Archive, September 2001
of sympathy from El Salvador
Guillermo Cuéllar, a
musical artist and Christian from El Salvador, sends words of sympathy
and concern rooted in his own long experience of vulnerability and
violence -- and pleads for peace. (The drawing included with his letter
says volumes about the new realities of the world for us in North
Rev. John Shuck has shared with us an order of service for a
service of prayer at First Presbyterian Church, Billings, Montana,
on September 12, 2001. He also shared the
reflections he offered during the service, articulating the feelings
on grief and anger, and the Gospel invitation to peace.
Committee on National Legislation alerts us to new
efforts to increase funding for nuclear weapons, beyond all
House considers renewed drive to fund churches through ''faith-based
Bush push to win 'Charitable
Choice' grants for religion would be deeply divisive, charges Barry
W. Lynn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
day brings new signatures in support of the
Call to Civility, which affirms the
legitimacy of the General Assembly and the Moderator of our Presbyterian
church. Please see the vairety of people who are supporting this
statement, and consider adding your signature, or the
endorsement of your session, congregation or other Presbyterian group.
Dempsey Douglass' Witherspoon address on Mission
Essentials for the Twenty-first Century: Beyond
Conflict over Sexuality offered a positive vision of our church's
mission in the years ahead -- a mission growing out of Christian
freedom, and seeking economic and environmental justice on a global
Dr. Douglass has graciously provided us with the full
text of her talk, and we are delighted to share it here.
Barbara Kellam-Scott, a writer and a member of the executive committee
of the Witherspoon Society, sent an e-mail note to President George W.
Bush, pointing to the spiritual and political dangers in his code name
"infinite justice" for the planned war against
terrorism. It appears the administration is seeking a less
offensive name, but the issue remains the same.
meeting in Albuquerque on September 21, 2001, the Executive Committee of
the Witherspoon Society adopted a brief statement
in response to the terrible attack of September 11.
Broyles offers a theological view of the
tragedy: evil is found on all sides
The Rev. Vernon Broyles, associate director for social
justice and associate for corporate witness in the National Ministries
Division of the General Assembly Council, has set out some theological
reflections on the tragedy of September 11. He concludes that "we
must say to our leaders that we are at 'war,' not with 'terrorists' but
with evil. It is manifest in our selves, as well as others. In this real
world in which we live, it will always be necessary, on occasion, to use
force in the restraint of evil. ... But having acknowledged that, we
must also reiterate the lessons of history, that there will never be 'a
war to end all wars,' not even a successful 'war to stamp out
As people of faith, we must continue to insist that
the only real hope for humanity is the path of peace -- the biblical
vision of shalom -- which is marked by 'liberty and justice for
all,' not just for the powerful, not for just a few select nations, not
just for some in each society, but for all of God's
Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas K. Gandhi, says nonviolence
is a better way than
a military response as a way of dealing with the terrorism of September
11th, by ending the
conflicts that give rise to terrorism. He suggests that "if a bully
is what we want to be then we must be prepared to face the same
consequences as a school-yard bully faces."
He concludes, "The memory of those victims
who have died in this and other violent
incidents around the world will be better preserved and meaningfully
commemorated if we all learn to forgive and dedicate our lives
to helping create a peaceful, respectful and an understanding
The Rev. Tom Driver, Professor of Theology and Culture
Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary in New York, has issued a
personal statement urging that America turn away from calls for
retribution, and recognize how we have contributed to the militarization
of the world.
Doug Nave, an active Presbyterian, offers the thought that the terror of
September 9 may help us learn that gay
or straight, we're all part of one community.
us not into war" - Wesley Granberg-Michaelson, general
secretary of the Reformed Church in America, offers a "moral
vision" for our response to the terrorism of September 11.
He writes, "When someone hates you for any number
of alleged reasons, you face a choice. Either you can hate them in
return and actively seek their demise. Or you can defend yourself
against unjust attack, but live in ways that demonstrate to all that you
are not, at heart, the person whom the other accuses you of
more reports relating to the attacks of September 11, please go to our page
listing all of the items we have posted.
Protestants" deplore public housing
Protestant Justice Action (PJA), a network of
Protestant public activists from seven mainline denominations while
meeting in Chicago, criticized present policies of the Chicago Housing
Authority (CHA) which destroys problem buildings, but offers far too few
would it mean to bomb Afghanistan?
A note from Tamim Ansari, who was born in Afghanistan,
offers a perspective on the situation of the Afghan people which we
need to hear as our nation contemplates possibilities of military action
in that country. He asserts that "the Taliban and
Osama Bin Laden ... were responsible for the atrocity in New York,"
adding that "I agree that something must be done about those
monsters. But the Taliban and Ben Laden are not Afghanistan. They're not
even the government of Afghanistan."
The note concludes that a war between the West and the
Islamic nations is just what Bin Laden and his cohorts want, "so
they and their kind can flourish. We can't let him do that. That's my
at the possibility of war against Afghanistan, the Rev. Dean Lindsey
suggests that "Perhaps we should all learn
more about their story before we call for a new war against
them." He has done his homework, and shares what he
view from Jerusalem: the unreported sympathy of the Palestinian
Sandra Olewine, American Representative
of the Methodist Church in Bethlehem, has sent a report giving a very
different picture of the response of most Palestinians to the terrorist
to understand the roots of the hatred
Some of the comments that we have shared on the
Witherspoon web site have aroused rather negative comments, which see
these comments as "blaming America" for the dreadful attacks
on September 11.
Our thinking has not been an effort to blame, but
rather to understand a terribly complex situation - while recognizing
that at the same time, it is appallingly simple!
To gain some understanding, we need to see how actions
and attitudes of the United States may have played a role in growth of
this situation. An
article in Sunday's Minneapolis Star Tribune does a good job
of analyzing briefly some of the deeper roots of the hostility toward
the United States that we have seen not only in the acts of terrorism,
but also in the delight shown by some (only some!!) Palestinians and
others at America's pain.
The author suggests that a major source of the hatred
lies in the deep resentment of radical Muslims toward Western culture,
which for them is an assault on the holiness and purity of the good
[Your WebWeaver will resist the temptation to declare
that rock music is the reason for the terror.]
Another factor is America's dominant power in the
world, and the way we use that power. Writes the author: "Americans
would like to believe that anyone who hates their country must be crazy,
said Bob Jensen of the University of Texas. But many hate America
because it is an arrogant superpower, Jensen said, determined to have
its way no matter how many innocents are killed or deprived of basic
human rights, but which insists on proclaiming itself the 'the singular
nation in the world motivated only by a concern for justice, democracy
and human rights.'"
You may find the
whole article helpful, as we all try to make some sense of the
Prayer of Thanksgiving in a Time of Horror"
Elder Susan Baker-Lehne, of Seventh Avenue
Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, approached the celebration of
Communion this Sunday "wondering how we can pray a prayer of
thanksgiving this week."
Out of her wrestling came a "Great Prayer of
Thanksgiving in a Time of Horror." She offers it for the use of
Muslims and Jews join in prayers and in tearing down walls
The Rev. Trina Zelle, a member of the Witherspoon
executive committee, reports that her husband, the Rev. Phil Reller, who
is a UCC pastor in Tempe, AZ, "has had an interesting
week." His congregation has shared in prayers with the mosque
next door, and a nearby synagogue is now involved as well. Even
threats and bomb scares have not stood between them.
|On Wednesday we
published a new hymn written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette in response to
the terrorist actions: "O God, Our Words Cannot Express."
According to Presbyterian News Service, the hymn has
already been used in prayer services around the country. It is also
being sung at a service in Bristol, England, that will be broadcast by
the BBC radio network. Ms. Gillette has also given permission to a
pastor in Indonesia to use the hymn in a prayer service this
|Stated Clerk Clifton
Kirkpatrick and at least six other Presbyterians have signed the
ecumenical statement, "a religious
response to terrorism," with the heading "Deny them their
leaders have issued "a
religious response to terrorism," with the heading "Deny
them their victory"
The statement expresses concern about "what this
attack on America will do to us as a nation," if we accept the
terrorist's view of a world "where the remedy to every human
grievance and injustice is a resort to the random and cowardly violence
of revenge - even against the most innocent."
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship has
issued a call for rededication to justice and nonviolence.
Michael Lerner asks "Where Does This
Violence Come From?" The answer, he suggests, lies in our
human estrangement from God. But, he adds, "More precisely, it is
the way we fail to respond to each other as embodiments of the
much more listed on the 9/11 index
week more than ever, the
Call to Civility issued a month ago,
while it focuses on tensions in our own Presbyterian church, seems to
affirm some important values for all of us. Please consider adding your signature, or the
endorsement of your session, congregation or other Presbyterian group.
250 people gathered at Montreat for a Sunday afternoon forum
on the Confessing Church movement. There was some concern
about claimed sponsorship by the presbytery, which the presbytery
denied. The Lay Committee worked hard to show it is not backing
the movement, though a computerized slide presentation used during the
forum, taken from the Internet, "may have been" a creation of Layman
editor Parker Williamson.
are your thoughts and prayers about the
events of September 11th?
Here is a hymn written yesterday by Carolyn
Gillette on the day of terror.
Please share your own reflections! Just send
chief officers have sent a pastoral letter expressing prayers
for victims and families, acknowledging the reality of evil, and calling
for forgiveness and healing.
reflections are coming in. Here are two,
from Bobbie McGarey and Dean Lindsey.
for worship and action are appearing on web sites. [9-12-01]
National Council of Churches and Church World Service have issued a
call for prayer, unity, and practical actions.
News Service offers reports on
churches providing care and housing "refugees" from the
terror in New York.
Just below is a thought
from your WebWeaver.
September 11th, in the
Waiting for our community of faith to gather
I watched the gentle glow of the setting sun
bath the school-yard where kids practiced football.
How wrong it seemed
when darkness had stolen the day.
We came together for a memorial service
for people we have never known.
Gloria said as she fixed the coffee
"I'm so glad to have something to do,
after this awful day."
What can we say on a day like this?
That such acts are insane
because such violence solves nothing,
helps no cause.
But that such acts are never merely insane,
there are always reasons ...
reasons of our own making, perhaps,
rooted in iron-clad religious certainty,
serving causes held as absolute Truth.
What must we learn on such a day?
That absolutism is a dreadful threat to humanity
for our human certainties
make mere humanity disposable
What, after such a day, shall we do?
and cling to one another as we tremble
at the edge of the abyss of human evil.
And pray that God
might somehow gentle us
and free us from the fears and the rages
that drive us to destroy -
so we might soften a bit
our fierce grip
on the certainties
that we wield as instruments
and of death.
God have mercy on us ... all of us.
Our time of praying and weeping closed ... and opened
to the future ... with a hymn ...
"O for a World," by Miriam Therese
The first and last verses said enough:
O for a world where everyone
Respects each others' ways,
Where love is lived and all is done
With justice and with praise.
O for a world preparing for
God's glorious reign of peace,
Where time and tears will be no more,
And all but love will cease.
# 386 in The Presbyterian Hymnal
Office calls for action on Latin
Consistent with recent General Assembly statements,
the Presbyterian Washington Office is urging people to call for
Congressional action to change our aid and other policies in relation to
Colombia, and our travel restriction in relation to Cuba.
and other groups call for global petition
to change WTO patent rules to provide cheaper medicine for people in
NOTE: The work on this petition has been
SUSPENDED in response to the destruction yesterday of the World Trade
look at how we interpret biblical
teachings on divorce, remarriage, and homosexuality, from
A recent note from Kurt
Norlin offered some ideas about why conservatives are more willing
to accept divorce and remarriage than they are to accept the possibility
that same-sex relationships might also be permitted. In response,
Gene TeSelle points to some of the reasons for the apparent differences
in biblical attitudes to the two questions.
|Do you want to go
back in time??
To wander through earlier headlines and
|from the first part of December,
| 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
find what you want? Click here to run a
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!