This page lists our postings
from January, 2011
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
from earlier in June, 2011
For links to earlier archive pages,
Reflections on the uprising in
Two people reflect on the current
uprising in Egypt, one raising sharp questions from a Reformed
theological stance about the US response, and the other asking
what this situation says to us about finding appropriate and
effective ways of action for change.
God’s Spirit –
Moving in the Arab world?
The Rev. Dr. Chris Iosso, Coordinator of the
Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy of the PC (U.S.A.),
an essay on Jan. 29th on the Presbyterian Outlook
website, raising the vital question of how we should be
open to seeing God’s hand at work in a movement of the people
for greater freedom and justice. “Political realists” – which
seems to inclujde the current US government – are likely to see
the self-interest of the US (or perhaps more accurately, of US
and other Western corporate establishments) in “stability”
rather than in change. On the other hand, the “Christian
realism” of Reinhold Niebuhr, and our own church’s recent
affirmation of the New Social Creed, lead us to support
movements for justice, even when they appear to threaten the
interests which are so important to our corporate society.
Iosso writes: “The church is morally hamstrung
when it cannot see God in the justice energy, the prophetic
juice that the street protesters are responding to.” He adds:
Just as the Reformed Churches’ Accra
Confession of 2004 so critical of globalization did not
exactly predict the credit implosion of 2008, so the Social
Creed and other social witness policies opposing wars and
support for dictators do not predict specific upheavals
today. But these ecumenical messages clearly encourage our
government to stop discounting human aspirations across the
Arab and Muslim worlds, from Algeria to Afghanistan, and
including the Palestinians under Israeli rule. They tell
President Obama to make good on what so many Muslims
believed was a promise in his Cairo speech of 2009, that the
United States would begin to be on the side of freedom for
We encourage you to read Iosso’s essay >>
The Rev. Peter Sawtell, Executive Director of
Eco-Justice Ministries, considers the current uprisings as a way
into thinking about another question for U.S. citizens seeking
ways to advocate more effectively for environmental justice.
This morning's headlines (MSNBC.com) tell
of "open revolt" on the streets of Cairo. Just a few weeks
ago, citizen protests toppled the ruling regime in Tunisia.
opinion column by Barbara Ehrenreich printed in today's
Denver Post opens with this paragraph:
Americans such wusses? Threaten the Greeks with job
losses and benefit cuts and they tie up Athens, but take
away Americans' jobs, 401(k)s, even their homes, and
they pretty much roll over. Tell British students that
their tuition is about to go up and they take to the
streets; American students just amp up their doses of
advocating that we form street mobs and torch public
buildings. Nor am I suggesting -- as one reader asked after
on liberation theology -- "handing
out semi automatic assault weapons to carry out guerilla
warfare against the dominating corporate class as some
liberation theologians advocated in Latin America?"
But I do
continue to wonder what sort of situation, what sort of
challenge to our values or self-interest, would motivate
people of conscience to more dramatic action for justice and
the ecological health of our planet. It is a question about
risk and commitment that I raised in
and I received some very
thoughtful responses. (Eight
of the replies are posted on our website.)
words from our extended community have helped me see some
places where I need to expand last week's reflections. They
have helped me see how churches and other faith communities
might play a powerful and transformative role -- without all
their members getting arrested.
What do you
Please share your comments with us here –
either responding to these two articles, or offering your own
send a note!
10-A voting on January 29,
One more presbytery shifts to support
inclusion and justice
Of the five presbyteries voting today on
Amendment 10-A, which would remove the strictures against
ordination of people in same-sex relationships, Riverside
Presbytery was the only one to switch from its 08-B outcome - a
very welcome 58-45-2 in favor of inclusive ordination.!
The other results:
Long Island continued its consistent support
on a voice vote.
Western North Carolina, the first presbytery
to switch to support in the Amendment 08-B round, registered
another strong yes at 145-99.
Sierra Blanca, while failing to approve 10-A,
19-28, reported a respectful process and some strong testimony.
Huntingdon came breathtakingly close, 32-33.
So the over-all vote of the presbyteries so
far is 20 in favor of the amendment, and 23 opposed. It’s
closer than two years ago, but much more work and study and
prayer will be needed to reach the change that we have sought
for so long!
Thanks to Tricia Dykers
Koenig, Covenant Network National Organizer, for this quick
For more detailed vote counts, go to the
Covenant Network chart,
or the one being provided by
More Light Presbyterians.
For lots more good
information and news from MLP >>
... and from
Covenant Network >>
For more material on the amendment for inclusive ordination,
and for more
the voting in presbyteries >>
Ecumenical Advocacy Days slated for March 25-28, 2011
Event also provides special opportunities for
Presbyterians to learn, connect, celebrate
LOUISVILLE – Presbyterians will again gather
with other Christians in Washington at the end of March for
Ecumenical Advocacy Days,
an event that mobilizes Christians around pressing issues
through worship, education and lobbying. This year’s focus is on
The theme of the March 25-28 event is
Development, Security and Economic Justice: What’s Gender Got to
Do with It?
31:31 — “Give her a share in the fruit of her hands, and let her
works praise her in the city gates” — as a key scripture, the
event calls men and women of faith to be a force for the better
treatment of women around the world and to recognize their
important economic, social and political contributions to their
More, with links for registration and such >>
First response in Tucson
response team is first to assist after shooting spree
by Jerry L. Van
Marter, Presbyterian News Service
Three members of the National Response Team (NRT) of
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance arrived in Tucson, Ariz.,
within 48 hours of the Jan. 8 shootings there that killed six
and injured 13, including U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
PDA’s NRT trio
was the only national religious community responder to serve in
Tucson in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
“We can be
grateful to a denomination with the vision to equip, train and
deploy faith leaders into arenas of human-caused violence,” said
the Rev. Laurie Kraus, pastor of Riviera Presbyterian Church in
Miami, FL. Kraus has served on PDA’s NRT since its inception in
She was joined in
Tucson by fellow NRT members Rick Turner, a member of John Knox
Presbyterian Church in Greenville, S.C., and the Rev. David
Holyan, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Kirkwood, Mo. —
who at the invitation of Presbytery de Cristo began immediately
to offer support and encouragement to pastors, congregations and
the presbytery as they responded to the crisis. ...
morning (Jan. 9) as I listened to sermons by colleagues in
Tucson reflecting on the aftermath of the tragedy and the
commemorations of MLK weekend, I was struck as I always am, by
the integrity, authenticity and vulnerability of faith leaders
who step into the pain and chaos of a human caused disaster with
words of honesty and calls for the church’s meaningful
participation in the healing of the community,” Kraus wrote.
Vibrant congregation in Ann Arbor, Michigan, seeks
experienced part-time pastor
Presbyterian Church is a vibrant, dynamic, family-sized
congregation in Ann Arbor, MI. We are seeking an experienced
solo part-time pastor to lead and inspire our mission, ministry,
and worship. Northside is a More Light congregation, and is
committed to the full inclusion of all of God's children in the
life and ministry of God's church. We have a traditional worship
with a strong emphasis on lay leadership and an excellent music
Candidates should demonstrate strong preaching
and teaching skills, as well as worship leadership, undergirded
with spiritual and scholarly vigor. Northside shares a building
and some ministries and programs with St. Aidan's Episcopal
church, and is the second oldest such ecumenical partnership in
the country. For more information see our web site,
announcements of openings for pastoral and other positions >>
More thoughts on the proposed new Form of Government
Amendment 10-1, which would adopt the new Form
of Government that was approved by the 219th
Assembly, will be discussed in most of the presbyteries of the
PC(USA) during the next few months.
One helpful resource for your reflection, if
you have about 45 minutes to watch it, is a video prepared by
the presbyteries of Boston and Southern New England, featuring
Paul Hooker, one of the authors of the new FoG proposal, in
conversation with a number of other people.
Click here for the video >>
Some reasons for voting No
We’ve also received a thoughtful
comment from the Rev. Jean Southard, explaining why she will
vote against the proposal.
News flash: Latest
voting on Amendment 10-A
One more presbytery
shifts to support equality in ordination
This report (somewhat edited) comes
primarily from the
Rev. John Shuck, with additional information from Tricia
Dykers Koenig of Covenant Network.
A good day of
voting on Amendment 10-A, which would remove the effective
"don't ask don't tell" policy from the PC(USA). Eight
presbyteries voted – six yes and one no and one yet to report.
The story is
Eastern Virginia. This presbytery had voted against equality in
2008-9 and flipped for justice this time around. The other yeses
had been yeses last time and the one no had been a no. The one
we have yet to hear from was a strong no in 2008-9. So we had a
net gain of one presbytery.
Thank you and
very nice work in all the presbyteries, especially Eastern
Virginia 87-69 (shifting from a no vote in 2009)|
Cayuga-Syracuse (a voice vote, with perhaps just a couple no
Valley (vote count not yet known)|
score is 15 yes and 19 no with 87 being the magic number to make
a huge difference in ending discrimination in the Presbyterian
and see the
voting chart provided by MLP.
More on the ratification of Amendment 10-A
The Rev. Ray Bagnuolo has posted more thoughts –
and deep ones – on the continuing debate in our presbyteries
about Amendment 10-A, which would make our ordination standards
fully inclusive of LGBT Presbyterians.
First, his own thoughts, making clear than the
“more than the ratification of 10-A.” We are
confronted, he says, with a far broader and deeper question: How
do we understand and live out God’s love?
Ray Bagnuolo is an openly gay minister of Word and Sacrament,
currently serving Jan Hus Presbyterian Church and Neighborhood
House and its inner city ministry in NYC. He also serves on the
Board of More Light Presbyterians.
Also: "The Corrosive and
Distorting Power of the Closet"
Ray has also posted a provocative piece by
"The Corrosive and Distorting Power of the Closet"
written in response to
in the “It Gets Better” collection that
followed the rash of teen suicides a few months ago.
“about the corrosive and distorting power of the Closet. As you
know, the "Closet" is a metaphor used to describe how people
hide important parts of themselves, typically their sexual
orientation or gender identity.”
herself as “Karen Ellen Kavey, Non-ruling Elder, PC(USA),
Confirmed May, 1958.”
THESE SHOULD BE IN THE DICTIONARY
ADULT: A person who has stopped growing at both
ends and is now growing in the middle.
BEAUTY PARLOR: A place where women curl up and
CHICKENS: The only animals you eat before they
are born and after they are dead.
COMMITTEE: A body that keeps minutes and
DUST: Mud with the juice squeezed out.
EGOTIST: Someone who is usually me-deep in
HANDKERCHIEF: Cold Storage
INFLATION: Cutting money in half without
damaging the paper.
MOSQUITO: An insect that makes you like flies
RAISIN: A grape with a sunburn
SECRET: Something you tell to one person at a
SKELETON: A bunch of bones with the person
TOOTHACHE: The pain that drives you to
TOMORROW: One of the greatest labor saving
devices of today.
YAWN: An honest opinion openly expressed.
And my personal favorite:
WRINKLES: Something other people have, similar
to my character lines
Thanks to “Everything Is
Connected” - John
Evangelical Arlo Duba explains why he has changed his mind on
the question of ordination
As a way of
furthering conversation in our presbyteries about the proposed
Amendment 10-A, which would give clear permission for the
ordination of lgbt Presbyterians, More Light Presbyterians is
placing an ad in Presbyterian Outlook. In the ad, the Rev. Dr.
Arlo D. Duba, former Director of Admissions & Director of
Chapel, at Princeton Theological Seminary, and former Dean at
University of Dubuque Theological Seminary, and a committed
evangelical, explains why he has changed his mind on the
question of ordination.
We encourage you to
read his brief statement in the ad,
then look at his
further discussion in an interview.
MLP also provides
a web page
through which you can share your own thoughts with Dr. Duba.
We encourage you
to consider this fine example of our church “reformed and always
being reformed,” and to share Dr. Duba’s thoughts with
colleagues in your presbytery who may be concerned about some of
the same questions that he has dealt with.
More on Amendment
Rise in global food prices cause for alarm
Presbyterian Hunger Program encourages donor nations to
address problems with trade policies, neglect
January 19, 2011 — Food prices around the world are at record
highs, leading to tension and violence reminiscent of 2008, when
high prices led to dozens of food rebellions.
“We are alarmed
at the rising prices. If they continue to rise, the numbers of
hungry people too will rise,” said Ruth Farrell, coordinator of
the Presbyterian Hunger Program.
Meat and sugar
prices are especially high. Rice and wheat prices are not as
high as they were in 2008, but bad weather could cause a spike.
Corn prices, which have risen sharply, are the exception due in
part to U.S. policies supporting corn-based ethanol. The
Environmental Protection Agency could reduce pressure on corn
(and meat, as livestock is a major consumer of corn) prices by
suspending the biofuel mandate.
States and other donor nations must come through on their
promises to increase funding for agriculture in Africa and other
places where family farmers have been hurt by trade policies and
neglect both by domestic governments and international
development over the past decades,” Farrell said.
PC(USA) groups call for halt to Justice Department subpoenas
of pro-Palestinian activists
Jerry L. Van
Marter, Presbyterian News Service, reports:
Louisville, January 19, 2011 — Two
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Middle East advocacy groups have
called for a halt to what they say is “the misuse of the grand
jury process” by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the
FBI after nine federal grand jury subpoenas were served to
Chicago-area Palestinian solidarity activists in December.
According to the PC(USA)-related
Israel Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) and the
National Middle East Presbyterian Caucus (NMEPC) , the
Chicago subpoenas bring to 23 the number of summons given to
pro-Palestinian peace activists by the DOJ in recent months.
“The IPMN and NMEPC call upon its own
denominational leadership, as well as Churches for Middle East
Peace, the National Council of Churches of Christ and all
concerned Christian denominations to join them in denouncing the
DOJ's bold attempts to suppress peaceful dissent on the
part of those working for an end to the illegal Israeli
occupation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” the groups
said in a
Jan. 18 press release distributed by Religion News Service.
on Israel/Palestine concerns >>
New York Times praises Immokalee Workers’ fair food
Thanks to Noelle Damico, of the PCUSA
Campaign for Fair Food, for this news release:
Extolling the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’
fair food agreements with corporate buyers and Florida growers,
The New York Times ran an in-depth article which
built upon their favorable editorial in December. The article
illustrates the importance of all actors in the food industry
bringing their power to bear if exploitation in the fields is to
change once and for all. That means the supermarket industry
must join the fast food and foodservice industries in ensuring
improved wages for farmworkers and implementing farmworker
monitored codes of conduct to address abuses.
Now is the time for consumers to
tell Ahold and Publix corporations to do their fair share.
If you’re in the northeast
come to the Community Farmworker Alliance “Encuentro,”
February 4-6 in New York City to learn more and take action. And
mark your calendars for
the CIW’s peaceful actions in Boston
in the afternoon) where we’ll focus on Ahold and in Tampa (March
4-5) where we’ll focus on Publix.
And keep those postcards and manager’s letters going!
Campaign for Fair Food
PHEWA announces search for new staff position:
Lead Organizer for the Presbyterian Health, Education & Welfare
Association, Inc. (PHEWA).
PHEWA is a ministry of the Compassion, Peace
and Justice Ministry, General Assembly Mission Council,
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). PHEWA network members are eager to
welcome this new addition to leadership of this volunteer
organization that is working to make our church and society more
responsive to the needs of those who are vulnerable and
marginalized. Applicants should submit a letter of interest and
PIF or equivalent resume to
Application deadline is February 28, 2011.
here for the position description (in PDF format) >>
Susan Lee Stack, Program Assistant,
Presbyterian Health, Education & Welfare Association (PHEWA)
PC(USA) Office of Social Welfare Ministries,
General Assembly Mission Council; Compassion, Peace & Justice
toll free (888) 728-7228 ext. 5800
Three more observations on the shootings in
Faith leaders to Congress: ‘soul searching’ needed about
PC(USA)’s Gradye Parsons
joins 50 others in appeal
JANUARY 13, 2011
Faith in Public Life, by Kristin Ford
In an open letter to Congress published today
(Jan. 13) as a full-page advertisement in Roll Call newspaper,
faith leaders are calling for national “soul searching” and
praying for Members of Congress after Saturday’s shooting spree
in Arizona, which left six people dead and Congresswoman
Gabrielle Giffords, D-AZ, critically injured.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly
Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons is among the 50 prominent national
religious leaders who signed the open letter. The signers
include heads of mainline Protestant, Catholic, evangelical,
Jewish and Muslim denominations, congregations, and
The signers urge Members of Congress to reject
vitriolic and rancorous rhetoric, consider the consequences of
their words, and engage political adversaries in a spirit of
shared American values of civility and cooperation.
Other signatories, in addition to Parsons,
include megachurch pastors Bishop T.D. Jakes and Rev. Joel
Hunter; the Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners; Nathan J. Diament,
the Director of Public Policy for the Union of Orthodox Jewish
Congregations of America; and Rabbi David Saperstein of the
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.
The Rev. Peg Chemberlin, president of the
National Council of Churches and the Rev. Michael Kinnamon,
general secretary of the NCC, which represents 45 million people
and 100,000 congregations in the U.S., and Rev. Sam Rodriguez,
president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership
Conference, which serves 15 million Hispanic Christians, also
signed the letter.
The full text of the letter, which is also
available online with a complete list of signatories:
Dear Members of Congress,
As Americans and members of the human
family, we are grieved by the recent tragedy in Tucson,
Arizona. As Christian, Muslim and Jewish leaders, we pray
together for all those wounded, including Congresswoman
Gabrielle Giffords as she fights for her life. Our hearts
break for those lives lost and for the loved ones left
behind. We also stand with you, our elected officials, as
you continue to serve our nation while coping with the
trauma of this senseless attack.
This tragedy has spurred a sorely needed
time of soul searching and national public dialogue about
violent and vitriolic political rhetoric. We strongly
support this reflection, as we are deeply troubled that
rancor, threats and incivility have become commonplace in
our public debates.
We appreciate the sacrifices you make and
risks you incur by accepting a call to public service, and
we urge you to continue to serve as stewards of our
democracy by engaging ideological adversaries not as
enemies, but as fellow Americans.
In our communities and congregations, we
pledge to foster an environment conducive to the important
and difficult debates so crucial to American democracy. In
our churches, mosques and synagogues, we come together not
as members of a certain political ideology or party, but as
children of God and citizens called to build a more perfect
union. We pray that you do the same.
Read this article, with a link to the list of signers of the
‘Civility’ author James Calvin Davis comments on Arizona
shooting, political blame game
release from Westminster John Knox Press begins:
The recent shooting in a Tucson, Arizona
supermarket has saturated the media the past few days, sparking
accusations of political influence from the Tea Party and a
rancorous political climate to explain why the shooter decided
to open fire. Middlebury College professor and ordained
Presbyterian minister James Calvin Davis, author of In
Defense of Civility: How Religion Can Unite America on Seven
Moral Issues that Divide Us (Westminster John Knox Press),
commented on the tragedy today, urging for civil discourse in
How did this happen?
Another comment on
the shootings in Tucson:
Where and how did this person get the gun
(and others) used in this heinous crime? Did his parents
know he had this gun (and others) including ammunition? Who
is the owner of the gun(s) and ammunition? Where were these
items purchased? Were they kept in the house where he lived
with his parents? Where did he get the funds to purchase
these item? If the parents knew, did they 'approve'?
The author of this note lives in Atlanta, GA,
where he and his wife attend of the First Presbyterian Church of
Atlanta, and participate in their International Sunday School
More reflections on the
Reflections on Martin Luther King Day
Theology for Earth
The Rev. Peter S.
Sawtell, Executive Director of Eco-Justice Ministries,
celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by
reminding us of some of the major characteristics of liberation
theology, and tracing their relevance for a modern theology for
liberation of the creation.
The four basic
affirmations of liberation theology, he says, are:
The experience of the community
is the starting point for theological
Liberation theology takes seriously the
presence of powerful institutions.|
theology demands action and involvement.
"The emphasis is on orthopraxis rather than orthodoxy."
Hope sustains and enlivens the struggle for
For his full
Voting ends in Sudan as country readies for split
Alan Boswell, McClatchy Newspapers,
A week of polling ended and vote counting
began Saturday in a landmark referendum expected to result in
the breakup of Africa's largest country into two separate
nations. After 50 years of war and a six-year peace deal,
southern Sudanese turned out in high-spirited droves beginning
Jan. 9 in a secession vote promised under a 2005 U.S.-brokered
peace deal to end the long conflict between Sudan's undeveloped
African south and its Arab government in the north."
The full article >>
A recent Wall Street Journal article reminds us that
an independent southern Sudan will see have to struggle with the
continuing practice of slavery among its people.
President Obama expands travel to Cuba
Central, part of the Center for Democracy in the Americas
The White House
announced today a long-awaited decision by President Obama to
expand travel to Cuba - and increase support for the Cuban
people - in fundamental and important ways.
President expands travel opportunities for academic research,
educational travel, cultural travel, and religious travel;
• Return of
people-to-people programs to essentially where the rules were at
the end of the Clinton administration;
President allows all Americans to send financial support to the
Cuban people, which will allow them to expand private sector
activity at a time of restructuring in the Cuban economy and the
President expands the number of airports that can serve the
• The rules
explaining each of these changes will be issued in a matter of
STATEMENT FROM THE CENTER FOR DEMOCRACY IN THE
Sarah Stephens of
the Center for Democracy in the Americas released the
following statement in support of President Obama's
Executive Order expanding travel to Cuba:
This is an
important step forward for our Cuba policy.
At a time
when Cubans are changing their system in fundamental ways,
it is a good idea to have greater engagement, more Americans
traveling to Cuba, and more opportunities to learn from each
other as everyday Cubans reshape their lives and their
It is my hope
that Members of Congress who represent Cuban Americans - a
community that can travel to Cuba without any limits at all
- will not make efforts to thwart what the president has
done. This step authorizing non-tourist travel is a basic
and positive step to take at this time.
is to be commended for taking this step to improve our
policy and, ideally, to move forward on reforming U.S.-Cuba
continue to press for the freedom to travel to Cuba for all
Flags in church?
We've received another
comment for a discussion that began back in 2003, about pros and
cons of displaying the U.S. flag in church sanctuaries.
Click here for
the latest comment, and scroll down for the discussion.
send your own addition to the discussion, if you're so
These new items are being posted as the memorial
gathering in Tucson is under way. May it bring us a few
more steps toward healing, and toward peace within this land.
People of Tucson show light in the midst of the darkness
This report came from the Los Angeles
Times on the afternoon of January 11.
Tucson rallies to protect girl's family
Arizona lawmakers moved quickly Tuesday to try
to block protesters from the funeral of 9-year-old shooting
victim Christina Green, passing an emergency measure prohibiting
protests within 300 feet of any funeral services.
In addition to the new law, hundreds of Tucson
residents were making contingency plans to try to protect the
family of the girl who was slain in Saturday's rampage.
Second Tucson shooting victim with Presbyterian ties
From Presbyterian News Service
Another victim with Presbyterian connections
has been identified as among those who died at the hands of a
lone gunman in Tucson, Ariz., Jan. 8.
Gabe Zimmerman, an aide to U.S. Congresswoman
Gabrielle Giffords — who was apparently the main target of Jared
Loughner, the alleged mass murderer — came from a staunch
Presbyterian family, according to the Rev. John Matthew, a
longtime Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) executive from Boise,
Good Friday on Championship Monday?
David True, a PVJ member and Associate Professor of Religion at
Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pa, posted his reflections on
Tucson and football on the blog page of Presbyterian Outlook.
Writing on Jan. 11, he begins:
Watching the college football championship
game being played in Arizona last night, felt strange to me,
sort of like returning to the scene of the crime to throw a
party. There was nothing to be done--or I haven’t thought of
it. We needed a good game, but why did it have to be in
Arizona? It was almost as if the Fates had conspired to make
us endure the tragic comedy in which old people and a little
girl are shot down in cold blood and football players
proudly cant their praise to the god of football. Who can
blame those who curse this god and any and all faith? What
kind of universe would this be if it were true that God was
too busy deciding football games to bother with saving
little girls from crazed gunmen?
from Tucson >>
Repairing the Breach: PHEWA returns to New
Monday, April 25 at 12:00pm
- April 29 at 6:00pm
New Orleans, LA
SAVE THE DATES!
An invitation for social justice activists
from the Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association
A multilevel event in an urban context which
Consultations by PHEWA Ministry Networks with
churches of the presbytery and other regional agencies
Renewed community organizing relationships
PHEWA Network meetings
membership Business Meeting
an optional BUILD event through Presbyterian
Disaster Assistance (PDA)
Event Housing: Alternative, Accessible,
Among the Housing Options: The Olive Tree,
former PDA site, now overseen by the Presbytery of South
MORE INFORMATION COMING SOON:
And for more
information now, see
this event’s Facebook wall >>
More on South Sudan:
added this note:
By the way, the November 2010 issue of
National Geographic has a piece on South Sudan with a map of
the oil regions. I have never seen such a map before. It also
draws the disputed boundary line between north and south. It is
very, very illuminating.
For one of the two National Geographic
articles on Sudan,
click here. Sorry, but your WebWeaver
can’t find the map in the online version of the magazine.
Sudan and Darfur >>
PC(USA) member among those killed in Arizona shootings
Church leaders express horror and anguish over
By Sharon Youngs, Communications Coordinator,
Office of the General Assembly
Phyllis Schneck, a member of Northminster Presbyterian Church in
Tucson, Ariz., was among those killed in the shootings on
January 8, 2011, that left six people dead and 14 injured.
Schneck’s pastor, the Reverend Andy Ross,
described her as “vibrant, fun, and a devoted woman of faith.
Her smile, her commitment to the mission of Jesus Christ, and
her friendship to so many will long be treasured.”
Ross continued, “From all of us at
Northminster to all of you – we offer our hope and commitment to
live as Christ's disciples, advancing his Kingdom of peace and
healing, hope and salvation, with God's divine help, and with
all of you. God bless you!”
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders issued a
statement today in the wake of the shooting tragedy.
Elder Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th
General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), the
Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly,
and Elder Linda Valentine, Executive Director of the General
Assembly Mission Council, expressed anguish over the shootings
and horror over “this kind of assault on public discourse.”
Bolbach, Parsons, and Valentine also encourage
all Presbyterians to join President Obama’s call for a moment of
silence today at 11:00 EST.
The full text of their statement:
We join with millions of people in this
nation and worldwide who are horrified and anguished by the
shootings in Arizona two days ago that resulted in such
critical injuries and loss of life.
We are also horrified by this kind of
assault on public discourse. Freedom of speech and assembly
are foundational to who we are as citizens of this nation.
As people of faith, we condemn violence and hatred and are
committed to respectful civic engagement.
We encourage all Presbyterians to join in
prayer with the President of the United States’ call for a
moment of silence today at 11:00 a.m. EST, “to honor the
innocent victims of the senseless tragedy in Tucson,
Arizona, including those still fighting for their lives. It
will be a time for us to come together as a nation in prayer
or reflection, keeping the victims and their families
closely at heart.”
Presbyterians have already been reaching
out in this incident through
Disaster Assistance and
A community worship service is planned
for today in Tucson, and additional assessment and follow-up
will be ongoing.
are the God in whom I take refuge
O send out your light and your truth; let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling
you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my help and
(from Ps. 43)
This report is also posted on the PC(USA) website
the Tucson shootings >>
Baptism ... and a
time for renouncing evil
Surely many sermons yesterday (Sunday, January 9,
2011) included some comments on the tragic killings in Tucson
just the day before.
Rev. John Shuck,
pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Elizabethton, Tennessee,
focused on the baptism of Jesus, with texts from Mark 1:9;
Matthew 3:13; 4:1-11; and Luke 3:21; 4:1-13.
He notes the
stark question put to candidates for baptism and membership in
the church: “Do renounce evil and its power in the world?”
sounds strange, perhaps, to progressive sorts of folks. But
Shuck insists it is very relevant. He continues:
six people were killed and twelve injured by a gunman in
Arizona. One of the injured is congresswoman Gabrielle
Giffords. She is believed to be the target of the attack.
This is evil.
An Attack on the Soul of the Nation
Rev. Jim Wallis of Sojourners writes on the shooting of
Gabrielle Giffords as one who knows her personally, but offers a
thoughtful faith perspective as well. He begins:
The shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, the
young Congresswoman from Arizona, must speak to the soul of
this nation. The shooter raised his gun to her head, and
then he kept shooting until 14 others were wounded and six
people killed, including a district court judge and a
9-year-old girl who was president of her student council.
Gabby, as everyone calls her, is one of the most beloved
political leaders in the Congress and back in her home state
of Arizona. Everyone likes her on both sides of the aisle.
One of her colleagues remarked that if there was a list of
the most vitriolic politicians in the country, Gabby’s name
would be near the very bottom of the list. Gabby is known as
one of the warmest, brightest, most open, and best listening
members of Congress. She was listening to her constituents
Saturday at a shopping center when a young man pointed a gun
at her head and shot her at point-blank range.
South Sudan votes on independence
you’re following the voting in South Sudan on the possibility of
independence, you’ll find lots of good information on the blog
page of the Save Darfur
report, posted on the second day of voting (Jan. 10, 2011):
Two days of voting in South Sudan
After two days of
voting on the referendum for independence, South Sudan is edging
closer to seceding from the Northern government based in
Khartoum. With no reports of violence related to the vote, The
Guardian is claiming a turnout approaching 50% of the population
while the vote seems to be swaying overwhelmingly toward
independence as the BBC’s Will Ross has reported he is unable to
find any voters who opted to remain a part of Sudan.
Furthermore, former US President Carter said in an interview
with CNN that in a private conversation with Sudanese President
Omar al-Bashir that Bashir expressed the belief that an
independent South Sudan should be free of Sudan’s debt
obligations, in effect pledging to take on all of Sudan’s $38
billion international debt.
Sudanese refugees and expatriates living in the United States,
there are 8 designated polling places to cast votes. In Omaha,
refugees are braving snow and cold to cast their votes–some have
come from as far away as Fargo, North Dakota to vote.
The news has been
less positive in the border region of Abyei, however. A
referendum planned to run in parallel to the South Sudanese
referendum has been delayed and tensions between rival Misseriya
and Dinka tribes have exploded into violence that have claimed
between 23 and 33 lives in the past three days. UN Peacekeepers
are being sent to the region to investigate the incidents of
Responding to the shooting in Tucson
Hymns that might
help you and your congregation respond to latest American
to Carolyn and Bruce Gillette
Tonight we grieve the deaths
and injuries in Arizona. We don't know if there is a connection
to the political climate of hatred, but there is to insane gun
culture in our nation that makes guns too available and too
Sometimes prayers are all we can
offer, they always need to be the first thing we do before we
take further action.
Carolyn wrote a hymn-prayer
lamenting gun violence ("God
of Mercy, You Have Shown Us") for the Presbyterian
Peacemaking Program in 2009 that is posted here with the music.
Her earlier hymn on the day of
the Columbine shootings is also
Please share them with friends
in your church and online.
January 30th is the beginning
of the lectionary series from the Sermon on the Mount. To
further Jesus' vision to our present times, we hope to have
Carolyn's "The Sermon on the Mount: A Worship Service of Lessons
and Songs" available soon on her web site
http://www.carolynshymns.com/ This service celebrates Jesus'
teachings of love, peace and justice by having the entire Sermon
on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) read in sections in a worship service
that includes four new hymns based on Jesus' teachings. We used
this special service in our church and people found it very
powerful to hear Jesus' whole sermon while singing hymn
responses written to well-known hymn tunes.
Blessings on you and your work
for peace in 2011.
Grace and Peace, Bruce
Bruce & Carolyn Gillette,
Limestone Presbyterian Church, 3201 Limestone Road, Wilmington,
19808-2198 Office Phone: (302)
Home Phone: (302)-994-0220
A turning point in the discourse, but in which direction?
by Matt Bai, revised today from an article
published in the January 9 New York Times
The article begins:
Within minutes of the first reports Saturday
Gabrielle Giffords, an Arizona Democrat, and a score of
people with her
had been shot in Tucson, pages began disappearing from the
Web. One was
Sarah Palin’s infamous
“cross hairs” map from last year, which showed a series of
contested Congressional districts, including Ms. Giffords’s,
with gun targets trained on them. Another was from
Daily Kos, the liberal
blog, where one of the congresswoman’s apparently liberal
constituents declared her “dead to me” after Ms. Giffords voted
Nancy Pelosi in House leadership elections last week.
The full article >>
-- with hopes and prayers for a blessed New Year
Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Campaign for Fair Food
receive year-end praise
This news comes from the
Coalition of Immokalee
Workers in a release dated December 29, 2010.
CIW's own "annus mirabilis" prompts Ft. Myers News-Press to name
CIW "2010 Person of the Year"!
In recognition of
a year of unprecedented victories, the Ft. Myers News-Press
has recognized the CIW as Southwest Florida's "2010 Person
of the Year"! Here's an excerpt from the article announcing the
"Coalition of Immokalee Workers' fight for justice leads to
historic win," (Ft. Myers News-Press, 12/26/10):
fields stretching to the horizon, the men gripped each other
in a long, strong hug.
One was born
a peasant, the other privileged. Lucas Benitez and Jon
Esformes were together that November morning to announce
Esformes' company, Pacific Tomato Growers, would be doing
things differently from now on...
... 'It is
not acceptable,' Esformes said, 'that agricultural workers
have any less rights than folks working in white-collar
nothing less than revolutionary words from a
fourth-generation member of an industry dogged for decades
by abysmal wages and labor abuses, including high-profile
No grower had
ever before joined forces with a group of Florida
farmworkers, historically excluded from many workplace
protections others take for granted.
farmworkers themselves - the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
- brokered the deal. Simple as it sounds, its guarantees
stand to transform Florida's $619 million tomato industry.
For its years
of groundbreaking advocacy, The News-Press has named
the Coalition of Immokalee Workers its 2010 People of the
Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, has
named Campaign for Fair Food one of five
"causes worth fighting for" in 2011...
To read more
about the News-Press recognition and the look ahead
in The Nation, go
to the CIW website.
your WebWeaver continues to fall to the temptations of
post-Christmas chocolate, he shares this:
The Rules of Chocolate
If you get melted chocolate all over your
hands, you're eating it too slowly.
Chocolate covered raisins, cherries, orange
slices and strawberries all count as fruit, so eat as many as
The problem: How to get two pounds of
chocolate home from the store in a hot car.
The solution: Eat it in the parking lot.
Diet tip: Eat a chocolate bar before each
It'll take the edge off your appetite and
you'll eat less.
A nice box of chocolates can provide your
total daily intake of calories in one place. Isn't that handy?
If calories are an issue, store your chocolate
on top of the fridge. Calories are afraid of heights, and they
will jump out of the chocolate to protect themselves.
Money talks. Chocolate sings.
Chocolate has many preservatives.
Preservatives make you look younger.
Why is there no such organization as
Because no one wants to quit.
Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of
things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing
Chocolate is a health food. Chocolate is
derived from cacao beans. Bean = vegetable. Sugar is derived
either from sugar beets or cane, both vegetables. And, of
course, the milk/cream is dairy. So eat more chocolate to meet
the dietary requirements for daily vegetable and dairy intake.
John Jackson and his
Everything Is Connected Email
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
from earlier in June, 2011
For links to earlier archive pages,
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.
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
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
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
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
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!