This page lists our postings
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
For links to
all our archive pages, listed by months,
A little letter
from your editor/WebWeaver
inviting you to join us in raising your voice for justice
-- in the PC(USA) and in our world? Please take a quick
look at the editor's
column being published in the forthcoming issue of PVJ's
Network News, and consider whether you might take over one
of the hats I wear: editing Network News, or managing this
website, or caring for our membership database and
correspondence. Or all of the above!
More on the case of
the Rev. Janie Spahr:
News Service has issued its new report on the verdict by the
Permanent Judicial Commission of the Presbytery of the Redwoods,
finding the Rev. Jane Spahr guilty on 3 of the 4 charges against
her, arising from her role in officiating at a number of
same-sex marriages during the period when they were legal in
Among other points, the news story says:
The PJC's vote on the three charges was
4-2 and it acquitted Spahr on a fourth charge of failing to
"further the peace, unity and purity of the church."
Instead, the court said "We commend Dr.
Spahr for helping us realize that peace without justice is
The PJC voted to verbally rebuke Spahr,
the lightest of five possible punishments listed in the
constitution, and to instruct her to "...avoid such offenses
in the future." It then stayed the rebuke and injunction in
case of an appeal.
The full news story >>
Another short note from the 219th
Visiting with the YAADs (Young Adult
Thorson-Smith, PVJ Issues Analyst, met with the Young Adult Advisory
Delegates during the Assembly. She reports on the very
enthusiastic response she received from them, especially when
she talked about PVJ's "agenda" for justice and peace.
Voices for Justice offers
summary report on the actions of the 219th General
Also: PVJ coordinating team
members offer their
observations on the Assembly
For our earlier reports of
PVJ events at the Assembly:
More on the case of
the Rev. Jane Spahr:
Redwoods PJC could have done better
Arnold Rots comments on the basis of his own
experience as a member and clerk of the PJC of the Presbytery of
Redwoods Presbytery PJC finds the Rev. Jane Spahr guilty of 3
charges against her, rejects the fourth.
The Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC) of
Redwoods Presbytery ruled that three of the four charges against
Rev. Jane Spahr, for officiating at a service of marriage for
two women, have been sustained and the fourth not sustained.
John Shuck has posted a good report, with a sharp commentary, on
his blog, shuckandjive
From a local newspaper:
The Marin Independent Journal begins
its report on the trial:
Though clearly regretful, a local division of the
Presbyterian Church USA decided Friday to rebuke a
former San Rafael minister who performed wedding
ceremonies for at least 16 same-sex couples during the
five months in 2008 when it was legal to do so.
Added on Saturday, August 28
A decision given with regret
It's very important to note the rationale stated
by the Permanent Judicial Commission in their
decision in the Spahr case. Essentially,
they say Jane Spahr was doing the right thing,
even though, tragically, it is still against the
rules of the PC(USA). Here's part of what
The Permanent Judicial Commission, in
sustaining the first three charges,
recognizes that while the Rev. Dr. Jane
Spahr has indeed performed these marriages,
which were and continue to be legal
marriages, she did so acting with faithful
compassion in accord with W7.3004.
These marriages were legal in the State of
California, being civil contracts (W4.9001),
and are different from same sex ceremonies.
The testimonies of those at court clearly
demonstrated this difference.
We commend Dr. Spahr and give thanks for her
prophetic ministry that for 35 years has
extended support to “people who seek the
dignity, freedom and respect that they have
been denied” (W7.4002c), and has sought to
redress “wrongs against individuals, groups,
and peoples in the church, in this nation,
and in the world” (W7.4002h).
In addition, we call upon the church to
reexamine our own fear and ignorance that
continues to reject the inclusiveness of the
Gospel of Jesus Christ. (G3.0401c)
full text of the decision >>
SOCIAL GOSPEL THEOLOGY
July 26-August 1, 2010
a report on a
Ghost Ranch Seminar, by Jane Hanna
(who put this event together, saith the WebWeaver)
Again this summer
Presbyterian Voices for Justice and Presbyterian Peace
Fellowship joined in co-sponsoring a seminar at Ghost Ranch,
“We’re All in this Together: Confronting the Structures of
Injustice.” The inspiration for the seminar was a guidebook for
social action, To
Do Justice: A Guide for Progressive Christians, edited
by Rebecca Todd Peters and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty. Ethicists
from across mainline denominations contributed essays connecting
their faith to the most urgent public issues of our time. Three
of them, notable educators, became our leaders for 2010.
Dr. Grace Kao is an Associate Professor of
Ethics at Claremont School of Theology; Dr. Elizabeth
Hinson-Hasty an Associate Professor of Theology at Bellarmine
University in Louisville, and Dr. Gary Dorrien is the Reinhold
Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary
and Professor of Religion at Columbia University. They provided
a wealth of information and tools for addressing justice and
Network News is here
Summer 2010 issue of the PVJ newsletter is at the printers, but
already it's here online in PDF format for you to read. Or
to print out for yourself. It will bring you:
Reports from General Assembly
letter from the Editor -- page 2
The PVJ Awards Luncheon -- 3
Voices of Sophia Breakfast -- 7
Assembly Actions -- 9 - 22
Moderator election -- 10|
Israel/Palestine and Middle East -- 10|
Peacemaking and international issues --
Ordination standards -- 13|
Civil unions and marriage -- 15|
Internal church issues -- 17|
Issues of faith -- 19|
Social justice -- 20|
Health issues -- 22|
Two hope-filled encounters with youth and young
adults -- 23
Comments on the Assembly -- 25
Network News is posted here in PDF format,
both high-resolution (which looks better, but may take longer to
download) and lower-resolution (faster to download).
here for the speedy version.
Or click here for the
Janie Spahr on Trial (Really, more a trial about the PC(USA)
August 23, 2010, San Rafael, CA
[Today, August 24], the church trial of Janie
Spahr begins. It is a continuation of the attempts of some to
prevent the marriages of same-gender couples. Eleven of the
couples The Rev. Dr. Janie Spahr married during the time they
were legal in Cal ifornia will testify before the Permanent
Judicial Committee (PJC) at the Covenant Presbyterian Church in
Napa. This is Janie's second trial for marrying same gender
couples. The first ended when the then PJC ruled that since
there is no such thing as "gay marriage" in the church
constitution, whatever Janie might have done - it wasn't a
marriage in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Case closed.
Not true. This "case" will not be closed until
there is a breakthrough. A breakthrough that makes it clear to
those who use the lives and loves of people who are LGBT as
their rallying cry that this argument is over. That while we are
fully willing and committed to healing and working through our
differences together, this church and the lives of its members
cannot be used to spread fear, hatred, and violence by a
litigious and frightened few bent on excluding gay folk. Any
place that does that, whatever it is, is not church; cannot be
church – in the PC(USA) or anywhere else.
A Declaration of Conscience for same-sex marriage
Jane Adams Spahr is
on trial this week for officiating at wedding ceremonies for 16
same-gender couples. But Rev. Spahr isn't on trial, really.
Today the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) is on trial. It is on trial for its treatment of its
own people and for its treatment of ministers and congregations
who care for them. It is time for our denomination to recognize
and stand for equality and to recognize loving same-gender
relationships with all the legal and spiritual status God has
light of the change that needs to happen within the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A., deacons, elders, and ministers have the
opportunity to stand for marriage equality and to stand with
ministers who risk being taken to church court for doing what
ministers are supposed to do.
If you are an deacon, elder,
or minister in the PC(USA) please consider signing the
Declaration of Conscience.
The goal is 1000 signatures. Here is the statement:
1. We believe that the restrictive definition of marriage as
"between a man and a woman" is binding of our pastoral
discernment and unduly restricts our conscience. Such a
definition does not find congruity with the established
legal definitions in five U.S. states, the District of
Columbia, and numerous countries in the world.
As of this
writing, we have
27 signatures. 973 more to go!
2. We recognize an individual clergy's pastoral discernment
in making decisions relating to same gender marriages
according to individual congregational needs, regional law,
individual conscience and Biblical conviction.
3. We recognize that restrictive language hinders our
pastoral care duties to members in full standing and
shackles our liberty in Christ. Such language makes us
choose between the new openness we are called to (G-3.0401)
and enduring unscrupulous charges made in the courts of the
church. We are either a church for all people or we are not
4. We believe that binding our liberty in Christ in matters
to which we believe the Spirit of God is directing us runs
counter to our confessional and reformed heritage, which
calls us to encourage covenant faithfulness and love rather
than thwart it.
5. We believe that Christ's teaching, the Pauline witness,
and our confessions guide us to reject binding our
consciences against actions that we find to be counter the
Spirit of God.
6. We call on people of good faith to cease from using our
church courts to promote schism for their definition of
7. We believe that Sessions should be able to approve the
use of their church buildings for all marriages, especially
since they will know the people requesting services of
marriage better than those in higher governing bodies. A
national policy ties the hands of the local Session, and
diminishes their church's ministry of pastoral care.
8. Therefore, we cannot and will not abide by overly
restrictive ecclesial/liturgical definitions of marriage
continued by the 219th General Assembly out of scruples.
Please sign here.
Here’s another take on Jane Spahr’s trial,
from outside the Presbyterian fold.
Jane Spahr Should Be a National Religious Icon
Imagine being persecuted for celebrating love.
Sound like the spirit of a Shakespeare tragedy?
If only this were a story of fiction. Meet
Rev. Jane Adams Spahr, a retired Presbyterian minister in
California. Today, Rev. Spahr will be hauled into a Presbyterian
court, and put on trial for potentially violating the
constitution of the Presbyterian Church. What did she do that
was so heinous?
Chronology of a Bizarre Controversy – Hurt Feelings and the
“ground Zero Mosque”
This article, by Gary
Leupp, describes the chronology of events surrounding the
project aiming to build an Islamic center in the vicinity of
I found it is especially interesting because
it shows how a local, modest, and initially uncontroversial
project could become a major tool for pushing islamophobia once
sufficiently unprincipled shakers and movers got hold of it. The
scary part, of course, isn't that some opportunistic nitwits
would try to make hay of such a project, but the fact that
they've been having such enormous success.
Jewish Peace News
Crazy Hysterical Christians
provides a very nice (or 'tragic' is perhaps a better word)
example of the “Islamophobia” abroad these days – among
Christians, perhaps more even than among Jews.
Click here for his blog page >>
More on the current wave of "Islamophobia"
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance seeks aid for
Pakistan flood victims
They’re seeking dry
ground. Let’s help them find hope.
News release dated August 20, 2010
The people of Pakistan have suffered numerous
natural and human-caused disasters over the past several years.
Presbyterians have been in ministry there since before the
nation of Pakistan was formed. We stand with them today in their
time of need. The recent floods have brought record-breaking
destruction to the country, with more than 1,400 people dead and
more than 1.5 million displaced. You can make a difference in
bringing God’s healing to a nation torn by devastation.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is responding
through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) and working with
our ecumenical partners to help meet emergency needs – providing
food packages, shelter material, and non-food essentials.
Emergency health services are also being provided.
How Can We Respond?
here for the latest information, and links for giving.
Tell your friends
about Presbyterian Voices for Justice --
and invite them to join us!
brochure is available here in PDF format, so you can print
copies to share with others -- in your congregation, your
presbytery, wherever you go!
you'd like a stack of them to share with others, just contact
Doug King, our communications coordinator. Just be sure to
include your name, mailing address, and the quantity you need.
E-mail, or phone 608-782-5275.
the World to Change
Here's a quick Youtube slide show of some very
funny signs from LGBT folks, sometimes standing (oh, so rudely!)
in front of very religious folks with "God hates fags" sorts of
The first, held high by a young woman, says "I
didn't ask her to 'civil union' me!"
Thanks to John Shuck, and his
Voices of Sophia
and Voices of Women
posted a short account of the beginnings and witness of Voices
of Sophia, now a vital part of Presbyterian Voices for Justice.
It was written by Sylvia Thorson-Smith for the Peacemaking Issue
of The Journal of Sacred Feminine Wisdom, Fall, 1996.
We're happy to share it here,
both in easy-to-print PDF
format, and in easy-to-open
We'd be very happy
to hear your comments,
or additions or corrections!
Just send us a note!
Parsons to join Office of Public Witness in webinar on General
Press release from Presbyterian Church (USA), dated 8-19-10
Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons will join
the staff of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public
Witness (OPW) for
a webinar on Thursday, September 16 from 11:15
a.m. until noon.
The webinar will present the public policy-related Overtures
approved by the 2010 General Assembly. The webinars periodically
conducted by the Office of Public Witness provide an opportunity
for Presbyterians at the local level to learn about and share in
the development of priorities for the office and the larger
church. The Rev. Dr. J.Herbert Nelson II, Director of the OPW,
has invited representatives of local congregations and
presbyteries to participate in the webinar through their
computers. Log-in information will be released on August 23rd.
In addition to Dr. Nelson and Dr.
Parsons, other presenters will be Catherine Gordon,
Representative for International Issues, and Leslie Woods,
Representative for Domestic and Environmental Issues in the
PC(USA) Washington office. Each of them will discuss the
Overtures approved in their areas of expertise, responding to
questions from the audience and describing how the Overtures
relate to initiatives likely to be considered in the current
Congress and the upcoming session of Congress (2011-2012), which
will convene in January.
Read this story online
Christians call for respect for Muslims at Ramadan
The National Council of Churches of Christ in the
USA, its Interfaith Relations Commission and participants in the
National Muslim-Christian Initiative, have issued a statement
the eve of Ramadan calling on Christians to respect their Muslim
neighbors. Christ's call to 'love your neighbor as yourself',
more than the simple bonds of our common humanity ... "is the
basis for our relationship with Muslims around the world."
The statement continues:
Grounded in this commitment, we question
the anti-Muslim tenor of actions and speech regarding the
building of Cordoba House and mosque near the site of the
former World Trade Center in New York City. We are keenly
aware that many Muslims, as well as Jews, Christians,
Hindus, and others, lost family members in the attacks on
September 11, 2001. We recognize, as does the Muslim
community around the world, that it was a group of Muslims
who embraced terrorism and teachings counter to the Qur'an
and Islam that carried out this action. We stand with the
majority of Muslims—including American Muslims—who are
working against such radical influences in their
communities. They have our support for building the Cordoba
House as a living monument to mark the tragedy of 9/11
through a community center dedicated to learning,
compassion, and respect for all people. This effort is
consistent with our country’s principle of freedom of
religion, and the rights all citizens should enjoy. More
How the "ground zero mosque" fear mongering began
Here’s some helpful background on the current uproar over
the proposed Islamic community center in New York.
Another remembrance of Howard Rice
Rev. Howard Leland Rice, former moderator of the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly and San Francisco Theological
Seminary chaplain and professor of ministry from 1968-97, died
Aug. 8 in Claremont, Calif., at the age of 78. He was one of the
earliest practitioners of spiritual disciplines and formation
that led to the current renewal of those practices in the
This remembrance of Howard Rice comes from Sylvia
Thorson-Smith, a member of the Coordinating Team of Presbyterian
Voices for Justice:
The images I have of the Rev. Dr. Howard
Rice will be etched forever in my memory.
Howard was one of a only a few former
Moderators of the PCUSA who publicly endorsed the 1991
report on human sexuality that was rejected amid a flurry of
conflict and criticism. As a leader in many church arenas,
he spoke passionately and prophetically for sexual and
gender justice. Howard rejected the either-or polarity
between spirituality and social justice. Seeing LGBT persons
as beloved children of God and advocating their equal rights
in church and society were, for him, integral responses to
gospel faith and discipleship.
As a liaison from the GA Task Force on
Human Sexuality to the GA Task Force on Abortion (1990-91),
I saw the care and skill with which Howard moderated an
intense study of one of the most conflicted issues of our
time. Amazingly, that Task Force produced a report which is
in large part consensual – a report that has been sustained
as Presbyterian policy for almost two decades. Throughout
the ’90s, Howard repeatedly testified before GA committees
who had to struggle with challenges to that policy. When he
could no longer attend General Assembly, his strong voice
continued to resonate through written testimony that was
read to committees.
Many others have memories of Howard as
their professor, mentor, pastor, counselor, friend, and
scholarly guide. My memories are focused on his active
leadership in moving the Presbyterian Church toward a more
authentic witness of the biblical mandate: to do justice,
love kindness, and walk humbly with God.
Howard Rice was a truth-teller and
wisdom-seeker of the rarest kind. Thanks Be for his
justice-loving life among us!
Throw Glenn Beck
some social justice this Labor Day!
This message comes to us from Interfaith Worker Justice
Glenn Beck recently
attacked churches that embraced social justice. In the wake of
his rant, Labor in the Pulpits gives us an opportunity to share
the real meaning of social justice and its intersection with
workers and the faith community.
The dream of justice
for working families is a dream shared by the labor movement and
the faith community. From the earliest struggles for worker
justice, allies from the faith community have stood side by side
with workers, to provide the moral framework in the efforts to
This Labor Day
weekend, join Interfaith Worker Justice in celebrating the link
between the faith community and worker justice. Interfaith
Worker Justice has worked with faith leaders to develop
faith-based resources that can be used in services. These
prayers, hymns, reflections and bulletin inserts can be used in
a service to celebrate the religious community's efforts to
support workers' struggles. Click
here for more information and many resources.
In peace and
Communications Director, Interfaith Worker Justice
Bread for the World Sunday, October 17
This fall, thousands of churches and faith communities will
renew their commitment to end hunger by celebrating Bread
for the World Sunday. Encourage your church to take part on
October 17 or another Sunday in the fall.
FREE resources to help your church participate in Bread for the
World Sunday are now
available to order or download:
Spanish-language versions as well as additional resources from a
variety of Christian traditions are also available to download
from our website.
Bread for the World Sunday is a great opportunity for members of
your congregation to make a difference in the lives of hungry
people. Moved by God’s grace in Jesus Christ, we can end hunger.
President, Bread for the World
Former GA Moderator Howard Rice dies at 78
SFTS leader was instrumental in rediscovering
by Jerry L. Van Marter, Presbyterian
News Service, and Holly Woolard, SFTS Communications Office
The Rev. Howard
LOUISVILLE — The Rev. Howard Leland Rice,
former moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General
Assembly and San Francisco Theological Seminary chaplain and
professor of ministry from 1968-97, died Aug. 8 in Claremont,
Calif., at the age of 78. He was one of the earliest
practitioners of spiritual disciplines and formation that led to
the current renewal of those practices in the church.
Rice was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis
prior to his appointment at SFTS — he arrived at the seminary
the same year as this reporter arrived as a student — and spent
his time on the San Anselmo campus either on crutches or
confined to a wheelchair. After Rice’s retirement, his diagnosis
was changed from MS to spinal cord damage. Last spring he
battled a stubborn bone infection for weeks, resulting in his
decision to accept hospice care. He passed away peacefully
surrounded by his family.
A couple extra notes from your WebWeaver:
Voices for Justice celebrates the life and witness of Howard
Rice, and many of us are grateful for all he taught us of
true spirituality – a stance toward the world of engagement and
action, passion and joy. He taught us not only through his
writing and teaching, but through his life.
One of our
Coordinating Team members recalls Howard “as an ardent supporter
of choice. When PARO would call on him to speak against
particular anti-choice OVT's, he carried with him tremendous
respect [and] persuasiveness.”
Howard for some time graced the pages of the
Witherspoon Society’s Network News with his occasional
column entitled “Wind of the Spirit Blowing.” His column
in the Spring 1999 issue was called
“Spirituality: not a cocoon, but a call to caring.”
We remember with gratitude that as early as
1982, Howard wrote an article entitled "Homophobia: The
Overlooked Sin," for Church & Society. (It was in
vol. 73, 1982, pp. 5-13. ) In it he outlined many of the
causes of homophobia within the church, and possible solutions
Rice’s dream for an inclusive Presbyterian Church
In October, 2000,
he talked with a group of More Light Presbyterians and friends,
meeting at Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, about
“my dream for the Presbyterian Church. And it was as he summed
up toward the end of his talk, “a dream of a truly welcoming
On immigrants: The tried and true bugaboo
by Berry Craig
Since the end of the Cold War, which deprived
them of the Red Menace, right-wing Republicans have been looking
for a replacement bogeyman to frighten people into voting for
They tried humanism, then gay rights. Both
were scary enough for Christians of the homophobic,
Jesus-loves-me-but-He-can’t-stand you persuasion. But most
Americans didn’t seem to get too worked up over the humanist-gay
“threat” to the republic.
Finally, the GOP has gone back in history and
found the tried and true bugaboo: immigrants.
Random Thoughts on Losing, by Bill Peach
Being “an unabashed, self-professed Liberal ...
in Williamson County,” Tennessee, is never easy. Holding public
office as a member of the school board has not been easy,
either, for Bill Peach. He has shared various thoughtful essays
with us in the past,
including one on the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to
President Barrack Obama in October, 2009.
He was again a
candidate on Thursday, August 5, for the local school board, but
this time he lost. His reflections on that painful experience
may be helpful for many of us as a close-up look at the politics
of our time. It’s not a pretty picture, but one worth our
Continuing unemployment – could there be method in this
A comment from Gene Te Selle,
former Witherspoon Issues Analyst
The joblessness report issued on August 6
turned out to be downbeat, with job creation slow and
unemployment rising slightly.
On the other hand, we keep hearing reports
that corporations have plenty of money - both profits
distributed to stockholders and cash kept in the bank - but are
not spending it to hire more employees. (Click
here for the Washington Post report.) This is not
necessarily from lack of work to do.
many corporations have
discovered that they can put their existing employees under
increased pressure, with more overtime and less in the way of
benefits. To have a job these
days is not to be exempt from pressure and anxiety
("squeezed" and "hammered" are
metaphors that workers often use). Small business is,
as usual, a more reliable source of job creation. ...
The low level of corporate spending may not be
accidental. It may not even be a narrow matter of corporate
prudence or the "fiduciary responsibility" to make money for
stockholders, directors, and
CEOs. An important motive may be to
influence public policy by making the economy (and a Democratic
president and Congress) look bad as we move toward the November
They may be looking for a "favorable investment climate" and
what we call in the South a "disciplined work force."
overturning of Prop 8
Craig Wiesner, whose marriage to Derrick
Kikuchi was re-celebrated
(with a marriage license!) at the More Light Presbyterians
dinner at General Assembly in June, 2008, sent this happy note
to Tikkun Daily on August 4, 2010:
Twenty years and four months after our
marriage in the First Presbyterian Church, and 2 years after
the County of San Mateo issued our marriage license and the
minister who had married us 20 years earlier got to sign our
marriage certificate, a federal judge declared today that
our marriage remains legal (we weren’t the plaintiffs in the
case, but were married in San Mateo County during the brief
window when California allowed gay marriage). And… he
declared the ban on gay marriage passed by voters in
California to be in violation of the United States
Pass the chocolate cake – it is time to
celebrate … and get back to work after the frosting is gone
because there’s a whole lot of work to do.
Xenophobia: Fear-Mongering for American Votes
Editorial, New York Times, August 5, 2010
Leading Republicans have gotten chilly
toward the Constitution’s 14th Amendment, which guarantees
citizenship to people born in the United States. Senators
Mitch McConnell, John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Jeff Sessions
and Jon Kyl have been suggesting that the country should
take a look at it, re-examine it, think it over, hold
hearings. They seem worried that maybe we got something
wrong nearly 150 years ago, after fighting the Civil War,
freeing enslaved Africans and declaring that they and their
descendants were not property or partial persons, but free
and full Americans.
As statements of core values go, the 14th
Amendment is a keeper. It decreed, belatedly, that
citizenship is not a question of race, color, beliefs,
wealth, political status or bloodline. It cannot fall prey
to political whims or debates over who is worthy to be an
American. “All persons born or naturalized in the United
States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof,” it says,
“are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein
they reside.” ...
The editorial concludes:
The United States has never had a neat,
painless way to add newcomers. But our most shameful moments
have involved the exclusion of groups, often those that do
our hardest labor: Indians, African-Americans, Chinese,
Irish, Italians, Catholics, Jews, Poles, Japanese-Americans,
Hispanics. America has stood proudest when it dared to
stretch the definition of who “we” are.
As a result, this is still the most welcoming
country for immigrants. A few politicians chumming for votes
in an off-year election cannot be allowed to destroy that.
The full editorial >>
Thanks to Jonathan Nelson,
Elder Fifth Ave Presbyterian Church NYC
More on immigration
Anne Rice cites bishops' stance
as reason for giving up on Christianity
from Peter Smith, Louisville
Best-selling author Anne Rice says the
decisive issue in her much-publicized renunciation of
Christianity was the activism by Roman Catholic bishops in
opposing same-sex marriage.
That leads to a Louisville angle, since this
national cause has been led by Louisville Archbishop Joseph E.
Rice is the author of vampire novels and, more
recently, books on her erstwhile return to Catholicism and the
life of Christ.
But Rice has now declared via Facebook that
she has "quit being a Christian":
I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse
to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be
anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat.
I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be
anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of
...Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
The rest of Smith’s brief note >>
“Something's Going On”
Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow considers the future of the PC(USA)
in this post-modern age
Recently the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, having
just completed his two-year term as Moderator of the
Presbyterian Church, was interviewed of Deborah Arca Mooney for
the Patheos website (which
describes itself modestly as “the premier online destination to
engage in the global dialogue about religion and spirituality
and to explore and experience the world's beliefs”).
Out of his own
strong involvement in social networking and the emergent church,
Reyes-Chow begins by dismissing concern about the survival of
the Presbyterian Church, saying that “a denomination that is
only interested in its survival is no longer faithfully living
church movement has much that is valuable, but he sees dangers,
too: “I think one of the things the emergent folks are buying
into culturally is an isolationism and disconnectedness that
technology has brought about. And if we follow them, then we're
buying into this idea, in an almost rebellious attitude, that
you can do everything on your own and you are not accountable to
anyone other than the folks you have deemed part of your
immediate community. A denomination, on the other hand, says to
the world that we're accountable to folks who manifest the
Spirit and the Body of Christ beyond our human constructs, and I
think that is a prophetic word for the world today.
Denominations certainly have their issues, but we do also have a
gift that we can offer.”
Asked about the
relevance of the “social media” to the changes needed in the
church, he says: “When it comes to the foundation of the social
media component, this whole ‘open source’ understanding of
people gathering together to discern the truth is actually
something Presbyterians are wired for. We believe that we gather
together and that nobody is supposed to have more authority than
anybody else. And in an open source world, that's exactly what
we do. ... What has really been wonderful about the social media
connections has been that people who stand on opposite sides of
theological issues are discovering each other as people, rather
than just an ‘issue.’ ”
About the future
of denominational structures, Reyes-Chow says: “We have to
understand that chaos is just the air we breathe, so how does
the structure keep us moving through all of that without going
through these huge highs and lows? How does it provide some
stability without being stifling? ... When we think of
institutional structures, we can't think of them as endpoints,
but rather as this constant movement, which can drive people
nuts. Our structure needs to have adaptability built into it,
which we don't have now.”
This will be a
challenge, he says, because “we have to have the structures
there that support that and manifest a healthy presence. So in a
denominational future, how we structure middle governing bodies
is going to be huge. That's the game changer for the PCUSA –
re-thinking our synods and presbyteries to model ministry in a
Looking ahead, he
adds this: “As far as ministry components, I predict a
resurgence in justice ministries again, as so many young folks
are looking at issues like trafficking, gender, invisible
children, environmental issues, etc. Folks are realizing that we
need to come alongside some of these movements and be
influencers. The last thing I'd say is that we just hired a new
director of our Washington office who is going to reinvigorate
our prophetic presence in DC. I think that piece is going to be
We encourage you to read the full text of this interview >>
And let’s talk
about it! What are your thoughts about Bruce’s views on the
future of the PC(USA)? And specifically, what does it suggest
for the future mission of a group like Presbyterian Voices for
Justice? Help us do the rethinking we need to be doing, to shape
our mission and action for the years to come!
Just send a note, to be shared here (unless you ask us to
keep it just among ourselves).
Human Rights Campaign urges boycott of Target and Best Buy
for their support of gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota who
bitterly opposes same-sex marriage
and Best Buy have donated over $250,000 to a political committee
supporting a rabidly anti-equality candidate for Governor of
Minnesota, where both are headquartered – a man with ties to a
Christian rock band that advocates violence and death to gays.
The news is all the more shocking because both
of these companies have long records of providing fair and
equitable workplaces for their lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender (LGBT) employees.
The Human Rights Campaign has drafted an open
letter calling on Target and Best Buy to make it right by
donating an equal amount to support fair-minded candidates who
will fight for equality. They have published it in a full-page
ad in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. And they ask others
to add to the pressure by adding their name.
Click here to read the full text of the letter, and to add
Click here for a report from AOL’s “Politics Daily”
Human Rights Campaign responds:
– 8/5/2010 -- Today
HRC President Joe Solmonese issued the
“Target has been a
champion for workplace equality for many
years. That’s why their recent donation to
MN Forward was so at odds with their
sterling reputation as a great employer for
LGBT people. The fact that their political
contribution was used to advance an
anti-equality candidate was extremely
hurtful to all fair-minded Americans.
We appreciate Mr.
Steinhafel’s statement to company employees
this afternoon but it doesn’t go quite far
enough. Target's apology is welcomed but
without tangible action behind it, the LGBT
community and our allies will continue to
question the company's commitment to
The promise to evaluate
political contributions in the future, while
a step in the right direction, is provided
without details and does not mitigate their
$150,000 supporting an outspoken opponent of
equality for LGBT people. Target can still
make it right by making equivalent
contributions to equality-minded
organizations and by making clear the
procedure by which they will evaluate
potential contributions in the future to
include issues of LGBT-equality.”
Judge Hands Victory to Proposition 8 Opponents, Gay-Marriage
New York Magazine
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled on
Wednesday that the California's Proposition 8 ballot initiative
denying marriage rights to same-sex couples was
unconstitutional, in a case that will almost certainly go all
the way to the Supreme Court.
Walker ruled that Proposition 8 is
"unconstitutional under both the due process and equal
protection clauses." The court, therefore, "orders entry of
judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement." Two key
sentences from the ruling:
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis
in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage
license. Indeed the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing
more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion
that opposite sex couples are superior to same sex couples.
full article >>
Just a little comment from your WebWeaver: The
loving, liberating hand of God seems to move a bit faster than
the Presbyterian Church. But change is coming!
send a note!
WITNESS IN WASHINGTON WEEKLY
The Washington Office of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
This week's messages are-
July 30, 2010
* Office of Public Witness Director interviewed on PBS
* Tell Congress to Please Help the Victims of the Gulf Oil
* Support the START Treaty and Reduce Nuclear Dangers
* Isaiah 58:9-12 - Repairer of the Breach
Click here for the main points from this bulletin >>
Go directly to the full bulletin >>
New Report: U.S. Military aid to Colombia has direct,
negative effect on human rights
news comes from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship’s Executive
Director, Rick Chase, and is slightly edited here:
The Fellowship of Reconciliation released a
report on Thursday that has significant bearing on PPF's work in
to get the summary, the recommendations, and the full report
through the PPF website.
research by FOR's staff and colleagues shows fairly conclusively
that there is at least a correlation, if not a causal link,
between U.S. Military aid to Colombia and the number of civilian
deaths in the areas where the Colombian Military is most active.
"For the 16
largest increases of aid ... the number of reported executions
in the jurisdiction increased an average of 56% .... In other
words, when there were significant increases in assistance to
units, there were increases in reported killings in the periods
following the assistance in the assisted units' areas of
significant implications for U.S. funding there, and appears to
be a violation of the Leahy Amendment, which "prohibits
assistance to any foreign security force unit if the State
Department has credible evidence that the unit has committed
gross human rights violations." ...
Please take the
time to read the entire report, which is well-documented and
powerfully written, then take action by contacting Secretary of
State Clinton, and share it with others.
If you would like
to join a group that is working on closing U.S. Military Bases
in Colombia, please write to
though there is no peace,
laid to rest
Presbyterian News Service reported on July 30,
2010, that Mollie Brown Hopper, who with her husband Bill – a
member and supporter of the Witherspoon Society since 1994 –
served as a Presbyterian mission worker in Iran for many years,
was interred in the Memorial Garden at Louisville Presbyterian
Theological Seminary here July 27. Millie Hopper died earlier
this spring at Westminster Gardens in Duarte, Calif. where she
and Bill Hopper lived.
A brief service
accompanied the interment, led by the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick ,
former General Assembly stated clerk and world mission director
for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Former national staff
colleague the Rev. Kathy Lancaster read an account of Mollie's
life written by her husband, who was unable to attend due to
Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill and
their family in these sorrowful days.
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
For links to
all our archive pages, listed by months,
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
If you like what
you find here,
we hope you'll help us keep Voices for Justice going ... and
Please consider making a special
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Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!