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Archives:   June 2004

This page lists reports and commentary from the month of June, 2004.
Click here for special coverage looking toward the 216th General Assembly,
June 26 - July 3, 2004

Click here for the May 2004 archive page
Reports from April, 2004, are indexed on the April archive page.
All items from March, 2004, are listed on the March archive page.
For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

6/30/04 -- from the 216th General Assembly

Committee on Church Orders recommends removal of Authoritative Interpretations    

By a vote of 35 to 30, the General Assembly's Committee on Church Orders and Ministry decided to recommend that the Assembly remove all authoritative interpretations (AIs) banning the ordination of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in the Presbyterian Church.


Moving testimony provides information for voting on ordination

More Light Presbyterians report on three of the statements given in testimony to the Committee on Church Orders and Ministry.

Committee approves much-revised ''families'' paper, but rejects endorsement of marriage declaration.
Jean Marie Peacock named as Vice-Moderator of the General Assembly
For much more coverage of General Assembly events and actions, you may want to check out reports from
bullet Presbyterian News Service
bulletThe Presbyterian Outlook

6/28/04 -- from the 216th General Assembly

Witherspoon luncheon hears Katie Cannon's call to "ontological blackness" as a way of doing theology and renewing our witness 

Awards presented to All Souls Presbyterian Church in Richmond, and to Dr. Doug Ottati            

6/26/04 -- from the 216th General Assembly

Rick Ufford-Chase is the new Moderator

This evening's session of the 216th General Assembly quickly elected a young elder as its moderator this evening. A quick report:

Rick Ufford-Chase, director of the BorderLinks ministry in T , Arizona, was elected on the second ballot by a vote of 275 to 186 for David McKechnie and 40 for K. C. Ptomey. On the first ballot, Ufford-Chase received 226 votes to 166 for McKechnie and 101 for Ptomey.

Photo:  Newly elected Moderator enters the hall with his wife, Kitty.

6/25/04 -- from the 216th General Assembly

Witherspoon and other groups issue a joint statement to the 216th General Assembly:  Denial of Civil Rights

As they gathered in Richmond, Virginia, on June 24 for the convening of the Presbyterian General Assembly, three of the organizations working for a more just and inclusive church issued a statement expressing concern over the impending passage of a law by the legislature of the Commonwealth of Virginia which would severely restrict the civil rights of gay and lesbian people. The governing boards of More Light Presbyterians, That All May Freely Serve, and The Witherspoon Society all affirmed this statement.

Good, but not perfect:

"Transforming Families" is focus of Semper Reformanda / Witherspoon conversation  
We've just added some photos!

PARO (Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options) reminds us of their two major events during General Assembly:
bulletPARO dinner on Sunday, June 27 at 7:15 PM, featuring conversation with Lee Carhart, M.D. and members of the PARO leadership team.
bulletFree dessert and reception with Lee Carhart, Tuesday, June 29, at 7:30 PM.

Adobe PDF  Click here to download (free!) Adobe Reader software to view this and all PDF files.

Going to the General Assembly?  

We hope you'll join us for some special Witherspoon Society events -- a pre-Assembly discussion of the "families in Transition" report; a special orientation session for commissioners and others; the Annual Witherspoon Luncheon with guest speaker Dr. Katie Cannon on "Power in the Church," and of course the great annual Witherspoon party and dance.

You'll be able to buy tickets for these events at the ticket counter in the registration area at the Convention Center. 

Deadline for Sunday Luncheon tickets:  In order for us to order enough luncheon servings (and not too many), we need your Awards Luncheon reservations to be made by Friday at 5 PM – either through the GA events desk, or by contacting Gene TeSelle at, or Doug King at  We hope to see you there!

Tickets for the party and dance will be sold at the door.  Look for signs at the Marriott to find the party.  (So many have already bought tickets that the hotel isn't sure which ballroom we'll use.  It'll be a moveable feast!)

And now ... the privatization of space

Today's reports of a private venture into space might deserve a slightly skeptical observation. Bruce Gagnon, Coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, views this development as a dangerous step toward placing the control of outer space in the hands of the corporate establishment - with no concern for the public interest or the wider well-being of the world.  You may want to check out the Washington Post report.

Facing the dilemmas of birth defects, let's not accept over-simple answers 

Bruce Cameron, Co-moderator of Presbyterians Affirming Reproductive Options, takes notice of a recent New York Times article on the ethical dilemmas facing prospective parents who discover birth defects, or the possibility of birth defects, early in pregnancy. In our Presbyterian struggles with the difficult issues surrounding reproductive rights, he says, we should not accept oversimplified answers, or mischaracterizations of those who defend women's right to make choices, even when they are terrible difficult ones.

Evangelicals show less outrage than expected over gay marriage ...

The Washington Post reported on June 20 that "across the country, evangelical Christians are voicing frustration and puzzlement that there has not been more of a political outcry since May 17, when Massachusetts became the first state to issue same-sex marriage licenses."

... but in Virginia ...

Virginia moves toward a major reversal of gay rights

The LA Times reports that Virginia's Republican-controlled legislature is moving toward adoption of a bill that would end all contractual rights between same-sex partners. Henry F. Fradella, a law professor at the College of New Jersey who tracks gay-rights issues, comments that "Nothing so homophobic has ever been enacted into law in this nation's history."

Reading Chinese -- a poem

Witherspooner Jean Rodenbough shares a poem reflecting on the mysteries of learning Chinese - and moves beyond that to the mysteries (and our tragic ignorance) now on display in our military venture in Iraq. 

Evangelical leaders seek new framework for political action

The National Association of Evangelicals is working on what could be a groundbreaking framework for political action.

While it is grounded in biblical morality and evangelical scholarship, the framework for public engagement strongly endorses social and economic justice and warns against close alignment with any political party. It affirms a religiously based commitment to government protections for the poor, the sick and disabled, including fair wages, healthcare, nutrition and education, and declares that Christians have a "sacred responsibility" to protect the environment.

But it also hews closely to a traditional evangelical emphasis on the importance of families, opposition to homosexual marriage and "social evils" such as alcohol, drugs, abortion and the use of human embryos for stem-cell research. It reaffirms a commitment to religious freedom at home and abroad.

Interestingly, Diane Knippers, president of the conservative Institute on Religion and Democracy and NAE board member, is co-chairwoman of the drafting committee.

Institute for Religion and Democracy still unhappy with "Transforming Families" paper

Last year's General Assembly received for action a study and policy document entitled "Families in Transition." After lengthy debate, a group of conservative committee members, working with the advice of Alan Wisdom, Presbyterian Action director of the Institute for Religion and Democracy, drafted a substitute motion which sent the paper back for revision.

Mr. Wisdom was invited to join the drafting committee, and took an active part in the revision process.

Now, as the revised document goes to the 216th General Assembly, Mr. Wisdom's organization has presented a review of the paper, making clear that for all the changes they had a hand in making, they are still unhappy with the result.

Their review article, authored by IRD Research Associate Erik Nelson, criticizes the report on a number of fronts: its affirmation that people other than the biological parents of a child can provide parenting as good as that offered by biological parents; its affirmation that there can be healthy families that do not fit the "traditional" pattern of man, woman, and their biological children; its failure to condemn strongly enough cohabitation outside of marriage, and same-sex relationships; its assertion that the well-being of children should be given more weight that judgements of the family structures in which they are raised. And finally, the paper is condemned because it accepts too many current patterns of marriage and sexuality in our culture, without providing firm biblical condemnations. So it concludes:

The paper downplays the harmful effects of divorce and cohabitation, and it downplays the significance of the biological family. It temporizes with the cultural forces that seek to transform families in ways that are harmful and destructive, rather than transform families through the transforming love of Jesus Christ. The church cannot remain silent before these cultural trends. Our culture needs to hear from a church willing to speak the message of the Gospel to families, no matter how counter-cultural and uncomfortable that message may be.

It looks as if the "Transforming Families" paper, for all the efforts to make it more acceptable to the conservatives in the PC(USA), may be under attack yet again.

bullet The "Transforming Families" document itself is posted on the PC(USA) website.
bulletThe Rev. Dr. Barbara Gaddis, who was a member of the study committee that drafted the original document, has provided a critique of the new version - from a somewhat different angle from that presented by the IRD.
Gay marriage - a way of sanctification

Eugene Rogers, writing in The Christian Century, argues from within the tradition of the Orthodox Church that marriage "is not primarily for the control of lust or for procreation. It is a discipline whereby we give ourselves to another for the sake of growing in holiness--for, more precisely, the sake of God." And, he argues, if God's creative action is a clear affirmation of diversity [think mosquitoes and giraffes!] then diversity of sexual and familial relationships should also be affirmed and sanctified in marriage.

Eugene F. Rogers Jr. is the author of Sexuality and the Christian Body: Their Way into the Triune God (Blackwell) and Theology and Sexuality: Classic and Contemporary Readings (Blackwell).

"Is Gay Rights a Civil Rights Issue? YES."

Julian Bond, civil rights leader and board chairman of the NAACP, writing in Ebony Magazine (July 2004), declares that "Gay and lesbians' rights are not 'special rights' in any way. It isn't 'special' to be free from discrimination -- it is an ordinary, universal entitlement of citizenship. The right not to be discriminated against is a commonplace claim we all expect to enjoy under our laws and our founding document, the Constitution."

To those who argue that gay rights are not at all analogous to racial civil rights, Bond replies:

No analogy between movements for rights is exact. African-Americans are the only Americans who were enslaved for more than two centuries, and people of color carry the badge of who we are on our faces. But we are far from the only people suffering from discrimination -- sadly, so do many others. They deserve the law's protections and civil rights, too. Some who object to gay rights see homosexuality as a choice, but science has demonstrated conclusively that sexual disposition is inherent in some, not an option or alternative they've selected. In that regard, it exactly parallels race -- I was born Black and had no choice. I couldn't and wouldn't change it. Like race, our sexuality isn't a preference -- it is immutable, unchangeable, and the Constitution protects us all against prejudices and discrimination based on immutable differences. [emphasis added by your WebWeaver]

US diplomats and military call for change of government in Washington

A new organization, Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change ( has issued a powerful statement calling for the defeat of President Bush in November as an essential first step in restoring good relations with the Middle East and the rest of the world. The group expects to critique US policy in a series of future statements and positions.    Click here for the full text of their brief statement.

Thanks to Witherspooner Arch Taylor

Princeton prof warns against hijacking of theological language for political purposes 

In a newly published book, Patrick Miller offers biblical and theological material for dealing with today's uses of religion and God for narrow nationalistic and political ends.  Its title:  The God You Have: Politics and the First Commandment.   Click here for the publisher's announcement, and a link to buy the book.

Presbyterian News Service is providing helpful background reports for major issues coming to the General Assembly  

The latest ones:

bullet A general survey of major issues
bullet ordination standards
bullet a proposed Mission Work Plan

Earlier background papers include:

bullet Interfaith relations -- especially the question of evangelism toward Jews.
bulletThe "Transforming Families" policy paper
bullet Abortion
bullet The Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church
"Sonoran Samaritans"

Presbyterians are doing dangerous work in the Sonoran desert of southern Arizona -- seeking to provide water and food to undocumented immigrants crossing the border from Mexico -- trying to save lives while challenging harsh federal immigration and border policies.

Baking A Difference for hungry children

A message through an information network of the National Council of Churches.  Dated June 18, 2004, posted here 6-19-04

Looking for a new way to get involved in your community? The Great American Bake Sale is a fun and easy way to make a difference in the lives of the 13 million children at risk of hunger in the U.S.

Participation is simple:

1) Register at or by calling (800) 761-4227. It's free and easy. The Great American Bake Sale will send you a wall poster with tips and recipes to get you started.

2)Plan and hold your bake sale anytime between April 4th and July 25th. This year, as an official Great American Bake Sale Community Partner, The National Council of Churches has helped develop tips and materials for faith-based teams interested in participating.

3)Send in your funds on or before July 25th and receive a Great American Bake Sale treat. Funds are distributed to quality child hunger organizations in your state and across the country.

Nearly 7,000 teams, including about 600 faith-based teams, have already registered to participate in The Great American Bake Sale 2004. Information on participation and tips for bake sale success are available at

The Great American Bake Sale is co-presented by PARADE Magazine and Share Our Strength, one of the nation's leading anti-hunger organizations, and sponsored by ABC Entertainment, Betty Crocker and Tyson Foods, Inc.

And finally, as you prepare to venture forth to the General Assembly (if you're doing that) you might ponder some wit and wisdom from kitchen wall plaques.
Network News is posted here - so what do you think?

Adobe PDF  Click here to download (free!) Adobe Reader software to view this and all PDF files.

A couple days ago we posted the latest issue of the Witherspoon newsletter, Network News.  We'd like to know what you think of it!

If you're a Witherspoon member, are you glad to see it available on the Web as well as in the old-fashioned paper version?  If you're not a member and don't receive the paper version of the newsletter, we'd like very much to hear what you think of it - good and bad! Would you like us to continue posting it in this format?

And of course, if you like it, we hope you'll become a member of Witherspoon and get your very own paper copy four times a year.

Just send a note and tell us what you think.

And click here if you want to consider joining the group.

You can make a donation using your credit card, through the secure PayPal electronic payment system.  Just click on the button below, register with your credit card number and address, and you'll receive an e-mail acknowledgement -- and later a note from us as well.

OR you can send a contribution by check (to "The Witherspoon Society") to:
Doug King, Witherspoon Society
1418 Clarendon Drive
Wayzata, MN  55391

What are the "essentials" of our faith, and how should they be a part of our standards for ordination?  

This concern is reflected in at least two overtures coming to the 216th General Assembly: 04-3 from the Presbytery of John Calvin, and 04-61 from the Presbytery of the Peaks. On the other hand, Overture 04-52, from the Presbytery of Hudson River, affirms the Presbyterian tradition of respect for the freedom of conscience.  (Click here for the Hudson River overture as  posted on this website.)

Gene TeSelle has provided an essay examining this important issue, which has just been published in Network News, and is now posted here.

Arnold Rots offers another basis for thinking about these questions, through his study of the reports of the Commission of 1925, which was named by the General Assembly of that year to deal with repeated demands that five doctrinal statements (biblical inerrancy, virgin birth, substitutionary atonement, physical resurrection, and miracles) be defined as essential and necessary for ordination. As Rots says, "The bottom line of the Commission's reports was that these five points are not essential tenets and that Presbyterians of good character and principles may reasonably disagree on them."

Someone found an interesting little Freudian slip (if you choose to see it that way) in a recent missive -- part of the continuing discussion of the suggestion for wearing red in solidarity with those suffering in the war in Iraq. 

Added 6-19-04Prof. Tilford responds.

Speak with people of faith against the torture

Faithful America, an online community of people of faith who want to build a more just and compassionate nation, has prepared a TV ad to be placed on Arab television, "to send a message directly from us, the people of the United States, to the people of Iraq and the Arab world, telling them that as Americans we stand shoulder to shoulder with them in demanding justice for these sinful abuses committed in our name."

The ad features Christian, Jewish and Muslim faith leaders, and will be broadcast on Arabic language television in the Middle East. You're invited to add your name to the list of sponsors of the ad, and to contribute, if you wish, to help cover the costs.  Just click here.

NCC seeks young adult stewards   [6-16-04]

As part of its 2004 General Assembly, the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA (NCC) is sponsoring its second annual Young Adult Stewards Program.  The 2004 General Assembly will be held Nov. 9-11 in St. Louis.  Here's a great opportunity for a new, ecumenical experience!
Network News, the quarterly newsletter of the Witherspoon Society, is now in the mail -- to our members and as a gift to all commissioners to the 216th General Assembly.

If you'd like to take a look at it now, it's available right here in PDF format.

Adobe PDF  Click here to download (free!) Adobe Reader software to view this and all PDF files.

On wearing red ... the discussion continues

We recently posted a suggestion from an anonymous source that people wear something red every Friday as a symbol of solidarity with those of all nationalities who are suffering in Iraq, and as a call for an end to the violence there.

An enthusiastic response came from Nancy Walker, a woman whose son was killed in military service in Iraq. Her comment was met by a note from Andre Katz, who accused her of supporting terrorism, etc., etc., etc.

Ms. Walker has now responded to Mr. Katz's charges, pointing to another example of those who dismiss her concerns as unpatriotic.  She concludes:  "I will be wearing red on Fridays, and the entire time at the Peace and Justice Conference. I am red, white and blue in my patriotism but I don't have to wave the flag and shout "hooray" just because some moron is beating a drum."

We've also received a note from frequent contributor (of writings, not money!) Earl H. Tilford, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of History and Fellow of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies at Grove City College. He again accuses us (the Witherspoon Society in particular and liberals in general) of terminal confusion, as he labels Ms. Walker's earlier note "rantings." And so it goes.

Poems of blood and anger

We've heard more than enough commentary, perhaps, about the war in Iraq. But sometimes thoughts about this war, like its predecessors, are too strong for prose, and we need to hear from our poets.

New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has published a few of the poems that he has received, including this one, from "an embittered second lieutenant who asks not to be named."

Knock the dust off your boots, my boy,
It's time to ride again.
The frontier has gone restless now
And we must crush this rebellion. . . .
These people understand only violence,
So let's give it to 'em now.
We'll ride 'em down like Cherokee;
We'll trample 'em like Pueblo.
These savages are ruthless;
They understand no law.
So we'll pick up our Peacemakers,
And shoot 'em like Choctaw. . . .
Rally round the flag, my boy,
And grab your rifle, too.
The Red Man's turned Brown, my boy,
And there's a lot of peacemaking to do.

On mourning ... but for whom.

Last week the National Council of Churches issued a invitation to America's churches to join in the National Day of Mourning on Friday, June 11, and expressing condolences to Mrs. Nancy Reagan.

We received this brief response to the call for a Day of Mourning:

I will not ask my church to mourn Reagan's passing. It is not up to me to judge. That is up to God. I will pray for his soul.

I will mourn for the 70,000 people who died in Latin America because he, like all of our presidents, supported the death, disappearance and torture of those people who were struggling for freedom and human dignity. I will mourn for the 30,000 men who died of aids because he refused to support the development of drugs that would have saved or prolonged their lives.

This is a time when we should be holding up Reagan's misdeeds to the light of the truth that will set us free, to resolve to do those necessary actions that will prevent the election of future presidents of his ilk.


Dwight Lawton
St. Petersburg, FL

Remembering Ronald Reagan - more completely

Charles Henderson offers a thoughtful look at Ronald Reagan's faith as a neglected aspect of his personality, his presidency, and his impact on American life. George W. Bush apparently can't claim credit for making the first connection between piety and politics.

Cal Thomas, writing as an evangelical, finds much to praise in Ronald Reagan, but he laments that in becoming his unabashed supporters, conservative Christians began "equating Christianity with the Republican Party," and lost the critical distance they should have maintained in relation to any political power.

Two commentators remind us that President Reagan, like the rest of us, had his shadow side.

David Corn, author of The Lies of George W. Bush: Mastering the Politics of Deception, reminds us of Reagan's friendly connections with dictators such as Augusto Pinochet of Chile, and - yes - Saddam Hussein, even when it was clear that Hussein had used chemical weapons. (This latter venture carried out by one Donald Rumsfeld.) There is the El Mozote massacre in El Salvador in December 1981; the support of contra rebels against the socialist government in Nicaragua; the support of apartheid in South Africa. These things too, he says, must be remembered as part of the Reagan legacy.

Fr. Miguel D'Escoto, a Catholic priest who was Nicaragua's Foreign Minister under the Sandinista government in the 1980s, was interviewed on the daily radio/TV news program "Democracy Now!" In an unedited transcript, he offers the unflattering (and perhaps not quite objective) opinion that "more perhaps than any other U.S. President, Reagan convinced many around the world that the U.S. is a fraud, a big lie. Not only was it not democratic, but in fact the greatest enemy of the right of self-determination of peoples."

House leaders push for religious participation in partisan politics

The Washington Post reports on current efforts by House Republican leaders to give religious leaders more freedom to engage in partisan politics without endangering the tax-exempt status of their churches - through a provision tacked on to a major jobs bill.

The Presbyterian Washington Office suggests that people may want to communicate with their representatives about this. You can do so easily by going to the Presby Legislative Action
Center and typing in your zip code to send an email . Go to, then click on the first link on the right of the page.

An overture to stabilize the world's population

Overture 04-48 calls on the Presbyterian Church to update its policies on population and environmental issues to deal with the new challenges of the 21st century. William Gibson and Willem Bodisco Massink provide a brief background paper on the reasons behind the overture.

A new book on eco-justice

Eco-Justice - The Unfinished Journey, a new book edited by William Gibson, gathers essays by 23 people to look at "the eco-justice perspective" on the world, then at some specific issues, and finally at prospects for the future.  John (Jack) C. Twombly, Professor of Electrical Engineering Emeritus at the University of Colorado, and a Restoring Creation Enabler, provides a review.

More on wearing red

We've received more comments about a suggestion we posted on May 26, that people wear something red each Friday, as a memorial to those (on all sides!) who have died in the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, and as a protest against the violations of the most basic human rights that are being perpetrated in the name of freedom.

What's coming to General Assembly?  [5-12-04]

Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon's Issues Analyst, examines many of the studies, overtures, and other items that will be considered during the 116th General Assembly in Richmond.

He also offers an updated essay on the question, "How can we deal with our differences and disputes?"  He examines some of the options that have been considered in the Episcopal Church over the past few months, and looks at their relevance for the PC(USA) -- and at other options.

Looking toward the Assembly, Douglas Ottati says "theology matters"  

Our theology, with all our differences, is truly important, says Dr. Douglas F. Ottati, Professor of Theology, Union Seminary/PSCE.  It is not merely something to be argued about, but provides an essential ways to "envision ourselves" and the world we live in, to shape ourselves and our lives in ways that are faithful to our calling.   [6-3-04]

Why they hate us, and why it matters 

Dean Lindsey, pastor of Salem Presbyterian Church in Salem, VA, recently reported in the local paper on a talk by the Rev. George Conn, a retired Presbyterian pastor, recently returned from a visit to Israel-Palestine.  He explored the reasons for the deep hostility felt by so many in the Middle East toward the US.

The real battle of Muslim extremists is against their own governments, but the US has provided an ideal recruiting tool and outside enemy for their struggle. 

Middle East Update 

US continues favoring a "one-state" solution to the Israel-Palestine struggle, ignoring all UN mandates and legitimate interests of Palestinians.

The Presbyterian Washington Office provides a helpful, thorough background paper on the situation, with suggestions for action.

Presbyterian News Service is providing helpful background reports for major issues coming to the General Assembly   [6-3-04]

So far they have posted papers on:

bullet Interfaith relations -- especially the question of evangelism toward Jews.
bulletThe "Transforming Families" policy paper
bullet Abortion
bullet The Theological Task Force on Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church
Going to the General Assembly?   [4-14-04]

We hope you'll join us for some special Witherspoon Society events -- a pre-Assembly discussion of the "families in Transition" report; a special orientation session for commissioners and others; the Annual Witherspoon Luncheon with guest speak Dr. Katie Cannon on "Power in the Church," and of course the great annual Witherspoon party and dance.


A Place Called Justice, From the Heartland to the Horizon

MLP staffer Michael Adee reports on National Conference of More Light Presbyterians, That All May Freely Serve, and Shower of Stoles Project, held May 20-23 in Kansas City, Missouri  

You'll find links to some of the sermons preached during the conference, and more.

Martha Juillerat preached on Jonah's reluctant dealings with the people of Nineveh -- from the perspective of those excluded Ninevites.  And she invited her listeners "to stand firmly in our faith, to open ourselves to the power of the Spirit, to believe in the very best that is possible for this church, and to work for justice - work for justice - work for justice - for we can do no less."

Wear Red for Protest and for Peace

On May 26 we posted a suggestion that people wear something red each Friday, as a memorial to those (on all sides!) who have died in the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, and as a protest against the violations of the most basic human rights that are being perpetrated in the name of freedom.

We've received a passionate and inspiring response from a mother whose son, a Marine, was killed in action on April 6, 2004.   For now, we'll post the whole note here:

Great Idea!

I just read the suggestion today, Sunday, and am glad that I inadvertently made a statement last Friday. My son, Staff Sgt Allan K. Walker, USMC, was killed in action April 6, 2004. Friday his high school honored him as a part of their regular Memorial Day observance, and I wore a red jacket.

I get so tired of people telling me "You shouldn't say things like 'Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush are no better than mass murderers because your own son died defending your liberties'." EXCUSE ME. My son served in the armed services of this nation, in order to ensure all of our liberties, including mine to speak. He died trying to rescue a wounded Marine. Liberty had nothing to do with the situation in which they found themselves in mortal peril. GREED DID.

I will say it again. Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush are no better than mass murderers. They are directly responsible for wasting the lives of all the US COALITION AND IRAQI military who have been killed in Iraq, for all the grievous woundings of ALL CASUALTIES, BOTH COALITION AND IRAQI. They are responsible for ALL CIVILIAN DEATHS AND WOUNDINGS, ALL 'COLLATERAL DAMAGE' AND ALL THE LOOTING. Furthermore, by focusing on Iraq rather than Al Quaeda, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush can now "claim" ALL THE DEATHS, WOUNDING AND DAMAGE IN MADRID. The good news is, at least Halliburton is now operating in the black instead of the red.

Another thought: I will be attending the Peace and Justice Conference in Seattle and it might be a good idea for conferees to wear red the entire time.

Nancy C. Walker

A visitor writes to dispute the New York Times on IRD

We recently took note of a report in the New York Times, about the influence of the Institute on Religion & Democracy within the Presbyterian Church. Deborah Milam Berkley, of Bellevue, WA, sent a comment pointing out what she sees as "inaccuracies" in the Times' report. Her husband, Jim Berkley, is Issues Director of Presbyterians for Renewal.  

The human side of Israeli occupation of Bethlehem -  through the eyes of a Palestinian Christian pastor

The "Little Town of Bethlehem" was put under siege by Israeli forces in 2002, and is still under occupation. Mitri Raheb, a Palestinian Arab and Christian pastor who ministers to his people in Bethlehem, tells the personal stories of Palestinians and their families as they struggle to survive the violence and to act with integrity in extreme circumstances - occupation, the wall, and suicide bombers.

His book, Bethlehem Besieged, has just been published by Fortress Press.  Click here for the publisher's announcement, and links to place an order.

Celebrating life in Upstate New York

What's to celebrate, you ask? Your WebWeaver grew up in Albany, NY - the deep south of Upstate New York. And now he lives in Minnesota, where similar complaints are a part of life.

Wherever you live, you might enjoy these notes from the North.  But what about where you live?  Can you share some laughter about the place you call home?  Just send a note!

For instance:

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through 36 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will swim by, you might live in Upstate New York.

Stories from May are listed on the May 2004 archive page.
All items from April are listed on (you guessed it!)  the April archive page.
Check earlier months through the general archive page.

GA actions 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 of Order.

We're providing resources to help inform the reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.

Our three areas of primary interest are:

bullet Amendment 10-A, which would remove the current ban on lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.

bullet Amendment 10-2, which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.

bullet Amendment 10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government that was approved by the Assembly.

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Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

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 thoughtful community.


John Harris’ Summit to Shore blogspot

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 lightening up.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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