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News of the PC(USA) -- 
archive for July - December, 200

Click here for all the more recent stories on the PC(USA).

Earlier stories are indexed:

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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 November 15


Jane McAfee Parker Huber

Jane Parker Huber. Photo by Danny Bolin, Presbyterian News Service


Jane 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.

She 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.

They have 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, Georgia.

Jane 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 Jubilee Year.

Beginning 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.

She was 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.

In lieu 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.

our thanks for all the gifts that Jane has shared with so many Presbyterians for so many years.

For the Presbyterian News Service report >>

Reflecting on
“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. William “Beau” 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 well. 

The first essay 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 to contribute,
just send a note,
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.

Presbyterian News 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 Presbyterian Coalition, an umbrella group for more than a dozen “renewal” organizations in the denomination.

Along these “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.

“[Liberalism] has been the Goliath in our life. I think the Goliath has fallen,” he said.

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 presumptions.”

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, IL.

The full report >>

Presbyterian Outlook has also posted a report on this event, beginning:

“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 Beach, Calif.

“The progressives have had great success in taking over the church,” Andrews explained, “but like all false paths they too have lost their way.”

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 >>

Lots 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 discussions.    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.”    For 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 the gospel.

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.

Sara Lisherness, 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 Cuba.      The rest of the story >>

Washington Office mission study announced

Eileen Lindner to serve as study consultant

Presbyterian News 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.

The Witherspoon Society is preparing some commentary on this action, which we will post shortly.

Social Witness Policy
bulleta summary of GA actions
bulletand 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 Reyes-Chow:

We Are Family     [8-12-08]

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 o
n listening ...

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.    More >>

Form 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).

The full story >>

Moderator invites suggestions for Task Force appointments

Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow sent this e-mail on July 29.
[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 Assembly level.

    * 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:
    * Name
    * Task Force
    * Demographics: Age, Gender, Ethnicity, theological geographic location, etc.
    * 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 yourself theologically?
    * 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 greatly appreciated;
    * 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 com.

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 Special Committee

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 the study:
    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 children.
    e. The place of covenanted same-gender partnerships in the Christian community.


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 Council; and,
    * 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.


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."


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.


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 Heidelberg Catechism.


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)."


Item 17-3NB // Youth Ministry Study Group

Specifics: 15 members (10 youth, 5 adults) as stated below

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).


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]

He begins:

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:

bullet January - June, 2008
bulletAll of 2007
bullet All of 2006
bulletAll of 2005
bulletJuly - December, 2004
bulletJanuary - June, 2004
bulletJune - December 2003
bulletJanuary - May 2003
bulletJuly through December, 2002
bulletJanuary - June, 2002
bulletApril through December, 2001
bulletDecember '00 through March '01
bulletJuly through December, 2000

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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