Archive for November, 2002
A new logo for
As the new liturgical year begins,
Witherspoon begins a new phase in its history. Justice, with its many
faces, has always been at the heart of Witherspoon's mission. And joy -
in doing the work we sense we are called to do. So, raise the banners
and let justice roll down! Join us as we enter Advent, with
anticipation, excitement and renewed commitment to the radical message
which is God's love for all creation.
Here's a creative way to observe Advent - a season
of waiting, expecting, hoping ... and a time for expanding our horizons
Barbara Kellam-Scott, a professional writer and a
member of the Witherspoon executive committee, has created this Advent
calendar based on one created by Suzanne Elston.
Thanksgiving be filled with gratitude.
And on the day after, if you want to be really
countercultural ... try a "Buy
Nothing Day" !
Buy Nothing Day, the annual 24-hour period of no shopping and
anti-consumer activism, will be observed this year in the United States
on November 29. Buy Nothing Day events will take place in a total of 40
countries this year, encompassing theater and celebrations as well as
more militant protests and actions.
Or if you really need to buy, try buying clothing not
produced by sweat-shop labor. Join
the "No sweat!" campaign!
Church a Peace Church invites congregations to act in many
ways for peace -- beginning with some thoughtful questions for
consideration, and providing lots of good resources.
Susan Andrews has been endorsed for Moderator by National Capital
All May Freely Serve provides an on-the-spot report, with photos, of
the demonstration protesting Chevrolet's use of conservative religion in
a current marketing campaign.
|More on demonstration against School of
the Americas, reported by Presbyterian
More than 60 Presbyterians participated
Presbyterians Marilyn White and Ann Huntwork may be
Army arrests 88 as thousands demand shutdown of
|Marilyn White's home-town
paper, the Galveston Daily News, offers a
"human interest" report on her background, and
what her action may mean for her and her family.
THE CALL FROM
in the Third Millennium
A major conference on the future
of the progressive witness in the Presbyterian Church (USA)
March 6 - 8, 2003
The Witherspoon Society invites you to celebrate its 30-year witness
to peace, justice, and inclusiveness and to interpret the Biblical and
confessional richness of our denomination in light of God's challenges
|Discuss the future of progressive Presbyterianism
in the current climate of conflict.|
|Worship and Pray together.|
|Witness through demonstration and proclamation
the radical gospel of God's love.|
|Jack Rogers, moderator of 213th PC(USA)
|Mary Fulkerson, Vanderbilt Divinity School|
|Joseph Hough, President, Union Seminary, NY|
|Doug Ottati, Union Seminary/PSCE|
|Worship Leader, Chris Glaser with musician Chris
WITH WENDELL BERRY
prize-winning author and farmer
out the details, and register on-line
|Whose Birthday Is It Anyway?
Here's a helpful resource for celebrating Advent and
Christmas without getting overwhelmed by the lures of commercialism.
ecumenical and evangelical, urge auto makers to work
for fuel-efficient cars
Concerned about fuel efficiency and those big ol'
SUVs? But not to worry: Chevy's
got religion! Or maybe that's to worry more?
Chevrolet has hitched their current advertising
campaign to the star of evangelical Christianity, with a tour featuring
16 evangelical concerts beginning in Atlanta on Nov. 1, and ending in
Detroit on Nov. 23.
Presbytery and TAMFS Michigan speak out against the exploitation of
protest against School of the Americas
Peace Fellowship leader Marilyn White
reports on her arrest
of 10 Commandments rejected by federal court
A federal court in Alabama has struck down display of
a Ten Commandments monument at the state supreme court building in
Montgomery, declaring that the religious sculpture violates the First
Amendment's church-state separation provisions.
If you're interested in finding positive ways of
teaching about the Ten Commandments, check out a
listing of resources provided by the Rev. Bruce Gillette of First
Presbyterian Church, Pitman, NJ.
|First candidate for moderator
Presbyterian Frontier Fellowship official Harold
Kurtz is endorsed by Cascades Presbytery
|Confronting the death penalty with
personal stories of loss and reconciliation
A group in Tennessee, called Murder Victims' Families for
Reconciliation, finds power in telling their own stories to help people
rethink the death penalty
what's the best way to catch criminals?
Here's one version,
Story of the Rabbit
on the Covenant Network conference
Network reports on their recent conference, and provides full texts
of many of the presentations and sermons.
News Service reported on the Covenant Network conference on Nov.11,
emphasizing the group's decision to broaden their focus beyond the
issues of gay ordination to promoting "progressive theology."
In a couple workshops, attorneys
Peter Oddleifson and Doug Nave explored ways the ordination of
gay and lesbian persons can be sustained in church courts. They
also explained their rationale for not defending those in open defiance
of G-6.0106b, but only those which follow Covenant Network policies.
support of Taco Bell boycott has made a difference
Presbyterian News Service reports that the boycott of
Taco Bell, endorsed by the 214th General Assembly last June,
is having an effect. The company is at least becoming more willing to
talk with the agricultural workers' organization about the poor
conditions under which they're working.
Presbytery judicial commission members recommend no
charges be filed against Donald Stroud.
threat of war against Iraq
|Just war theory
- does it help us think about a war on terrorism?
Your WebWeaver recently drew on classical just-war
theory as a way of helping a church group talk about their thoughts for
and against (mostly against) the threatened war against Iraq.
Preemptive strikes don't seem to fit the criteria very
well, though some folks in Washington seem to think they do just fine.
(But then, with a little effort you can "justify" 'most any
Christian Science Monitor has recently
published an article by G. Jeffrey MacDonald, surveying some of the
rethinking being done by ethicists.
Susan Thistlethwaite, president of Chicago
Theological Seminary, says "The issue [with Iraq] is how can
you justify preemptive strikes, and just-war theory speaks to that. But
terrorism makes just-war theory mute. Just-war theory assumes a
nation-state, but war is changing. Who actually are you fighting?"
One comment: Just war theory has been around at
least since the 4th century and Augustine, and in some
way since the times of the Greek philosophers. Nation-states came much
later, so this way of evaluating wars must have had some relevance to
Thanks to onReligion.com
a deeply troubled land
PCUSA Moderator recently visited his homeland of
Palestine, and heard one clear message: His people are suffering
now more than ever, and urged him to work to dissuade the US from
and the Layman ... and a request to Witherspoon
We have recently received an interesting bit of
correspondence from Brian Dean Wells, an elder at First and Franklin
Street Church, Baltimore, Maryland. He tells of his frustrations in
getting a letter posted on Layman Online, and asks Witherspoon on the
Web (that's us!) to provide a place where people can express opinions
and ideas without fear that their views will be distorted by creative
We promise to do our best, if
you'll send us notes! Just one caution: This is a solo
operation and very part-time, folks, so please be patient!
Francisco Theological Seminary is hosting a two-day conference
addressing the concerns and needs of multicultural ministry
"Leadership Skills and
Spirituality in a Multicultural Setting"
San Francisco Theological Seminary, San Anselmo, CA
Wednesday and Thursday, December 4-5,
This two-day conference is open to all clergy, elders,
teachers, church members, students and others who seek to develop the
sensitivity and skills to make their church, school or other group a
more inclusive community. Both days will be facilitated by the Reverend
Eric H.F. Law, consultant and trainer in multi-cultural organizational
development, Episcopal Priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles and author
of four books that address ways in which religious groups can be more
inclusive and welcoming.
For more information or for a flyer, please contact:
Stephanie Croom, (800) 447-8820, ext. 534
threat of war against Iraq
|How about a new
focus on "Weapons of Mass Salvation"?
President Bush has a better chance of winning the War
on Terrorism if he invests in Weapons of Mass Salvation rather than
destruction. So writes Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute at
Columbia University in New York, in The
"If George Bush spent more time and money on
mobilising Weapons of Mass Salvation (WMS) in addition to combating
Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), we might actually get somewhere in
making this planet a safer and more hospitable home," Sachs argues.
WSM include "the arsenal of life-saving vaccines, medicines and
health interventions, emergency food aid and farming technologies that
could avert literally millions of deaths each year in the wars against
epidemic disease, drought and famine."
President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston
Churchill understood the marriage between destruction and salvation,
Sachs notes. "Their war aims were not only to defeat fascism, but
to create a world of shared prosperity." He reminds us that
Franklin Roosevelt talked not only about Freedom from Fear but also
Freedom from Want.
And recently, the rich countries (including the U.S.) at the
Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable development promised to put
real resources behind cutting poverty, disease, and environmental
degradation. However, Sachs points out, "When is the last time
anybody heard Vice-President Dick Cheney even feign a word of concern
for the world's poor?"
Thanks to Utne
|Another presbytery calls for U.S.
restraint in talk of war
The Presbytery of Prospect Hill (in northwestern
Iowa), in its meeting on November 9, endorsed unanimously the
resolution adopted by GA Council and subsequently by the assembly of
Lakes & Prairies: "Call for US Restraint on Iraq."
Thanks to John Rozendaal for this report.
very special Ghost Ranch seminar is
slated for July 28-Aug. 4, 2003. Theme: A BIBLICAL VISION
FOR THE FUTURE. It will be presented in partnership with The
Witherspoon Society, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and Presbyterians for
gun laws aid terrorists
The Presbyterian Washington Office recommends an
upcoming PBS show on American's gun laws, and how they make life easy
for terrorists. Friday, Nov. 15, at 9 pm
note on Jim Gittings
Nearly a year ago we reported sadly on the
death of Jim Gittings, a long-time journalist and reporter who gave
his talents in service to the Presbyterian Church.
We recently received this note from Jim's sister, and
we're happy to share it here:
For the first time I have seen and read the
wonderful tribute to my brother Jim Gittings. I was so touched and
pleased. He was a strong family member whom we all loved dearly. The
symptoms of his illness came upon him as he was still grieving for his
older brother, who had just died weeks before also of pancreatic
cancer. My two sisters and I miss him terribly. We know there will
never be another like him!
Thank you for the writing about him on the web.
Janet Gittings Clark
Jim's sister speaks the truth: There will never be
another like him.
Network conference draws over 500 to seek ways of living faithfully
"in the meantime"
Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon Issues Analyst, reports on
the 2002 conference of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians, held in
Minneapolis on November 7 - 9.
Some specific issues reported here
Dealing with G-6.0106b
Times of worship and
|Moderator Fahed Abu-Akel speaks out
for a special Assembly
The Rev. Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel, the Moderator of the
214th General Assembly, has recently sent a letter to all those who
served as commissioners to that Assembly, denying suggestions that he
has endorsed the call for a special session of the Assembly, and
encouraging them not to support the call.
|Progressive rethinking after the
election defeats of 2002
the Lights Go Out"
Rabbi Michael Lerner offers helpful thoughts for progressives dealing with
post-election depression, urging a spirit-based framework for
progressive political action.
Do you have thoughts on the next steps for
progressives in American political life? Please
send a note!
complicated question of "takings"
The 214th General Assembly in Columbus
approved an overture from Baltimore Presbytery, asking for a
study on the issue of "takings."
The issue is complex, and it is especially
complex - and important - for the PC(USA) right now.
(1) Churches are often concerned about zoning
and historic regulations, regarding any obstacles as an offense
to religious freedom. As a result they inadvertently join the
"property rights" ideologues who regard any regulation
as a "taking" which ought to be compensated under the
(2) The 2000 General Assembly, acting out of
sympathy and unaware of broader consequences, approved a
Commissioners' Resolution on the Klamath Basin controversy but
in the process asserted that "taking water rights is taking
private property." This was out of keeping with the General
Assembly's longstanding support of environmental regulations,
rejecting the simplistic argument that they constitute a
We offer three short looks at this issue.
of Presbyterians for Restoring Creation, reported on the action
of the 214th General Assembly, examining the way it
responded to an action by the 213th Assembly dealing
with a water crisis in the Klamath Basin.
Witherspoon Issues Analyst, examines the way in which churches
are being drawn into the campaign against "takings,"
in the name of "freedom of religion" and of their own
Forbes, Stated Clerk of Baltimore Presbytery, has worked
with the presbytery committee that wrote the 2002 overture. He
traces some of the complexities of the "takings"
issue, as individual interests and rights come in conflict with
community needs and interests.
Do you have thoughts on the
Please send a note and we'll share your views here.
Rev. Clinton Marsh dies at 86
The Presbyterian News
Service has reported recently on the death of the Rev. Clinton M.
Marsh, a patriarch of the Presbyterian church who served as moderator of
the old United Presbyterian Church in the USA. He has also served
for some years as Chairperson Emeritus of the Presbyterian Peace
We've had requests for the
prayer of blessing and challenge that Clint has offered each year at
the conclusion of the Peace Fellowship's General Assembly
breakfast. With the help of Marilyn White of the Peace Fellowship,
we're happy to share it here in it's 2002 version.
pastors visit Louisville office, demanding the PC(USA) "repent"
Presbyterian News Service
has reported that five Presbyterian pastors recently visited the
Presbyterian national office in Louisville, to tape near the main entrance
their "Call to Confession and Repentance," calling the church
"irretrievably apostate under current management."
Their call for repentance, widely circulated, has so far
garnered about 100 signatures.
Some Witherspoon members have urged us to comment on
this action, and Witherspoon board member Barbara
Kellam-Scott offers some thoughts.
threat of war against Iraq
10 Reasons to
Oppose the War with Iraq
Thanks to the
American Friends' Service Committee
find lots of other good material about the war on Iraq, and other
issues, on their site!
1. War with Iraq won't make us safer.
A unilateral attack by the United States will inflame anti-U.S.
sentiment and may stimulate more attacks by extremists.
2. There is no imminent threat.
There is no hard evidence that Iraq has nuclear weapons. Iraq has little
means to deliver chemical and biological weapons to threaten countries
in the Middle East, let alone the U.S.
3. A preemptive attack violates the U.N. charter.
The U.N. Charter forbids member countries from attacking another country
except in self defense. If the U.S. puts itself above international law
it will further encourage other nations to do the same.
4. Our allies don't support us in this war.
U.S. allies in the Middle East oppose a U.S. attack on Iraq. Our
European allies have urged the U.S. to work through the U.N. An invasion
of Iraq would isolate the U.S. from the rest of the world and shatter
the principles of international cooperation and mutual defense that are
key to U.S. and global security.
5. Thousands of innocent people may die.
Pentagon estimates say that an invasion of Iraq could lead to the deaths
of 10,000 innocent civilians.
6. Young American men and women will fight and die.
U.S. military action and possible occupation is likely to produce far
more casualties than the previous Gulf War or the war in Afghanistan.
Many combatants will suffer physical and psychological repercussions for
years after the war ends.
7. Funding for education, environment and health care
is already being cut in order to pay for the "war on terror."
Estimates put the cost of a war with Iraq at $60-$100 billion with
ongoing billions for occupation and rebuilding Iraq.
8. Things may not be better after a war.
We have no guarantee that a new regime in Iraq will make life any better
for the Iraqi people or be any friendlier to the U.S. than the current
one. The Taliban were once our allies in Afghanistan. Will the new
regime in Iraq become our enemy after a few years?
9. There are other options.
The U.S. can work through the U.N. using mechanisms such as the
resumption of weapons inspections, negotiation, mediation, regional
arrangements, and other peaceful means.
10. The American people have deep misgivings about
Many people know deep down that this war makes no sense. They are
starting to speak up and make themselves heard. You can add your voice
to activities in your community.
|Why are we
looking for war in Iraq?
Jay Bookman, who is on the editorial
staff of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, recent wrote an opinion
article entitled: "Bush's
Real Goal in Iraq." Published on Sunday, September 29th,
2002, it looks at the current U.S. push for a war on Iraq, in light of
the recently published government document on National Security
This war, says Bookman, "is not
really about Iraq. It is not about weapons of mass destruction, or
terrorism, or Saddam, or U.N. resolutions. ... [Rather, it ]is intended
to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged
global empire, seizing sole responsibility and authority as planetary
policeman. It would be the culmination of a plan 10 years or more in the
making, carried out by those who believe the United States must seize
the opportunity for global domination, even if it means becoming the
'American imperialists' that our enemies always claimed we were."
Thanks to Tom Driver and
Researchers at the State University of New York at
Buffalo studied stress levels of 240 married couples, half of whom had
dogs or cats and half of whom did not. Then they administered stress
tests to participants while their spouse or their pet was present in the
room.. They found that the spouse's presence seemed to cause study
subjects to tense up, while pets kept the subjects calm.
So in honor of our furry, stress-reducing friends,
here are a few profound thoughts about
dogs ... with thanks to Witherspooner Bill Knox.
threat of war against Iraq
|You can register
your vote against the war
Len Bjorkman of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has
forwarded this note from ANSWER, the group that organized the major
rallies last Saturday.
The October 26 demonstrations launched another major
step in mass action against the war -- the grassroots People's Anti-War
Referendum and a mass national 2-day mobilization on the weekend of
January 18-19 in Washington, DC, timed to coincide with the birthday of
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the 12th anniversary of the start of the
1991 Gulf War.
"VOTE NO TO WAR" includes a brief statement of reasons for
opposing the vote for war, and then this "referendum"
The U.S. Congress did not represent me when it voted
to authorize George W. Bush to carry out an illegal war against Iraq.
Thousands will die needlessly unless the people stop
this war drive. I join with millions of people who believe that the
$200 billion planned for war against Iraq should be spent instead to
fund jobs, education, housing, health care, child care, assistance to
the elderly and to meet people's needs.
can go to their website to add your endorsement to the statement.
Light -- and war on Iraq
The Rev. Tom Davis preached on
"Salt and Light" for his congregation's observance of
Worldwide Communion Sunday on October 6, 2002. Being "salty
Christians" whose lives as well as their words witness to God's
love for the world, he said, involves public as well as personal
witness. So looking at our nation's current situation and moves toward a
new war, he concluded:
Let our country, the most powerful
nation in the world, set a better example of lawfulness, of respect
for the earth, and concern for the poor. Let America be truly a team
player. Jesus called his disciples to be the salt of the earth, and
lights to illumine the darkness. As followers of Jesus, let us take
care to obey him not only in our private lives, but in our lives as
citizens too. Let us hold our country accountable to its "better
angels," as Abraham Lincoln once put it, so that once again we
might have good reason to be proud Americans.
|Washington Office issues Action
Alert for coming vote on military aid to Colombia
The paper includes lots of helpful background
information for those who want to communicate effectively with
their legislators in Washington.
Learn more - and gain a
stronger voice! - by joining the Witherspoon/Peace
Fellowship delegation to Colombia,
March 17-29, 2003.
all of October are now listed in our October
from all of September are now indexed on the September
|Do you want to go
back in time??
Just wander through earlier headlines and
|from the 214th
And go to the Archive
index page for items from 1999 through 2001.
find what you want?
Click here to run a Google
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. |
If you like what
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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!