News of the PC(USA) --
archive for July - December, 2008
Click here for all
the more recent stories on the PC(USA).
Earlier stories are indexed:
We celebrate the life of Jane Parker
Huber -- hymn-writer, leader in many parts of the
Presbyterian Church, and a “Valiant Woman” -- who died peacefully on
McAfee Parker Huber
|Jane Parker Huber. Photo by
Danny Bolin, Presbyterian News Service
Parker Huber died peacefully in her home Saturday, November 15, 2008
with her family present. She was born on October 24, 1926, in Tsinan,
China, where her parents, Albert G. Parker, Jr. and Katharine McAfee
Parker, were Presbyterian missionaries related to Cheeloo University. In
1928 the family returned to the United States and in the late summer of
1929 they moved to Hanover, Indiana, when her father, Dr. Parker, became
the president of Hanover College. Jane attended the Hanover public
school for 10 years and then graduated in 1944 from Northfield School
for Girls in Massachusetts. After three years at Wellesley College she
returned to Hanover to graduate from Hanover College in 1948. In 1988,
Hanover College honored her as a Doctor of Humane Letters.
married William A. Huber, her childhood sweetheart, in the Hanover
Presbyterian Church on September 3, 1947 and they graduated together
from Hanover College in the spring of 1948. In August 1948 they moved to
Chicago where Bill Huber attended McCormick Presbyterian Theological
Seminary and served the Presbyterian Church in Kansas, Illinois.
Following seminary they lived in Noblesville, Indiana, serving the
Noblesville Presbyterian Church for three years. They then moved to
Indianapolis where he was the organizing pastor of Saint Andrew
Presbyterian Church in 1955. The new congregation and church school
classes met in their manse home the first year while the church was
being built. After retirement in 1988 they built their first house in
Hanover where they continued work with the church.
six children: Janet Elizabeth Huber Lowry & Tom, Hanover, Indiana;
Leonhard William Huber (Lon) & Nancy, Glendale, California; Mary
Katharine Huber Graham & Ed, Santa Rosa, California; Laura Lynn Huber
Nutter & Ron, Madison, Indiana; Anne Beatrice Huber Andreasen & Mark,
Madison, Indiana; and Margaret Jane Huber Garrison (Meg) & Joe, Buford,
served on several committees and councils of the Presbyterian Church
(USA). She was the vice president of United Presbyterian Women from 1973
to 1976, serving on the National Executive Committee. She served on the
Council on Women and the Church and chaired that body for three years.
She was on the General Assembly Mission Council, the Advisory Council on
Discipleship and Worship, the Joint Committee on Women leading up to
Presbyterian reunion in 1983. Following reunion she served on the
General Assembly Council for six years and on the Committee for a New
Hymnbook. She received several honors from the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) and was named a “Valiant Woman” by Church Women United in their
in 1976 she wrote new hymns mostly set to familiar hymn tunes. Her words
emphasized inclusive language for God and all people, social justice and
peacemaking. Two books of her hymns were published by Westminster/John
Knox Press in 1987 and 1996. Together they contain 125 hymns. Eleven
hymns made their way into The Presbyterian Hymnal published in
1990. She wrote studies for These Days and articles for
Horizons magazine and a column titled “Ask Jane” for that
publication for several years.
preceded in death by her parents and one grandson. She is survived by
her husband, her children and their spouses, thirteen grandchildren and
two great grandchildren. Also surviving are one brother, two sisters,
several cousins, nieces, and nephews.
of flowers, Memorial Gifts may be given to Hanover Presbyterian Church
or to Hanover College. A memorial service is being planned for some time
later this year. For the exceptional loving care provided to Jane this
year, the family deeply thanks Janet Morecraft, Liz Lichlyter, Kathy
Campbell, Georgia Ann Long and the members of the King’s Daughters’
Homecare and Hospice team.
Thanks to Janet Huber Lowry, who shared this with us.
And our thanks for all the gifts that Jane has shared with so many
Presbyterians for so many years.
Presbyterian News Service report >>
“Rebuilding the Presbyterian Establishment”
Early in 2008 a paper was published by the PC(USA)’s
Office of Theology and Worship, arguing that the key to restoring the
Presbyterian Church to its old glory lies in giving the reins of control
back to “the Presbyterian Establishment,” which means the tall-steeple
pastors and mature, successful elders (mostly male, white, straight, and
otherwise decent and orderly). The author, Dr.
Weston, professor of sociology at Presbyterian-related Centre College in
Danville, Kentucky, speaks out of his own
discipline of sociology and his years of participation in and study of
the Presbyterian Church.
We encourage you to download the
paper, which is at
The paper has attracted a good deal of
interest and has aroused discussion, some of it quite critical. We
offer some comments of our own, and welcome comments from others as
here is by Doug King, Communications Coordinator for the Witherspoon
Society. The second comes from the Rev.
Ann Hayman, who
is a minister member of Pacific Presbytery.
If you have thoughts
just send a
to be shared here!
Tulsa church approves
buying back its property
Kirk of the Hills
Presbyterian Church in Tulsa, OK, whose members had already voted to
leave the PC(USA), has decided to pay $1.75 million to Eastern
Oklahoma Presbytery for the congregation’s land and buildings.
Members voted 508 to 483 to pay for the 100,000-square-foot church
building, located on nearly 10 acres of prime real estate, instead
of continuing legal battles to try and prove Kirk of the Hills
already owns it.
The full report
from Presbyterian News Service >>
Progressive Presbyterians are big lost apes?
The Rev. Jerry Andrews
of the conservative Presbyterian Coalition says liberal “Goliaths”
in the Presbyterian Church are leading the church astray.
Service provides a fairly long report, which begins:
Newport Beach, CA
— Liberalism is a “Goliath” in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
that has led the denomination down a path to a “faith in which
it cannot live faithfully,” said the Rev. Jerry Andrews,
co-moderator of the conservative
an umbrella group for more than a dozen “renewal” organizations
in the denomination.
“false paths,” liberals have lost their way and their ability to
lead, the suburban Chicago pastor told more than 220
participants meeting here at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church
for the Coalition’s Gathering XI.
been the Goliath in our life. I think the Goliath has fallen,”
In his “State of
the Denomination” address on Oct. 13, the first day of the
three-day event, Andrews told the group that “the progressives
had great success in taking over the institutions of the church,
our own church at least two generations ago . . . even if it
never fully convinced the church, you and me, of its
Now we are in
engaged in an exercise to see “how far the corpse will walk,”
said Andrews, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Glen Ellyn,
The full report >>
Outlook has also posted a report on this
“Our team lost
this Assembly. Badly. But the Coalition has already reloaded,”
said Presbyterian Coalition Co-Moderator Jerry Andrews in his
presentation, “The State of the Denomination,” at the 11th
annual Presbyterian Coalition gathering Oct. 13 in Newport
have had great success in taking over the church,” Andrews
explained, “but like all false paths they too have lost their
Three words— post-modern, post-denominational,
and post-Christian — describe the denomination in the aftermath
of the General Assembly, he added.
For the full Outlook report >>
of good Presbyterian talk in Snowbird, Utah
Over the past few days,
a number of important meetings have been held in Snowbird, Utah,
involving some of the top leadership and committees of the PC(USA).
Preparing for discussions on 08-B
One of the first
meetings included middle governing body leaders, who (in the words
of a Presbyterian News Service report from Erin S. Cox-Holmes,
associate general presbyter for Kiskiminetas Presbytery, “received
denominational updates and pondered strategies for leading their
organizations calmly and courageously during a time of change
For anyone committed
to helping our denomination move through its deliberations on the
proposed amendment of G-6.0106b, the “fidelity and chastity”
requirement in the Book of Order, it might be helpful to get a sense
of the thinking of those who will play a large role in shaping those
Click here for the
PNS report >>
Developing styles of leadership for the process
Another report covers
the gathering’s focus on “exploring how to lead in partnership,
identifying next action steps, all centered in a spirit of worship.”
The report opens with a pretty catchy quote from Carol Adcock, chair
of the General Assembly Council: “We are here as co-creators of a
new way, sharing springs of living waters in a time of alligators.”
that report >>
Other groups have also been meeting, and considering other vital
aspects of the church’s life and mission.
A broad role for theological education
Dr. Laura Mendenhall,
President of Columbia Theological Seminary, told the General
Assembly Council’s Vocation Committee that Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) seminaries and presbyteries and congregations need to work
ever more closely together to prepare leaders for a rapidly changing
church and world.
For the full story
Some varied views of evangelism
The GAC’s Evangelism
Mission Committee explored the variety of ways that Christians are
seeking to live a life that faithfully witnesses to Jesus Christ,
ranging from street preaching to community outreach programs. One
committee member said that “Actions speak louder than words,” and
was supported by others who saw community programs, and local
mission and ministry projects as evangelism, while others focused
more on speaking about one’s faith, actively witnessing, and sharing
And one member
managed to propose a middle way: “We witness by what we say and do,
but also by what we are.”
The full report >>
‘Unprecedented’ disaster response highlighted
The GAC’s Justice
Committee heard from PDA about an unprecedented number of relief
efforts this year, as
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance responded to more than 40
“events” that have affected nearly one-quarter of the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.) presbyteries were much on the mind of the Justice
Committee of the General Assembly Council.
director of Compassion, Peace and Justice Ministries — which
includes — updated the committee on responses to devastating
flooding in the Midwest in the spring and hurricane recovery in the
aftermath of four summer hurricanes that wreaked havoc in Texas and
Louisiana as well as Caribbean island nations such as Haiti and
The rest of the
Office mission study announced
Eileen Lindner to
serve as study consultant
Service reports that "a wide ranging mission study designed to
enable the larger church to review the scope and function of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Washington Office" has been announced
by the Rev. Tom Taylor, General Assembly Council deputy executive
director for mission.
Society is preparing some commentary on this action, which we will
Social Witness Policy —
|a summary of GA actions|
|and a listing of study committees on which
you might want to serve|
The staff of the
Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, along with the
committee's Co-Chairs, has issued a
very helpful summary of social witness policy actions by the 218th
GA, along with notes on the numerous study committees that will be
appointed by the Moderator or by ACSWP.
A monthly column from the Moderator, Bruce
We Are Family
The Rev. Bruce
Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the 218th General Assembly
(2008) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), offers his reflections
on his experience of the church over the few weeks since he was
elected as Moderator.
He tells of hearing
many voices across the church, reflecting the fact that “a great
many realties exist in our church. A number of individuals and
communities are filled with pain, frustration, anger, sadness,
resignation, and righteous indignation over GA actions.”
Yet, he says, as in a
family, “When we are at our most faithful, we will hope more than we
could ever imagine that the other will grow fully into who God hopes
that person to become.”
His full letter >>
And more thoughts on
On his own moderatorial blog, Bruce Reyes-Chow offers
further thoughtful reflections on the need for listening, and what
that means for him, and for all of us.
of Government Task Force to gather first time post-assembly
Expanded group will revise the report presented to this year’s GA
from Sharon Youngs,
Communications Coordinator, Office of the General Assembly
[posted here 8-12-08]
The Form of
Government Task Force (FOGTF), expanded in size and loaded with
comments from this year’s General Assembly, is scheduled to meet for
the first time since the 218th General Assembly adjourned in June to
begin revising the original task force’s report.
Three new members
will join the original nine when they gather Aug. 21-22, 2008, at
First Presbyterian Church in Arlington, VA: Elder Carol Hunley
(Pittsburgh Presbytery) and the Revs. Grace Bowen (New York City
Presbytery) and Dan Williams (Shenandoah Presbytery).
full story >>
Moderator invites suggestions for Task Force appointments
Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow sent this e-mail on July
[Posted here 8-1-08]
We in the Witherspoon Society encourage you
to consider submitting your name (or a friend's!) to serve on
one of these committees.
As many of you know, one of the privileges and
responsibilities of the moderator as a result of most General
Assemblies is to appoint people to the various Task Forces, Study
Groups and other bodies created by each General Assembly. Coming out
of the 218th General Assembly I will have the sole or shared
responsibility to appoint members of eight different committees or
task forces totally nearly 100 people.
Some of the Task Forces appointments have language
in them about consulting with other agencies and such, but
ultimately I am responsible for the appoints that have been charged
to me. For this reason, I turn to you all to help me expand the pool
of folks from which I may choose members of various committees. To
help you understand the process that I will take in selecting, here
are some brief comments followed by the process that I would ask you
to follow should you wish to submit a name.
Please keep in mind that this is not an
application process, but more an acknowledgment that the more folks
that we help to connect to one another the better we serve our calls
to be part of the community. Every moderator goes about this process
in a ways that fits his/her discernment style, this is the way I
feel most comfortable in tackling this task.
Also, let me pre-emptively apologize to those who
I will not be able to select at this point and time. Your selection
or non-selection is not a reflection on the entirety of one's
call/ministry but more about the how one's experiences and gifts may
fit into particular group at a particular time in a particular way.
Not having yet made these decisions, I can promise you that these
will not be easy, but I will do so with great care.
Some thoughts about how I will choose:
* How I will get names: Networking and
relationship-building are central to building community, so I make
no apologies that many of the appointments will be people with whom
I have had some kind of personal interaction. This does not mean
that they will be my close friends or "in line" with any set
theological/ideological matrix but that I have had some kind if
interaction where I can discern whether this is a person I believe
would be an effective member of the group. This will most likely
include an email exchange and/or brief phone call during my
discernment process. With this said, I will also relay on the
discernment of others so I will enlarge the pool through submitted
names, appropriate denomination staff recommendations, friends of
friends and self-submitted interest.
* How I will choose: Again this process is not
one that is an application nor am I given much more guidance other
than I make some appointments "in consultation with" particular
agencies of the General Assembly. With this in mind and fully
knowing that there will be some disagreements in my appointments, I
will do my best to be as fair as possible. As I gather names I will
give each name a time for prayer, will contact references, make
contacts via phone/skype/eMail and be sure to do my due diligence
for each team.
* Representation: In addition to the regular
categories to ensure balanced representation (age, gender,
ethnicity, geography, etc.) I will also give great effort to engage
folks who are new to denominational involvement at the General
* Other thoughts: Rarely in our process is
there so much direct authority given to one person. I do not take
this lightly and continue to commit to be as transparent as possible
in the process.
What I need if you wish to submit yours or another person's name
please include the basics:
* Task Force
* Demographics: Age, Gender, Ethnicity, theological geographic
* Contact info: eMail, Facebook, Blog, Phone, Skype, etc.
Helpful additional information:
* Brief statement describing the gifts,
skills, perspectives and/or experience that would make you/him/her a
valuable addition to the task force;
* Self-described theological perspective: How would you describe
* Personal Information Form, C.V. and or resume;
* Previous General Assembly service;
* Any info regarding denomination affiliation's current
involvement in the life of the PC(USA) and or other known
relationships that would be helpful for me to know as I try to build
a broad representation of the church. Affiliation/s will not
determine inclusion or exclusion, but the transparency would be
* Once all appointments have been made and the way be clear, I
will publish the task force appoints and appropriate contact info
for each group.
* Unless otherwise noted on the specific group, to be safe,
please try to submit names to the pool by August 15th so I can make
appointments by the end of August. While I will do not foresee
making any more appointments - see 04-13 - until after that date, I
will begin making contact and building possible groups as names come
in. Again, this is not a strict application process so if you are
not sure about any of this, please ask.
* Please submit all info to:
breyeschow at gmail dot
And in case you did not memorize all the Task
Forces and Study Groups generated by the 218th General Assembly,
here is a summary.
Item 04-13 // Form of Government
Specifics: 11 total members include continuing
members of the original Form of Government task force.
Action: New members of this expanded task force
are to be chosen from the 218th General Assembly (2008) Assembly
Committee on Form of Government Revisions by the Moderator of the
218th General Assembly (2008), in consultation with the moderator
and vice moderator of the 218th General Assembly (2008) Assembly
Committee on Form of Government Revisions.
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT POSSIBLE NAMES: Due to
calendaring needs of the Form of Government task force these
appointments have already been made and the committee will begin
it's work in the next few week. These appointments were made inline
with the instructions above.
Item 04-13 // Marriage and Civil Unions
Specifics: 15 members, representing diversity and
theological balance, report due 2010
Action: Direct the Moderator of the General
Assembly to appoint a special committee, representing the broad
diversity [and theological balance] of the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.), to study the following, and report to the 219th General
Assembly (2010), including any policy recommendations growing out of
a. The history of the laws governing marriage and civil union,
including current policy debates.
b. How the theology and practice of marriage have developed in
the Reformed and broader Christian tradition.
c. The relationship between civil union and Christian marriage.
d. The effects of current laws on same-gender partners and their
e. The place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT POSSIBLE NAMES:
Item 08-21 // The Restricted Funds
Resolution Committee (RFRC)
Specifics: seven members as set below
Action: The Moderator of the 218th General
Assembly (2008) shall appoint a Restricted Funds Resolution
Committee (RFRC) comprised of:
* two representatives designated by the Foundation Board;
* two representatives designated by the General Assembly
* three persons appointed by the Moderator who are not involved
in either agency, and have an understanding of the applicable
principles in both Reformed theology and civil law.
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT POSSIBLE NAMES:
Item 09-16 // Climate for Change Task Force
Specifics: eight members as stated below; interim
report to the 219th GA (2010); final report to the 220th GA (2012)
Action: Direct the Moderator of the 218th General
Assembly (2008)Òin consultation with the Advocacy Committee for
Racial Ethnic Concerns, the Advocacy Committee for Women's Concerns,
the associate for Cultural Proficiency, and the General Assembly
Nominating Committee "to appoint a Climate for Change Task Force
composed of eight members."
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT POSSIBLE NAMES:
Item 11-28 // Middle East Study Group
Specifics: nine members as stated below
Action: [The 218th General Assembly (2008)
requests that the Moderators of the 218th, 217th, and 216th General
Assemblies (2008), (2006), and (2004) select a nine-member committee
from a broad spectrum of viewpoints from PC(USA) members] to prepare
a comprehensive study, with recommendations, that is focused on
Israel/Palestine within the complex context of the Middle East.
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT POSSIBLE NAMES: end of August
Item 13-06 // Heidelberg Catechism
Specifics: 15 members appointed by the Moderator
Action: Appointment of a Special Committee of
Fifteen to study the accuracy of the current translation of the
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT POSSIBLE NAMES:
Item 13-07 // Belhar Confession Committee
Specifics: 15 members as stated below
Action: Direct the Moderators of the 216th, 217th,
and 218th General Assemblies (2004, 2006, and 2008)Òin consultation
with the Stated Clerk, the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic
Concerns (ACREC), the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, and the
Office of Theology and Worship "to initiate the process described in
G-18.0201b by appointing a committee[, separate from any committee
assigned to the Heidelberg Catechism,] to consider amending the
confessional documents of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to
include the Belhar Confession in The Book of Confessions and to
report to the 219th General Assembly (2010)."
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT POSSIBLE NAMES:
Item 17-3NB // Youth Ministry Study Group
Specifics: 15 members (10 youth, 5 adults) as
Action: The 208th General Assembly (2008) directs
the Moderator of the General Assembly to appoint a task force to
seek input from youth, young adults, and adults to continue the
dialogue begun at this assembly; find and present model programs;
and focus on the needs and development of youth ministries, and
report back to the 219th General Assembly (2010) specific
recommendations for designing and conducting various youth
ministries under a "new vision" for youth. The task force would be
composed of ten youth and young adults, ages 15Ñ21, and five adult
mentors. The task force would meet four times prior to the 219th
General Assembly (2010).
DEADLINE TO SUBMIT POSSIBLE NAMES: see above
|A letter from the new Moderator
The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, who was elected Moderator
of the 218th General Assembly, is an energetic and committed
communicator. He has just sent a letter to the church as a
whole, which we share here as a sample of the thinking he seems to
bring to his new role. [7-10-08]
I don’t know about you, but I
may have reached my post-GA punditry and analysis saturation
point. While I understand the cathartic need to vent and react,
I do think that at some point we must begin moving from where we
were to where we are going. And honestly, we all need a break
from some of the intensity lest we get caught up in our own
little bubble and lose sight of larger issues and/or we begin to
actually do damage to the very things we are trying to build up.
I know that as I get to feeling a little overwhelmed, it usually
means that I have been forgetting to nurture one or more of my
spiritual disciplines. I KNOW that I need to get out and ride
more, I can’t wait for my next spiritual direction appointment
and, good golly, I need to ramp up my prayer life.
The whole letter >>
Click here for all
the more recent stories on the PC(USA).
Earlier stories are indexed:
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!