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Our reports about the 219th General Assembly, July 2010

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219th General Assembly

Click here for our index page on GA 2010

Committee 10: Social Justice Issues
A: The Promotion of Social Righteousness

If you have comments on these issues, or material you would like us to post here, please send a note, and if possible we will add it to this page.

An introductory look at some issues coming to this committee


Click on any Item number to jump to the full text on the PC-BIZ website.

Item 10-02, from the Presbytery of Chicago, calls on the 219th General Assembly “to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the passage of the first social pronouncement of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.” That would be coupled with educational efforts through the church based on the new Social Creed for the Twenty-first Century that was passed by the 2008 Assembly. The new Social Creed could indeed provide stimulus and material for reflection and action as we seek to be faithful to our calling in an increasingly complex world.

Item 10-04 is a call from the Advocacy Committee on Racial-Ethnic Concerns for a continuing review among our denominational agencies to review “Efforts Regarding Cultural Proficiency and Creating a Climate for Change” in the church. This long-term commitment to developing cultural diversity – and making it work – needs serious support, when many might prefer to ignore the need for such change.  [This item has been moved to Committee 11, as Item 11-09]

Item 10-05 also comes from the Advocacy Committee on Racial-Ethnic Concerns, calling for the creation of a Committee to Study the Nature of the Church for the 21st Century. Noting the lack of clarity and vision in our church about our nature and calling in an increasingly diverse society, this study, combined with the new Social Creed, might truly open new ways into the future for the PC(USA).   [This item has been moved to Committee 11, as Item 11-10]

Item 10-06, A Resolution to Study Violence Against Women and Children on the Mexico-U.S. Border, comes from the Advocacy Committee on Womens’ Concerns and addresses a serious situation in Ciudad Juarez and along the border in general. It calls for a study involving a wide range of ethnic and advocacy groups, and the preparation of bi-lingual study materials and programs. It offers, in short, a sensitive approach to a situation needing attention.

Items 10-9 and 10-10, “Living though Economic Crisis: The Church’s Witness in Troubled Times,” and “Neither Poverty Nor Riches: Compensation, Equity, and the Unity of the Church,” are important reports from ACSWP which turn needed attention to economic justice issues, including compensation ratios in the church, and unemployment.

The economic crisis study would focus our attention on “the long-term implications of our current economic trends and practices, including their impact on the church itself, and provide appropriate recommendations for consideration by members, congregations, presbyteries, and local, state, and federal government. This assessment should center on the role of fairness and justice in our economy, with particular attention to growing inequality, the decline of the middle class, the tax structure, the shifting makeup of the labor force and its effects on employee rights, the role of regulatory agencies in protecting the public interest, and access to environmental resources that is equitable and sustainable.” This is a fairly tall order, but certainly needed as guidance for our people, our churches, and our society.

The study on compensation would focus on a very practical issue, and one demanding attention in our increasingly unequal society. It might lead our church to increasing efforts to practice the kind of equality and justice that it preaches, in our staff salary structures, in our family life, and more.

Item 10-11, “Loving Our Neighbors: Equity and Quality in Public Education (K–12),” is also presented by ACSWP, in partnership with the Office of Child Advocacy. It calls on the Assembly to approve the report with the title above, to “affirm the long-standing commitment of the PC(USA) to public education as an essential institution contributing to the common good in a democratic society by its commitment to equip all children to be effective citizens, capable of living full and meaningful lives and contributing to their society,” and to approve a variety of measures “to provide greater fairness and quality in public education.”  [NOTE: This item has been moved from Committee 11.]

Related to Item 10-11

Christian churches oppose Race to the Top, Obama education blueprint    [6-23-10]

The National Council of Churches has issued an open letter criticizing the educational priorities of President Obama’s “Race to the Top” and his proposals for educational reform.

Not often do such ecclesiastical statements gain a wider audience in a national newspaper, but the Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss has summarized the letter and posted the complete text in her “The Answer Sheet” blog.

She states that the letter “criticizes the administration's effort to push states to increase the number of charter schools, its plan to turn some of the federal money used to help poor children into competitive grants, its punitive approach to dealing with low-performing schools, and the "ugly" demonization of public school teachers.”

She then quotes two specific concerns stated in the letter:

•          “We are concerned today when we hear the civil right to education being re-defined as the right to school choice.”

•          “While competitive, market based “reforms” may increase educational opportunity for a few children, or even for some groups of children, do they introduce more equity or more inequity into the system itself? We reject the language of business for discussing public education.”

She closes by writing: “The pastoral letter is long but worth the time to read every word.” Strauss then includes the full letter in her article.

To read her article >>

You can also read the full statement on the NCC website, in PDF format >>

Education will also be a matter for discussion and action at the Presbyterian General Assembly:

Committee 10 will be receiving a report from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, in partnership with the Office of Child Advocacy, which recommends that the 219th General Assembly approve the report, Loving Our Neighbors: Equity and Quality in Public Education (K–12), along with the full rationale.

Thanks to the Rev. Bruce Gillette



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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