This page lists our postings
from all of July, 2011
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
For links to earlier archive pages,
Reject a Constitutional Amendment to Balance the Budget
This Action Alert was issued on July 19, 2011, by the
PC(USA) Office of Public Witness
This week or next week, Congress is expected to
consider an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require
the federal budget to be balanced each year. Writing this
requirement into the Constitution would pose a serious threat to our
economy and to the well-being of millions of people by forcing large
and indiscriminate spending cuts. In the event of another economic
downturn, which would result in a drop in federal revenues, a BBA
would exacerbate hardship by reducing the government’s ability to
respond to newly created need (as it did in 2008-2009).
Click here to contact your members of Congress and tell them to
oppose a balanced budget amendment!
A balanced budget
amendment would impose caps on spending that would force serious
cuts in essential programs – including Medicaid, Medicare, Social
Security, SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) and other anti-hunger
programs, education, HIV/AIDS programs, and countless other
initiatives that make a difference in the lives of millions of
people. Rigid multi-year spending caps, whether enforced through a
constitutional amendment or by other legislation, will harm our
economy and our people.
Through the prophet
Isaiah, God challenges a nation that, on one hand professes delight
in seeking God and knowing God’s ways, but on the other serves self
interests, oppresses workers, neglects poor and hungry people and
quarrels to no good end. Isaiah calls the nation to a righteous
practice that loosens the bonds of injustice, lets the oppressed go
free, and breaks every yoke. (Isaiah 58:1-12)
Don't wait! The House
is expected to vote TODAY and the Senate sometime later this week.
Please tell Congress to vote against a balanced budget amendment and
other spending cap measures in order to protect vulnerable people
and the economy.
Click here to contact your members of Congress!
In addition, the
Office of Public Witness recently took part in an interfaith
conference call when religious leaders, including Stated Clerk
Gradye Parsons and Director for Public Witness J. Herbert Nelson,
expressed “grave concern and dismay” that cuts to poverty
alleviation and prevention programs are on the negotiating table.
Their message: The religious community cannot make up the difference
caused by cuts to poverty alleviation programs.
Click here to read about it on our blog and to listen to a
General Assembly Guidance:
The 207th General
Assembly (1995) called on Congress “to defeat any proposals that
base budget or deficit reductions primarily on the services provided
to children, families, the needy, and the homeless and urged
strengthening federal commitments to these groups.” The Assembly
called on Congress “to insist on a government that follows ethical
values of justice for the poor, welfare for children, hospitality to
the stranger, and assistance to the disadvantaged.” (Minutes, p.
‘Fair trade, not just free trade’
Presbyterians join with other citizens to protest Colombia Free
Trade Agreement; 4 protesters arrested
Ginna Irby, an intern with the PC(USA)’s Office
of Public Witness, added this to
our earlier report on
the witness in Washington:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 18, 2011 – On July 11, more
than 150 U.S. citizens from faith-based, environmental and human
rights organizations gathered in front of the White House to protest
the pending Colombia Free Trade Agreement. A Presbyterian presence
was prominent among them.
“We are here right
now to recognize that we are called to advocate for justice,” said
the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s
Office of Public Witness. “We believe in fair trade, not just free
Along with other groups, OPW and the Presbyterian
Peace Fellowship helped organize the protest. Leaders from both
groups spoke alongside environmental activists and trade unionists
from the United States and Colombia about the devastating
consequences the free trade agreement would have on laborers,
farmers, Afro-Colombians and other Colombian citizens.
reader comments – supporting
Northumberland Presbytery's action against LGBT ordination
I appreciate what the
Northumberland Presbytery did. I am not fearful of change nor am I
homophobic. The issue for me is not a justice one but one of
interpreting Scripture to mean what it has always meant when it
comes to sexuality. Sex is reserved between a man and a woman in the
context of marriage. It doesn't matter what transpired with
Amendment 10-A. Those who voted in favor of this Amendment have not
studied the Scripture nor do they understand the pro-gay movement
and how it has helped blind the eyes and hearts of many within the
Jeff is a minister member of Southern New England
Presbytery, currently serving a non-denominational church on
Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
One presbytery acts to keep old ban on LGBT ordination
Northumberland Presbytery (in north central
Pennsylvania) took two actions on July 16, 2011 in response to
Ordination Amendment 10-A, which has now become G-2.0104 in the Book
of Order. First they reinstated the old G-6.0106b (the “fidelity and
chastity” requirement) as the policy of the presbytery, and then the
majority also passed a motion allowing individual churches to
withhold per capita from GA as protest against 10-A passing. The
Presbytery will not be permitted to send the missing per capita
payments to GA.
The wording of the presbytery action on
"Whereas each Presbytery is now called to
establish its own standards for ordination, we move that
Northumberland Presbytery adopt as ordination and/or
installation policy the 2011 Book of Order section G60106.b as a
requirement for ordination and installation within this
b. Those who are called to office in the
church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in
conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church.
Among these standards is the requirement to live either in
fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a
woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to
repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions
call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as ministers of
the Word and Sacrament."
This indicates that the struggle for justice and
inclusion in the PC(USA) will continue, as fears of change and “the
other” and “impurity” continue among many Presbyterians.
If you’re aware of similar reactions in other
presbyteries, or even better, if you have suggestions for helping
our church and our people deal with such reactions,
send a note, and we’ll share it here!
Four PPF members arrested outside White House, opposing the
Colombia Free Trade Agreement
Fellowship e-mail Newsletter
|Rick Ufford-Chase is arrested in
front of the White House, opposing the Colombia FTA
July 11, 2011, Washington D.C. – Today four
members of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship – Rick Ufford-Chase
(Executive Director), Rev. Sally Juarez, Kevin Moran, and Katie
Rains – were arrested in front of the White House in a peaceful,
nonviolent demonstration against the Colombia Free Trade Agreement.
They were joined by many members of the Presbyterian Peace
Fellowship and many who came from across the country today to rally
in Lafayette Park.
The Big Tent offered
insights and inspiration in many important areas of concern and
regretted not being at the Big Tent gathering of over 1,700
Presbyterians in Indianapolis from June 30 through July 2. From the
many news reports reflecting a variety of the smaller conferences
within the whole event, I know good things happened there.
You can see
one website page a quick listing of all the news reports. (At
least I think it must be all of them!)
Here are tidbits and links to a
few of the stories that might be most interesting to friends and
members of PVJ:
[NOTE: You’ll notice
from the datelines that many of these reports were posted days after
the event, but there are couched in “present tense” language. I have
not tried to revise that to reflect the fact that they are now
posted here about two weeks later.
WERE YOU THERE?? If you were (or even if you
weren’t!), and have comments or other reports you’d like to
just send a note, to be shared here!
-- with apologies for my
long absence! DK
A day for celebration and hope ...
of you surely are aware, this is the day on which the 2010 General
Assembly’s action to affirm the legitimacy of ordination of LGBT
Presbyterians goes into effect.
Book of Order,
with the revised Form of Government and no more
G-6.0106b, goes into effect today – one year from the adjournment of
the 219th General Assembly, which sent those and several other
amendments to the presbyteries. It includes G-2.0104b, which makes
clear that ordination is a fully legitimate possibility for LGBT
Here’s the full text
of the new policy:
Those who are called to
ordained service in the church, by their assent to the
constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003)
pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of
the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of
the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the
instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their
fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged
with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and
G-14.0450) establishes the candidate's sincere efforts to adhere to
According to one
tally of the votes so far, 97 presbyteries voted for approval of
Amendment 10-A, while 72 voted against it. Twenty-three presbyteries
shifted from opposed a similar change 2 year ago to supporting it
now, while four presbyteries shifted the other way.
This is surely a day
for thanksgiving – to the God of grace and truth who has led us to
this point, to the countless women and men who have borne witness
faithfully and courageously, and to the many, many others in our
church who have come to the point of supporting this change.
So to the individuals
and groups who have helped our church see the (more) light, PVJ says
Thanks! And thanks be to God whose embrace includes us all!
And this is also a
day for hope – that love may prevail over fear among the many who
are deeply concerned about this change, and that all of us may act
with determination and wisdom to make the slogan “welcoming church”
a reality through our denomination, around the country, and in the
For more background and
commentary on this historic change >>
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
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!