Archive for October, 2002
"Be careful who you hate.
It may be someone you love."
Posted on a billboard along Interstate 77 in South
Carolina by PFLAG.
Thanks to Barbara Kellam Scott
|As crime rates fall, the
prison population continues to rise -- with an increasing proportion
of prisoners being black men.
The Presbyterian Washington Office summarizes a recent
study by the Justice Policy Institute.
threat of war against Iraq
remained almost silent on anti-war demonstrations
Deborah Kory, Managing Editor of Tikkun magazine (Tikkun
is a liberal Jewish activist organization whose leading spirit is Rabbi
Michael Lerner), has commented on the impressive lack of media coverage
of the demonstrations last Saturday, Oct. 26, around the nation and
indeed around the world, opposing the US march toward war against Iraq.
She urges those who share Tikkun's commitment to peace
in the Middle East to write to their media outlets expressing concern at
Can you share news of any rallies
or demonstrations you've taken part in or witnessed? Please
send us a note!
|Keeping U.S. No. 1: Is It Wise? Is It
Thoughtful comments on the Administration's
"National Security Strategy of the United States"
Judith Miller, writing in the New
York Times, offers comments from a variety of military
strategists about President Bush's recent release of an audacious new
strategy for defending America against future foreign threats.
One example: John J. Mearsheimer, a professor at the
University of Chicago, applauds the administration for some of its
straight talk, buts fears the blunt language about American pre-eminence
may backfire. "We should not be standing on the rooftop shouting
that we're No. 1 and we plan to stay that way when we're trying to build
coalitions against terror," he said. He warns that if global
hegemony is the administration's real goal, "we will have our hands
full and will ultimately fail."
|Richard Shaull, voice for
justice in Latin America, reaches the end of his journey
The Rev. Dr. Richard Shaull died peacefully in
his sleep last Friday, October 25, after fighting cancer for
nearly a decade. He had spent his last five weeks in hospice
care. His wife, Nancy wrote this: 'He was ready to go and I
supported his leaving. We had many hours of song, scripture
reading, and great conversations. We both felt that we had no
Jane Hanna, past president of the Witherspoon
Richard Shaull was a Presbyterian missionary
who first went to Latin America in 1942; there his theology,
commitment and biblical understanding were deepened by
exposure to liberation theologians who were influenced by the
marginal and dispossessed Christians of Central and South
America. From 1962-1980 he was Professor of Ecumenics at
Princeton Theological Seminary where he articulated a theology
of liberation learned from the poor but aimed at liberating
mainline Protestants. Dr. Shaull's interpretation of Scripture
challenged us to envision a different economic order, one that
met the basic needs of all. From 1980 on, he divided his time
between North and South America, communicating to Christians
in the north the theological thought and vibrant Christian
life he found amid the poor in Latin America.
Richard's wife, Nancy, adds this: "A
memorial service to celebrate his life will be held on Saturday,
November 2, 2002 at 11:00 am at the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian
Church, 625 Montgomery Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010. Please come
help celebrate this unique servant of God. In lieu of flowers,
contributions may be made to the the Bryn Mawr Presbyterian
Church Foundation (Richard Shaull Memorial Mission Fund).
Exchange Coffee -- a Presbyterian project -- is a way congregations
and other entities can buy their coffee from farmers' cooperatives
like Miraflor, in Nicaragua, at a guaranteed price that is roughly three times the
current world market price.
Try it -- You'll like it!
Mourning the loss of Paul
For anyone committed to a more just and
peaceful world and especially for those of
us whom he represented so ably and conscientiously in the U. S.
Senate, the death of Sen. Paul Wellstone, along with his wife,
Sheila, and their daughter Marcia, along with three campaign
aides and their two pilots, is a deep loss.
Please hold the Wellstone family and the loved ones of the other
victims in your prayers.
A note just received from one Witherspooner:
I encourage you to post something about
Wellstone's legacy as a US senator. He was very much a
defender of those on the margins, and voted against the
resolution to give Bush power to wage war. He is someone
progressive Christians will sorely miss.
And a tribute from the liberal Jewish
OUR HEARTS ARE BREAKING FROM THE LOSS OF PAUL WELLSTONE
The death of U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone in a plane crash is a
tragedy and a deep personal loss for us at TIKKUN. Paul was
a beautiful human being and a principled Jewish progressive.
He was a frequent contributor to TIKKUN Magazine and a person
who stood with us in our commitment to Middle East peace. In
1991 Senator Wellstone was the keynote speaker at the TIKKUN
Conference in Jerusalem in support of the Israeli
In our frequent conversations with him, Paul consistently
articulated a vision of hope that affirmed the best in Judaism
and the best in the secular humanist traditions. He stood with
TIKKUN and with the progressive voices in American politics in
public, when many others would only whisper to us privately that
they agreed with us but dared not say so publicly.
He was a mensch among a Senate filled with mice.
Paul Wellstone was one of most principled and decent people to
ever enter American politics. He was one of the very few elected
officials who remained true to his principles and who was not
corrupted by the need to appeal to the rich and the powerful.
And he retained a fundamental humanity and modesty that few have
been able to sustain in public life.
Paul was proud of his Jewish identity, but unlike the many who
kowtowed to the Jewish establishment, Paul spoke out as a
progressive and a critic of Israeli policy. He was a
quintessential Tikkun Jew.
May his memory be a blessing, zichrono livracha.
May his life be an inspiration for all of us.
May his soul be bound in the bond of eternal life.
--Rabbi Michael Lerner
For the latest news from Minnesota, you may want to check the Minneapolis
We welcome your thoughts,
and will post them here.
Just send a note!
The Rev. Dr. Harry Smith, a strong, long-time
witness for peace and justice, campus minister, college
president (at Austin College), and source of many of the bits of
humor we've shared on our Just for Fun page, died yesterday,
Oct. 24, at his home in Santa Fe.
Your WebWeaver recalls with warmth the
hospitality that he and his wife, Etta, have provided to me,
first at Austin College, and later at their retirement home in
He and Etta have been frequent participants in
demonstrations at the School of the Americas, have worked for a
more inclusive Presbyterian Church, and in countless other ways
have shared in the never-ending struggle for a more just and
Harry's reflections on Mission Responsibility
Through Investment, as a former chair of that Presbyterian body,
are in the latest issue of Church & Society.
We'll miss him.
Do you have
recollections of Harry Smith to share?
Please send a note!
here for the announcement from Austin College
News Service has posted a more complete report on his life.
|The Washington Office reports on a
recent survey of generational shifts in
political and social views
coffee needs consumer and voter support
conference set for San Antonio in January 2003
The social welfare ministries conference will focus on
seeks special meeting of GA
Reactions are many and varied
Reports have been pouring forth over the past few days
about the effort by Dr. Alex Metherell, who was an elder commissioner to
the 214th General Assembly in June, 2002, to force an
extraordinary reconvening of that assembly to deal with what he calls
"a full-blown constitutional crisis" in the Presbyterian
Here's a brief outline of the situation thus far, with
links to reports far more complete than we can provide.
Your WebWeaver also adds a
few personal reflections.
update on Jensen's many complaints against gay ordination
Paul Rolf Jensen has become a noteworthy figure in the
campaign against the ordination of glbt people in the Presbyterian
Church, primarily through the many complaints he has filed against
people whose ordination he considers invalid, or who have acted in other
ways that he views as violating one provision or another of the Book of
Order. (He prefers to call them accusations.)
Jensen has provided to the Layman a helpful update on
the status of his various complaints, so just in case you're interested,
and having trouble keeping up with them all, he's provided you with some
helpful information. Of course he views all these cases from his own
threat of war on Iraq
|Presbytery of Western Reserve
adopts super-short statement opposing military action in Iraq
To All PC(USA) Presbyteries:
At its stated meeting of September 23, 2002,
the Presbytery of the Western Reserve adopted the following
statement to be sent to the President of the United States and
the Ohio Congressional delegation:
We do not support unilateral, pre-emptive,
retributive military action in Iraq. We believe that other
measures short of sending troops must be encouraged with
participation of allied and other nations.
A letter with the statement was sent to the
persons indicated above on September 27th. Notice is being sent
to you by action of the Presbytery.
Douglas J. Tracy, Stated Clerk
Presbytery of the Western Reserve
2800 Euclid Avenue, Suite 500
Cleveland, OH 44115-2496
Presbyterians in Congress backed war resolution
At least one legislator was swayed by PC(USA)
policy on Iraq, according to a Presbyterian News Service report.
That one was Rep. Eva Clayton, a North Carolina Democrat who
also is a Presbyterian elder -- [and who spoke at a Witherspoon
luncheon some years ago.]
visitor asked that famous question, "What
would Jesus do" about waging war on Iraq?
We now have an
strikes?? How about Costa Rica doing one against the
|After the serial killings around
"fingerprinting" gains a hearing
Presbyterian Washington Office takes notes of a significant victory, as
an election reform
bill is passed by Senate and sent to the President.
little political grump from your WebWeaver
As I started work on today's postings, my phone rang.
It was a recorded call from Pres. Bush reminding me that I recently
received an application for an absentee ballot from the Republican
Party, and urging me to support Republican candidates. He doesn't call
me very often, so I paid attention. But I didn't like it.
An interesting use of the power of the Presidency.
To be fair, I think I recall a similar call from Bill
Clinton just two or four years ago. I didn't like that one any better.
threat of war on Iraq
Seminary faculty issue "A
Public Testimony on War With Iraq, With Questions, Answers,
and an Invitation to Dialogue and Action."
In a notable action by seminary faculty, over
100 members of the Columbia Seminary community have signed as
statement which opens with a too-rarely heard (but very
Reformed) acknowledgment that "We share neither the mind
nor the will of God."
The statement starts by affirming that
"the presumption of the Christian faith is always toward
peace," and that "even in the most carefully conducted
wars, far too many innocent persons suffer death and
The writers then assert that "a policy of
preemptive and unilateral action flouts current international
laws, including those that have been agreed upon and promoted by
the U.S. in the past." They summarize their stand: "We
asked ourselves, 'Can we gain the type of security our national
administration suggests it can deliver to us through war?' 'And
if so, ought we desire it?' We believe that the answers to both
questions are No."
They conclude with an invitation to their
community to engage in serious theological and biblical
reflection on this urgent issue, promising to hear and respect
views that differ from their own. For, the affirm, "In a
time of anger and despair, the church can and ought to be a
place of peace and hope."
and Transformation -- a sermon
Beyond counting are the sermons that must have
been preached last Sunday, October 13, 2002, following the
action of Congress to grant President Bush the power to wage
pre-emptive war against Iraq. (Even more sermons were preached,
we suspect, which studiously avoided the whole thing in the name
of "peace in the church.")
Witherspoon President Kent Winters-Hazelton
has shared his sermonic effort to deal with the issue,
acknowledging his own nervousness about offending people in his
congregation. But he notes that there is now, as in Acts 4,
"a collision of two sources of power; the way things have
always been and the new reality of God's way." And he
concludes that "The way of God is transformative and calls
us to seek ways to break the cycle of power and violence."
group encourages support of congressional candidates who
stood against the war
MoveOn, a liberal political action group,
encourages support of those courageous senators and
representatives who have "dared to speak for caution and
restraint instead of war." The quote is from Janet Adair
Hansen, who sent this to us.
British church leaders urge: "Disarm
Iraq without War"
School of the Americas reminder:
November 15-17, 2002 will be the next rally and nonviolent civil
resistance actions to close the School of the Americas.
Office reports on a victory for juvenile justice
Sunday celebration of "the great gifts and diversity of all God’s
Presbyterian Promise, Presbyterian Welcome, and the
Dissenting Churches of Hudson River Presbytery have invited people to a
Reformation Sunday service of worship which will include the
re-affirmation of ordination vows by LGBT persons. The service will be
held at South Presbyterian Church, Dobbs Ferry, New York, on October 27,
announcement of Witherspoon/Peace Fellowship delegation to
We've just received this updated announcement suitable
for use in church or presbytery newsletters or bulletins:
You're encouraged to post this flyer
in your church and makes copies for your next Presbytery
meeting. Also announcements in your church bulletin and the Presbytery
newsletter would allow more people the opportunity to participate in the
Presbyterians Concerned about Colombia:
invited to participate in the March 17-29 delegation to Colombia with
the Witherspoon Society and Presbyterian Peace Fellowship under the
auspices of Witness for Peace.
The delegation will meet with
Presbyterians (arrangements by Alice Winters at Barranquilla Seminary in
Colombia) and hear their stories about the effects of US policy on
civilians. We will meet with additional experts to hear analyses of the
impact of US policy in Colombia and hear personal testimonies from
displaced people affected by the conflict.
For additional information
please contact Betty Kersting at email@example.com
or Anne Barstow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for
Falwell apologizes for calling Muhammad a terrorist.
We have noted recent reports
of concern at Jerry Falwell's assertion the Muhammad was a
"terrorist." He has now issued a sort-of apology, saying that
he intended no disrespect to "any sincere, law abiding
You can read the
Reuters report in the Boston Globe.
Thanks to onReligion.com
|Faith-based initiatives (a.k.a.
charitable choice) gains new lease on life
Representative J.C. Watts Jr, sponsor of the House
version of the faith-based initiatives bill, said this past week that he
will support the weaker Senate version of the bill.
out the Washington Times report.
Court will hear four death penalty cases
Washington Office provides background
Case for Religious Pluralism in a Secular State
The separation of church and state takes on new
dimensions - and new importance - as our society becomes more
pluralistic religiously, and as fundamentalisms gain strength in many
faith communities. Gene TeSelle summarizes a variety of studies that
help us understand the new religious situation in which we live.
TV worth watching
special to examine resistance to Iraqi war
Airs Friday, Oct. 11 on PBS
On Friday, Oct. 11, "NOW with Bill Moyers"
(PBS) will examine public arguments being made against going to
war by a number of community based groups, including the
National Council of Churches, Veterans for Peace, Voices in the
Wilderness, and Black Voices for Peace. In a thoughtful and
measured documentary segment, NOW will illuminate the issues on
the minds of these groups' leaders: The impact of the war on the
black community, the possibility of continuing sanctions, the
human tragedy at stake, and the high financial cost of war with
so many ongoing domestic problems. Check local listings for air
times at: http://www.pbs.org/now/sched.html
Source: Sojourners 2002 (c) http://www.sojo.net
to be interviewed on US TV
Fidel Castro has agreed to an exclusive
interview with Barbara Walters to coincide with the
history-making Cuban Missile Crisis conference to be held in
Havana later this week. See www.cubacentral.com
for details about the interview. Don't miss it!
Responses to Jerry Falwell
Repudiates Falwell's "60 Minutes" Comments on Islam
Responding to Jerry Falwell's widely quoted condemnation of Islam as
a terrorist religion, the National Council of Churches has issued a
statement which concludes by stating that "we ... affirm to our
brothers and sisters in Islam that we condemn and repudiate Jerry
Falwell's hateful and destructive statements delivered on CBS's "60
Minutes," October 6, 2002, and we call upon President George W.
Bush to repudiate and condemn Falwell's remarks."
Partners in Faith has also issued a statement condemning Jerry
Falwell's claim that "Mohammad was a terrorist."
threat of war on Iraq
to ponder: We offer a provocative collection of quotations
about war -- from Ben Franklin to Margaret Mead to Herbert Hoover to
Henry Miller. (How's that for a random sample?)
urges US to explore non-violent alternatives to war with Iraq, and
offers a quick way to write to the President and Congress.
|The President used fear instead
of reason to justify a war
President Bush's address to the nation on
Monday night, Oct. 7, was notable for its appeal to "the
emotions of fear and repugnance and moral superiority that are
the foot soldiers of war." So
writes Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive
magazine. He sees Bush's appeal to fear as an effort to
compensate for the weakness of his arguments for a war.
Thanks to Bruce Gillette for calling our
attention to this article.
threat of war on Iraq
What would Jesus do?
We received this note a few days ago from John
Rozendaal in Carroll, Iowa.
Around this part of the country a lot of
people wear the letters, "WWJD" (What Would Jesus Do).
It's a good question but I haven't heard it raised (even in
church) re how the war on terrorism (or the more recently raised
issue of dealing with Saddam Hussein) should be carried on!
Presbytery cites Confession of 1967 and urges US "to
exercise military restraint"
|The Social Witness and Action Committee of The
Presbytery of Susquehanna Valley has sent out a very helpful
informational letter to all churches in the presbytery.
|In the face
of war, one preacher ponders "What
to Say, What to Do."
Dr. Daniel R. Anderson-Little, Pastor of
Trinity Presbyterian Church, University City, Missouri, preached
a sermon on September 29, 2002, in which he acknowledged the
complex issues we are all facing today. But for all the
complexities, he concludes that "If the Church of Jesus
Christ is going to fulfill its calling, it must insist that we
talk about the whole consequence of war" for the people of
Iraq, and of the whole, newly and deeply interconnected
and Peace" was the title for a sermon by delivered
by the Rev. Roger Scott Powers at Montclair Presbyterian Church
in Oakland, CA, on September 29, 2002. He considered the
arguments being advanced to justify the war, and concluded
that's our faith impels us to seek more creative solutions to
the conflict - and to keep debating the questions, and making
our views known.
who's violating UN resolutions?
One of the arguments advanced most often by
the Bush administration to justify a war on Iraq is that Saddam
Hussein has violated UN Security Council resolutions, and must
be punished in order to defend the standing of the United
Stephen Zunes, writing for The Progressive
Response, lists eight UN resolutions that are being
violated by other nations, including Israel as the primary
Santa Fe rally against war in Iraq
Web resources listed
Jane Hanna, just "retired" as
President of the Witherspoon Society during the Executive
Committee meeting last weekend, returned to Santa Fe where she
took part in a rally of well over 1000 people concerned about
the threatened war in Iraq.
contributions to the continuing efforts to find creative
responses to the violence now going on and threatened for the
future. Please send a
note with your comments, or suggested resources!
If you're responding to a particular item,
please let us know which one it is. And if possible,
please identify yourself by name -- and anything else you'd care
to support our church!
We recently were asked about ways to give extra
contributions to our church, to compensate for those who are withholding
their support. We've called it our "Up
At last we have some
Mondale will address Covenant Network Conference, which will be held
in Minneapolis, November 7-9, 2002
call for "repentance" from the Right ... meaning no support
for the denomination
The Witherspoon Society's executive committee has
been fascinated by the statement published on PresbyWeb on October 2,
2002, in which five Presbyterian pastors have issued a "call to
confession and repentance." We have been especially interested in
the suggestive placement of one comma in a crucial sentence as they
"call all churches that wish to be part of the faithful remnant of
the Presbyterian Church, USA, to: ... remain within the denomination
while refusing to fund any work of the denomination, which is
antithetical to the will of God."
threat of war on Iraq
|Former Attorney General urges
UN to resist Bush's pressure toward war
Ramsey Clark, former U.S. Attorney General,
has sent on open letter to all members of the UN Security
Council, with copies to the UN General Assembly, urging them to
resist the pressures from President Bush to initiate a war
He presents a powerful list of reasons why the threatened war
would lead the U.S. and the UN and "all nations toward a
lawless world of endless wars." It is President Bush, he
says, and not Saddam Hussein, who presents the greatest threat
to the independence and purpose of the United Nations.
We encourage you, if you believe every voice must be raised
against the war, to go
to the web site where this statement is posted, and to add
your name to the list of signers. (Scroll down to the end of the
letter to jump to the sign-up page.)
do we think we are?"
Peter Sawtell, of Eco-Justice Ministries, reflects on
the current administration's attitude toward the world of nations as
mirroring our nation's attitude toward the world of nature: standing
above the rules, rightly telling other nations what to do - in short,
attitudes the are grounded in our "bullying, exploitative, and
|GAC calls for U.S. restraint on
Iraq, urges Presbyterians to witness - and
work - for peace
Louisville at the end of September, the General Assembly
Council 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
Presbytery of Hudson River has issued a call for strengthening
Presbyterian U.N. office as one contribution for peace
a church session withholds its per capita contribution, one member seeks
The author of this note, for obvious reasons, has
asked us not to share her identity.
I am a member of a church who just decided to withhold
its per capita contribution to PCUSA. I am very unhappy about this
What has fueled the Session's decision to withhold the
PCUSA per capita is more about making a conservative view of issues. I
am struggling with a number of conflicting principles. I have my
personal concept that restitution is in order for the loss of this
Church's per capita contribution. (I understand that our Presbytery will
be responsible for it, so we only impact on their budget) I also
recognize that Session decisions are subject to err and the frailty of
humanity. I really don't like using money to make statements.
I was very impressed by your web site responding to
some thought I had about this per capita dispute through the Up your$
campaign. Where can I get more information about the groups listed on
the web site.
In Christ's love, I remain,
If you have suggestions for
alternative giving, or other comments, please
send a note!
John Witherspoon made his mark
Rod Martin, former president of the Witherspoon
Society, sends this send about the Presbyterian minister and signer of
the Declaration of Independence, from whom our group takes its name.
Have just run across an interesting book (WS member
Jeanne Welles sent me a copy of a review from the NYTimes Review of
Books) entitled, How the Scots Invented the Modern World
by Arthur Herman. (Crown 392pp., $25,95.)
A quote from the review: "...He makes much of the
work of John Witherspoon, the minister...who became president of
Princeton Seminary in 1768. During his twenty-six year tenure, he
numbered among his students a future President of the United States
(Madison), a vice-president (aaron Burr), six members of the Continental
Congress, nine cabinet officers, twenty-one senators, thirty-nine
congressmen, three Supreme Court Justices, twelve governors,
thirty-three state and federal judges and thirteen college presidents.
Witherspoon exposed all of them to the Scottish Enlightenment. James
Madison in particular fell under the influence of David Hume ...whose
ideas are apparent in the tenth of the Federalist Papers, the key to the
new constitution, in which Madison argued that countervailing public
interests, federal, state, executive, legislative, economic -- would
guarantee private liberty...."
Arthur Herman is a former professor of History at
Thought this might be of some interest to the
Witherspoon members and friends.
Kindest personal regards.
all of September are now listed in our September
from all of August are now indexed on the August
archive page. For all July reports go to the July
A few of the most important stories are still
Do you want to go
back in time??
Just wander through earlier headlines and
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!