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A union of The Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia

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Witness and act on Iraq

GAC calls for U.S. restraint on Iraq

Council urges Presbyterians to witness - and work - for peace

by John Filiatreau, Presbyterian News Service

LOUISVILLE - September 28, 2002 - The General Assembly Council (GAC) on Saturday issued a "call to prayer and action," urging Presbyterians to oppose a precipitate U.S. attack on Iraq and the Bush administration's 'new doctrine of pre-emptive military action.'

During its fall meeting here, the council overwhelmingly endorsed a statement approved by the staff leadership team of the Presbyterian Church (USA) on Sept. 18, calling on members of the denomination to:

* Pray that the leaders of the United States, Iraq and the United Nations 'may receive the wisdom that leads to peace, not war, "and will commit themselves to 'the rebuilding of the lives, communities and nations that already have been destroyed by war";

* Pray that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will "cooperate fully as U.N. weapons inspectors prepare to re-enter Iraq" and "stop the oppression of his own people and threats of violence against neighboring states";

* Pray for "all who are fearful over the prospect of war, especially the families of all who will be placed in harm's way in the event of military action";

* Pray for the Iraqi people, who have been "victimized by a repressive government" and "devastated by more than a decade of destructive and ineffectual economic sanctions";

* "Urge restraint on the part of our own government," by communicating to members of Congress the policies of the General Assembly and "our desire for negotiated solutions to international problems rather than resort to military violence."

The statement also calls upon President George W. Bush, as well as the vice president, the secretaries of state and defense, the attorney general, the national security advisor and Congressional leaders, to:

* "Speak in ways that encourage peace, rather than war, and refrain from language that seems to label certain individuals and nations as 'evil' and others as 'good'";

* Oppose ethnic and religious stereotyping, "affirming the value of all U.S. citizens and others ... who embrace the visions of peace found in Islam and other faith traditions";

* Guard against "a unilateralism, rooted in our unique position of political, economic and military power, that perpetuates the perception that 'might makes right'";

* Allow the decisions of the United Nations on weapons inspections in Iraq "to run the appropriate course, without undue pressure or threats of pre-emptive, unilateral action";

* End the economic sanctions against Iraq, "which have been an ineffectual weapon against Saddam Hussein, but have done untold damage to the Iraqi people."

Finally, the GAC statement encourages Presbyterians to consult resources on the PC(USA)'s Web site - - "as a help in determining how God is leading each to respond to this international crisis."

In support of the recommendations, the statement cites policies on Iraq adopted by past General Assemblies calling for the lifting of the economic sanctions; safeguards "to prevent the government of Iraq from acquiring or developing the means of mass destruction"; a "wholehearted" search for "a negotiated solution based on diplomacy and not violence"; and a decision on Iraq's part "to redirect its resources from developing and deploying instruments of destruction to enterprises that will benefit the Iraqi people."

It notes that a GA-approved statement called Peacemaking: The Believers' Calling points out, "The church's faithful obedience to its calling means active participation in the formation of the values and beliefs of our society ... and exercising our citizenship in the body politic to shape foreign policy."

It also cites the Confession of 1967, which says in part:

God's reconciliation in Jesus Christ is the ground of the peace, justice and freedom among nations which all powers of government are called to serve and defend. ... The church, in its own life, is called to ... commend to the nations as practical politics the search for cooperation and peace. ... Reconciliation among nations becomes particularly urgent as countries develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, diverting their manpower and resources from constructive uses and risking the annihilation of mankind.

The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program has a special web site with a wealth of helpful information posted on it:



GA actions ratified (or not) by  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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