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Our reports about the 219th General Assembly, July 2010

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219th General Assembly
2010

Click here for our index page on GA 2010

PVJ Events at the Assembly
Page 3: reporting on the PVJ Luncheon

Voices for Justice Awards Luncheon offers moments for meditation, celebration
[7-7-10]

With over a hundred people present, the new Presbyterian Voices for Justice gathered on Sunday, July Fourth, just after the Assembly worship service.

Co-Moderator Bill Dummer

The Rev. Bill Dummer, PVJ co-moderator, welcomed everyone to the luncheon, and then introduced the Rev. Landon Whitsitt, the newly elected Vice Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Whitsitt greeted the group on behalf of Moderator Cynthia Bolbach, and expressed appreciation for the work of both the Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia in the cause of justice.

Darcy Hawk and Mitch Trigger pitch for money and members

The invocation was given by the Rev. Catherine Snyder, and after giving everyone a few minutes for enjoying their breakfasts, PVJ Treasurer Darcy Hawk and Secretary Mitch Trigger made a pitch (with the Treasurer in drag of sorts, playing the role of Sophie Witherspoon) for support for PVJ through memberships and gifts.

Sylvia Thorson-Smith, a member of the PVJ board, then introduced the speaker, the Rev. Mary Elva Smith. Smith served as Director of Women’s Ministries in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from 2001-2006, and is now the Acting General Presbyter for the Sierra Mission Partnership.

Mary Elva began by describing what she had in mind for our time together:

What an auspicious day to gather to celebrate the Voices of Justice as you begin a journey unified by interest and passion. For the next span of time, we are going on a mini-retreat … to take time to listen for the voice of Godde and to allow the movement of the Spirit space to work…To that end join me in affirming your purpose by reading your mission statement:

We are a spirited and passionate community of women and men in the Presbyterian church (USA) who is called to proclaim the gospel vision of God’s extravagant love and justice in church and society. We seek the wisdom of the Spirit for following Christ’s example and for living into the hope of sustained gender equality, racial reconciliation, full human rights for LGBT persons, economic justice, environmental wholeness, an end to war and all forms of violence and a justice-loving shalom over all the earth. We commit to risking the transformation of our own selves and our organization to live into this vision, even as we invite both church and society to meet this challenge.

Were going to open this moment in time together by listening: not to me or to you but … to GOD!

The psalmist admonishes: Be still and know that I am God… Psalm 46:10 (pause…silence)
What a time to call for silence, in the midst of the opening days of a General Assembly…

The Psalm, where God speaks this word to us is out of the chaos of that day offering a promise of stability and change.

Mary Elva Smith

Smith went on to invite us into this silence, to attend to our own breathing and to images and words from Scripture and from our own deep consciousness.

She then asked us to focus on a few questions for reflection, the written versions of which you can read – Questions for Conversation and Questions for Clarity – which she offered for our reflection in our few minutes together, and in the days to come.

She closed with an invitation to listening:

Take time to listen, first for the still small voice of God, then to each other that the Spirit may move within you to breathe new life and direction into the call you hear to do justice, to love kindness and walk humbly with your God.

We encourage you to join in on the very brief “mini-retreat” on which Mary Elva Smith led us, by reading through and reflecting on the prepared material she has generously shared with us:

For the full prepared text of Mary Elva Smith’s meditation >>

For her Questions for Conversation >>

And her Questions for Clarity >>

If you have thoughts that arise out of this reflection, we’d be grateful if you could share them with us, as material for our own thinking as a Coordinating Team (formerly known as the Board) of PVJ.  Please just send a note!

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

The recipient of this year’s Whole Gospel Congregation Award, Kwanzaa Community Church (Presbyterian) in Minneapolis, was introduced by the Rev. Bebe Baldwin. She described vividly some of the many ways in which Kwanzaa’s commitment to its community has changed lives and made a difference in the quality of life in its community. More about the congregation >>

Alika Galloway

The award was presented “in grateful recognition for ‘bringing saving freedom to body, mind & soul’ through the Good News of Jesus to all the people of the community.” The Rev. Alika Galloway, who is cop-pastor of the congregation with her husband, the Rev. Ralph Galloway, accepted the award on behalf of the congregation, which was represented by some 20 of its members.

Members of the Kwanzaa Community Church

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

L to r: Manley and Ann Olson accept award from Colleen Bowers

 

PVJ Acting Co-Moderator Colleen Bowers presented the Andrew Murray Award to Ann and Manley Olson, long-time active Presbyterian leaders at congregational, presbytery, and national levels. The award was presented “in grateful recognition of their commitment and passion to social justice for all of God’s people in their service to the entire Church.” More about the Olsons >>

 

The Reverend Sylvia Carlson, another member of the PVJ Coordinating Team, offered the benediction, using the words of a blessing the comes out of the Franciscan tradition. We’ve been asked by a number of people for the words of that blessing, so here it is:

 

Outline for mini retreat: GA 2010, the 4th of July!
[7-7-10]

What an auspicious day to gather to celebrate the Voices of Justice as you begin a journey unified by interest and passion. For the next span of time, we are going on a mini-retreat … to take time to listen for the voice of Godde and to allow the movement of the Spirit space to work…To that end join me in affirming your purpose by reading your mission statement:  

We are a spirited and passionate community of women and men in the Presbyterian church (USA) who is called to proclaim the gospel vision of God’s extravagant love and justice in church and society. We seek the wisdom of the Spirit for following Christ’s example and for living into the hope of sustained gender equality, racial reconciliation, full human rights for LGBT persons, economic justice, environmental wholeness, an end to war and all forms of violence and a justice-loving shalom over all the earth. We commit to risking the transformation of our own selves and our organization to live into this vision, even as we invite both church and society to meet this challenge.

Were going to open this moment in time together by listening: not to me or to you but … to GOD!

The psalmist admonishes: Be still and know that I am God… Psalm 46:10                        (pause…silence)

What a time to call for silence, in the midst of the opening days of a General Assembly…

The Psalm, where God speaks this word to us, is out of the chaos of that day offering a promise of stability and change.

We live within a cacophony of sound — construction activity, cars going by, sirens scorching the air intrude and attract my attention.

Are your cell phones off? Are they out of sight so that for a few minutes they and all the distractions they offer are out of mind?

If we are to discern the mind of Christ as we gather to make decisions, listening comes as we begin the process…listening to Godde and to each other … this requires a willingness to truly listen, to create and make space within yourself to hear first… to be still so that the ears of your heart and soul can take in what is being said by God and by all who are gathered… to wait so that your words and wisdom are reflective of what Christ is calling you to say and be …

In the silence I invite you to notice where God is taking you… to let the Spirit of God guide your reflections… how are you being called to be the VOICES of JUSTICE in ‘such a time as this?          Slight pause

Breathe… notice only your own breathing… breathe in and out… be aware that the spirit is breathing in and with you … now in this moment… no lists, no what do I need to do after this lunch… breathe in the spirit, be filled and refreshed… breathe again… Be still and know that I am God… Pause… silence…

Listen as you do for a holy hearing… let the word or phrase that captures your attention guide your listening and hearing…

from the book of Revelation 21.22… first from the NRSV: I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord god the Almighty and the Lamb. PAUSE

Now from the Message: The main street of the City was pure gold, translucent as glass. But there was no sign of a Temple for the Lord god – the Sovereign-Strong – and the lamb are the Temple.

Mary sang a song that has been remembered through the ages though it has not recently been on anyone’s hit parade…

Listen to the song: Luke 1:49a, 51-53: for the Mighty One has done great things for me. And holy is God’s name. … God has shown strength with God’s arm; … has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. … has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; … has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.  

Pause/note what captured you --- the word or phrase that speaks to you today.

If God was turning the world upside down then, what do you imagine God might be doing now? No temples -- yet Godde is active …

On each table is a list of questions … Questions for Conversation and Questions for Clarity … look now at the ones for Conversation … read through them quickly (see attachment)… these are some of the questions we need to ask ourselves about the church of today and tomorrow… I wish we had time now to sift through them, talk about them and let other ideas and wonderings bubble up for pondering and nudging us into what is ahead. I hope you will take these with you to use with colleagues in ministry where you live… the purpose behind these and the Questions for Clarity is to encourage your thinking and acting, giving space for the Spirit to work before we rush in with solutions.

Do you ever have the sense that you are Don Quixote? Tilting at windmills? Full of longing and a desire to make a difference even with or for just one person? And too busy to accomplish what you wish…

Whatever possessed God to create out of chaos all of this? Do you suppose any of this is what God imagined? So why when we think about the church of the future and the now does it look so much like what we have known.

We Americanized souls… no matter our ethnicity, our cultures from another time or place … have an extremely difficult time stepping out of what we know to what could be!

Looking at your website you are invested in many arenas… what do you do between general assemblies … where is your focus? …who are your colleagues in ministry? On what do you spend your time and energy? What have you accomplished, large or small in the last 2 years?

What might we have done today rather than come here for lunch? How much money have we spent collectively to be here today, to eat together, and talk about the state of the church?

That is not to say that this is wrong or bad, but to NOTICE at what cost in time and energy we gather? To what end? Education has always been a passion… so why am I questioning what we are about? I’m a reluctant bureaucrat … challenged by the status quo … and underneath it all I am anxious that I am not facilitating or being the change I would like to see … because it is hard to change!

Speaking and acting from the margins – yet with the strength of a community gathered – you and I have the ability, the call to make a difference and it requires that we become the change you and I want to see!

So in your wildest dreams, your most vivid imagination what is the role of the church, the role of Voices of Justice, your role in this millennia; what could we do for Christ’s sake if we set our hearts, our minds, our souls to the vision? For instance: 

•         How would we be spending our time if we de-institutionalized the church with intention?      

•         What might the de-institutionalized church look like? Nationally, regionally, locally?                    

•         Can you imagine the PCUSA with only a small natl. office with 4 primary purposes: what does it take to remain a Presbyterian Christian … is it reformed theology, is it doing justice, is it polity, is it educated leaders/pastors … what about the great ends of the church… how might we live them out in a new more effective way? What on earth does “the promotion of the social righteousness” mean for us, or “the exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world” … ?

•         What is the purpose of a national office in this season? A synod, a presbytery, even a congregation? Remember it wasn’t always the way it is now? Nor even the way it was a decade ago!                 

•         What if the General Assembly was only convened every 4 years and we gathered to share stories of ministry, our work on behalf of the justice we long for and to discern the next steps to be taken as a Presbyterian family of Christians.

Reflect in your own mind now… what you hope "the church” may be in the coming millennia… and don’t forget you are / I am the church… we are the church together!

How will it/you/we be a community of believers?

How will the “church” be serving the world in a way that makes it a better place to live? Last week a retired pastor came into the presbytery office and shared a bit of his journey. He has Parkinson’s and has become an advocate for new treatment of the disease. With his new found energy and ability he is working as a volunteer with an interfaith group ministering in ways he did not have time for earlier in his life… his regret was that he was not working for the church… I was stunned and of course said so… for he is being the church alongside others in this ministry provides in his community.

What are we doing here and now in this time and in this place… in this particular decade at this time? The first decade of this millennia is ending… have we changed anything since 2000 … the world has changed … have we/have you/have I?

These are the questions we ask in the dark of the night at the base of our soul…

What difference will my presence make?

Reflect: What is it that you long for?

A place to be
Love, a sense of belonging and well being, world peace, no more hunger
How do you attempt to fill your longings … possessions, companions, travel, busyness?

Do any of those things ever satisfy us?

Or do we pay attention to the world’s deepest hunger and our greatest passion and know that that is where we will meet God.

As we close this portion of our day, my invitation to you is to tend your own journey with God, to clarify your call and to tend the spirit of Voices of Justice… begin at the beginning, without looking back… what does the world need now, to what are you being called as a collective… the church as institution needs to be changed dramatically, not just repeatedly downsized… how will you open the windows and doors for this millennia… who are/will be the leaders for today and tomorrow? How will we get out of the way and become re-engaged for the trek ahead… This is a season in which stopping, waiting and reflecting is needed in order to move ahead. Breathe …

Take time to listen, first for the still small voice of God, then to each other that the Spirit may move within you to breathe new life and direction into the call you hear to do justice, to love kindness and walk humbly with your God.

The Examen (cards on table to be taken) is an ancient practice of setting aside time at the end of the day to reflect on the ups and downs of that day and to do this with God … don’t let the day get away from you, recall it, grow through it, the opportunity is open to let the Spirit move in you that you may become the change you hope to see.

The Examen or “The Examination of Consciousness” is a prayerful review of one’s day to discern the presence of God and can even be helpful, over a period of time, in discerning God’s direction in your life. At the end of the day, ask: 

•         What gave me energy today? What drained me?                   

•         When did I feel most alive today? Most depleted?                 

•         For what moment today am I most grateful? Least grateful?            

•         When was I happiest today? When was I the saddest?         

•         What was today’s high point? What was today’s low point?            

•         Where did my greatest passion meet the world’s deepest longing today?   

Adapted from Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life by Dennis, Sheila and Matthew Linn, Paulist Press, 1995


May you experience God’s faithfulness as you live into the hope that has been planted in your heart and soul, loving all God’s creation even as God loves, seeking justice for a world in need of peace.          God speed…
Questions for conversation:

What is the justice you seek?

For whom do you seek justice?

How are they affected by your efforts?

Where have you seen change because of your intention and action?

Considering the multiple issues Voices of Justice (and its predecessors) is committed to:

How do you speak for justice for each of them? 

bullet

To whom do you speak?                         

bullet

What influence do you have and with whom?      

bullet

Where/how does your advocacy gain traction?    

bullet

How do you activate your advocacy?      

bullet

What are you doing to enliven/live out your passion?       

bullet

Whom are you teaching, inviting to a new way of being?  

bullet

How are you expanding the circle of those you hope to transform?            

bullet

What are you willing to give up (let go of) for the cause of justice?

What would the church look like if there were no paid ministry professionals?

bullet

What if pastors were called to "study, teach and preach the Word and administer the Sacraments" and left everything else to others              

bullet

What if we called doctors and others to treat those with needs beyond their means to be in recognized ministry?      

bullet

What if we each built one house for Habitat? What if, we … you … (fill in the blanks)

How would Presbyterian Voices for Justice speak if there were no national offices in Louisville?

bullet

What would our voices say?                    

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To whom would we address ourselves?  

What difference will this new organization make?

Why should I invest time/money/talent/etc, here and now with this group?

bullet

Is it this organization?    

bullet

Is it another organization?          

bullet

Is it something else entirely?      

What outcomes do you long to see as a result of the work of Presbyterian Voices for Justice?

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Hopes/fears . . . What happens in your gut? What motivates you (be honest)?                

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Where do you feel joy/gladness?                         

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Where do you feel heaviness/sadness?               

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What would be most life-giving?

What would need to let go (let die) in you for you to move in a new way?

Questions for Clarity

What outcomes do you long to see as a result of the work of Voices of Justice?

What are your best hopes in relation to this work?

What are your fears in relation to this work? (6 months from now, what do you fear?)

What do you sense God is saying to you concerning your hopes and fears?

Where does God's deeper call in your life seem to be surfacing?

What is your prayer like around this matter?

When you think of this path, what color comes to mind?

What associations do you have with this color? (sequel question)

What happens in your "gut" when you think about this/these possibility/ies?

What motivates you in considering this option?

What criteria or values are most important to you as you consider this decision?

Where do you feel joy, gladness, or energy in this matter?

Where do you feel heaviness, sadness, or energy drain?

What need or desire would this direction fill for you? For others?

What would be most life-giving for you in this situation?

What would need to die in you for new life and freedom to come forth?

What scripture passage (or song) comes to mind as you ponder this matter?

Does anything in your previous experience of God's grace illuminate this issue?


 

These are simply examples of open-ended questions with no agenda behind them. They are asked in the service of the focus person's/group’s own discernment process. Such questions have no "right" or "wrong" answer. Their only purpose is to help one listen to one’s inner teacher, the spirit of God within you.

 

 

GA actions ratified (or not) by  the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

We're providing resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest are:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which would remove the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.
 

If you like what you find here,
we hope you'll help us keep Voices for Justice going ... and growing!

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

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

Or send your check, made out to "Presbyterian Voices for Justice" and marked "web site," to our PVJ Treasurer:

Darcy Hawk
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Gibsonia, PA  15044-8312

 

Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

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

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

 

Voices of Sophia blog

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

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

 

John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

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

 

John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

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

 

Got more blogs to recommend?

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

 

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