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Archive for April, 2011

This page lists our postings from earlier in April, 2011

For an index to all our reports and analyses
on the 219th General Assembly

Posts from earlier in June, 2011
May, 2011
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March, 2011

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For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

4/27/2011
Two more presbyteries vote YES on Amendment A, for a more just and inclusive church!

Yesterday (Tuesday, April 26) Lehigh Presbytery continued its support for Amendment A, by 68-48-1.

And the Presbytery of Florida switched to vote Yes, by 49-36! It is the 17th presbytery to make that great shift for justice.

The count of presbytery voting is now 82-59.

Five more Yes votes are needed to move the PC(USA) a giant step forward.

Here is the remaining schedule >>

Thanks to blogger the Rev. John Shuck, and to Tricia Dykers Koenig, Covenant Network National Organizer.

Celebrate Multicultural Church Sunday

This announcement comes from the General Assembly Mission Council, Presbyterian Church (USA)

“The water flows out of the temple, becoming deeper and wider as it spreads … it is a source of healing and health, life flourishing”   (Ezekiel 47)

Celebrate Multicultural Church Sunday

Multicultural Church Sunday, May 15, offers congregations all across the PC(USA) an opportunity to celebrate the Biblical vision of a united community, which welcomes, celebrates, and incorporates God’s people of all cultures and languages in one place.

Click here for tools and ideas to help your congregation live out our church-wide calling to Grow Christ’s Church Deep and Wide in diversity.

4/26/2011
An Open Letter to the Presbyterian Church from one of your baptized kids

from Michael J. Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer, More Light Presbyterians

April 25, 2011

Grace and peace to all of you. I was baptized as an infant at First Presbyterian Church, Billings, Montana. I was taught faith, Scripture, the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and confirmed at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Sulphur, Louisiana. As a kid and teenager, I loved going to church and being part of a church family. I sang in our church choir with my Dad, loved our youth group of four and the all-church potluck dinners. I had Jesus' bumper stickers on my 1963 VW bug when I was in high school. I probably annoyed some of my friends in high school and college with my Christian zeal. 

When I affirmed being gay in my late twenties, the Church was no longer a safe or loving place for me, so I left the Church. I give thanks to God for being loved back to faith by Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati, Ohio. I was ordained and installed as an Elder there. I've served as an Elder at Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church, Cincinnati and First Presbyterian Church, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

I began serving as a volunteer with More Light Presbyterians in 1991 and on staff since 1999. I would not be in the Presbyterian Church, or in any church, if not for Mount Auburn Presbyterian Church and their unconditional welcome and invitation to serve God with them.  

I believe the 219th General Assembly's Ordination Amendment 10-A offers this kind of unconditional welcome and invitation to faith, grace, salvation, church membership and ministry to all of God's children, not just some. 

The rest of Adee's open letter, including his Top Ten Reasons for supporting Amendment 10-A

The Religious Right stands up for bullies
This message (slightly edited here) comes from People for the American Way, on April 26, 2011

As states and school districts work to stem a tide of anti-gay bullying in American schools, believe it or not a powerful group is actually out to stop them. Many in the radical Religious Right have been leading a concerted effort to stop programs that seek to protect LGBT youth from bullying and to deny that the problem of anti-gay bullying exists.

Check out our new report, "Big Bullies: How the Religious Right is Trying to Make Schools Safe for Bullies and Dangerous for Gay Kids."

The report has already been promoted by influential blogs and news sites like Dan Savage's The Stranger, JoeMyGod, TruthOut and the Miami Herald's LGBT blog, to name just a few. Please take a moment to read it and share it with others using the Facebook and Twitter buttons at the top of the report and by forwarding this report.

The anti-anti-bullying movement sounds like a joke, but it's frighteningly real. The Religious Right is desperately trying to protect bullies and further marginalize gay and gay-perceived kids by stopping efforts to make schools safe for every child.

The Right's anti-anti-bullying effort relies on four central strategies, according to the report:

1. The Indoctrination Myth: Religious Right activists claim that anti-bullying policies will result in "homosexual indoctrination" in schools.

2. The "Special Rights" Smear: Opponents claim that recognizing and confronting the problem of anti-gay bullying amounts to granting "special rights" to LGBT kids.

3. Playing the Victim: The Religious Right has tried to turn the realities of school bullying on their head, claiming that anti-gay bullies are the real victims, and gay rights groups the real bullies.

4. Blaming the Victim: In the crudest part of the anti-anti-bullying effort, Religious Right activists are trying to blame the gay rights movement and gay kids themselves for anti-gay bullying.

It seems unimaginable that there could actually be a pro-bullying movement, but it just goes to show the depths to which the Religious Right is willing to sink to stop the recognition and acceptance of gay people at every level of society, and to paint themselves as the victims of the gay rights movement. In the end, the real bullies are the adults who are willing to hurt kids in order to push a political agenda of intolerance and exclusion.

Please check out this important report and help to spread it around.

– Michael Keegan, President, People for the American Way

More of our reports on our discussions of justice for LGBTs >>

Kwanzaa Community Church, recipient of PVJ's Whole Gospel Congregation award at the 2010 General Assembly, offers a radical new ministry of welcome to women in the sex trade

The Minneapolis Star Tribune, in its Sunday, April 24 edition, published a lengthy feature story reporting that “starting this week, Kwanzaa Community Church, where [the Rev. Alika] Galloway is co-pastor with her husband, is giving over use of its 100-year-old building to women and girls involved in prostitution. The building ... is envisioned as a place to rest and reflect, have a meal, shower and perhaps make connections to a healthier lifestyle. The congregation relocated last fall.”

Click here for the full story >>

Save the Date!

World Student Christian Federation
North American Regional Assembly (NARA)
Chicago
Oct 14-18, 2011

A message from Luciano Kovacs, North America Regional Secretary 0f the World Student Christian Federation


Dear students, friends, partners,

The World Student Christian Federation-North America is planning its first North American Regional Assembly, to be held in Chicago, USA on October 14-18, 2011. This event will be tackling the 2011 Federation's theme "Overcoming Violence" and will be an opportunity for the region to plan its future activities. Inputs, workshops, worship and bible study, exposure in the Chicago area will be part of the conference.

Please, spread the word and save the date. Attached please find poster to be widely distributed. A concept paper and a registration form will soon follow.

Best regards

Luciano Kovacs

North America Regional Secretary
World Student Christian Federation

Click here for more details >>

And click here for a poster (in PDF format) that you’re encouraged to reproduce and share widely >>

4/22/2011 -- Good Friday
Good Friday Reflections for Presbyterians – and the Death Penalty

By the Rev. Bruce Gillette, Co-Pastor, Limestone Presbyterian Church in Wilmington, Delaware

In 1959 our 171st Presbyterian General Assembly said “believing that capital punishment cannot be condoned by an interpretation of the Bible based upon the revelation of God’s love in Jesus Christ,” called on Christians to “seek the redemption of evil doers and not their death” and noted that “the use of the death penalty tends to brutalize the society that condones it.” In 1978 the General Assembly went on record as saying, “Capital punishment is an expression of vengeance which contradicts the justice of God on the cross.” More of our Presbyterian Church (USA)’s teaching on the death penalty is found at http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/101/capital-punishment/

This Good Friday I am including those Presbyterian statements along with more reflections, in a worship bulletin insert for people to take home and ponder.    Click here for the full text of Bruce Gillette's reflections
And here's one more thing to do:

A call to speak out against the execution of Troy Davis, by the state of Georgia    

This comes to us from ColorOfChange.org, via PVJ member Elizabeth Sarfaty. We have edited it slightly.
In 1991, Troy Davis was convicted of murdering a white police officer. Though there's major evidence that Davis didn't commit the crime, Georgia is prepared to put him to death. We have a good chance of stopping this – but only if we speak up now.

The fact is, no physical evidence connected Davis to the murder. Seven of the original nine witnesses have recanted, with many saying their testimony was a result of law enforcement pressure. Of the remaining witnesses, one is highly suspect and the other could be the actual culprit in the officer's murder.

Now, despite these and other facts, the state of Georgia has taken the first steps toward Davis' execution – and only the Georgia Board of Pardons and Parole stands between Davis and the lethal injection chamber.

Georgia may be about to kill an innocent man. That's not justice. Please join our friends at ColorOfChange.org in asking the Georgia Parole Board to spare Troy Davis' life, before it's too late:  More >>

Two more views on “flags in church”

A discussion about the display of American flags in church sanctuaries began on this website almost ten years ago, in the wake of the passions aroused by the terrorist actions of 9/11.

And the discussion continues!

We’ve received two more comments within the past few days, and are happy to share them here. If you’d like to add your own reflections, just send a note, and we’ll post it here. 

4/20/2011
Resources for Torture Awareness Month – which is coming in June

from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, sent on April 14, 2011

We are pleased to announce that NRCAT has developed these additional resources for congregations to use for education and advocacy:

bullet “Repairing the Brokenness: A Faithful Response to U.S.-sponsored Torture” – a new 10-minute video and discussion guide, focused on accountability as a path to national healing and redemption. Watch it online! Available on DVD – order for $5.00.
bulletAdvocacy resources – postcards and petition to encourage action on the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation report.
bullet Worship resources -- including sermon talking points, a prayer and bulletin insert.

You’ll find more information about these and other resources on NRCAT’s Torture Awareness Month webpage.

Please use this brief form to tell us about your plans and how we can better support your local efforts during June.

Thank you for helping to raise awareness of this important issue in your congregation and community.

Sincerely,

Linda Gustitus, President
Rev. Richard Killmer, Executive Director

Questions? Please email campaign@nrcat.org

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

Presbyterian David McPhail reports on his witness against School of the Americas -- and his arrest

April 15, 2011

Dear Friends and Family:

I am writing to let you know that I have returned safe and sound from my journey into the belly of the beast – Washington D.C.

I was arrested on Friday at the Pentagon with 24 others and again on Sunday evening with 26 others in front of the White House.

In between I attended the Latin American Solidarity conference, hearing reports from the front lines about many “hot spots” in Latin America – Honduras, Haiti, Colombia Guatemala, Mexico. Generally folks felt that there had been a set back for the progressive forces, following the coup in Honduras, which had been on the ascent. One can pick the countries with the worst human rights records by seeing which countries receive the most military aid from us. Another common theme is that those with the worst records will usually be sending the most candidates to the SOA/WHINSEC for training in the art of counter insurgency warfare. IMPUNITY, whether in the US or in Latin America, is another sign of demonic forces at work.

SOAWatch supporter Representative Jim McGovern (D) of Massachusetts is submitting a DEAR COLLEGUE letter to Obama requesting the school be closed by executive order. Please write your representative and urge them to sign on to this letter even if you know they will.

Thank you again for your support, your thoughts and prayers this past week.

Seeking to say Yes to Life,

Peace/Shalom,

David McPhail

Click here for the report from SOAWatch >>

Click here for videos of the SOAWatch march to the White House >>

More on the campaign to close the School of the Americas >>

De Cristo Presbytery switches to reject Amendment 10-A

Seven more Yes votes needed

From John Shuck, on April 17

The Presbytery of De Cristo voted 62-62 on Amendment A. In this business a tie means NO. This vote, sadly, is a switch in the wrong direction. Last time around De Cristo voted YES 59-48. Three presbyteries that have previously voted YES for equality have switched their vote this time to no. Compare that to 16 presbyteries that have flipped to YES from no.

The reckoning is 80-59 and we need seven more presbyteries to vote YES to make this important change this year. If it doesn't pass, then we do this all again in two years.

Here are the presbyteries yet to vote. Their vote last time is in parentheses followed by what we hope will happen!

We need seven YESes.

Posted By John Shuck to Shuck and Jive at 4/17/2011 06:11:00 PM

More on Amendment 10-A >>

4/13/2011
San Francisco Presbytery supports Amendment 10-A for inclusive ordination  

John Shuck reported on the voting last night in his blog [slightly edited here]:

Congratulations to the presbytery San Francisco who voted in favor of amendment A Tuesday, 198-143. Strange to call San Francisco a flip, but last time around they voted against equality 167-177-4.

Also, the Presbytery of Northern Kansas continued its support of equality and approved "A today, 69-20. Nicely done.

The reckoning is 80-58.

More >>

~~~~~~~~~~~

Celebration Without Apology

Also yesterday, the busy John Shuck posted this commentary on the state of the voting on Amendment 10-A. This posting does not necessarily represent the official views of Presbyterian Voices for Justice, but your WebWeaver believes it expresses some very important convictions that many of us would share.  He begins:

When we get to 87 I am going to celebrate.

Let there be no doubt. I am happy that the PC(USA) is on the verge of changing its harmful, discriminatory, bad, mean, ignorant and abusive policy. I have been an advocate for change in this denomination since I first entered seminary 22 years ago joining a struggle--a battle--a fight--for equality and dignity that started long before I was conceived.

Oh yes, I am going to celebrate.

I am aware of the advice from other advocates for change that some of us should be less competitive or less obviously joyful about the change that is coming. We are reminded that there aren't winners and losers. We are all one in Jesus and so forth. We need to be gracious to those who are saddened about this change. We want to extend the arms of welcome to them. We shouldn't be like the "secular" world in terms of how it handles politics. We should be more Jesus like, I guess.

He concludes:

For my LGBTQ friends and allies who are excited about the change that is coming:

A little spark of justice is on its way, my friends. You don't have to be one bit apologetic for celebrating its arrival.

The whole blog >>

4/9/2011
Two more presbyteries approve Amendment 10-A

Here's the latest news (and commentary!) from John Shuck, on his blog, Shuck and Jive:

More good news regarding equality. Two more presbyteries approved Amendment A today. Salem in North Carolina approved the amendment, 186-107-2 and Eastern Oregon voted YES 18-9. 

The tally is now 78-58. 

37 presbyteries are left to vote. Of those 37, if nine vote YES, then "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is outta here and the Presbyterian Church (USA) will finally put an end to its discriminatory policy against non-married people. 

CovNet reminds us that 78 yes votes is a milestone. The vote chart from 2008-2009 shows that 78 were all the yeses we received last time the PC (USA) had a chance to do the right thing. We are in much better shape this time and we need to follow the example of good folks all over the country from Carolina to Oregon.

I have four more good resources on the sidebar to help you make the case in your presbytery.

  1. Brian Spolarich: What Will Amendment 10A Mean If Passed?
  2. Katie Turpin: When Exclusions and Fears Disappear, the Fruits of the Spirit Are Planted
  3. Rev. Janet Edwards: It Is My Joy to Introduce You to My Uncles
  4. Rev. Mark Sandlin: Honestly, We Already Ordain Homosexuals

Coming up:

April 12th:

bulletNorthern Kansas (YES last time 71-23)
bulletSan Francisco (no last time 167-177-4)
 
April 16th
 
bulletDe Cristo (YES last time 59-48)

We should get three YESes from that bunch including a flip from San Francisco.

Life is good.
 
Big Tent location up in the air

Proposed Indiana immigration law might mean event has to relocate; decision will be made May 2

by Bethany Furkin, Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE — Despite concerns about a proposed Indiana immigration law that may necessitate a change of location, plans are underway for this year’s Big Tent event, scheduled to meet June 30-July 2 in Indianapolis.

Organizers are urging Presbyterians to register for the event but to delay making travel arrangements until May 2, when the final location will be determined.

The Indiana legislature is considering Senate Bill 590, which many describe as “Arizona-type” legislation. The bill would allow law enforcement officials to check a person’s immigration status in some situations, make the harboring or transport of an undocumented immigrant illegal in some cases and require that all communication by the state and its employees be in English.

Last year’s 219th General Assembly voted to “refrain from holding national meetings at hotels in those states where travel by immigrant Presbyterians or Presbyterians of color or Hispanic ancestry might subject them to harassment due to legislation similar to Arizona Law SB 1070/HB2162.”

“We really see it as an issue of hospitality,” said Kerry Rice, manager of General Assembly Meeting Services. He added that the church can’t hold an event where its guests will be subject to possible detention or harassment. “We need to stand in solidarity.”

The rest of the story >>

For a news release from the General Assembly Mission Council, with links to helpful background material >>

New hymn written for Family Promise homeless ministry

The Rev. Carolyn Winfrey Gillette has written, "O God, You Give Welcome," a hymn dedicated to Family Promise, an interfaith program of hospitality and assistance for low-income families. Beginning with the opening lines, “O God, you give welcome; you care and provide. You cherish each person with love reaching wide,” the hymn goes on to bless the work Family Promise does and the families they serve. Many PCUSA congregations are involved in the Family Promise homeless ministry.

Click here for the words of the hymn >>

For more about Carolyn Gillette and the hymn >>

Both music and lyrics are available for download here >>

Thanks to the Rev. Bruce Gillette.

4/5/2011
10-A voting continues – and support for passage must continue too

John Shuck reports on the current state of presbytery voting on Amendment 10-A, for inclusive ordination. We are combining two of his reports, one from earlier this morning, and one posted late this afternoon with more good news:

The battle for equality in the PC(USA) is tightening as is expected. Minnesota Valleys [meeting on Saturday, April 2] became the second presbytery to move from a pro-equality vote in 2008-09 to a no this year, defeating Amendment A, 51-55.

After that negative switch earlier in the week, and no positive flips since Donegal a few weeks ago, South Louisiana did justice up right by voting in favor of Amendment A, 46-28! This is especially interesting as South Louisiana was the clinching vote that killed the equality vote last time around.

The tally is 76-58.

So far, fifteen presbyteries have flipped from a No vote in 2008-09 to a YES in 2010-11, while two have shifted in the other direction. This could come down to one vote in one presbytery. It is that close.

Eleven more to go!

Coming up:

April 9th:

bulletBoise (no last time 25-34)
bulletEastern Oregon (YES last time 22-6)
bulletSalem (YES last time 156-149-1)

April 12th:

bulletNorthern Kansas (YES last time 71-23)
bulletSan Francisco (no last time 167-177-4)

April 16th

bulletDe Cristo (YES last time 59-48)


We can do this.
Get out the vote.
Get to the meeting.
Make a phone call to friends.
Speak the truth!

For more on Amendment 10-A >>

David McPhail announces plan for civil disobedience to challenge School of the Americas

We received this note a few days ago, and what with one thing and another (mainly unpacking after moving to a new home!), we’re just now getting it posted:


March 28, 2011

Dear Friends:

On April 10 I will be taking part in a new effort to close the School of the Americas and more broadly to challenge our nation’s Imperial Foreign Policy. This will include an act of civil disobedience at the White House front gate. I am hoping you will join me by remembering to pray for peace on April 10 and by giving me your name. I will take this with me to remind me that I am not alone.

WHY I DO CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE – SAYING YES TO LIFE

In part I am doing this for my own self - I need to find a way to say NO to the ever-increasing militarization of our nation's foreign policy. I believe that my country has drunk so deeply of the poison of violence that we no longer recognize its consequences in our own backyard. We cannot comprehend how it is undermining the world we want our grandchildren to inhabit. For me civil disobedience is being a part of the drip, drip, drip, that erodes support for evil forces at work in the world. When others in my family were discussing the futility of this witness my 11 year old grandson said no, grandpa is showing us all what to do. I do not see myself as being alone. On good days, when I have eyes of faith, I see myself as being a part of great cloud of witnesses, led by Jesus, the prince of peace. Whatever guide you follow I ask that you join me in pursuing and praying for peace, seeking new ways to stand against our present destructive path.

David McPhail        irenendavid@yahoo.com

More on the campaign to close the School of the Americas >>

‘No other more important human issue’

Violence against women is ‘silent epidemic,’ says speaker at Ecumenical Advocacy Days

Bethany Furkin reported for Presbyterian News Service on April 1, 2011:

Violence against women is a silent epidemic that can cross generations, leaving lasting marks on families and society. Ritu Sharma, president and co-founder of Women Thrive Worldwide, knows this firsthand.

“I feel like doing this work was decided before I was even born,” she said, speaking at Ecumenical Advocacy Days here March 27. The theme of the annual conference and lobbying effort was “Development, Security and Economic Justice: What’s Gender Got to Do with It?”

Women Thrive Worldwide is a leading non-profit working to shape U.S. policy that will help women in developing counties lift themselves out of poverty.

In Sharma’s family, women across several generations were affected by violence at the hands of family members.

If any other ill of society was as common as violence against women, it would be plastered all over newspapers, Sharma said. But because violence against women is so often kept silent, it can be tempting to believe that it isn’t widespread. We don’t talk about it, and we don’t get mad about it.

There are some things that we’ve been told — poverty will always exist, for example — that are simply not true. Poverty is a political issue that is a result of factors like corruption and lack of funding, Sharma said. ...

Violence against women relates to countless other causes — such as HIV/AIDS and child health and welfare — and yet violence is the most normalized evil in the world today.

Ecumenical Advocacy Days culminates with a lobby day, during which participants visit with their representatives to push for specific actions related to the theme of the weekend.

Among other things, this year, participants lobbied for the reauthorization and full funding of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) and the co-sponsorship of the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA) when it is reintroduced. ...

The full news report >>

For an index to all our reports and analyses
on the 219th General Assembly

Posts from earlier in June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011
March, 2011

February, 2011
January, 2011
December, 2010
November, 2010
October, 2010
September, 2010

August, 2010
July, 2010
June, 2010
May, 2010

April, 2010
March, 2010
February, 2010
January, 2010

For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

 

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.

 

John Shuck’s new "Religion for Life" website

Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck, a Presbyterian minister currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.

Click here for his blog posts.

Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."

 

John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, 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.

 

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.

 

Got more blogs to recommend?

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

 

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