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Archive for October through December, 2011

This page lists our postings from all of October through December, 2011

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

September, 2011
August, 2011
July, 2011
June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011
March, 2011
February, 2011
January, 2011


For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

12/23/2011
Greetings to all of you at this time of Christ's birth --

as we remember and celebration the human manifestation of God's love among us, may we remember that it was (and is) an event for all people.

And so may it transform our lives and our world, bringing peace and justice to reality for the millions who lives are now shadowed by conflict and poverty and powerlessness.

from Doug King, for Presbyterian Voices for Justice

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM MORE LIGHT PRESBYTERIANS

We wish for you and the whole world experiences of Advent and Christmas that inspire the gifts of hope, joy and peace. As you explore the mystery of Advent and the wonder of Christmas:

Take a quiet moment during this busy season...
Light a candle,
say a prayer,
see beauty.

We are on
a spiritual journey.

Remember the sacred
underlying the mundane
in this season of lights.

Something Holy
is about to be born
in us.

In the dark lay possibilities:
the seed in the ground,
the seed in the womb,
the seed in our souls.

The deepest desires
of our heart and soul
lead us toward God,
toward ourselves,
toward the world...

A way is being prepared
in the wilderness of our lives.

Vision.
Strength.
Encouragement.

Hope starts small
and overtakes us,
stretching the borders
of what we have known.

Merry Christmas from More Light Presbyterians

Note: Special thanks to Rev. Jan L. Richardson, Night Visions: Searching the Shadows of Advent and Christmas and Rev. Nanette Sawyer and Wicker Park Grace, Chicago for the inspiration and source of the poetry for this Advent and Christmas prayer.

And we invite you to take a look at the helpful, meaningful, and/or quotable Christmas thoughts from ...
bullet the people of Bethlehem (the one in Palestine, with the Wall)
bullet the Rev. Peter Sawtell, Executive Director of Eco-Justice Ministries, who says that "Christmas is subversive"
Do you have Christmas thoughts to share?  Please send a note, and we'll add them here!
And how about Occupy Wall Street??

Two reflections:

A poem by your WebWeaver's brother, Jack King, entitled "The Gravy Train."  It includes the lines:

in dining cars, lounge cars,
cars of luxury suites,
gravy train passengers know little
of scenes outside.
in window glass
they see nothing but themselves.

these rolling revelries have gone on for decades,
but tonight’s may be the last.

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

Desmond Tutu urges Trinity Church to allow Occupy protester camp

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has waded into an ecclesiastical row over a New York church's refusal to allow protesters from Occupy Wall Street to camp on a vacant lot it owns.  More >>
The 'New Nixon'

Berry Craig reflects on Newt Gingrich as an interesting example of the strange connections between right-wing conservatives and evangelical Christianity, along with extra-marital adventurism and fierce defenses of "traditional marriage."  And their strong support of military adventurism is combined in many cases with a certain reluctance to take part themselves in military service.  He begins:

Double-divorced draft evader Newt Gingrich tossed a big chunk of red meat to Christian conservatives at the “Thanksgiving Family Forum” GOP presidential candidate debate in Iowa.

The former House speaker is still the leading anti-Romney candidate in the polls. Feeling feisty among friends, he dissed the Occupy Wall Street movement, claiming it shows “how the left has collapsed as a moral system.” Gingrich followed up with a sound bite old Spiro Agnew would have loved, admonishing the protestors to “go get a job right after you take a bath.”   More >>

12/7/2011
Presbyterian Voices For Justice is opening a new website!

Vicki Moss, who has been named by the PVJ coordinating team as our new Communications Coordinator and Webweaver, is in the first stages of setting up a new website, which you’ll find at www.presbyvoicesforjustice.org. She will be replacing Doug King, who is slowly retiring from his role as creator and manager of our old site, at www.presbyvoicesforjustice.org. (That site will be left intact for a while, at least, and you may be able to jump to it through various links on the new site.)

We (including Doug King) believe this new site will reflect a more casual and interactive style than our older one, and we hope you will join in on it – contributing your own news and views, and stopping by often to see what’s there.

Vicki hopes you’ll be patient while she continues to learn the software she’s using, and to build a variety of links.

To introduce Vicki -- many of you know her from her role as our booth coordinator at every GA, where she provides not only a warm welcome, but those wonderful and often funny buttons. She will continue to serve as booth coordinator at GA.

She adds that “In my other life I am pastor of the Ridgewood Presbyterian Church in NYC and also starring on Broadway as Director of Children's Ministry @ Broadway United Church of Christ.”

She also wants to let you know that she would welcome your contributions of news and reflections for the new website. You can contact her at luseana@me.com.  

New online journal blends information, action

‘Unbound’ seeks to appeal to social justice academics and advocates

by Bethany Furkin, Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE – Nov. 28, 2011 – The new social justice journal from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy is aiming to be more than just that. http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/acswp/

Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice launched last month as an online source of information for academics and advocates alike. http://justiceunbound.org/

“We are doing something potentially unprecedented in trying to be both journal and community organizer,” said Patrick David Heery, managing editor.

Unbound has two target audiences: people who loved ACSWP’s former print journal, Church & Society, and who are active in social justice ministries; and people of all backgrounds who are interested in the connection between justice and Jesus.

“We want to witness to this other side of Christianity that often doesn’t get a lot of traction in the media,” Heery said.

The online journal is interactive, inviting users to comment on posts; submit articles, photos, art and poetry; and participate in forums and polls. The site also provides action alerts and information on ways to get involved in justice campaigns. More >>

And click here for our earlier introduction of this exciting new social-justice publication from the PC(USA).

11/17/2011
The Fall 2011 issue of Network News is here. 

The first issue of Network News to be published since the Winter issue, published in March 2011, will soon be in the mail to our members (except for those of you who have indicated that you'll save trees and money by getting your copy in PDF format online).

For the high-resolution version, which takes longer to download but looks better, click here.

For the everyday version, a faster download, click here.

Contents include:

PVJ Takes a Look at the "Occupy Wall Street" Movement (pages 5 - 8)

The Moderator’s Column (p. 2 - 3)

Network News going on-line only (4 and 9)

Struggling in Sudan and South Sudan (11 - 12)

How Holy is the Holy Land?  (13 - 15)

"Thanks to PVJ Friends" ... from More Light Presbyterians (16 - 17)

St. Mark’s, Tucson, Celebrates the Yes vote on 10A, by Sylvia Thorson-Smith (18 - 19)

Immigration, by Lorelei Hillman (20 - 23)

Book Review: Marcus Borg’s Putting Away Childish Things, by Doug King  (24 - 25)

PVJ plans for the 2012 General Assembly (26)

ATTENTION!

Network News going on-line only

This is the last Network News that will be published in print on paper, with one exception.

From now on Network News will be found here, on the Presbyterian Voices for Justice website

 The one exception will be the Spring issue just prior to each meeting of the General Assembly. That issue will carry discussion of issues coming before the Assembly and will be sent to all of the Commissioners and Advisory Delegates, in addition to the PVJ membership.

Whenever a new issue of Network News goes on the website, an email will be sent out notifying the membership. If you are not on the PVJ email list, and would like to be, please send your email address to Vicki Moss, our Communications Coordinator at Vicki@broadwayucc.org.

We apologize for missing the Spring and Summer issues for this year, and for our inability to continue producing this newsletter in print.

If you have had a library subscription, or a group membership, please contact our Membership Coordinator to request a refund.  He is Jeremiah Rosario; email at telumehtar@aol.com, phone at (646) 675-7029.  Mail: 230 East 87th Street, Apt. 2C, New York, NY  10128

11/5/2011

PVJ takes a look at the “Occupy Wall Street” movement

Sylvia Thorson-Smith, a member of the PVJ Coordinating Team, has gathered reports from Vicki Moss in New York, Bill Dummer in Milwaukee, and Sarah McKasson in Tucson.
For other perspectives on this potentially transformative movement in the never-ending struggle for justice, you might take a look at these sources:
Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice

This on-line successor of the much-respected Church & Society, produced by the Advisory Commission for Social Witness Policy of the PC(USA) focuses its first issue on The Dark Night of the American Economy: On economic crisis and injustice. It presents an excellent variety of analysis, from the perspectives of church policy statements, theological and Biblical reflection, and economics. It even offers some suggestions of visions for the future of this movement for justice, which many have seen as one of the crucial weaknesses of the Occupy movement.

Click here for a full list of the contents of this great new publication!

The Occupiers are striking a responsive chord

Robert Reich, writing for Huffington Post, argues that the Occupy movement is already having a real impact on “the public debate in America.” He says that “for the first time in more than half a century, a broad cross-section of the American public is talking about the concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the top.” More >>

OCCUPY the USA

by Sylvia Thorson-Smith

’Tis the season to re-imaginethe 60s. For some of us who lived through those times, the Occupy Wall Street movement brings back memories of social activism and solidarity of purpose that has little been seen since then. The movements are vastly different – now being less interested in “dropping out” of the establishment than dropping into a more egalitarian society with jobs and basic security for all. 

Frank Rich, in the October 31 issue of New York magazine, compares “the death throes of Herbert Hoover’s presidency in June 1932” with some of the events occurring today. In his article, “The Class War Has Begun,” he reminds readers that Congress bailed out “greedy bankers and financiers” while failing to pay a modest bonus promised to veterans of WWI. A “motley assemblage” of up to 20,000 middle-class men who couldn’t find jobs staged a massive vigil on the lawn of the US capitol, keeping their “improvised hovels clean and maintaining small gardens.”

This is the stuff of social movements; we may rarely see them coming, but once they are upon us, there’s no turning back until society confronts the issues that have ignited collective protest. Several board members of Presbyterian Voices for Justice have submitted reports about the Occupy Wall Street movement that is spreading across America. We want to share them with you in the hope of making connections and forging links of solidarity that include a witness by Presbyterians and other people of faith.

Vikki Moss reports that she and her husband John Harris were in Zucotti Park (in the Wall Street area) as the police kept people moving so the sidewalk wouldn’t be blocked. She writes “that there were so many different people there. A girl with pink hair, youngish people handing out Occupy Wall Street newspapers, people in costumes (one as Uncle Sam), lots of signs, a guy with a mask dressed in a suit, a family with kids holding signs talking to the media about their concern for their hamsters if they run out of money or lose their house, people of all ages. The crowd was very low key and peaceful. I didn’t hear the human microphone but drumming was going on at the south end of the park. There were lots of police all over the financial district, not just around the park. Most of them seemed relaxed and casual about the whole situation.”   

 

Bill Dummer, PVJ Moderator, writes of attending Occupy Milwaukee for two of their actions:        

The first day of action of the movement in Milwaukee was scheduled for October 15. The e-mail information I received said to meet for a rally at Zeidler Union Square. It was not only strategically located but symbolic in its name. Frank Zeidler was the beloved socialist mayor of Milwaukee in the 40s and 50s. It is a small, half-block square park. The information said there would be a rally at 11:00 before a march. So I headed to the park about that time. However, when I got there, I learned that the plans had changed. There were people of all ages there, some with signs, some without. One that caught my eye early read “Keep your corporate hands off my government.” There were a lot of younger people with signs about student loans. The media were there, interviewing some of the people who were gathering. I recognized some of the faces from previous anti-war rallies and such. But I found it curious that I did not see any of the regulars I see when I go to the Milwaukee County Democratic Party meetings. While we waited, little clusters of people would begin chants. The most popular one was from the protests in Madison in February and March, “This is what democracy looks like.”

A variety of interest groups had set up booths to provide information on their angle of the cause. The information sheet that was passed out to people indicated that the march would begin at noon. It would go to the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Water Street, which is the location of several big banks, namely J P Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Associated. At each of these banks yellow crime scene tape would be put on the entrances. The rally would begin there with the first of the “We Are the 99%” speakers. Then the crowd would move a half block north to M & I Bank (which recently became part of Canadian BMO Bank). The same scenario would be repeated there. The march went back to Wisconsin & Water where a teach-in was conducted on the role of non-violent civil disobedience in movements for social change. The march then returned the five blocks to Zeidler Park.

The media reported that evening that the march included 3000 people.


The second action event of Occupy Wall Street Milwaukee took place in a different location on October 29. It was billed as Occupy the Hood, and its focus was the lack of jobs for people living in the inner city. The staging area was Lincoln Park on the north side of the city. The event began at Noon with a half hour performance of a “drum line,” which put on a good show of African style drumming. Then there was a series of speakers discussing the employment situation in Milwaukee, particularly as it relates to inner-city residents. Once again, there were people of all ages participating. This time, however, there were more African-American young people. Not everyone participated in the march as it would be about three miles to the empty factory shell of A O Smith, which at one time manufactured many things, including the chassis of almost all of the American-made cars. 

It was good to get moving, in order to get warmed up. The escort of about 10 officers on motorcycles (Harleys, of course), plus another 10 on bicycles cleared the two thoroughfares that we walked on, creating quite the spectacle for the residents. Once again, there were a variety of signs, but it seemed like the most were “Recall Scott Walker” (the Republican Governor). We got to our destination in about an hour. When we arrived at the first gate, the guard would not let us on the factory grounds, so the leaders asked us to sit down where we were (in a minor thoroughfare). Some more speeches were made, calling attention to the fact that this factory at one time employed a couple thousand people. Part of it is in operation, as a Spanish company is using it to make high-speed rail cars. However, it too will soon be moving, since the Governor rejected federal money for high-speed rail in Wisconsin. I left to hike back to my car in the park before the speeches were over. The news reported that only about 300 people participated in this march.

 

Sarah McKasson, a member of St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Tucson (where I’m also a member), writes of her participation in Occupy Tucson:  

My sister Molly and I followed Occupy Wall Street online and in the papers. When we found out there was going to be an Occupy Tucson, we agreed that we would be there on opening day. Molly and I made our signs the night before – we were ready! The kick-off for Occupy Tucson was held in a city park near the downtown area. Newspapers estimated the crowd at 500 people. It was great to walk around and read all the signs, mostly hand made. Some were “laugh out loud” funny and many were very poignant. Molly and I stood with about thirty other protesters in a corner of the park and waved our signs at passing cars. Most of the drivers gave us thumbs up or peace signs. It was a really hot day in Tucson, so we moved to a shady area in the park and listened to some of the many speakers address the crowd.  
All in all, it was a very peaceful protest, except for one person who walked through the crowd yelling “stop picnicking and get a job.” A few of the protestors attempted to engage him in some dialogue, but he just kept shouting and moving through the crowd. Some of the peacekeepers from Occupy Tucson surrounded him for his safety, even though no one was physically threatening him. That’s the great thing about our country: everyone has the right of free speech. Other than that one event, it was a very peaceful day. The protesters were a very diverse group of ages, background and ethnicity. The best part was the number of young people who were there. It was so heartening to see them step up and participate in democracy!

 

Frank Rich has some analysis that seems worth including in this story. “Politicians in either party, of course, never use the term ‘class warfare’ to describe what’s going on in America, unless it’s Republican leaders accusing Obama of waging it every time he even mildly asserts timeless liberal bromides about taxing the rich. Nor do most politicians want to talk about the depth of the crisis in present-day capitalism, since to acknowledge its scale would only dramatize how little they intended to do about it. The whole system is screwed up, and it’s not all Wall Street’s fault – or remotely in the financial sector’s power alone to solve.”

We Christians are committed to serve a just and loving God who strengthens us to confront the powers and principalities of injustice, trusting that nothing can separate us from God’s love and presence. As we watch and participate in these Occupation movements across the country, may we work to fashion the society that we pledge allegiance to in both church and nation, one that truly institutionalizes “liberty and justice for all.”

A New Declaration of Independence

The weight of the 1 Percent has become intolerable. How can we take our country back? Alex Parene, writing for and with the staff of Salon.com, has offered a draft of “a new Declaration of Independence.” He begins:

Here’s where we are in the course of human events right now: 14 million Americans are jobless and millions more are underemployed. Those still working have seen wages fall after 30 years of stagnation. The 1 Percent of top wage earners could buy and sell the rest of us without so much as a low balance warning on their checking account apps. The tenth-of-1 Percent earns millions more every year in barely taxed capital gains and derivatives while everyone else struggles to pay down trillions of dollars of debt. Massive, growing income inequality is now belatedly acknowledged by political and media elites, but many of them seem befuddled as to its cause and importance.

It is our belief that many of the problems facing Americans today can be directly connected to the unchecked power and complete unaccountability of the 1 Percent, a group that benefits from every unequal boom of the modern era and escapes each disastrous bust unscathed. ...

What unites the outraged 99 Percent is that we have all “played by the rules,” only to learn belatedly that the game was rigged. Having been promised modest rewards for working within the system, by taking on debt or voting the party line, we find ourselves, bluntly, shit out of luck.

Parene goes on to do something many observers have been asking for: trying to make the Occupiers’ project more focused by presenting a list of “demands,” which he presents as “the beginning of a conversation, not a final product.” His main demands:

1. Debt relief
2. A substantial jobs program
3. A healthcare public option
4. Reregulate Wall Street
5. End the Global War on Terror and rein in the defense budget
6. Repeal the Patriot Act
7. Tackle climate change
8. Stop locking everyone up for everything and end the drug war
9. Full equality for the queer community
10. Fix the tax system

Unbound

The Long-Awaited Unbound Launches!

from Salt & Light, ACSWP newsletter:

On Thursday, October 20, 2011, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) launched Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice in Denver, Colorado. Unbound is the successor of the much-loved Church & Society, the journal that, for 98 years (including its predecessors), was a prophetic voice in the Presbyterian Church, church classrooms, and households. Continuing that legacy, and breaking new ground, Unbound is an online jour-nal and community that examines, expresses, and provokes social justice as inspired by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Dark Night of the American Economy
Oct / Nov 2011 Issue: On economic crisis and injustice

Table of Contents

Editors’ Corner
“How Dark an Economic Night Does It Have To Be?” Chris Iosso
“A Walk on the Economic Side, Looking for Power,” Patrick David Heery

An Invocation from the Presbyterian Church (USA)
“Living through Economic Crisis: The Church’s Witness in Troubled Times,” Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy

Talking Corner
“Loans for Life,” Emily Morgan
“New Brunswick: The Plight of the Poor,” Dawan Buie
“All about US,” a poem, Ariana SalazarNewton

Economic Perspectives
“The Principles of Capitalism and Their Effects in the World,” Bill Saint
“The American Covenant and the American Dream,” John Winfrey
“Will Corporations Serveor Exploitthe Human Family?” ed. John Cobb
“For Workers,” Elizabeth HinsonHasty
“Capitalism and Christianity: Compatible Worldviews?” Elisa Owen

The Question of Inequality: Unchained Links
“Tomatoes of Wrath,” Chris Hedges
“Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs between Whites, Blacks,
Hispanics,” Pew Study (link)
“Stop Coddling the Super Rich,” Warren Buffet (link)
“Why Warren Buffet Is Wrong,” Jeffrey A. Miron (link)
“Too Much: An Online Weekly on Excess and Inequality,” Institute for Policy Studies (link)
“Neither Poverty Nor Riches: Compensation, Equity, and the Unity of the Church,” Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (link)

Christian Witness: Construction, Complicity, and Resistance
“Timeline of Social Policies,” Presbyterian Church (USA)
“Social Creed for the 21st century,” National Council of Churches & PC(USA)
“Searching for God’s Economy in Protestant Theology,” Robert C. Trawick
“Past and Present, The Church Speaks on Economic Matters and New Challenges,” Chris Iosso
“Debtceiling Bill: Programs that Serve the Common Good Are Bearing the Cost,” Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the PC(USA)
“InterGenerational Justice, the Gospel, and One Presbyterian Denomination’s Position,” Casey Jones
“Witness of These Things: Ecumenical Engagement in a New Era” (link)
“Accra Confession” (link)
“AGAPE Document” (link)

ReEnvisioning
Council of Churches
“Flourishing through Contrition: Hunger and Transformation,” Shannon Jung
“Covenantal Economics: God’s Household,” Tim BeachVerhey
“Religious Action for Affordable Housing: Creating Community,” Nile Harper
“The Divine Economy & A Theology of Debt,” James Noel
“Finishing the Unfinished Business of Dr. King,” Charlene Sinclair and the Poverty Initiative
“Paul at Sea: A Seafaring Saga with Random Interruptions,” a sermon by Lisa Larges

Hearing Scripture
“Isaiah 58,” NRSV
“Matthew 23:23,” NRSV

Closing Prayers
“Against Corporate Domination and American Indifference,” Darryl Trimiew
“For Farmworkers Struggling for a Just Wage,” Francisca Cortes

Action Steps

10/16/2011

So ... what's our response to the Occupy Wall Street movement?

This great comment comes from John Shuck, pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tennessee, and blogger extraordinaire.

An Open Letter to the Occupiers from a Veteran Troublemaker

The Rev. Jim Wallis offers appreciation of the way the Occupiers’ movement is raising vital and long-neglected questions, but also suggests the need for some proposals for action. Among other things, he writes:

You are raising very basic questions about an economy that has become increasingly unfair, unstable, unsustainable, and unhappy for a growing number of people. Those same questions are being asked by many others at the bottom, the middle, and even some at the top of the economic pecking order.

There are ethics to be named here, and the transition from the pseudo-ethic of endless growth to the moral ethics of sustainability is a conversation occurring even now in our nation's business schools (if, perhaps, secreted inside the official curriculum).

Keep pressing those values questions because they will move people more than a set of demands or policy suggestions. Those can and must come later.   More >>

Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at www.godspolitics.com .

After the Storm: The Instability of Inequality 

As an economist, Nouriel Roubini offers a helpful perspective on this remarkable movement of protest. He is Chairman of Roubini Global Economics, Professor of Economics at the Stern School of Business, New York University, and co-author of the book Crisis Economics. He begins:

New York - This year has witnessed a global wave of social and political turmoil and instability, with masses of people pouring into the real and virtual streets: the Arab Spring; riots in London; Israel’s middle-class protests against high housing prices and an inflationary squeeze on living standards; ... India’s movement against corruption; mounting unhappiness with corruption and inequality in China; and now the “Occupy Wall Street” movement in New York and across the United States.

While these protests have no unified theme, they express in different ways the serious concerns of the world’s working and middle classes about their prospects in the face of the growing concentration of power among economic, financial, and political elites. The causes of their concern are clear enough: high unemployment and underemployment in advanced and emerging economies; inadequate skills and education for young people and workers to compete in a globalized world; resentment against corruption, including legalized forms like lobbying; and a sharp rise in income and wealth inequality in advanced and fast-growing emerging-market economies.     More >>

What are your thoughts of the Occupy Wall Street movement?
What are you doing about it?
What do you think PVJ should do about it?
Please send a note,
and we'll share it here.

10/8/2011
Four more overtures submitted for the 2012 General Assembly

Two of the overtures -- 005 from the presbytery of Stockton and 006 from Central Florida -- would restore the "chastity and fidelity" requirement, in one form or another, to the ordination standards.

Overture 007, from the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky, would call on MRTI (Mission Responsibility Through Investment) to review the practices of a number of major health insurance companies, in light of previous GA actions relating to fair health care for all.

Overture 008, from the Presbytery of Santa Fe, would revise the new Form of Government to replace the terms "ruling elder" and "teaching elder" with the former terms of "elder" and "minister of Word and Sacrament."

Speaking of religion and "sexual purity" ...

Here's one humorous take on the subject, from PVJ member and frequent contributor to this website, Berry Craig.

10/6/2011
International peacemakers bring vital perspectives to the PC(USA)

Eleven international peacemakers from countries around the world are visiting congregations and presbyteries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from Sept. 23-Oct. 18.

They are sharing their stories about church-based ministries in their countries that seek peace justice and pursue peace in the name of Jesus Christ. This year’s international peacemakers come from Bangladesh, Egypt, Guatemala, India, Iraq, Israel/Palestine, Jordan, Madagascar, Mexico, Russia and Sudan.

The International Peacemaker program is sponsored by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.

Here are a few samples, with thanks to Presbyterian News Service:

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

‘Know justice, know peace; know peace, know justice’

Peace cannot be achieved in isolation from justice, Indian peacemaker says

Neerja Rajeev Prasad

Neerja Rajeev Prasad —Jerry L. Van Marter


Neerja Rajeev Prasad is secretary of the women’s fellowship for Christian service at the synod and diocesan level of the Church of North India in Nagpur.

Q: What is the situation in your country that you will be addressing?

“I will be speaking about gender justice and equality, corruption, interfaith relations (between Christians, Hindus and Muslims), violence against women and the impact of modernity on indigenous people. Of course, the biggest challenge is poverty.”

Q: How are the faith communities addressing this situation?

“The Church of North India is into gender justice, sensitizing churches and communities. We stand firmly against corruption because it has such harmful effects on all people.

“We are setting up dialogues among Christians, Hindus and Muslims. This is very important because the Christian church is isolated and fundamentalists are trying to drive us all apart.” More than 120 Christian churches have been destroyed in north India as a result of sectarian strife.

Q: What lessons from your situation are you trying to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians?

“These issues don’t have a particular religion or country – they are common issues, so must all work together, join hands, to address them.”

Q: What is the primary message you want to communicate to U.S. Presbyterians?

“Peace is universal and cannot be built in isolation from justice. Know justice, know peace and know peace, know justice.”

To see this report on the PCUSA website >>

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

For brief notes on some of the other international peacemakers on whom reports have been posted >>

Capital punishment – Why are we so quiet?

Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General Assembly (2010), responded thoughtfully to the recent execution of Troy Davis by the state of Georgia.

She states a question first put to her by the Reverend James Kim, of Lakewood, Washington: “Why don’t we as a church mobilize on the issue of capital punishment the way we have mobilized around the issues regarding the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians, or the way we have mobilized around the issues of Israel and Palestine?”

She continues:

Is it because Presbyterians are, in fact, united in opposition to capital punishment, whereas we’re divided on ordination standards and Israel/Palestine? And is it because we’re divided that we spend our time and energy persuading those within the church to agree with us – leaving us with a lack of time and energy to speak to the rest of the world on issues we do agree upon, like capital punishment?

Our prophetic witness on this issue is needed now more than ever – a time when people cheer because Rick Perry says he has no qualms about the number of persons executed in Texas.     More >>

Got comments?
If you have thoughts about this vital issue
(or about why we Presbyterians are so quiet about it)
please send a note,
to be shared here.

For our earlier posts on the death penalty >>

PHEWA seeks nominations for social justice ministries awards

Deadline Is Feb. 15 for awards to be celebrated at GA 220 in Pittsburgh

Presbyterian News Service, by Jerry L. Van Marter

The Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA) is seeking nominations for seven ministry awards that will be celebrated during the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) in Pittsburgh next July.

Seven awards will be presented by PHEWA, part of the Compassion, Peace & Justice Ministry of the General Assembly Mission Council. PHEWA is a voluntary membership organization dedicated to social welfare and justice ministries.

Ten networks are currently part of PHEWA, organized for grassroots implementation of General Assembly policies in the areas of community ministries and faith-based community organizing, addictions, domestic violence, HIV and AIDS, reproductive options, specialized pastoral ministries, child advocacy, disabilities, health and wholeness, and serious mental illness.

A little note: PVJ encourages you to think of people who might be worthy of consideration for any of these important awards, and then to nominate them.

Click here for details and how to submit nominations >>

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

September, 2011
August, 2011
July, 2011
June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011
March, 2011
February, 2011
January, 2011


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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