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Archive for November, 2009

This page lists our postings from all of November, 2009

For an index to all our reports
from the 218th General Assembly

For an index to all our reports from the
Witherspoon conference on global mission and justice >>

Earlier in April, 2010
March, 2010
February, 2010
January, 2010
December, 2009
October, 2009
September, 2009
August, 2009
July, 2009
June, 2009
May, 2009
April, 2009
March, 2009

February, 2009
January, 2009
December, 2008
November, 2008
October, 2008
September, 2008
August, 2008

For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

11/23/09
Christian Right leaders issue declaration, promising to defend purity of the faith against everybody else

The New York Times reported on Friday, November 20:

Citing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to civil disobedience, 145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration saying they will not cooperate with laws that they say could be used to compel their institutions to participate in abortions, or to bless or in any way recognize same-sex couples.

“We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence,” it says.

The manifesto, ... released on Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, is an effort to rejuvenate the political alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that dominated the religious debate during the administration of President George W. Bush. The signers include nine Roman Catholic archbishops and the primate of the Orthodox Church in America.

They want to signal to the Obama administration and to Congress that they are still a formidable force that will not compromise on abortion, stem-cell research or gay marriage. They hope to influence current debates over health care reform, the same-sex marriage bill in Washington, D.C., and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The rest of the Times’ report >>

Commentary and analysis:

The Declaration promises “resistance” against anything that doesn’t fit the Religion of the Christian Right

Gene TeSelle, recently “retired” as Issues Analyst of the Witherspoon Society, offers a thoughtful discussion of the Declaration, notes that the document focuses on three of the usual Christian Right concerns: “(1) abortion and stem cell research, (2) any form of marriage other than a union of husband and wife, and (3) any government limitations on "conscience clauses," which allow individuals and religious institutions to refuse to participate in anything related to abortion or same-sex unions.”

He notes that these groups are claiming the right to carry their absolute religious claims into the public political sphere, threatening to engage in civil disobedience if their demands are not met.

For TeSelle’s full essay >>

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

Ethics Daily:

Christian Right Issues New Declaration — Same Old Agenda, Same Nazi Analogies

Robert Parham writes for excellent website Ethics Daily, that the authors of this statement sound the familiar themes of the Christian Right but tries to place their stance in the distinguish tradition of Martin Luther King, Jr’s campaign for civil rights, and the abolition of slavery. their own concerns, though, are the usual: ending women’s right to control their own bodies, condemning LGBT relationships, and defending the “right of conscience” for Christians to assert their own absolutist beliefs.

They view with alarm the present climate of the nation, portraying themselves as standing against the coercive powers of Caesar. And their focus on certain narrowly defined issues, he says, misses the whole core of Jesus’ teachings:

“Yet again, the Christian Right bypassed the Nazareth Manifesto, Sermon on the Mount, the Great Commandment and the Great Judgment passage. While they did cite Jesus from John 10:10 and Matthew 22:21, they made Jesus a secondary moral guide to their political agenda of criticizing President Obama and shrinking the Bible's moral vision.”   His full essay >>

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

And from the Rev. John Shuck, blogger at Shuck & Jive:

Ostentatiously called the Manhattan Declaration, it is yet another attempt to by the superstitious right wing to fight at windmills. Fundamentalists of various sects including a few Presbyterian notables [including Carmen Fowler and Parker Williamson of The Presbyterian Layman] have endorsed it.

What are they endorsing? What is this courageous Satan-smiting witness to the glory of the Triune God? What are those things that Jesus talked about most and cared about most? What are the key challenges we are facing in our nation and around our world?

I think you know.

These faithful heroes who "care about the future of the Christian witness in the public discourse of our nation" are standing firm, bearing the standard, cupping the grail of holiness, and bravely waving their lances at the gravest threat we have yet to address...

Gays getting marriage licenses.

Oh, and uppity women who insist on making their own informed decisions regarding their own reproduction.

And they call what they are doing protecting religious freedom.

... Meanwhile other actual challenges to our nation's welfare like healthcare, the increasing gap between the wealthy and the poor, militarism, and energy and ecology, are still there.   For Shuck's full comment >>

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Calls for Just Health Care Reform

Questions and Answers

This very helpful statement was posted recently by the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church (USA), at http://www.pcusa.org/washington/healthpolicy.htm It is also in PDF format at http://www.pcusa.org/washington/health-policy-qanda.pdf

It begins:

What does the PC(USA) support?

•            For over 60 years, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assemblies have been calling for reform of the U.S. health system, urging the establishment of a national medical plan that will ensure health coverage for all persons residing in the United States.

 •            The most recent General Assembly (2008) “endorse[d] in principle the provision of single-payer universal health care reform in which health care services are privately provided and publicly financed… as the program that best responds to the moral imperative of the gospel.” [Minutes, 2008, p. 1133]

 •            Any reform plan should be guided by these values:

      o          Universal Accessibility

      o          Equity

      o          Responsible Financing:

For the full statement >>

New Director sought for Presbyterian Washington Office

Click here for the full listing of the position, with job skills and requirements, benefits, etc.

11/22/09

Nov. 22: Thousands are calling for the closure of the SOA and for justice in the Americas

Photo by Linda Panetta

Sunday, November 22:  Thousands are gathered at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia, standing up against oppressive U.S. foreign policy and speaking out in defense of real and direct democracy, for life, justice, liberty, dignity and peace.

Four veteran human rights defenders crossed the line this morning to carry their witness against the School of Assassins towards where it is located inside Ft. Benning, GA: Nancy Gwin of Syracuse, NY; Ken Hayes of Austin, TX; Fr. Louis Vitale of Oakland, CA; and Michael Walli of Washington, DC.

Walli is continuing his protest by refusing to post bail and will remain locked up until their trial in January 2010. None of those responsible for SOA crimes have ever been investigated or held accountable, while now 290 peace and justice activists will have served prison and probation sentences of up to two years for their acts of nonviolent civil disobedience.   More on the SOAWatch website >>
Father Roy Bourgeois and SOA Watch nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize

Father Roy Bourgeois, MM, and School of the Americas Watch (SOA Watch) have been nominated for one of the most prestigious awards in the world - the Nobel Peace Prize - for their sustained faithful nonviolent witness against the disappearances, torture, and murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians (peasants, community and union organizers, clerics, missionaries, educators, and health workers) by foreign military personnel trained by the U.S. military at U.S. taxpayer expense at the School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Georgia.

The candidacy of Father Roy and SOA Watch for the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize has been officially submitted to the Nobel Committee in Oslo, Norway by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate. The official announcement was made by AFSC representative John Meyer on Sunday, November 22 at 9am at the gates of Fort Benning (home of the School of the Americas) during the annual November vigil to close the SOA.

"We are deeply honored, and deeply humbled, to be nominated for this prize for peace," commented Bourgeois, a Vietnam veteran, Purple Heart recipient and a Catholic priest, who helped found SOA Watch. "This nomination is a recognition of the work of the thousands struggling against militarism across the Americas."

SOA Watch is a nonviolent grassroots movement that works through creative protest and resistance, legislative and grassroots media work to stand in solidarity with the people of Latin America, to close the School of the Americas (renamed the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation) and to change oppressive U.S. foreign policy that institutions like the SOA/ WHINSEC represent.

This weekend, SOA Watch is gathering by the thousands at the gates of Ft. Benning to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the killings of 14-year-old Celia Ramos, her mother Elba Ramos, and the six Jesuit priests she worked with at the Central American University in San Salvador in November 1989. Human rights defenders from Colombia and Bertha Oliva, founder of human rights organization COFADEH, Committee of Family Members of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras, which has been actively resisting the SOA graduate-led coup as part of the resistance front.

11/20/09
Religious Right's ugly "Prayer for Obama" has been disappeared!?

Yesterday we reported on the use of Psalm 109:8 ("Let his days be few; and another take his place.") on bumper stickers and T-shirts being hawked by right-wing, and very religious, web sites.  Lots of people were paying attention, apparently.  And this morning, Lo, those ugly prayers are all gone, at least from the two sites to which we linked yesterday.  There's lots of other nasty stuff, but the "Prayer for Obama" seems to have been withdrawn.

There must be profound implications in all this, but we're not sure what they are just yet.

Baltimore Presbytery approves sending overture for inclusive marriage

The Presbytery of Baltimore at its Stated Meeting on November 19, 2009, voted to approve sending to the 219th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) [2010] an overture to amend the Directory For Worship regarding marriage. The vote was 75 in favor, 62 against, and 1 abstention.

Click here for the text of the Baltimore Overture with its Rationale. At its November 19, 2009, Stated Meeting, Baltimore Presbytery voted to amend the original rationale and to replace it with the rationale that now follows the overture.

Please feel free to distribute this information with anyone you choose to, and as widely as you would like to do so.

Sent by Don Stroud on behalf of That All May Freely Serve: Baltimore

For more information you may contact Don at Donestro@aol.com .

11/19/09
Radical-Right Christians pray for Obama’s days to be few

And we think radical Islam is the only problem?

This comes to us from Bill Peach, of Franklin, Tennessee, who describes himself as a politician, preacher, and philosopher, and author.

One of my friends called to my attention the bumper-sticker that reads, "Prayer for Obama – Psalms 109:8." Click here for some examples >>  His email was prefaced with the suggestion, "it was funny." I have since learned that the message is for sale on T-shirts, Teddy bears, refrigerator magnets, buttons, and other trinkets of trivia. Some examples >>  The verse reads, "Let his days be few; and another take his place."

We have repeatedly appealed to and called upon the Muslim community to decry the conduct of radical Islam. The time has come for us to call upon the Christian community to decry the radicalism of its political fringe, lest we replicate in the name of God, the violence which we rightfully condemn. The verse which follows (Psalms 109:9) reads, "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow." I fear for our nation and our democracy, but I fear more greatly for our morality and our spirituality.

Bill Peach, November 17, 2009
 

Psalms 109:8: An Ugly Prayer for President Obama

Rabbi Brad Hirschfield, writing on BeliefNet, offers this comment: “The issue is not the scripture quoted or the name by which God is called by those doing the praying. The issue is invoking the God in whom any of us believe, to act as executioner of those with whom we disagree.” The rest of his comment >>

On the U.S. war in Afghanistan

Jim Wallis urges ...

Tell President Obama: More war will not bring peace.

It has been eight years since the United States military began operations in Afghanistan in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks. I know you join me in lamenting the suffering, violence, and death on both sides of the conflict. Our scriptures and history teach us that war is not the answer to building the peace and security we are striving for in this world.

I’ve joined with other faith leaders in sending an open letter to President Obama, urging him to build a new strategy in Afghanistan that leads with bold humanitarian aid and development instead of more military escalation. Will you join me?

Tell President Obama: We need a whole new approach in Afghanistan.  

Unfortunately, the options being debated are far too narrow and are unlikely to bring the peace and stability we so desperately need to end this war.

The two strategies contending for prime time - counterinsurgency, requiring a substantial escalation of troops, and counterterrorism, relying on precision targeting technology to apply military pressure on the most dangerous operatives, often at the expense of civilian lives - don't address the deep moral and practical issues we face in Afghanistan.

There are many moral concerns at stake in President Obama’s decision: legitimately protecting Americans from further terrorism, protecting the lives of our men and women in uniform, protecting the Afghan people from the collateral damage of war, defending women from the Taliban, and genuinely supporting democracy - to name a few.

Focused and effective humanitarian assistance and development can no longer be an afterthought. They must be central to any strategy the U.S. government puts forward. The president must choose nonmilitary strategies to lead the way, rather than the other way around, which often just makes aid and development work another weapon of war.

We know what can rebuild a broken nation, inspire confidence, trust, and hope among its people, and most effectively undermine terrorism: massive humanitarian assistance and sustainable economic development.

And it costs less - far less - than continued war. The Congressional Research Service has said it currently costs about $1 million per U.S. soldier, per year in Afghanistan.

We all share in responsibility for a war that has been waged in our names and with our tax dollars. Join me and many faith leaders across our country in praying for the president as he considers a new strategy in Afghanistan.

After you pray, sign our letter to President Obama urging his serious consideration of a humanitarian and diplomatic surge, instead of more military options. We'll make sure it gets to the White House.

Blessings and peace,

Jim Wallis

For the full text of the letter and a place to sign on >>:

The problem of corruption in Afghanistan – Is it really our problem?

Robert Naiman writes for Truthout:

Is it just me, or is the pontification of Western leaders about corruption in Afghanistan growing rather tiresome? There is something very Captain Renault about it. We're shocked, shocked that the Afghans have sullied our morally immaculate occupation of their country with their dirty corruption. How ungrateful can they be? But perhaps we should consider the possibility that our occupation of the country is not so morally immaculate - indeed, that the most corrupt racket going in Afghanistan today is the American occupation.   Read the article >>


The Decision

William Rivers Pitt writes, also on Truthout:

The decision looming largest over president Obama at present does not concern health care reform or the economy. He has a call to make soon regarding our present and future role in Afghanistan. What to do about an eight-year war that has accomplished little? This is the largest, and worst, Hobson's Choice Obama has faced, for there are no bloodless and peril-free decisions in this one, no matter how many generals and advisers and pundits pitch in with their opinions. ...

Finally, there is little actual evidence to suggest an increase in troop presence will make any appreciable difference. We have been there for eight years, and matters have remained the same only in the areas where they have not gotten appreciably worse. Afghanistan is, and has always been, the eater of armies. No amount of technology or troop superiority can overcome the natural advantages held by those who know the ground, and who already know how to defeat a superpower, something many of those fighting us there have already done in their lifetime. We could stay there for another eight years and find ourselves in exactly the same position, or even worse off than before.

Read the article >>

Ask Congress to protect ALL Americans from discrimination

This comes from Welton Gaddy, President of The Interfaith Alliance:

As I mentioned in my message to you upon the signing of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act, we celebrate that victory while continuing to move toward our next challenge: the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). This next step in the fight for equality is drawing near - the House of Representatives will likely bring ENDA to a vote within the next few weeks.

I ask you to join me in urging Congress to pass ENDA. Both the House and the Senate recently held hearings on ENDA but have left it in committee, where the bill sits in limbo, rather than bringing it to the floor for a vote. Please take a few moments now to contact your representatives in Congress.

If you're unsure where you stand on this issue, consider this: in 30 states, it is legal to fire, refuse to hire, demote or deny a promotion to an individual simply because of his or her sexual orientation, and in 38 states it is legal to do so because of his or her gender identity. And the religious exemption for houses of worship and faith-based organization protects the religious freedom of the people who need it. ENDA will ensure that employees are judged solely on job performance - not on their compliance with the religious beliefs of their supervisors.

I know you share my conviction that a vibrant democracy has a responsibility to guarantee the protection of civil rights for everyone - with no exceptions. Passage of a fully inclusive ENDA, with appropriate religious exemptions, will be a victory for democracy and cause for celebration among all who value religious freedom.

So please, join Interfaith Alliance and other members of the interfaith community in contacting your members of Congress and asking them to uphold the civil rights and religious freedom of all Americans by passing the Employment Non-Discrimination Act as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Welton Gaddy

Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy, President
The Interfaith Alliance

Note: We are glad to see that the Washington Office of the Presbyterian Church is among the signers of this letter.

For more on concerns for justice in matters of sexuality and sexual orientation >>

Increase in U.S. hunger spurs faith groups' reaction

Direct relief, systemic changes are needed, says director of Presbyterian Hunger Program

by Bethany Furkin, Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - This week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that 17 million American households (49 million people, or 14.6 percent of the population) were food insecure in 2008, the highest number since the government began tracking food insecurity in 1995.

The number of children affected by hunger also increased, according to the report. In 2008, 506,000 households (1.3 percent of households with children) experience very low food security. This was up from 323,000 households (0.8 percent of households with children) in 2007. ...

For the Presbyterian Hunger Program, these numbers reflect a "tragic reality," given that the United States produces more than enough food for everyone, said Ruth Farrell, coordinator of the program.

"Hunger is a complex phenomenon with economic, political and social causes," she said. "Congregations feed hungry people in their neighborhoods, but month after month, many of the same people and new ones will line up for help. Jesus responded with compassion to those in need and at the same time questioned the very structures that caused inequities. Be it greed, ignorance, historical reasons, wastefulness, climate change or unjust market systems, we cannot tolerate hunger."

Largely funded by the One Great Hour of Sharing special offering, the hunger program supports congregations working to respond to hunger holistically.

Farrell urged congregations to inventory their hunger and poverty ministries to assess whether programs both alleviate hunger and try to attack root causes underlying hunger. For assistance or discussion, contact the hunger program at (888) 728-7228 x5388 or by email.

For the full story >>        And more on various concerns for economic justice >>

Presbyterian congregation provides sanctuary for undocumented immigrant – and their story is now becoming a film

A friend of Witherspoon, Tony de la Rosa, has suggested that we share here a notice about a new film in the works, which promises a helpful look at the plight of undocumented immigrants, and the positive role the church can play for them. Mason Funk, one of the film-makers and an elder at Immanuel Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, has provided this note.

SANCTUARY’S DAUGHTER is a documentary short film, which tells the story of two women – an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala, and Anabella, her American-born teenaged daughter. Threatened with separation by U.S. immigration policy, Yolanda and Anabella made a radical decision to seek both physical and spiritual protection inside the walls of their Los Angeles church, Immanuel Presbyterian. Two years later, the two women are still living inside the massive stone building. Both they, and their entire Immanuel congregation, are on a quietly amazing journey to discover the meaning of justice, in the face of laws that threaten to tear families apart.

SANCTUARY’S DAUGHTER is being produced by two Immanuel elders (also professional filmmakers), Mason Funk and Leanna Creel. The vast majority of the film has already been shot. The filmmakers are seeking approximately $40,000 to complete the film, which has non-profit status. They would be very grateful to hear from individuals interested in the project, and/or with connections to possible funding sources. To learn more about SANCTUARY’S DAUGHTER and to contact the filmmakers, visit www.sanctuarysdaughter.com. Thank you.

Mason Funk
Executive Producer
Channel Road Films
814 North Seward Street
Los Angeles, CA 90038

Phone:
Work – 323.468.8080
Fax – 323.468.8866
Cell – 310.710.9084

WWW.CHANNELROADFILMS.COM

For more information, we encourage you to contact the film-makers at info@channelroadfilms.com

Click here for a more detailed telling of the story of Anabella Trujillo and her Guatemalan mother Yolanda – one page in PDF format.

11/16/09
November 19th:
Campaign against Wage Theft National Day of Action

On November 19th, agencies, organizations, and individuals will join together in taking action to fight Wage Theft. Some will join in delegations to unethical employers, while others will participate in demonstrations and other actions to raise awareness and support for those who have had wages stolen.

If interested in joining in the National Day of Action or more information on the National Day of Action, please contact Cara Gold at cgold@iwj.org or (773)728-8400 x 34.

Click here for more information on local actions around the nation >>


From Kim Bobo, Interfaith Worker Justice:

According to a National Employment Law Project study of more than 4,000 low-wage workers, the average worker had $51 stolen out of average weekly earnings of $399 or 15 percent of his or her pay. That's money that could have bought a turkey and sides. 

We know wage theft hurts workers and their families. I'm sure we all agree that like any crime, wage theft is a problem which must be solved.

On November 19, my colleagues and I will join wage theft victims as they share their stories before religious leaders, politicians and members of the press who will gather in Washington D.C. and 30 cities around the country for the National Day of Action to Stop Wage Theft.

Here are some of the things we're asking Congress, the Department of Labor, workers advocates, and the business community to do to stop wage theft: 

bullet

Educate and raise public consciousness of the crisis of wage theft;

bullet

Create meaningful wage theft prevention and enforcement partnerships between government agencies and community organizations;

bullet

Pass a national mandate requiring employers to provide workers with pay stubs;

bullet

Conduct targeted investigations of industries and companies the DOL and community organizations have identified as willful, repeat violators;

bullet

Assess meaningful penalties that would deter wage theft.

Together, we can do this!

How to help your board be effective

If you're working with non-profit organizations for peace and justice, you might fine this helpful:

Got board? Finding and keeping a good board is a daunting task for any organization, although most nonprofit managers would agree that a good board can be of incalculable value.

Is there a magic formula?

There’s no magic, but in her book The Truth About What Nonprofit Boards Want: The Nine Little Things That Matter Most, June Bradham, founder and president of consulting firm Corporate DevelopMint and someone who has spent years interviewing board members and managers, insist that full engagement by board members is crucial.

Further, such engagement can only come about if the goals and needs of board members, administrative leaders, staff and those served by the nonprofit are in alignment.

To get that alignment, Bradham says that the following are absolute musts:

 •          Written criteria for board membership and a job description for an A-plus board.

•          Board members who are painstakingly chosen for their wisdom and passion for the mission, not necessarily to fill a particular skill set.

•          A board composed of a diversity of opinions and backgrounds as long as all members can make a solid impact on board work.

•          Active individuals who use their networks and contacts to stimulate funding security and awareness.

•          Defined measurement of performance against their personal satisfaction of engagement.

•          The means to support the organization financially.

The Non-Profit Times  

Thanks to John Jackson’s Everything Is Connected

More Children’s Prayers and Questions

Six-year old Angie and her four-year old brother Joel were sitting together in church. Joel giggled, sang and talked out loud.

Finally, his big sister had had enough.

“You’re not supposed to talk out loud in church.”

“Why? Who’s going to stop me?” Joel asked.

Angie pointed to the back of the church and said, “See those two men standing by the door? They’re hushers.”        More >>

11/14/09
Just added --

You may want to join People for the American Way, NARAL, Pro-Choice America and others to save the right to choose in health care reform

These groups and others plan to deliver thousands of petition signatures to Majority Leader Harry Reid's office at the beginning of next week, urging him to keep the Stupak-Pitts amendment out of the Senate bill.  That language, added to the House bill takes the audacious step of prohibiting private insurance companies participating in the new health care system from covering abortion services.

You can help make sure millions of women don't lose their reproductive health coverage in health care reform.

Click here to add your name to the petition >>

Our apologies!  Friday the 13th came to our website a little early, when our hosting service transferred our site to a new server for storage, and things got very strange for a couple days.  I hope we're back to normal -- whatever that is -- and ready for visitors and for the addition of new items.  We appreciate your patience!    Your WebWeaver, Doug King
The PJC ruling on lgbt ordination, as seen from our “Mother Church” in Scotland

The Rev. Dr. John Mann, a pastor of the Church of Scotland in Glasgow, formerly of the PC(USA), has recommended an article in The Times (United Kingdom) which discusses the recent GA PJC rulings on the cases of Paul Capetz and Lisa Larges, and how they relate to the Church of Scotland.

The second paragraph of the article says:

A ruling last week by the High Court of the Presbyterian Church of the United States (PCUSA), cleared the way for a lesbian and a gay man, Lisa Larges and Paul Capetz, to be appointed as ministers. Though the verdict will have no direct bearing on ecclesiastical law in Scotland, it will reverberate through Presbyteries from Moray to Melrose.

Your WebWeaver especially likes the Scots translation of “GA PJC” into “High Court.”  Should the revision of our Book of Order include that?

The Rev Lindsay Biddle, a minister with the PC(USA) and spouse of John Mann, also serving in Glasgow, is quoted at the end of the article as saying:

Scott Rennie [a divorced minister of the Church of Scotland who lives with his partner, David, and was recently called to as church in Aberdeen, a move which aroused great opposition by conservatives], Paul Capetz and Lisa Larges, and many others, are modern-day Martin Luthers. The Christian church is going through a reformation with homosexuality being the scapegoat issue or lightning rod.

While the outcomes certainly affect gay and lesbian people, they reflect a Church that is changing beyond some people’s comfort zone. For the rest of us, it’s way past time.

Read the full article >>

Alternative Thanksgiving Ideas

Thanksgiving celebrations can extend the love and fellowship of Christ beyond our dining room tables. As you prepare for Thanksgiving, consider using Alternative Thanksgiving Ideas, part of the PC(USA) Just Living series, for ideas and inspiration in cultivating a deeper sense of gratitude and togetherness than usually possible amid stress and preparations.

Sections include:

bulletPreparing Sustainably
bulletShare the Work and Savor the Day
bulletServe Someone and Share the Wealth
bulletPray and Renew
bulletLooking to Advent and Christmas

The series is meant to be a springboard for ideas and creativity; it is far from exhaustive. We’d love to hear from you the creative ways you go about Thanks-giving in your households. If you’re willing for your ideas to be incorporated in the expanded web version or perhaps in future revisions, please let us know.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Melanie Hardison
Enough for Everyone
(888) 728-7228 x5626

Is it possible to reinvigorate our communities in the midst of a global financial crisis?

Here’s one intriguing possibility!

WebWeaver’s note: We’ve had no direction connection with this movement, but we’d like to hear an experiences or impressions you have. Please send a note, to be shared here!

Fear and isolation often prevent us from seeing ways to make our economy work for everyone. But there are alternatives. People are creating communities of support and mutual aid around the pain and fear of this moment, and in doing so they are quietly building a new economy.

One example of this sort of community organizing is the Common Security Club, a simple model which combines mutual aid, a support group, and a venue for social action. Common Security Clubs are springing up around the country. In churches, unions and workplaces, unassuming groups of 20-25 people meet to share their troubles, try to make sense of this moment in our economic history, and plan action together.    More >>

11/11/09
Special!

Lisa Larges approved for ordination

After waiting 23 years, Lisa Larges was approved for ordination on Tuesday evening, November 10, by the Presbytery of San Francisco. The vote for ordination was 296 votes: 156 for, 138 against.

That All May Freely Serve, for whom Lisa serves as Minister Coordinator, was approved as a validated ministry. 303 ballots were cast, and 152 votes were needed to pass the motion. The vote was 157 for, 144 against, with 2 abstentions.

Thanks be to God!

Beth Van Sickle
MLP Board Member
Columbus OH

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

Click here for the report in the San Francisco Chronicle, which begins:

The San Francisco Presbytery agreed late Tuesday to ordain the first openly homosexual minister in the denomination.
The vote of 156 for and 138 against the ordination came after hours of contentious debate at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley. It is possible that the decision to ordain Lisa Larges, a deacon at Noe Valley Ministry Presbyterian Church, could be appealed.

It's a significant decision in the Presbyterian church, which like many other religious denominations around the country has struggled for years over how to include gays and lesbians in church affairs.

"Change is happening in the churches," Larges said in a statement after the vote. "People are realizing that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have long functioned as contributing members of their faith traditions. It is time to tell the truth - we are all created in God's image."       The rest of the story >>

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

Presbyterian Outlook reports that a "remedial complaint" will be filed, which would put Larges' ordination on hold until the complaint is resolved.

Mary Holder Naegeli, a minister from San Francisco Presbytery who has been involved with earlier legal challenges to Larges’ efforts to be ordained, released a statement to the news media on Nov. 11, saying that “enough signatures were collected at the close of the meeting to secure a Stay of Enforcement while a remedial complaint is filed with the Synod of the Pacific Permanent Judicial Commission.”  More >>

11/10/09
Religious leaders condemn Stupak amendment to health care reform bill


Joint Statement of Religious Leaders on Stupak Amendment

Catholics for Choice, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Clergy Network, the Religious Coalition on Reproductive Choice, and the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing represent more than ten thousand religious leaders and tens of thousands of people of faith who believe that abortion must be safe, legal, and accessible. We come together to condemn the passage of the Stupak amendment, which if passed by the Senate will effectively deny coverage for abortion services to women covered by the new federal health care plan. We are appalled that religious leaders intervened to impose their specific religious doctrine into health care reform, not recognizing that women must have the right to apply or reject the principles of their own faith in making the decision as to whether or not abortion is appropriate in their specific circumstances. Further, we decry those who sought to use abortion as a way to scuttle much needed health care reform. We call on the President and the United States Senate to ensure that the final bill that passes does not include any specific prohibition on the use of federal funds for reproductive health care services. We pray for a renewed commitment to relational and reproductive justice for all.

Signed:

The Rev. Dr. Ignacio Castuera
National Chaplain
Planned Parenthood Federation of America

Jon O'Brien
President
Catholics for Choice

The Reverend Debra W. Haffner
Executive Director
Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing

The Reverend Carlton W. Veazey
President
Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

You're invited to ...

Join a delegation to Nicaragua

In January, the PC(USA) is sponsoring a Delegation to Nicaragua, where participants will have the opportunity to experience Nicaragua, Fair Trade and the church’s work there firsthand. The delegation is perfect for anyone involved in a congregation, college or camp that uses Fair Trade coffee or Sweat-Free Ts, has hosted a holiday bazaar using Fair Trade products, or simply wants to learn more.

Delegates will:

bulletMeet Fair Trade farmers and artisans
bulletPick coffee and stay in homes of farming families
bulletMeet the women who sew Sweat-Free Ts
bulletBuild community with fellow Presbyterians
bulletLearn about Nicaragua, Fair Trade and more!

The delegation will take place January 16-23, 2010, and is sponsored jointly by three organizations: PC(USA), Equal Exchange and CEPAD (the Council of Protestant Churches in Nicaragua).

Applications are due November 20. For information and an application call (774) 776-7366 or send an email. Some scholarship assistance is available.

Please consider joining us and pass the word to others who may be interested.

Peace,

Melanie Hardison
Enough for Everyone
(888) 728-7228 x5626

New hymns for upcoming Sundays by Presbyterian hymn writer

The Presbyterian Hunger Program has posted a hymn for possible use by churches that use the common lectionary for this Sunday, November 15th, and for the First Sunday of Advent, November 29: There is a Mighty Question, by Presbyterian pastor Carolyn Winfrey Gillette.

And for November 22nd, Christ the King Sunday, there is one posted by UMC Worship Office:   Our Lord, You Stood in Pilate's Hall. 

Carolyn’s new book of 77 new hymns, Songs of Grace:  New Hymns for God and Neighbor (Discipleship Resources - Upper Room Books, 2009) is available from Cokesbury and Amazon. The Presbyterian Outlook magazine will be publishing a series of her new Advent hymns written to Christmas carol tunes starting on November 23rd.

From Bruce Gillette, Co-Pastor, Limestone Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, Delaware

Financial support sought to help College of Wooster students’ peacemaking efforts

A group of college students from the PCUSA’s College of Wooster need financial help to attend the national November Vigil to Close the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (formerly known as the School of the Americas) in Georgia.

Two PCUSA General Assemblies have called for the closing of the school because of its sad history of training officers who have led military coups, death squads, assassinations of religious leaders and other human rights abuses.

The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship (PPF) has established a fund to assist these college students’ travel and lodging expenses to participate in this peacemaking action. Former General Assembly Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase, now serving as PPF Executive Director, will be speaking at a PPF Breakfast for those coming to the Vigil. Your contribution, given online at the PPF’s Network for Good account, will help these college students’ peacemaking efforts. Please make your donation before November 20th. Thank you!

From Bruce Gillette, Co-Pastor, Limestone Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, Delaware

How about a lawsuit on behalf of clergy’s right to perform same-gender marriages?

Ronald Goetz, a "Proud PFLAG Dad" is proposing a lawsuit on behalf of clergy and churches whose rights are being violated because they cannot perform marriages for same-gender couples. This is a turn-the-tables approach toward those Christians who argue that marriage equality somehow violates their freedom of religion. What do you think? Mr. Goetz is looking for advice and input. He writes:

"Proposed Class-Action Lawsuit on Behalf of Churches and Ordained Clergy Because of the Violation of their First Amendment Right to Free Exercise of Religion"

There are many denominations that are on record as supporting Marriage Equality and want to marry same-sex couples as a matter of religious faith.

There are thousands of Open and Affirming congregations nationwide that support Marriage Equality and want to marry same-sex couples as a matter of religious faith.

There are additional thousands of ordained clergy who want to marry same-sex couples because of their religious faith.

The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

.....

I urge that this violation of the constitution be resisted through a class-action lawsuit, or some other appropriate vehicle. We are also guaranteed the right to petition the government for redress of grievances.

I would like responsible parties (clergy, denominational officials, attorneys) and enthusiastic supporters to contact me. I need input, encouragement, and pro bono advice.

Please contact me at kings.lgbt@hotmail.com and let me know what you think. Thanks!

For the rest of Ronald Goetz' note >>

Thanks to John Shuck, who posted this on Shuck and Jive.

11/9/09
Mark Achtemeier addresses Covenant Network conference as an evangelical who now supports both marriage and ordination for LGBT persons

Dr. Mark Achtemeier, professor of theology at University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, and a long-time opponent of ordination of gays and lesbians, told the Covenant Network gathering that he has shifted his position on the marriage and ordination of lesbian and gay persons. Presbyterian Outlook’s Leslie Scanlon provides a lengthy report on his address.

She explains that “Achtemeier, to his own surprise, has made a trek through uncertain land over the last eight years, a journey from life-long certainty that homosexuality is ‘a kind of destructive addiction’ to what he is today: a man who sees the Holy Spirit leading the church to ‘a new and better place,’ and who thinks that gays and lesbians should be able to marry and be ordained.”

She continues:

In the kick-off plenary of the 2009 Covenant Network of Presbyterians gathering — which has brought about 300 people to Cleveland Nov. 5-7 to consider the theme of change in the church — Achtemeier gave his testimony, telling the story of his journey in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), from a man who grew up sure that homosexual practice was wrong to one who now sees God working in the committed relationships of his gay and lesbian friends and in the faithfulness of their lives.

For her full report >>

MRTI recommends denouncement of Caterpillar, Inc. for corporate irresponsibility in Israel/Palestine

Committee encouraged by dialogue with many other corporations

Presbyterian News Service, in a story from Cincinnati dated November 9, 2009, reports that at its Nov. 6 meeting there, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) committee issued a recommendation that the denomination's General Assembly denounce Caterpillar, Inc. for its products' involvement in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

The recommendation reads, "On the basis of Christian principles and as a matter of social witness, the 219th General Assembly strongly denounces Caterpillar's continued profit-making from non-peaceful uses of a number of its products."

The recommendation comes after four years of what MRTI called weak response from the corporation to engage in dialogue with MRTI and its ecumenical partners seeking just peace in the Middle East.

"The committee and its ecumenical partners have been working faithfully to engage Caterpillar with very minimal success," said the Rev. Brian Ellison, chair of MRTI. Later, Ellison told Presbyterian News Service: "[We] find that Caterpillar remains unwilling to accept any responsibility for the non-peaceful use of the products it sells from which it continues to profit. The General Assembly has said that it finds such a position unacceptable."

The full report >>

Two dissents (from the Left!) from the House-passed health care bill

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), after voting against H.R. 3962, issued a sharp statement of his reasons for voting against the bill. He begins:

We have been led to believe that we must make our health care choices only within the current structure of a predatory, for-profit insurance system which makes money not providing health care. We cannot fault the insurance companies for being what they are. But we can fault legislation in which the government incentivizes the perpetuation, indeed the strengthening, of the for-profit health insurance industry, the very source of the problem. When health insurance companies deny care or raise premiums, co-pays and deductibles they are simply trying to make a profit. That is our system.

Clearly, the insurance companies are the problem, not the solution. They are driving up the cost of health care. Because their massive bureaucracy avoids paying bills so effectively, they force hospitals and doctors to hire their own bureaucracy to fight the insurance companies to avoid getting stuck with an unfair share of the bills. The result is that since 1970, the number of physicians has increased by less than 200% while the number of administrators has increased by 3000%. It is no wonder that 31 cents of every health care dollar goes to administrative costs, not toward providing care. Even those with insurance are at risk. The single biggest cause of bankruptcies in the U.S. is health insurance policies that do not cover you when you get sick.

But instead of working toward the elimination of for-profit insurance, H.R. 3962 would put the government in the role of accelerating the privatization of health care. ...

The rest of his statement >>

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

Marcia Angell, M.D., a physician, author, and Senior Lecturer at Harvard Medical School, asks “Is the House Health Care Bill Better than Nothing?”

Her answer, in short, is No. She explains:

Conservative rhetoric notwithstanding, the House bill is not a "government takeover." I wish it were. Instead, it enshrines and subsidizes the "takeover" by the investor-owned insurance industry that occurred after the failure of the Clinton reform effort in 1994. To be sure, the bill has a few good provisions (expansion of Medicaid, for example), but they are marginal. It also provides for some regulation of the industry (no denial of coverage because of pre-existing conditions, for example), but since it doesn't regulate premiums, the industry can respond to any regulation that threatens its profits by simply raising its rates. The bill also does very little to curb the perverse incentives that lead doctors to over-treat the well-insured. And quite apart from its content, the bill is so complicated and convoluted that it would take a staggering apparatus to administer it and try to enforce its regulations.

What does the insurance industry get out of it? Tens of millions of new customers, courtesy of the mandate and taxpayer subsidies. And not just any kind of customer, but the youngest, healthiest customers – those least likely to use their insurance. The bill permits insurers to charge twice as much for older people as for younger ones. So older under-65's will be more likely to go without insurance, even if they have to pay fines. That's OK with the industry, since these would be among their sickest customers. (Shouldn't age be considered a pre-existing condition?)

The rest of her essay >>

11/6/09

School of the Americans Watch urges:

Stand with the People of Honduras

SOA Watch is extremely concerned about the situation in Honduras, where SOA graduates overthrew the democratically elected government on June 28, 2009. An agreement that was brokered last week between representatives of President Zelaya and the coup regime was supposed to "return the holder of executive power to its pre-June 28 state" but it turns out it was just another stalling tactic by the coup regime. Read a statement from Honduran President Manuel Zelaya below.

SOA Watch supports the three key demands that the National Front of Resistance Against the Coup in Honduras has put forward:

  • the return to constitutional order with the reinstatement of the legitimate president, Manuel Zelaya Rosales
  • respect for the sovereign right of the Honduran people to establish a National Constituent Assembly for the purpose of refounding their nation
  • punishment for those who have violated human rights.

    Join us in calling the White House and leave a message for President Obama and Dan Restrepo (202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414) and the State Department and leave a message for Secretary Clinton and Tom Shannon (202-647-4000) not to recognize the military coup regime, headed by Roberto Micheletti and SOA graduate General Romeo Vasquez, or the coup regimes elections that are scheduled for November 29. President Zelaya must be reinstated!
  • 11/5/09

    From the Center for American Progress:

    Progressive People of Faith Call for Health Reform

    Communities of faith have been essential to the movement for health care reform. Faith groups have provided dramatic stories that illustrate the human pain and suffering that result from inadequate health care or lack of it. They have run clinics in poor and underserved neighborhoods, and they have cut through complex economic arguments to frame the moral heart of the matter.

    Learn more about how mainline denominations, Jewish organizations, Muslim-American organizations and others have been working on behalf of health care reform.

    Presbyterians were active in protests at ABA meeting in Chicago -- UPDATED

    The American Bankers Association's annual convention in Chicago, October 25 - 27, was the scene for a widely-reported series of major protests. Dubbed "the Showdown in Chicago,"
     the protest included groups like the National People's Action, the Service Employees International Union, Americans For Financial Reform and the AFL-CIO.

    Among the large group of protesters from Central Illinois, members of the Central Illinois Organizing Project (CIOP),  was Witherspoon member Jack Porter, of Bloomington, who has been sending us a variety of news reports of Presbyterians and others who took part.

    There were four busloads from Central Illinois, including groups from First Presbyterian Church of Normal, IL, and New Covenant Community of Normal, which is affiliated with PCUSA, UCC, and Disciples. First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, IL, and First Presbyterian Church of Decatur, were also involved in the organizing for the event.  More >>

    11/4/09
    From the Presbyterian Washington Office:

    Support Health Care Reform - Contact Congress Today
    Urge House Members to Support Health Care Reform
     

    Take Action!

    H.R. 3962 - "The Affordable Health Care for America Act"

    For over 60 years, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assemblies have called for reform of the U.S. health system, urging the establishment of a national medical plan that will ensure health coverage for all persons residing in the United States.

    The most recent General Assembly (2008) "endorse[d] in principle the provision of single-payer universal health care reform in which health care services are privately provided and publicly financed... as the program that best responds to the moral imperative of the gospel." [Minutes, 2008, p. 1133]

    The U.S. House of Representatives is winding up its health care deliberations. "The Affordable Health Care for America Act" [H.R. 3962] blends and updates the three versions of previous bills passed this summer by the House Ways and Means; Energy and Commerce; and Education and Labor Committees. The House of Representatives is expected to vote on H.R. 3962 on Saturday, November 7th.

    The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) believes that any reform plan should be guided by these values:

    •          Universal Accessibility: We believe that all people possess inherent worth as children of God, and that God's promise extends to all. Health coverage must be available to all persons living in the United States, regardless of income, race or ethnicity, geography, age, gender, employment status or health status [Minutes, 1994, p. 574; Minutes, 2002, p. 634]

    •          Equity: Because the right to acquire adequate health care springs out of our worth as living human beings, rather than out of any particular merit or achievement belonging to some but not to others, adequate health care should be defined equally for all people. [Minutes, 1976, pp. 203-207]

    •          Responsible Financing: Since society has an interest in the health of its people, those individuals and organizations who can pay should help to finance the care for those individuals and families who cannot pay [Minutes, 1991, p. 817]. While concerns for the costs of health care are appropriate, these concerns must continually be balanced against the objectives of access to adequate, quality care for all. The sacrifice of access and quality at the shrine of cost containment is too high a price to pay and should not be tolerated [Minutes, 1988, p. 525].

    "The Affordable Health Care for America Act" [H.R. 3962] reflects these values and will move the U.S. health care system a step in the right direction to provide access to quality, affordable health care for all. Most of the bill's provisions would go into effect in 2013.

    This bill will:

    •          Increase the number of legal U.S. residents with health insurance by 36 million by 2019.

    •          Expand Medicaid to include all individuals under age 65 (children, pregnant women, parents, and adults without dependent children) with incomes up to 150% of the poverty level (FPL).

    •          Provide subsidies to help lower income individuals and families purchase insurance and to lower their cost sharing obligations.

    •          Require individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a tax of 2.5% of their adjusted gross income above the income tax filing threshold up to the cost of an average insurance policy.

    •          Require employers with payrolls exceeding $500,000 per year to provide health insurance to their employees or pay a penalty (86% of American businesses would be exempt from this requirement, though most employees would be covered).

    •          Prohibit pre-existing condition exclusions.

    •          Eliminate underwriting based on health status, gender or occupation.

    •          Limit out-of-pocket expenses.

    •          Remove lifetime or annual coverage caps.

    •          Define "essential" benefits that must be covered by insurance plans.

    •          Create a National Health Insurance Exchange through which individual and employers can purchase qualified insurance, including from private health plans and the public health insurance option.

    •          Create a public health insurance option to be offered through the National Health Insurance Exchange that must meet the same requirements as private plans regarding benefit levels, provider networks, consumer protections, and cost-sharing.

    Action:

    Contact your member of Congress before Saturday, November 7th, and urge him/her to support H.R. 3962 - "The Affordable Health Care for America Act." 

    U.S. Capitol Switchboard - (202) 224-3121

    Take Action!

    GA PJC issues technical rulings in two closely-watched ordination cases

    Larges may be examined for ordination, Capetz' restoration stands, high court says in rulings that fail to define limits of 'scrupling'

    We posted a brief announcement of these two decisions yesterday; here's a more complete report from Presbyterian News Service.

    The General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission (GAPJC) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) - the highest court in the church - has issued two technical rulings that leave unresolved the extent to which conscientious objection to the church's sexual conduct standards may disqualify candidates for ordination. 

    The Nov. 2 rulings involve Lisa Larges, a lesbian candidate for the ministry in San Francisco Presbytery, and the Rev. Paul Capetz, a gay theology professor in the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area who set aside his ordination in 2000 and then sought reinstatement in 2007. 

    The rulings effectively allow San Francisco Presbytery to proceed to examine Larges for possible ordination and the Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area to restore Capetz to ordained ministry in the PC(USA). 

    The rest of the report >>

    The PJC decision on the case of Paul Capetz is posted on the PJC website, in PDF format.

    And the decision in the case of Lisa Larges in also posted.

    For our earlier posts on the ordination issue >>

    Mixed news from Honduras and Colombia

    Two brief news bulletins from School of the Americas Watch, dated Oct. 31, 2009    

    Zelaya and coup regime agree to resolution in Honduras

    The U.S. gains access to 7 military bases in Colombia

    More on both stories >>

    November 20-22, 2009, Fort Benning, Georgia:

    Mass mobilization to shut down the School of the Americas

    The SOA graduate-led military coup in Honduras and the increasing U.S. military involvement in Colombia put a renewed focus on the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC) and the policies it represents.

    Thousands from across the Americas will converge on November 20-22 at Fort Benning, GA for a vigil and civil disobedience actions to speak out against the SOA/ WHINSEC and to demand a change in U.S. foreign policy.

    The vigil will commemorate the 20th anniversary of the 1989 SOA graduate-led Jesuit massacre in San Salvador, and the many other thousands of victims of SOA/ WHINSEC violence.

    The military coup led by SOA graduates in Honduras has once again exposed the destabilizing and deadly effects that the School of the Americas (SOA/ WHINSEC) has on Latin America. Torture survivors and human rights activists from across the Americas, including Bertha Oliva, the founder of the Committee of the Family Members of the Disappeared (COFADEH) from Honduras and human rights defenders from Colombia will travel to Fort Benning, Georgia to participate in the mobilization.

    For more information about the November vigil to close the SOA/ WHINSEC, lead-up actions and a complete schedule of events, click here, or go to the SOA Watch home page for more background.  

    Gay marriage repealed in Maine

    ‘Yes on 1’ claims victory, repeal opponents ‘will regroup’

    The Bangor Daily News reports that Maine voters have rejected a law allowing same-sex couples to marry, in a major setback to gay rights advocates hoping the northeastern US state would become the first in the country where voters directly approve gay marriage.

    The full news story >>

    11/3/09
    GA PJC rules to respect exceptions to gay restrictions

    November 3, 2009

    News release from Ann Craig, director of religion, faith & values for GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination  

    The Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbyterian Church (USA) announced decisions in favor of a lesbian woman and a gay man on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Meeting in Indianapolis on Friday, Oct. 30, the court heard arguments related to Lisa Larges, a lesbian woman who has been a candidate for ordination for more than two decades and Paul Capetz, a gay man whose January 2008 reinstatement by his home Presbytery was challenged.

    The Larges and Capetz cases are the first cases to use a 2008 compromise voted by the denomination so that, despite a ban on partnered gay and lesbian ministers, Presbyteries could consider candidates who submit a “scruple” (statement of conscience) on a case by case basis.

    Larges submitted a statement of conscience to her presbytery to dissent from the requirement of celibacy for gay and lesbian ministers and was approved to move forward on her candidacy for ordination. Legal actions by opponents delayed her ordination. But the high court’s decision allows Lisa to be considered for ordination by her San Francisco Presbytery, the regional governing body in the Presbyterian Church. The Presbytery will meet on Nov. 10 to review Lisa’s credentials and her statement of conscience on the requirement of celibacy for gay and lesbian clergy.

    Larges said, “I am so grateful for all of the people of faith who support ordination of qualified gay and lesbian candidates for ministry. Now, my Presbytery can consider my qualifications and my statement of conscience in my journey to serve.”

    Dr. Paul Capetz, a professor at United Theological Seminary in Minneapolis, set aside his ordination in protest over the ban on partnered gay elders and ministers in the church. When the compromise was passed in 2008, he submitted a statement of conscience to his Presbytery and was reinstated in. The court let stand his reinstatement as an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

    Capetz said, “I am committed to serve the people of God and I am so pleased to be able to do that in my home church, the Presbyterian Church (USA).”

    The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) will meet again July 3-10, 2010, in Minneapolis. Commissioners will again address the issue of the qualification of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people for leadership in the denomination.

    We'll add details and comments as they become available.  ....  Doug King

    The PJC decision on the case of Paul Capetz is posted on the PJC website, in PDF format.

    And the decision in the case of Lisa Larges in also posted.

    A quick scan of the decisions suggests that they are not unambiguously favorable to the concerns of many of us committed to a just and inclusive church.  But they're clearly a positive step.  We await clarification and comment from those who are better qualified than your WebWeaver.

    Presbyterians were active in protests at ABA meeting in Chicago

    The American Bankers Association's annual convention in Chicago, October 25 - 27, was the scene for a widely-reported series of major protests. Dubbed "the Showdown in Chicago,"
     the protest included groups like the National People's Action, the Service Employees International Union, Americans For Financial Reform and the AFL-CIO. Sen. Richard Durbin (D - Illinois) addressed the protesters on Sunday evening, while on the “inside,” conference speakers included Newt Gingrich, conservative columnist George Will and FDIC chairman Sheila Bair. (Bair also spoke to the protesters, adding her support to the movement by decrying bailouts and the notion of "too big to fail" institutions.)

    Among the large group of protesters from Central Illinois, members of the Central Illinois Organizing Project (CIOP),  was Witherspoon member Jack Porter, of Bloomington, who has been sending us a variety of news reports of Presbyterians and others who took part.

    There were four busloads from Central Illinois, including groups from First Presbyterian Church of Normal, IL, and New Covenant Community of Normal, which is affiliated with PCUSA, UCC, and Disciples. First Presbyterian Church of Springfield, IL, and First Presbyterian Church of Decatur, were also involved in the organizing for the event.  More >>

    For an index to all our reports
    from the 218th General Assembly

    For an index to all our reports from the
    Witherspoon conference on global mission and justice >>

    Earlier in April, 2010
    March, 2010
    February, 2010
    January, 2010
    December, 2009
    October, 2009
    September, 2009
    August, 2009
    July, 2009
    June, 2009
    May, 2009
    April, 2009
    March, 2009

    February, 2009
    January, 2009
    December, 2008
    November, 2008
    October, 2008
    September, 2008
    August, 2008

    For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

    Some blogs worth visiting

     

    Voices of Sophia blog

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

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

     

    Witherspoon’s Facebook page

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

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

     

    John Harris’ Summit to 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!

     

    Plan now for our 2010 Ghost Ranch Seminar!

    GHOST RANCH SEMINAR

    July 26-August 1, 2010

    WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER
    CONFRONTING THE STRUCTURES OF INJUSTICE

     

    If you like what you find here,
    we hope you'll help us keep this website going ... and growing!

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

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

    Or send your check, made out to "Witherspoon Society" and marked "web site," to our Witherspoon  Bookkeeper:

    Susan Robertson  
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    Eden Prairie, MN  55347

     

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    © 2010 by Presbyterian Voices for Justice.  All material on this site is the responsibility of the WebWeaver unless other sources are acknowledged.  Unless otherwise noted, material on this site may be copied for personal use and sharing in small groups.  For permission to reproduce material for wider publication, please contact the WebWeaver, Doug King.  Any material reached by links on this site is outside the control and responsibility of the WebWeaver and Presbyterian Voices for Justice.  Questions or comments?  Please send a note!