religious Collaboratives Working for Social
Transformation, by Witherspoon
member Nile Harper, explores ten successful religious collaboratives
to discover the ways in which they changed public policies and
social systems to greatly improve the lives of thousands of people.
This is a book of hope based on experience.
|An urgent late
Please call your Senators
and tell them to vote against S.A.
1559, [which would PERMANENTLY prevent the President from
transferring any detainee from Gitmo FOR ANY PURPOSE, whether to
stand trial in a US court or to be housed at another facility].
Remind them that the abuses that occurred in the prison in
Guantanamo shamed our nation and you hope that they will not stand
in the way of closing that prison.
Voting against this
amendment will make it possible to close Guantanamo.
More from the
National Religious Campaign
Against Torture >>
A Hymn for This Sunday
This coming Sunday, July
26th, the lectionary’s gospel lesson is the story of the feeding of
the 5000. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette’s hymn, "Where is Bread?", is
inspired by this biblical story. The hymn is in the new book of
hymns by Carolyn and also on the web site as well as on the
Christian Reflection journal web site (with
text and music together).
and A New Book of Hymns
by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has been writing hymns that often have
peace and justice themes. She writes new words to well-known
hymn tunes, following the example of Jane Parker Huber and other
hymn writers. Carolyn's first book of hymns, Gifts of
Love: New Hymns for Today's Worship, was published by
PCUSA's Geneva Press in 2000. Many of her hymns can be found
online posted by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, Presbyterian
Hunger Program, Sojourners, Church World Service, National Council
of Churches and others. The Witherspoon Society has been the
first web site to post some of her hymns online that are now in her
new book: "Creator
God, You Made the Earth,"
Freedom, Christ Has Set Us Free!" ,
Hymn for Peace," "You
Formed Us in Your Image, Lord"
|The US blockade is crumbling!
Caravan to Cuba crosses into Mexico with 100 tons of aid bound
News release from
Pastors for Peace,
dated July 21, 2009
130 volunteers from the US, Canada, and Europe
successfully challenged the US economic blockade of Cuba today when
they crossed over into Reynosa, Mexico with 100 tons of humanitarian
aid bound for Cuba.
Rev. Tom Smith, IFCO/Pastors for Peace
board chair said
“The blockade is crumbling—like all walls eventually crumble. We
have received a tremendous outpouring of support throughout the U.S.
People have demonstrated their desire to end this inhumane policy
towards Cuba by their generous donations and by their informed
questions. People want the freedom to travel to Cuba without
limitations by the U.S. government.”
"We have met people
throughout the US who are willing to do more to make this change
happen.” Smith continued. Thousands of people signed up for our
emergency response network—standing ready to make calls to their
congressional representatives and the Obama administration demanding
that our aid to go through." said Smith.
The rest of the story >>
More on ending the travel ban to Cuba
Gun rights expansion fails in Senate
The New York Times ran
a good editorial yesterday, July 21, explaining the reasons
why the Thune amendment deserved rejection.
More on gun
control issues >>
WITNESS IN WASHINGTON WEEKLY
The Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
July 21, 2009
This week's messages are-
| Act Now for Peace for Israel/Palestine -
August Summer Recess District Advocacy|
| Resources for Health Care Reform|
| Save the Date: Briefing Call on Climate
Change in the Senate|
| U.S. Workers Get a Raise: a Release from
Let Justice Roll|
| Psalm 146: 1-7 - Praise for God's Help|
Download the letter in PDF format >>
As usual, this letter contains very helpful
information on resources you can use, and actions you can take to
make your voice heard in Washington on issues that people of faith
may care about deeply, and about which we may have insights and
values worth sharing with our legislators and fellow citizens.
Washington Report to Presbyterians
This report, also issued by the
Presbyterian Washington Office, brings less frequent but more
in-depth analyses of issues about which the PC(USA) has taken an
interest and made policy statements. This issue features:
|Pressure continues against Latino workers – now
being expanded under Obama
organizations across America condemn the expansion of 287 (g)
The Rev. Trina Zelle, formerly a co-moderator of
the Witherspoon Society and now working in Phoenix with Interfaith
Worker Justice of Arizona, recommends this
“excellent and comprehensive article” in La Frontera Times,
for an understanding of what is going on through government action
against migrant workers, both in Arizona and around the country.
Along with this, she suggests looking at the
New Yorker’s recent article on Sheriff Joe Arpaio of
Maricopa County, Arizona (“our out of control sheriff,” in her
here for our earlier report about his astonishing activities.]
|50 Ways to Save the Earth
new book by Rebecca Barnes-Davies, Witherspoon member and former
coordinator of Presbyterians for Restoring Creation, shows how
individuals and churches can make a difference in fighting global
The book, 50 Ways to Help Save the Earth: How
You and Your Church Can Make a Difference, is available through
Cokesbury . It outlines 50 ways individuals and churches can help
fight global warming and participate in a part of Christian
discipleship, making a connection between stewardship of the earth
and faith. The book consists of seven chapters on topics related to
global climate change: water, energy, transportation, food and
agriculture, people, other species, and wilderness and land
planning. Each chapter begins with a statement on how the content
relates to global warming, followed by seven action items.
For more information, and/or to order, click the Buy from Amazon
A reminder: Let the Committee on Civil Union and
Christian Marriage hear from you!
received this helpful reminder (and example) from the Rev. Ray
Bagnuolo, and we're happy to pass it along to you all.
Dear Friends -
We have been given the opportunity to forward
input to the Committee on Civil Union and Christian Marriage, as
they consider their recommendations for our church.
I have responded and ask you to please consider a
response, as well, regardless of your position. As you might
imagine, I have strong feelings about marriage being available
for the LGBT community and its families, just as it is for our
sisters and brothers who are not excluded by current
You may disagree or have some other opinions. I
believe deeply in the importance of all voices being heard, even
when we disagree. So, please take a few moments to write. The
information can be found here on the
Presbyterian News Service.
If interested, you can read what I have sent to
the committee at
bagnuolo.blogspot.com. If you would like a pdf copy of my
comments, just let me know. I'll be happy to send them.
Thank you for engaging in this conversation. It
is so important....
To much peace,
|THE ITALIAN TOMATO GARDEN
An Italian man lived alone in New Jersey. He wanted
to plant his annual tomato garden, but it was very difficult work,
as the ground was hard. His only son, Vincent, who used to help him,
was in prison. The father wrote a letter to his son and described
I am feeling pretty sad, because it looks like
I won‘t be able to plant my tomato garden this year. I’m just
getting too old to be digging up a garden plot. I know if you
were here my troubles would be over. In know you would be happy
to dig the plot for me, like in the old days.
How does this sad situation get resolved?
Episcopal bishops OK
prayer for gay couples
ANAHEIM, Calif. -- 07.15.09 -- Episcopal bishops
authorized the church Wednesday to start drafting an official prayer
for same-sex couples, another step toward acceptance of gay
relationships that will deepen the rift between the denomination and
its fellow Anglicans overseas.
The bishops voted
104-30 at the Episcopal General Convention to "collect and develop
theological resources and liturgies" for blessing same-gender
relationships, which would be considered at the next national
meeting in 2012.
The resolution notes
the growing number of states that allow gay marriage, civil unions
and domestic partnerships, and gave bishops in those regions
discretion to provide a "generous pastoral response" to couples in
dioceses already allow clergy to bless same-sex couples but there is
no official liturgy for the ceremonies in the denomination's Book of
Prayer. The measure still needs the approval of the lay people and
priest delegates at the assembly, which ends Friday.
From School of the
No to the Military
Coup in Honduras!
Representative to Take a Stand for Democracy!
On June 28, SOA-trained Honduran military generals
overthrew the government of President Manuel Zelaya. The Honduran
social movements are resisting the coup regime and engage in daily
pro-democracy protests, strikes and civil disobedience. There is
still hope that the legitimate government can be reinstalled but it
will take pressure on the coup leaders.
Representatives Bill Delahunt (D-MA) and Jim McGovern (D-MA)
introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives along with
14 original cosponsors that calls for the return to democracy and
the reinstatement of Manuel Zelaya as president of Honduras.
Click here to send
a message to your Representative to ask them to take a stand for
democracy by co-sponsoring the resolution.
Check if your Representative has already signed on to the
resolution. You can find a list of original co-sponsors of the House
Read a letter from Representative Bill Delahunt to fellow members of
the House of Representatives:
Read the text of the House Resolution:
More on our special
page on Honduras >>
|40 years of fighting hunger
Presbyterian Hunger Program celebrates anniversary
by looking back, looking forward
Presbyterian News Service reported from the
What began with a General Assembly action four
decades ago has become a program that has raised more than $125
million for hunger relief.
The Presbyterian Hunger Program celebrated its
40th anniversary with speakers, music and a raffle at the Churchwide
Gathering of Presbyterian Women July 14.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was the first
denomination to state that hunger is a grave threat and moral
imperative for the church, said PHP Coordinator Ruth Farrell, adding
that the program was originally charged with five focus areas
surrounding hunger: direct food relief, development assistance,
influencing public policy, lifestyle integrity and education and
"Those five approaches are every bit as relevant
today as they were 40 years ago," Farrell said.
The rest of the
From "Seeking Peace" -- updates from the
Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, July 14, 2009
Do you have a minute and a half today? You must
if you’re reading this. The Matthew Shepard Act is coming to a
vote on the Senate Floor THIS WEEK and we need you to make
two calls… one to each Senator that will take no more than
“Doctor Jekyll and Mr.
Donna Laubach, a PC(USA) mission co-worker in
Venezuela, asked us to share this article with our readers, to “see
if it helps anybody in the States to read the situation in this
The opening paragraph:
In the wake of the Honduras coup, speculation about
whether or not the US was masterminding the plot is running wild.
Brushing off denials of involvement and claims that US officials had
tried to dissuade the plotters from plans to overthrow President
Manuel Zelaya, progressive writers have almost unanimously accused
the Obama administration of complicity in the coup. ...
And the closing paragraph:
While it's crucial that the coup plotters be brought
to justice (even if that includes US citizens) and that Manuel
Zelaya return to his rightful place as president of Honduras,
activists need to pay even closer attention to the silent murder by
economic strangulation and/or free trade agreements. We need to
ensure, for instance, that Clinton not be allowed to "cut a deal" to
have Zelaya returned under "conditions" (as her husband did with
Aristide in 1994). We need to lobby for fair trade agreements and
not free trade agreements. We need, finally, to support movements in
Latin America working toward unity against empire. Zelaya's return
to Honduras, without conditions, will be only one step in our
excerpts from in between first and last >>
complete article, in TruthOut.org >>
|Latest news from Rita Brock and Faith Voices for
the Common Good
Rita Nakashima Brock’s latest
Faith Voices for the Common Good
touches on a wide
variety of concerns and actions, including:
• the need to
support people in the military who come to a place where in
conscience they believe they must refuse deployment in a particular
war such as that in Iraq. The Faith Voices' Truth Commission on
Conscience in War, November 15-16, will build nationwide momentum to
expand CO regulations to allow objection to a particular war.
DELEGATION TO IRAN – postponed after the protests against the
election results – is leaving Aug. 5! If you still want to send a
letter of friendship and solidarity to the Iranian people, email it
by July 20 to Rita Brock at
who will deliver the letters in person.
• Does Iran's
Intifada Have a Future? Faith Voices board member Amir Soltani
writes about this vital question.
• What About
Progressive Christianity? The abrupt departure of Rev. Dr. Brad
Braxton, senior minister of the Riverside Church in New York, after
less than a year of his being called, has precipitated extensive
soul-searching about progressive Christianity. Is the problem that
he was too conservative? Too evangelical? Or too "black"? Do too
many churches treat their ministers badly? In a congregation almost
evenly divided racially, is racism the core problem? And is this
just a Christian problem? A number of progressive Christian thinkers
have posted essays and blogs at Religious Dispatches, Rita Brock
included, on what Dr. Braxton's departure says about Progressive
Click here for a
complete posting of Rita Brock’s newsletter, Tara >>
|Good News from the Episcopal
From the New York Times, July 15, 2009
Episcopal Church Moves to End Ban on Gay Bishops
ANAHEIM, Calif. — The bishops of the Episcopal
Church voted at the church’s convention on Monday to open "any
ordained ministry" to gay men and lesbians, a move that could
effectively undermine a moratorium on ordaining gay bishops that the
church passed at its last convention three years ago.
The resolution passed on Monday was written in a
way that would allow dioceses to consider gay candidates to the
episcopacy, but does not mandate that all dioceses do so.
A similar measure was passed on Sunday by the
church’s other legislative body, the House of Deputies, which is
made up of laypeople and clergy. On Tuesday, the bishops’ version
will probably go back to the House of Deputies for reconsideration.
The full report >>
The Episcopal Church is taking action on many
other issues, as well.
for a summary, and links to more information.
|Enjoy the (jazzy) sound of rain!
Thanks to John Shuck for sending this along. Enjoy
“the rain down in Africa” – and turn up the sound enough to hear the
beginning. Lots of us have done this at summer camps – but
never like this!
and hear it on Shuck and Jive>>
For a larger screen on YouTube>>
Turn up the sound ... and go with it.
|Reports from the Churchwide Gathering of
Presbyterian Women –
The rest of us seem to
be missing some good things.
Some of the reports:
In keeping with Sunday evening's theme - "Wonder
of Creation" - at the Churchwide Gathering of Presbyterian Women,
Barbara Rossing spoke of the enchantment of waking to the song of a
bird, gazing at a waterfall or watching a child discover a new
But is all well with the world we cherish? As
Rossing described the failing health of the earth, she reminded the
audience, "The cruelest injustice of climate change is that it hurts
the poor - those who have done the least to cause the problem - the
hardest ... As Christians, we should be concerned about that."
The full report
from Presbyterian News Service >>
Calling for a ministry of meddlin'
"The good news of the
gospel is that it calls us to a ministry of meddlin,'" said Margaret
Aymer as she began her sermon during Presbyterian Women's Churchwide
Gathering July 12.
During the plenary
session themed "Wonder of Community," Aymer, a faculty member of
Johson C. Smith Theological Seminary, reinterpreted the Southern
expression, "Preacher, you've left off preachin' and taken to
meddlin'" in the context of Mark 2:1-12.
She explored the call
of the Christian community, specifically of Presbyterian Women and
the Presbyterian clergy women gathered, to re-envision themselves as
meddlers. She asserted that faithful Christians break barriers, like
the story of the four friends in Mark who carried a paralyzed man to
Jesus, breaking through the roof of a home to lower the man through
a ceiling so he could have access to Jesus.
"If we are honest, at
the heart of many of our conflicts is the question of access," she
said. "Access to water resources, to food and shelter and adequate
medical care, to energy, to human rights, to appropriate education
or to a place to call home.”
The report from
Presbyterian News Service >>
reports, see the Gathering’s own website >>
Among other things,
the Presbyterian Women’s business meeting on Sunday ratified the
amended and restated certificate of incorporation that establishes
Presbyterian Women as a publicly supported integrated auxiliary of
the PC(USA). Voting representatives also approved the bylaws of
Presbyterian Women in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Inc.
According to Catrelia
Hunter, 2006–2009 moderator of Presbyterian Women, incorporation
will allow PW to establish clear and separate accounting practices,
and ensure good stewardship of PW funds in the current economic
Since being formed in
1988, Presbyterian Women has held a covenantal relationship with the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and has been the single largest
contributor of undesignated funds to support the mission of the
church worldwide. That covenantal relationship remains in place.
More on this action >>
|A psychologist offers comments to the
Christian Marriage/Civil Union committee
Witherspoon board member Mitch Trigger sends this
Friends, I thought I'd share with you the
comments a friend of mine sent to the Christian Marriage/Civil
Union committee after I requested he do so. He is a professor of
psychology whose specialty is marriage and he is involved in
ongoing research involving marriage. He is passionately
committed to marriage equality. I hope the committee gives his
comments the weight they deserve. He allowed me to share his
comments with anyone I felt would benefit.
the Committee has invited comments from others across the
The note from Prof. Matthew D. Johnson to the
Dear committee members,
Your request for input was forwarded to me,
and I write in support of offering same-gendered couples the
full opportunities of marriage currently available to
heterosexual couples. While I feel there are profound
theological imperatives for this, I write as a university
professor of psychology whose career has been devoted to the
empirical study of marriage. Allowing same-gendered couples to
marry within the church will benefit the couples and their
It is clear from the research literature that
the act of a couple gathering together their friends and family
and making a promise to stay committed in front of the people
most important to them and in front of God is profound. This
leads to greater commitment (feeling compelled to stay in the
relationship) and dedication (feeling compelled to actively work
on improving the relationship) to their partner. These effects
are much stronger when a couple weds than when they simply live
together. A wedding that lacks an endorsement from the church
may well weaken the benefits of marriage for the couple.
Strong marriages also benefit the children. A
large amount of research conducted in the last two decades
suggests that, on average, the presence of two parents is
associated with better outcomes for children.
Unwed parents who cohabitate are more similar
to married parents than to single parents on variables related
to child outcomes, but children in families with married parents
have the best health, behavioral and academic outcomes.
Strengthening families regardless of the
gender of the parents should be an important goal of the church,
and one way to do this is to allow all couples who seek to
enhance their relationship through marriage to do so with the
support of the church.
Matthew D. Johnson, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
Binghamton, NY 13902-6000
National gun violence prevention groups express
outrage that in wake of shootings, U.S. Senate is poised to consider
legislation to dramatically weaken state concealed handgun laws
The coalition's statement concludes:
In the midst of an epidemic of gun violence, the American people
require serious efforts to reform our weak gun laws, not
misguided attempts to appease the powerful gun lobby. The Senate
Judiciary Committee should commit today to holding a hearing on
real measures to reduce gun violence—like closing the gun show
loophole in the Brady background check system, which allows
criminals to buy guns from private sellers at gun shows.
text of their news release >>
The Witherspoon board has endorsed a recent
"Gun Show Background
Check Act of 2009," which would in a very modest way tighten
controls on the sale of guns, rather than forcing states to relax
|If you're at the Churchwide Gathering of
Presbyterian Women starting today, we hope you'll look for the
Voices of Sophia / Witherspoon Society booth!
Please stop by and get acquainted with the people who will be there
staffing the booth, who will include the Rev. Gusti Newquist and the
Rev. Sylvia Carlson, both members of our board -- and lots of other
good folks. They will be able to provide you with
information on our merger, copies of the most recent
Network News, and much
more. Do stop by!
Honduras – update and action alert
This comes from
the Alliance for Global Justice
unable to land. Runway blockaded by military. At least two young
people are dead
Demand complete cut-off of aid and relations by US!
July 5, 2009, Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who was violently
overthrown and removed from the country by a military coup on June
28, flew back to Honduras accompanied by UN General Assembly
President Miguel D'Escoto. His plane circled the airport, where
100,000 people had gathered to await him and return him to office,
but was unable to land because the military blockaded the runway. He
then flew to Managua for a brief stop and meeting with President
Daniel Ortega before flying to San Salvador to meet with the
Secretary General of the OAS and the presidents of Argentina,
Ecuador, and El Salvador who had flown there direct from an OAS
meeting in Washington, DC.
More information, and
suggested actions >>
earlier report on Honduras, and the coup leader's background in
School of the Americas >>
Calling all artists, doodlers,
creative thinkers, feminists,
& independent minds
We are merging two progressive Presbyterian
— Voices of Sophia and the Witherspoon Society —
and now we need to live into a new identity.
Sooo ... we’re looking for a new name and a new logo
and you can help!
Join one or both of these contests and win huge
To print and share with others, get the
PDF version of this announcement
|Bill Moyers Journal offers a theological look at
Faith and Social Justice
On its broadcast for
Friday, July 3, the "Bill Moyers Journal" offered insight from three
leading public thinkers who taught a unique course – "Christianity
and the U.S. Crisis" – at Union Theological Seminary in New York,
the oldest nondenominational seminary in the country. Renowned
scholars Cornel West, Serene Jones and Gary Dorrien offer a fresh
take on what our religious traditions and our core ethics and values
as a nation say about America's politics, policy and the challenges
of balancing capitalism and democracy. "This is a society that has
stoked and celebrated greed virtually to the point of
self-destruction. We can't just go on saying, 'Well if we can just
patch this thing up and get back to where we were, things will be
all right.' And none of us believe that, so we also have to talk
about what was wrong with the system to begin with that had outcomes
that you can't really justify morally," says Dorrien.
For snippets of the discussion >>
For the full transcript >>
the video >>
More on the ordination debate
The Rev. Dr. Eric
Mount, professor emeritus of religion at Centre College
in Kentucky, was asked to speak on behalf of Amendment 08-B for regional
gathering in his presbytery, and found the issue of biblical
authority to be the central concern of the person on the other side
of the debate. He had just ten minutes to develop his position,
which was “that people could support the change because of the Bible
and not in spite of it, and I also made reference to the ‘Wesleyan
Quadrilateral,’ which includes tradition, reason, and experience as
sources of authority along with the Bible.” He found the ten-minute
limit a bit frustrating, so he shares with us a more complete
statement of a very helpful view.
|Join NNPCW's Leadership Team!
This invitation comes from the
National Network of
Presbyterian College Women ...
Coordinating Committee (CoCo) of NNPCW is now accepting applications
for three-year term
We are accepting
applications through August 14 for membership to NNPCW's
Coordinating Committee (CoCo), the 12-member decision-making body.
Learn more and
find out how to apply.
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
For links to
all our archive pages, listed by months,
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
If you like what
you find here,
we hope you'll help us keep Voices for Justice going ... and
Please consider making a special
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Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!