Archive for March, 2002
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
We have a brief
summary of the story, with links to the Layman Online report,
comments from More Light Presbyterians and others.
Ruth Kratz points to the depth of meaning that the
Confession of 1967 added to our understanding of Jesus
as the Word of God. She expresses concern at how that insight is
being eroded as some insist that the Bible -- the book -- is the Word.
|This Year Make Earth Day, April 22nd, A Family Affair
& Activities for Celebrating Earth Day are offered by the EcoMall,
one of the oldest and largest portals for environmental shopping.
Confession of '67 affirms faith in Christ - and an ethic that flows
from that faith
Amid all the demands for confessions of faith in
Christ, Gene TeSelle has noticed that a central section of the
Confession of 1967 (C-9.31-32) offers a clear affirmation of faith in
Christ, and links that faith to a radical ethic of reconciliation. That
"ethic" is not so much imperative or moralistic as it is
eucharistic: a thankful response to God's grace shown in Christ.
TeSelle suggests that this passage might well serve as a
prayer at the close of a celebration of the Lord's Supper, combining
both "promise" and "charge."
evangelism" -- a Palm Sunday sermon -- makes clear that conservatives
are not the only ones interested in sharing the Good News.
The Rev. Thomas C. Davis, of Wilmington, DE, finds in St. Patrick a
model of a "Celtic way of evangelism" that listens to others,
respects them, and so offers truly good news.
gives away his stoles as a symbol of solidarity
The Rev. John Mann, pastor of Peace Presbyterian
Church in St. Louis Park, MN, has found a creative way to show through
his ministry his solidarity with those who are excluded from ministry.
He is giving his stoles to people who cannot be ordained, and will no
longer wear stoles until they can, as well.
Read how he describes the path that has led him to
this action. But be aware that if you follow his example, you too may
expect what he describes as "vitriolic" responses.
sexual abuse has been dealt with in different ways, in different
This web site may be one of a select few that has not
carried reports, or links to them, on the current rash of stories on
sexual misconduct in the Roman Catholic Church and others. Our
assumption is that you don't need our help to read about that. But
here's one recent
report from the LA Times, that offers a helpful overview of
approaches taken by other denominations, especially the Episcopal Church
and various Jewish groups.
What do you think? Do you have stories to
share, opinions, concerns? Please
send a note, and we'll post them here.
Thanks to onReligion.com
women pastors serve one congregation
Women still encounter barriers to exercising their
ministries in the Presbyterian Church. No big surprise here! But
Woodhaven Presbyterian Church in Irving, Texas, is one of only nine
congregations in the denomination where both the pastor and the
associate pastor are women.
The Rev. Julie Riley, associate pastor, comments on
her new head of staff, the Rev. Shannon Johnson Kershner, "what she
lacks in anatomy, she makes up in God-given gifts. And the congregation
This report is in the Dallas
Morning News, 3/23/02
|Peter Sawtell ponders the well-known "Serenity
Prayer," and the tension between accepting and acting.
And he adds helpful reflections for Holy Week.
resources are available for Earth Day Sunday (April 21), and for Rural Life
Sunday (April 28).
Equal Exchange's Interfaith Coffee Program
works in partnership with communities of faith and faith-based
organizations to make a difference in the lives of small coffee farmers
and their families through Fair Trade. The Presbyterian
Church, among other denominations, is actively supporting this effort.
Here's a report on the Coffee Program's
activities during 2001, along with details of a recent delegation visit
to coffee growers in El Salvador. There's also a brief description of the program as a
Survey looks at American
attitudes toward religion in public life
Most Americans believe religion is good for public
life, but that it also has a significant role in causing conflict and
war. Only 18% view their own religion as the "one true faith,"
and the only way to eternal life. This and much more is shown by the
latest survey of religion and public life by the Pew Forum.
Thanks to onReligion.com
for leading us to this fascinating report.
Let's hear your comments on this study -- and
we'll share the responses here. Just
send a note!
Americans say "No" to
church support of political candidates
for Separation of Church and State takes note of the Pew Forum poll's finding that
70 percent of respondents said churches should not endorse political
candidates, while only 22 percent backed church involvement in
campaigns. They contrast this with three bills now in Congress that
would allow churches to endorse candidates for public office, without
losing their tax-exempt status.
may escalate military action in Colombia
Bush will propose broader military aid to Colombia, eliminate current
language requiring respect for human rights. But increased military aid
is not the solution! Washington Office suggests calls to Washington.
"muddled moderate" joins in the Call
to Civility - and explains why
This e-mail came to your WebWeaver on 3-16-02, and
we are happy to share it here with the author's permission.
Please add my name to the Call to Civility. I'm an
avid reader of your web page. I'm that "muddled moderate" who
wrote to you earlier. I've got a lot of questions about these issues
concerning human sexuality, and my position is somewhat like that of
George Hunsinger's of Princeton, BUT I love my denomination and can't
abide the fact that civil discussion has degraded into such anger.
Please add my name to the Call to Civility as follows:
Russell C. Sullivan, Jr., Pastor, Neshaminy-Warwick Presbyterian Church,
inclusive churches charged
Two churches that welcome glbt members into leadership
-- Mt. Auburn in Cincinnati and First Presbyterian Church of Baldwin
Park, California -- have both been charged with various offenses.
suggestion from the Rev. Bruce Gillette:
Use this Sunday for prayers for sexual abuse
offenders, families and churches
Clerk to Ariel Sharon: " We urge you to renounce and to
stop this violent madness."
The Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, the stated clerk
of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has
sent a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon calling on
him to withdraw the Israeli military from all Palestinian
Peter Sawtell of Eco-Justice Ministries ponders the
problem of heresy, which happens "when partial truths are elevated
to the status of absolute truths." And today's big heresy, he
suggests, is the idea of personal freedom. It was the key argument in
the US Senate against tighter standards for fuel economy in US vehicles
-- including even SUVs and vans. The assumption was that Congress had no
right to tell Americans what kind of cars they could drive.
Says Sawtell: "Freedom is one of the core values
for the United States. But we have encountered heresy when that value is
lifted up as an absolute truth."
A workshop for teachers on First Amendment issues and principles,
sponsored by the First Amendment Center in Washington DC, will be held on
July 12-14, 2002. If you are a teacher (or someone you love is!), you may
want to consider participating.
Christian Right and "racial reconciliation"
Andrea Smith, writing for the journal Color Lines
(Spring, 2002), examines the growing movement among conservative
and evangelical groups toward what they call "race
reconciliation." Basically, this new trend involves conservative
Christian magazines highlighting the role of people of color in
conservative groups. But it also seems aimed at splitting
middle-class African Americans from those below them on the
still receiving signatures endorsing The
Call to Civility, drafted by participants in a Ghost Ranch
seminar in the summer of 2001 to encourage a better climate in our
church and to urge an end to personal attacks on the Moderator and the
commissioners to the 213th General Assembly. It has been
endorsed by the sessions of six congregations, along with the leadership
of Presbyterian Women, and over 300 individuals.
still add your name, or that of your congregation!
vote on Amendment 01-A: 46 yes - 120 no
YES: New Brunswick, Cascades; Lake
Michigan; Miami; Grand
Canyon (122 - 96 - a shift from past votes in favor of 96-B and
NO: Cincinnati, Indian
We've received comments
from participants/observers in a number of these presbyteries.
Your reports and comments are always more than
welcome. Just send a note!
Washington Office reports on new challenges to conscientious objectors
in legislative proposals for Universal Military Training
In line with actions of numerous General Assemblies,
the Washington Office has prepared an excellent summary of current
pressures for some kind of compulsory military service, challenges faced
by anyone who feels compelled by conscience not to engage in such
actions, and Presbyterian thinking on questions of military service.
website features resources
on the challenge of poverty - a Lenten theme in March 2002.
|Baptists do it. Buddhists do
it. Even followers of Muhammad do it.
"Breaking up's not hard to do."
story in the Dallas Morning News looks at conflict in
various religious bodies, and concludes that religious splits -
no matter what the religious rhetoric - are most often really
about "Who makes the rules?"
This essay focuses on the Southern Baptists
(after all, it is Dallas!). Do you think the writer
could say the same things about Presbyterians? Take a look, and send
us your thoughts!
leaving the church
We recently reported on a note from a Witherspoon
member who says she is giving up on the church.
Witherspoon board member Trina Zelle responded:
I got a similar note from a friend of mine -- GLBT --
who said, "Why stay, this is messed up." I gave her the pep
talk about the greatest struggle coming right before massive change
occurring, which I believe, but another thought came to me later.
If we were the last generation on earth, we might want
to think about leaving. But we're not (probably). And this generation of
GLBT folk is not the last GLBT generation. There are GLBT babies being
born in the church every day, a church that welcomes them as infants and
then rejects them as adults. We can't abandon them to this kind of fate
-- we owe it to all those vulnerable adolescents of the future -- gay
and straight -- to continue the struggle.
And by the way, a non-Witherspoon person suggested
this motto for us: The Witherspoon Society: proclaiming the whole
gospel. Pretty good don't you think?
about a little humor -- about a housework-challenged husband?
But Bobbie McGarey adds some sober and suggestive reflections on the
UCC Justice and Peace Action Network has sent a helpful bulletin with
information on energy policy issues
being discussed in the US Senate -- along with suggestions for action.
churches: Here's help
in caring for your building and making it useful in your community
is apparently circulating a customer
satisfaction survey. Check it out!
Presbyterians will join other churches to push for welfare reform.
At least a dozen
Presbyterians will join more than 80 other representatives of churches
and ecumenical groups next week in pressuring Congress to strengthen the
nation's welfare system.
Scripture" after September 11th
The new Winter issue of the journal Cross Currents
focuses on the theme of "Reconsidering Scripture." While some
of the essays were written before the attacks of 9/11, and some
afterwards, the journal's editor, Charles Henderson, suggests that the
issue offers "an invitation to seek answers that spring from a
source beyond self, beyond nation, and even beyond all that we currently
Some of the articles have been posted on-line,
I Boarded the Midwest Express to Washington, D.C., on September 11,
by professor Daniel C. Maguire, who teaches ethics at Marquette
and the Clash of Civilizations, by Pulitzer prize-winner Jack Miles
Whom Shall We Give Access to Our Water Holes?, by Muslim theologian
Farid Esack, the author of Qur'an, Liberation and Pluralism
(1996), On Being a Muslim: Finding a Religious Path in the World
Today (1999) and An Introduction to the Qur'an
(forthcoming), all by Oxford: Oneworld. This essay was delivered as the
Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York
City, October 10, 2001.
Presbyterian minister/poet J. Barrie Shepherd has two
poems in the issue, but they are not posted on-line.
The Cross Currents home
page will allow you to access some of the other essays on-line. And
hey, you can even subscribe!
up on the PC(USA)!
We recently received a very distressing note from a
Witherspoon member who has decided not to renew her membership.
She is fully supportive of Witherspoon's goals and activities, she says,
but she has given up on the church -- any church.
We urge you not to give up. We believe our gracious
God calls us all to continue the struggle for a just and inclusive
church. And we invite you to join with Witherspoon in doing all we
can to hasten the time when the struggle will be fulfilled.
If you're already a member, perhaps you can give
something extra to support our planned mini-conferences on the
Confession of 1967, with its prophetic theme of reconciliation.
If you're not a member, you can read
more about what we're doing, and then please
Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church (TTF)
has written a mission statement and approved a six-item agenda to guide
its work over the next four years. [We note that the question of
"power," which was part on the GA action creating the Task
Force, seems to have dropped off the agenda.]
from Ohio offers a prophetic
prayer for America
Congressional representative Dennis Kucinich recently
gave a speech in the form of a prayer - a prayer for America that
challenges the U.S. "war on terrorism" - both what is being
done now, and even more what is being proposed.
Here's an inspiring and prophetic mixing of religion and
politics. It may not be what some advocates of prayer-with-politics have
in mind, but it has power and authenticity that are worthy of our
|"Chicks with guns"
New York Times opinion piece takes note of increasing
number of people carrying guns, and raises the question of where this
all may lead.
"...Already, since the beginning of September, more than four times
as many Americans have fallen to guns as to terrorism, but quietly, one
by one, with no one noticing."
The PC(USA) position on gun control can be found at:
Juillerat reports on the latest developments in the Shower
of Stoles Project, including
the production of a video telling the story of the project -- and "premier
parties" in Minneapolis and Atlanta to celebrate its
News Service has recently published a report on the decision of the
Permanent Judicial Commission of Central Florida Presbytery, ruling
unanimously that the session of First Presbyterian Church of Sebastian
does not have the authority to amend confessional statements or to
bind church officers to theological standards apart from the ordination
vows in the denomination's Book of Order as a prerequisite for
ordination or installation.
Rogers, the General Assembly moderator, and the Rev. Clifton
Kirkpatrick, the stated clerk, have sent a
letter to the Presbyterian Church (USA) calling for reconciliation
and healing in the wake of the defeat of Amendment 01-A.
|The Presbyterian Church is publishing a
very helpful new on-line magazine called Perspectives.
Check out details on the articles in their first
Eco-Justice Ministries offers worship resources for
Earth Day 2002
These resources, built around the theme
"Having All Things In Common," are based on one of the
Revised Common Lectionary texts for Sunday, April 21.
They are now available on the Eco-Justice Ministries
comments on Scott Anderson's sermon about "embracing
the contradiction" as we relate with people of other faiths.
He agrees that we all are sinful, but insists that "the line ... must be drawn and
maintained between Christians who believe that God has a Son who is our
Savior, and Muslims and Jews and others who definitely do not."
are the GLBT members of our PC(USA) saying after the defeat of Amendment
One strong, clear statement was offered by Martha
Juillerat, director of the Shower of Stoles, in a sermon preached on
Sunday, March 3. It was a call to stay, to work, to be courageous,
because "this Presbyterian Church has the potential and the
resources and the power to change the world. We have the hands to feed a
hungry planet, the arms to rebuild its cities and the feet to march by
the thousands for justice and peace. I believe that this church can and
will be resorted to greatness. That is why I am still here, and that is
why I will never, ever give up."
Campbell, retired Presbyterian mission co-worker, reports on
a visit to South Korea in August of 2001, with a Veterans for
Peace delegation. Having served there as a very young soldier of
the U.S. Army in 1950-51, he reports now on visits to the sites
of civilian massacres during the Korean War, under the guidance
of the Korean
Truth Commission. With the other members of the delegation,
he urges us to recognize the "war crimes" committed by
the U.S. in Korea, and then to act against the continuing U.S.
military presence on the Korean peninsula, especially in light
of President Bush's inclusion of North Korea in his "axis
of evil," with the threats that such a condemnation
Campbell reminds us too of the greetings
extended to the 2001 General Assembly by the visiting moderators
of two Korean partner church general assemblies, in which they
both expressed their concern about the missile defense program
proposed by President Bush, and appealed to the PC(USA) to
continue working with them in support of efforts for the peace
and reunification of their broken and divided country.
have issued an urgent plea for action to
protest new government military action in the former demilitarized zone.
Alice Winters, a Presbyterian mission co-worker in Colombia, has sent
this to us. We are posting both the original Spanish text, and the
interlinear English translation.
next meeting of the Silicon Valley chapter of the Witherspoon Society
will be on Tuesday, March 5, at 4:00pm, at First Church, San Jose.
Among other things, the meeting will consider possible action on the
issue of land mines. (www.icbl.org)
|Deadline extended for "Changing
Families" study document
ACSWP provides more time for feedback on church's
Further comments are invited on the church-wide study
document, Changing Families [and Witherspooners may want to
offer comments, notes your WebWeaver].
about the Trinity
Shawn Coons, a Candidate for Ministry under care of the
Presbytery of East Iowa, recently posted a note in the
WITHERSPOON MEMBERS meeting on PresbyNet, as a response to a
Guest Viewpoint" essay on our language about the Trinity,
by the Rev. James C. Goodloe IV.
Coons writes: "All language about God is
incomplete and insufficient. How can we use the finite to
completely describe the infinite?"
view critical studies of their tradition with deep suspicion
The New York Times for March 2 carried a
report on the hostility encountered by scholars - both Muslim and
non-Muslim - who try to use any kind of critical perspective in studying
the Koran. Novelists like Salman Rushdie have been threatened with death
when their writings were perceived as disrespectful toward Islam.
Scholars have also been threatened for suggesting that
parts of the Koran might have origins in earlier Christian Aramaic
texts, while other sections may have been written years after the death
of the Prophet Muhammad.
The report continues: "... when the Arab scholar
Suliman Bashear argued that Islam developed as a religion gradually
rather than emerging fully formed from the mouth of the Prophet, he was
injured after being thrown from a second-story window by his students at
the University of Nablus in the West Bank."
Well, our differences haven't quite come to that.
thanks to onReligion.com
LA Times reports on a growing number of stand-up comics among
evangelical Christians. These comedians find audiences willing to laugh
at some of the distinctive foibles of their own traditions. If all sides
in our ongoing strife could laugh a bit at themselves, then Yes, maybe
One example from Christian comedian Thor Ramsey:
"There are a lot of misconceptions about what it
means to be a born-again Christian. It's pretty simple, really. You
just bow your head, say a simple prayer, and when you open your eyes
you're a registered Republican with a firearm."
OK, who can offer some good Liberal jokes?? Please
send us a note!
|Do you want to go
back in time??
To wander through earlier headlines and
| from December,
| from November 2000|
including reports on
| articles from
the Spring 2000 issue of Network News|
| from mid-September through October,
| from July through
| from January through June
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
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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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.
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
John Harris’ Summit to
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
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!