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A union of The Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia

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Our reports about the 219th General Assembly, July 2010

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Complaints against Morrison ordination

Witherspoon supports those accused of "renouncing jurisdiction" because of issues of ordination and sexuality   [4-29-02]

As the Executive Committee of the Witherspoon Society met on April 21-23, we were keenly aware of the accusations that have been leveled against a number of our friends and colleagues in ministry. We have adopted a statement expressing support for the people who have been accused, and pledged to do what we can to assist them.

The Rev. Betty Hale responded to the report on complaints against numerous Presbyterians with this e-mail comment:

I think the accused should argue that they are obeying Westminster: "All synods or councils since the apostles' times, whether general or particular, may err, and many have erred; therefore they are not to be made the rule of faith or practice, but to be used as a help in both." [6.175]

Maybe it was when we Presbyterians disobeyed Westminster that we fell amongst all our troubles.

Betty Hale
Roxboro NC


Eight complaints (not "disciplinary cases," as stated by the Layman Online) have been filed relating to the recent ordination of the Rev. Katie Morrison, who is now serving as a staff member of More Light Presbyterians


According to a new report by the Layman Online, Paul Rolf Jensen, an attorney in Reston, VA, who recently filed complaints against the pastor and a former pastor of Mt. Auburn Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, has now filed eight complaints against the Rev. Katie Morrison, who was recently ordained by the Presbytery of Redwoods, along with the Moderator of the presbytery, other participants in her ordination, and even Ms. Morrison's father. The charges accuse the Presbyterian officers of "renouncing the jurisdiction of the Presbyterian Church (USA)."

Various observers have noted that in this case, as in the Mt. Auburn cases, Mr. Jensen has standing as a Presbyterian to file complaints, but that only a governing body (a session or a presbytery) can take action, by appointing an investigating committee which would then decide whether charges should be filed against someone.

It will be interesting to see whether it will be ruled that a father may not take part in the ordination of his daughter, and a woman can be charged with the "sin" of homosexuality solely on the evidence of her accepting employment with That All May Freely Serve, and others can be charged with participating in an ordination approved by a presbytery.


Two stated clerks offer comments on the complaints  [4-1-02]

bulletRaymond Kersting ponders the various ways in which such complaints might be handled, and the standing -- or lack of standing -- of Mr. Jensen to file such complaints.
bulletFrank Baldwin expresses concern about the cost of all these cases, and hopes that people on the other side of the issue of ordination will not respond with charges of their own, no matter how justifiable they might seem.

We have already received comments from Witherspoon member John Harris (who expresses concern about the "blood-letting" that will be started by this "witch-hunt"), and from the national Board of More Light Presbyterians (lamenting the addition of more "anti-gay judicial complaints.")

Presbyterian News Service reports


PNS has carried two reports by Alexa Smith, one detailing the variety of complaints recently filed by Paul Jensen, and the other surveying the broader picture of various challenges being leveled against gay-friendly congregations and individuals, in the wake of the defeat of Amendment A.

What do you think? Please send a note, and we'll share it here.


GA actions going to the presbyteries   

A number of the most important actions of the 219th General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book of Order.

We're providing resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest are:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which would remove the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.

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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.


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.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

Theological and philosophical reflections on everything between summit to shore, including kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology, politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in Flushing, NY.


John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive

A Presbyterian minister, currently serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton, Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

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


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