The 214th General
We're happy to
A Special Report to Witherspoon
Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon Issues Analyst,
Doug King, Network News editor and WebWeaver
A late update, October 19, 2002
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.
July 15, 2002
Light Presbyterians has a good collection of reports
on the 214th General Assembly, headlined: "MLP
Holds the Line against attacks on Presbyterian Tradition,
They note that the Assembly, while not dealing
directly with ordination issues, "affirmed by an 85% majority vote
lesbian and gay civil rights [while] discussion noted the hypocrisy of
affirming this while still not ordaining or offering same protection to
July 9, 2002
we present ... at last ... a little GA photo album -- pictures
from the Assembly, plus a special page of Witherspoon
events and people.
Come back soon, 'cause we hope to add more.
July 3, 2002
writers see Assembly as solidly moderate
Leslie Scanlon and John Bolt, reporting for Presbyterian
Outlook (the July 22-29, 2002, issue) call the recent gathering in
Columbus "the 70-30 Assembly." They name what many observers
noted: on even the most contested plenary votes, the margin was
generally 70 to 30 percent in favor of moderate actions affirming the
traditions and policies of the Presbyterian Church.
One visitor comments that
the Assembly's action in affirming the Theology and Worship statement on
Christology may have helped avoid a narrower statement, but regrets that
it offers no steps toward "a theology of religious pluralism"
for our time.
July 1, 2002
we announced earlier, Harold Barton
received Witherspoon's annual Volunteer of the Year award at our
awards dinner during General Assembly. We've just added a very
nice statement from his pastor in Cleveland, OH, about his extensive
service to the church and the wider world, along with a photo taken when
he received the award at his home church, since he was not able to be
with us for the dinner.
June 25, 2002
Assembly's actions on environmental issues:
PCUSA energy policy was updated in the face of Bush
administration challenges to environmental stewardship, and a study of "takings"
This is a special report from Bob Stivers,
Presbyterians for Restoring Creation.
June 21, 2002 -- 4:00 PM
Dinner honors Kathy Lancaster
Around 100 Witherspooners and others found their way
to one of the Hyatt Regency halls for our awards dinner and annual
meeting on Tuesday evening, June 18.
Witherspoon President Jane Hanna presented the annual
Andrew Murray Award for Christian service and witness reflecting
Witherspoon's commitment to justice and peace, to Kathy Lancaster, who
recently retired as editor of Church & Society magazine and
Director of the Criminal Justice Program in the Division of National
Ministries of the PC(USA).
Her address, which she titled "Use
Words if Necessary," offered glimpses of Witherspoon's past and
its mission, and presented us with challenges to live out the Gospel in
our lives and our communities.
celebrates 35th anniversary of the
Confession of 1967
Unanimously in Committee and overwhelmingly on the
floor, the Commissioners approved the distribution of a new, inclusive
language text of the Confession of 1967 ("C-67") to all
congregations, presbyteries and seminaries, to help in their own
remembrance and reflection on the need for confessing today.
June 20, 2002 -- 4:00 PM
|Demands for narrow Christological
statements have been met by the Assembly with an affirmation of the
document, "Hope in the Lord Jesus Christ."
The Assembly also rejected an effort aimed at
narrowing the first ordination vow.
required to pay per capita; GA Nominating Committee now to be elected by
3 on General Assembly Procedures reported to the Assembly today. An
overture from San Joaquin Presbytery, which would have removed the
requirement that presbyteries pay their per capita assessments even if
their congregations refuse to make such payments, was not approved.
But a proposal that the General Assembly Nominating
Committee, whose members are currently appointed by the Moderator,
should be nominated by the Moderator for election by the Assembly
itself, was approved.
|The Assembly has
refused to remove sexuality education materials from the Presbyterian
|Marian Wright Edelman
offers prayer for children
Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and president of
the Children's Defense Fund, visited the General Assembly yesterday
(Wed., June 19) to speak to a dinner
to kick off Peacemaking Program's decade of "Building a Culture of
Peace and Nonviolence for All God's Children."
Before the dinner, Edelman spoke briefly to the whole
Assembly, and closed her comments with a
prayer for children which we're happy to share here.
|We have already had inquiries
about the "Up Your$"
campaign announced here yesterday. You can read a
bit more about how and
why Witherspoon has started this effort.
19, 2002 -- 4:00 PM
|Dr. Doug Ottati's presentation at the
Witherspoon Luncheon on Sunday, "Some Characteristics of
Progressive Presbyterian Theologies," has already been reported
in abbreviated form. Now,
in response to many requests, we have the
full text available.
If you want the text on paper, please stop by the
Witherspoon booth if you're at GA, or contact
It will also be published in the next issue of Network
Society invites Presbyterians to join us in a new effort to compensate
for cuts in financial support of our church's mission, through an
"Up Your$" campaign.
dialogue approved on recommendation of Committee 6
|Presbyterian Outlook provides a good
overview of actions
from Wednesday afternoon.
from the Booth
Three Witherspooners who have been staffing our booth
in the Exhibit Hall give a picture of where the are, what they're doing,
and who are some of their neighbors.
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship breakfast featured Mike Beard,
president of the Coalition to Stop Handgun Violence as its keynoter,
highlighting the threats to human well-being through the continuing
trafficking in handguns, both in the US and across national boundaries.
The breakfast meeting also featured brief words from 5
other witnesses for peace, along with strong arguments for Mideast peace
from the new Moderator, Fahed Abu-Akel.
Those attending the Witherspoon Society Dance at the
Hyatt on Tuesday evening had the opportunity to answer questions that
had been written on newsprint and hung on the walls around the room.
18, 2002 -- 11 AM
|Reports are coming in
from the various Assembly committees, many of which have already
finished their work.
You'll find some of those reports on the
PCUSA web site, though many have not yet been posted there.
We'll have a page listing reports
from the committees as fast as we can keep up with them.
09 on Christian Education has voted to override actions of an
earlier Assembly, refusing to support survey of congregations on
outreach to glbt people. (A special Witherspoon report.)
June 17, 2002 --
luncheon hears Doug Ottati's call for theological reflection -- and
starting points for the task
Network luncheon hears the Rev. Dr. John Walton on our task:
"This matter [ordination] won't go away, because it is the work God
means us to do."
and peacemaking in the Middle East
Our new Moderator, Dr. Fahed Abu-Akel, has been
involved in many ways in seeking reconciliation in Israel/Palestine.
Darrell Yeaney, a retired Presbyterian campus minister who has long been
involved in Middle East visits, exchanges, and mission projects, has
shared this added information about our Moderator's engagement in
seeking peace in his homeland.
Take a break, find friends, get
Stop by the Witherspoon hospitality suite, room 537
in the Hyatt Regency Hotel, any time between 4 and 6 PM, and after 9
in the evening. It's a place to share concerns, get information, and
just plain relax.
|If you have comments
or questions about the Assembly, please
send a note!
June 15, 2002 -- 1 AM
Abu-Akel elected as Moderator
9:00 on Friday evening, the 214th General Assembly elected
its new moderator. On the second ballot, the Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, born
in Palestine and now ministering with international students in Atlanta,
was elected by 296 votes (57%), with 153 votes (29%) going to the Rev.
Laird Stuart, former Co-Moderator of the Covenant Network, and 71 votes
(14%) to the Rev. Jerry Tankersley, whose stated positions have been
|On Friday evening, Witherspoon's
Commissioner Orientation gave commissioners a chance to get
acquainted with other commissioners and resource people for their
committees, and to begin talking about the issues they will be dealing
with during the next two days in committee, and then in plenary
could help us shape our confessional faith for the new millennium
Dr. Douglas Ottati, speaking at the
pre-Assembly Semper Reformanda theological conversation on the Friday
before the Assembly, suggested a variety of ways the Confession of 1967
can be helpful in our theological reflections today -- and can lead us
into new and creative paths.
Network Commissioner Convocation urges progressives to learn to live
|PHEWA reception will
honor social justice ministries - and you can be there!
The Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare
Association will celebrate the work of individuals and congregations
that are involved in exemplary Social justice Ministries, with a
reception on Monday, June 17, from 6:30 to 7:30 PM in
the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Tickets are still available for $6.
|For lots more news
from GA, we suggest you check out reports from the Presbyterian
News Service, and on PresbyWeb.
June 14, 2002 -- 1PM
Weaver's scribblings, # 2
Last night I noted some thoughts inspired by Mr.
Robert Howard, chairman of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, urging the
need for "integrity" in the leadership of the Presbyterian
Church. In those reflections I suggested that "Integrity
matters" might be a good slogan for this Assembly.
And behold, as I left my hotel this morning the first
sight to greet me was a passing newspaper delivery truck, bearing a
poster advertising Vineyard Church, one of Columbus' booming
megachurches. Their slogan? "Integrity matters."
Truth comes to us in many forms, and I'm thankful for
any confirmation I get. If the Lay Committee, Vineyard Church and I all
agree, there must be something in it.
Friday morning around the Convention Center was pretty
quiet. A few eager souls wandering about seeing friends and looking like
they're doing fairly important things. Moderator Jack Rogers roaming the
halls greeting the many people who were approaching him with obvious
expressions of appreciation for his courageous witness during the year
But Columbus is focused elsewhere today: President
Bush is coming to town to address the graduates of Ohio State
University. And his image - along with a couple equally patriotic ones -
is watching over
the Convention Center where our Assembly will convene tomorrow. So fear
not, folks. We're in good hands.
nice welcome awaits people heading to the Convention Center. There are
the usual light-pole banners welcoming the Assembly, but some of them
are paired with banners for Columbus' Gay Pride Week.
All kinds of interesting messages to be found.
June 14, 2002 -- before dawn
As we move toward the opening of another General
Assembly, your WebWeaver wants to offer a bit of personal jottings
from these busy days ... at least as time and energy
Whether you enjoy these muttering -- or not -- we'd
like to hear from you. Please
send a note telling me whether to waste more time on this
enterprise ... or not.
My flight to Columbus this morning was uneventful,
except for the pleasure of meeting unexpectedly with a few friends from
the Twin Cities in the terminal and on the plane.
Our arrival in Columbus, though, was special. The
plane taxied to the gate with almost no delay. (That should have made me
worry.) Then we sat obediently when the pilot told us there would be a
slight delay because they were having trouble moving the gate out to
meet the plane.
More obedient patience.
Then another announcement: They couldn't get the gate
to move, so we would de-plane through the rear exit of the plane - the
little ramp that drops down under the tail. Being near the rear of the
plane in the cheap seats, I joined my neighbors in mild rejoicing at the
thought of getting off the plane before the crowd up front.
We heard the rear door open, the roar of the engines.
And then we heard it close. But eventually the door stairway opened
again, and we were allowed to leave.
And as we left our wondrous big bird, through the
noise of the engines and the smell of aviation fuel, I thought,
"I'm leaving this bird through the place I don't want to be under
when a real bird releases its load."
Well, friends, that's your WebWeaver's humble offering
of profound thoughts as we gather and prepare for another General
May our days together produce something more worthy
(and more pleasing) than what comes out of the back end of the bird.
As the Assembly approaches, Mr. Robert Howard,
chairman of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, has issued a call for
integrity on the part of unnamed "officers of the church" who
are not enforcing certain church rules in the way the Lay Committee
believes they should be doing. We offer some thoughts about
integrity, a crucial virtue -- and what it might mean for our church if
we took it seriously.
anniversary essays collection to be presented and celebrated
The Church & Society special
issue on the Confession of 1967 will be presented and celebrated
at the General Assembly - on Sunday June 16, from 5:00 to 6:30,
in the Exhibit Hall, National Ministries Area.
The collection of essays, which originated
with the Conference on C-67 sponsored last February at Stony
Point by the Presbytery of the Hudson River, with support from
the Witherspoon Society and others, includes contributions by
Paul Leggett, John Wilkinson, Eleanora Ivory, Gene TeSelle, Rick
Ufford-Chase, Richard Hong, Curtis Jones and Chris Iosso ... and
You're invited to join in the celebration,
meet some of the authors, and get an early look at a promising
resource for study and discussion of our church's most recent
confession of faith.
Copies of this issue will be available for $3
in the Cokesbury Bookstore in the Exhibit Hall.
|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. |
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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!