Archives: September 2003
Reports from August are
listed on the August archive page.
All our reports from June
are indexed on the July archive page.
Reports from the 215th General Assembly are
indexed on another page.
Check earlier months through the
Baltimore Presbytery approves overture
to delete G-6.0106b, by a vote of 87 to 42.
action has been
reported in the Layman Online, whose report has drawn
notes of correction from a member of
Baltimore Presbytery, and
from your WebWeaver.
(Your WebWeaver manages a mistake of his own now and then -- as noted in
the next item. So he offers his correction with all due humility.)
[corrected from 9-26-03]
In preparation for
the Presbyterian Coalition's Gathering VIII, the Coalition has been
discussing a paper on the subject of what they are calling "Gracious
The Layman in its report notes that the author of the "Gracious
Separation" paper is Robert L. Howard, a member of the Coalition board and
immediate past chairman of the Presbyterian Lay Committee. It provides
what appears to be (but is not labeled as) a summary of the proposal's
Another document is posted
anonymously on the website of the "Confessing Churches" movement.
Presbyterian Coalition has taken issue with the Layman's emphasis on
the "gracious separation" proposal as one part of its conference.
Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Philadelphia, has offered his
comments on these proposals.
Thanks to Hans Cornelder for helping unravel our confusion!
is a family?
Three guys?? "Secondhand Lions" says Yes.
As our church conducts another review of the "Families in Transition"
study document, here's a movie worth seeing - for its own sake, and also
for the food it offers for our thinking.
The new movie, "Secondhand Lions," offers a delightful - and for me deeply
moving - glimpse of what "family" can mean when people are driven to
create it on their own, out of the messy realities of a more traditional
family. When a teenage boy, essentially abandoned by his mother, demands
that his two grumpy-old-men uncles get serious and take him on as family,
he saves his own life and gives new meaning and purpose to the lives of
The movie stars Robert Duvall and Michael Caine as the uncles, and
15-year-old Haley Joel Osment as the boy.
For one good review,
EthicsDaily, a progressive Southern Baptist website.
Your executive committee at its meeting in Albuquerque,
Oct. 17-20, 2003.
Left to right: Kent Winters-Hazelton, Dave Zuverink,
Jake Young, Gene TeSelle, Ken Smith, Celeste Lasich, and Kate Van Brocklin
|Let's speak up on
the review of the Stated Clerk.
We recently received a note suggesting that people may
want to contribute their thoughts to current performance review of our
Stated Clerk, the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick. Included is information
on where to send your
We've amended slightly our recent statement of
Witherspoon's policy on
the issue of ordination, in response
to a legitimate criticism from a friend on the conservative side
of the Presbyterian Church.
You may want
to look at our response to two
critical notes, and the full text of
the two notes.
Hudson River Presbytery takes no action against pastors of
South Presbyterian Church, Dobbs Ferry
That All May Freely Serve
reports that at its meeting on September
23, the Presbytery of Hudson River accepted the recommendation of its
Investigating Committee that no action be taken against Joseph GIlmore and
Susan DeGeorge, ministers of South Presbyterian Church, Dobbs Ferry, NY.
Paul Rolf Jensen had filed a complaint against them for conducting
same-sex marriages and ordaining lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered
people as deacons and elders.
see our earlier report.
For more current details, from their own perspective,
check The Layman Online.
Thoughts on Bush's speech to the UN
There's no shortage of commentary on President Bush's
address to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, September 23.
But if you're looking for a sharp analysis putting the
speech in a wider context, take a look at
an essay by
William Rivers Pitt, the Managing Editor of
For starters, he begins with this quote:
"That's the spirit, George. If nothing else works,
then a total pig-headed unwillingness to look facts in the face will see
-- General Sir Anthony Cecil Hogmanay Melchett, 'Blackadder Goes Forth'
offering a new page listing services
that might be helpful to churches or pastors.
first listing is from a pastor who offers to help
design worship bulletins,
newsletters, and other church publications.
CHRISTIAN ONE LINERS
For your entertainment, we offer today a selection of
"Christian one-liners." We do not vouch for their theology, and some of
them you may have heard many times. But we hope you'll enjoy them anyway.
The Witherspoon Society Executive Committee will be meeting
this weekend in Albuquerque.
connections to the Internet will be tenuous at best, but we'll try to keep
in touch. If you have concerns you'd like us to be aware of,
please send a note.
A Primer on
Overtures and Concurrences
The Rev. Donald
Stroud, Minister of Outreach and Reconciliation for That All May Freely
Serve in Baltimore, has prepared a very helpful introduction for people
who want to prepare overtures to the General Assembly, or concurrences
with overtures already submitted.
He also includes the
text of an overture to
delete G-6.0106b from the Book of Order, which will be proposed to the
Presbytery of Baltimore on Sept. 25th.
The Supreme Court and Walmart lead the way
toward justice ... and maybe someday Presbyterians will catch up?
Martha Juillerat, Director of
the Shower of Stoles Project, reflects
on recent developments toward a more just and inclusive society.
WTO meeting in
Cancun collapses - a victory for the South?
The failure of the World Trade Organization Ministerial in Cancun has been
widely reported. We offer here a perspective you may not find in the U. S.
press: a view from the South.
Mexico Solidarity Network
reports on the collapse of the meeting "amid North-South divide." Then a
second report (below) focuses on impact of protests and marches by
"thousands of campesinos, unionists, students, anarchists and NGOs."
Senate votes to overturn FCC media
The Presbyterian Washington Office reports on a vote in the US Senate
which rejected strong efforts by the President and many Republican
legislators to allow further consolidation of media ownership and control.
9/11 - Remembering ... and acting for peace
In the midst of all today's appeals (or demands?) for
"patriotism," you might want to share a few moments with some of the
families of those who died on September 11th, 2001. They offer
sorrow, and even more, they offer hope.
September Eleventh Families For Peaceful Tomorrows have
issued a "Statement On the Second Anniversary of 9/11," which begins:
Two years ago today our loved ones were tragically
murdered in an act of terror that shook the United States and the world.
In the time since their deaths, as we continue our personal paths of
grieving, we are comforted by the thoughtful and compassionate response
of people all over the world who have offered sympathy and support to
the victims of these terrible attacks. But much about the US
government's approach to responding to our loved ones' deaths stands in
stark contrast to the common sense words and comforting actions of
ordinary people. On this two-year anniversary, we stop to reflect on the
dangerous course of current policies and to call for a new approach to
9/11 that is focused on bringing about true security and justice.
the rest of their statement.
These families also offer a number of
their own very
The Executive Committee of the Witherspoon Society
has just approved a statement of our
policy on issues of justice, inclusiveness, and ordination.
We invite you to take a look at it
and send us your
News and analysis from the WTO gathering in
Ministerial is meeting this week (Sept. 10-14, 2003) in Cancun,
Free trade or fair trade ... and for whom?
As the next round of global trade talks proceeds
in Cancun, Mexico, we offer links to a
number of sites that may help you follow what's going on, seen
from various perspectives. If you have other resources to suggest,
or comments of your own,
please send a note!
|The Mexico Solidarity Network, in
its Weekly News and Analysis for September 1-7, 2003, offered
a good introduction
to some of the major issues.
The President's speech on Iraq:
Comments and analysis
Click here for more on the War in Iraq
The War in Iraq is Not Over and Neither Are the Lies to Justify It
Zunes, an associate professor of Politics and chair of the Peace &
Justice Studies Program at the University of San Francisco, has
published a detailed examination of
Pres. Bush's Sept. 7th
speech telling us how well things are going in Iraq.
example, the President claimed that
"Our coalition enforced ... international demands in one of the
swiftest and most humane military campaigns in history."
of all, the initial invasion was almost exclusively an American
military operation with the exception of British leadership in
some southern parts of the country. It could therefore hardly be
referred to as a "coalition."
importantly, the invasion of Iraq was not an enforcement of these
"international demands." The United Nations Charter clearly states
that only the UN Security Council itself has the ability to
authorize military enforcement of its resolutions. The Security
Council, however, refused to authorize the United States to
enforce these resolutions through military means despite enormous
pressure by U.S. officials to do so.
Finally, it was hardly a humane military campaign. More than 5000
Iraqi civilians were killed in the U.S.-led assault, far
surpassing the number of American civilians killed in the
terrorist attacks of 9/11.
Originally posted by
Foreign Policy in Focus
also find it on the website of
The 100 Billion Dollar Error ...
... counting the cost of this
"Count the cost," said Jesus. Charles Henderson,
Presbyterian minister and manager of the
Christianity section of
about.com, reflects on the high costs of the administration's
"100 billion dollar error" in counting the costs of its war in Iraq.
He notes that "in his speech explaining the need
for the extra billions for Iraq, Bush called upon the American
people to make 'sacrifices.' But exactly who is being asked to
sacrifice? AIDS victims in Africa? US school children studying in
crumbling, overcrowded classrooms? Tens of thousands who will not
have the job training they desperately need in this jobless
Henderson concludes with this call:
"As Jesus suggested, ethics is not about moving
forward with blind faith, but rather involves a careful and faithful
evaluation of the consequences of one's decisions ... before making
them. It is high time that the American people as well as its
leaders become more faithful in this sense of the word."
Dobbs Ferry church leaders meet with investigating
Three leaders of South Church, Dobbs
Ferry (NY) are meeting
Investigating Committee of the Presbytery of Hudson River, NY to respond
to charges put into motion by Paul Rolf Jensen.
In brief, the
charges claim that Gilmore and DeGeorge have violated their ordination
vows by conducting holy unions that were "in every important way" the same
as marriage; and that they have ordained LGBT persons to the office of
deacon and elder.
concludes: "Please keep Susan, Dana, and Joe in your prayers, as they
exert their courage and leadership in our struggle for full inclusion of
the Body of Christ in the PC(USA)."
Check out the
September issue of Perspectives, the monthly online
magazine published by the Office of the General Assembly.
The September issue includes these articles:
"The Presiding Bishop's Statement"
in this issue is the statement made by Bishop Griswold, the Presiding
Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, USA, following the
confirmation of Canon Gene Robinson as Bishop elect of the Diocese of New
"We Really Do Need Each Other"
The Rev. Whit Malone, pastor of Springdale Presbyterian
Church in Louisville, Kentucky, reflects on the many ways in which
Presbyterians are at work seeking the peace, unity, and purity of the
church. His recent sermon offers reasons why this work is so important.
"A Consensus Observed"
Parsons, Director of Strategic Operations in the Office of the General
Assembly, describes his experience of the use of a consensus method for
making decisions in the Uniting Church of Australia.
"Prayers for Peace in the Middle East"
This issue also includes prayers for peace in the Middle
East from a new collection by the National Council of Churches, along with
selections on the imperative for peace from Christian, Jewish, and Islamic
The War in Iraq
|Back to the UN?
Here's a critical but thoughtful look at the
objectives and the limitations of the Bush administration's decision
to seek UN participation in the US occupation of Iraq.
Phylllis Bennis, writing in
Foreign Policy in Focus, points out what may be pretty
obvious by now:
|Washington's willingness to seek UN support is
not a sudden openness to multilateral action, but an effort to cut
the costs - financial, political, and military - of our
|UN participation would be kept under the firm
control of the US.|
|She suggests some things that should be done,
|opposition to any UN resolution that would
merely legitimate the U.S.-UK occupation of Iraq;|
|let a UN peacekeeping force return to Iraq
only after the U.S.-UK occupation has ended, with a very
|require the U.S. and the UK, as the
belligerent powers who initiated the war, to provide for the
humanitarian needs of the Iraqi people. |
U.S. soldier in Iraq wonders: 'How many more must die?'
A soldier on active duty with the 101st
Airborne Division near Mosul, Iraq, writes to his home-town paper
about his growing disenchantment with the war he is required to
I once believed that I served for a cause: "to
uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Now, I no longer believe; I have lost my
conviction, my determination. I can no longer justify my service
for what I believe to be half-truths and bold lies. My time is
done as well as that of many others with whom I serve. We have all
faced death here without reason or justification.
Thanks to the
Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space
|The President calls on us to
pray, but he's still in charge|
Bush recently proclaimed this past weekend, Friday, September 5
through Sunday, September 7, 2003, as
National Days of Prayer and Remembrance. We are invited to
"remember all that we lost as Americans and recognize all that we
have witnessed about the character of America."
A call to prayer such as this is a reminder that
the God to whom we pray is sovereign, that the world and its
unfolding are not in our control. Yet the President reveals his
deepest religious convictions, perhaps, with the concluding line of
his proclamation: "This conflict was
begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way, and
at an hour, of our choosing."
You'd think the last few months might have helped
him learn otherwise. Not yet, apparently.
Latin American bishops call Free Trade Area of the Americas
(FTAA) a neo-colonialist trap
The Catholic bishops of Argentina, Brazil,
Paraguay and Uruguay, along with Bolivia and Chile, met recently in
Montevideo, Uruguayan capital, to discuss the challenges of integration in
Latin America and the "ethical and moral" aspects of the creation of the
The report summarizes
their statements thus: "The main objections to the FTAA raised by the
bishops were that it will benefit the richest countries -- like the United
States and Canada -- at the expense of the less competitive members, and
that it will consolidate the hold of 'unfettered neo-liberalism' on the
A Republican leader says his party is "missing the point on
Alan Simpson, a former Republican
senator from Wyoming and honorary chairman of the Republican Unity
Coalition, a gay-straight alliance of Republican leaders, says the push by
conservatives to advance a constitutional amendment defining marriage is a
betrayal of their own party's principles.
As someone who is basically a conservative, I
see not an argument about banning marriage or "defending" families but
rather a power grab. Conservatives argue vehemently about federal
usurpation of other issues best left to the states, such as abortion or
gun control. Why would they elevate this one to the federal level?
Check out his article in the Washington Post.
Theological Thoughts on Yard Work
A bit of wisdom arrived on your Webweaver's
desk just after he finished mowing his lawn (well, crab grass and
dandelions, mostly) in 90-degrees-plus weather.
He'll take this seriously, and will
gladly welcome any alternatives!
Paul Hill, convicted of murdering abortion provider Dr.
John Britton and his escort, is to be executed tonight in Florida
One Witherspoon member has sent this letter to Gov. Jeb
Bush urging him to reconsider:
Subject: No on
execution of Paul Hill from a Right to Choose supporter
Dear Governor Bush,
I have just read that
the man convicted of murdering a physician who performed abortions is to
be executed tomorrow unless you will stop this.
I believe in a
woman's right to choose - but I am against the death penalty.
I urge you to stay
the execution, reconsider, and hopefully change this sentence to life in
If you want to send a similar e-mail note, just click
on Gov. Bush's address above, and write your own expression of concern.
Two Ten folks have
told us they've sent notes!
nuclear weapons is greeted by security concern from police
Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global
Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, and one of the
co-leaders of the 2002 Ghost Ranch Seminar sponsored by the Presbyterian
Peace Fellowship and the Witherspoon Society, recently shared a report of
his experience of "security" in Louisville, Kentucky. Apparently his
concern about the threat of nuclear weapons was overheard, and taken as
worthy of police action.
One more example of "security" as a threat to what we
used to consider assured as American civil liberties.
Now's the time to support
freedom to travel to Cuba
In early September, Congress will vote on whether to
give Americans their freedom back -- their freedom to travel to Cuba.
Here are suggestions for
Overtime pay vote expected any day.
We've received a note from Working
Families e-Activist Network, urging people to contact their Senators to
support the Harkin Amendment that would block the Bush overtime pay cuts.
They provide more information, and links to send
messages to the Senate.
rights growing in corporations, if not in government or church
Writing for the Newsweek website, Martha Brant notes that
"While politicians furiously debate gay rights, Corporate America is
moving ahead" in areas such as nondiscrimination policies and same-sex
partner benefits. Thanks to
WCC wants U.S. out of Iraq
The World Council of Churches' Central Committee has called for US forces
in Iraq to be replaced by UN personnel.
called for the U.N. Security Council "to insist on the establishment of a
legitimate, sovereign, elected and inclusive government as early as
possible, and (to order) the immediate and orderly withdrawal of the
Reports from the 215th General Assembly are
indexed on another page.
Reports from August are
listed on the August archive page.
All our reports from June
are indexed on the July archive page.
Check earlier months through the
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!