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Archive for December, 2010

This page lists our postings from December, 2010

For an index to all our reports and analyses
on the 219th General Assembly

For links to all our archive pages, listed by months, click here.

Senate Passes Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal, sending bill to Obama for his signature reports:  Moments ago [on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 18], by a 65-31 vote, the Senate acted to repeal Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, the policy banning gays from openly serving in the military. The same six GOP senators who broke with their party during the cloture vote earlier today also voted for repeal: Sens. Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Scott Brown, Lisa Murkowski, George Voinovich, and Mark Kirk. Two more Republicans — John Ensign and Richard Burr — joined with Democrats in final passage.

Earlier this week, the House had passed the same legislation by 250-175 vote. More than 14,000 servicemembers have been dismissed because of the DADT policy.

For many Democrats, including President Obama, today’s final passage (and the signing of the bill, which will occur in the near future) marks the fulfillment of a promise that they made repeatedly. In a speech to the Human Rights Campaign in October, Obama said, “I will end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. That’s my commitment to you.” ...

Update: In a statement released this evening, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, "Once this legislation is signed into law by the President, the Department of Defense will immediately proceed with the planning necessary to carry out this change carefully and methodically, but purposefully. ... It is therefore important that our men and women in uniform understand that while today's historic vote means that this policy will change, the implementation and certification process will take an additional period of time. In the meantime, the current law and policy will remain in effect."    More on >>


A comment from Joe Solmonese, President of the Human Rights Campaign

Today, America lived up to its highest ideals of freedom and equality. Today, our federal government recognized that ALL men and women have the right to openly serve the country they believe in. That it doesn't matter who you are, or who you love – you are not a second-class citizen.

Think of the kids out there tonight, watching this on the news – kids who are bullied for being different, who live in fear daily that their parents will hate them if they find out the truth... Think of the relief, the empowerment, the sense of possibility they'll feel, knowing that the U.S. military has said: if you're lesbian or gay, you are worthy. We want you to join us, side by side, as equals.

Think of the people across the globe – some in countries where it is literally a life-or-death decision to come out as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender – who will hear this news and know we're one step closer toward a world where no one needs to live in fear because of who they are.


But religious conservatives have launched strong opposition to this change. The conservative ChritianPost website reports that “minety-four organizations, representing 40 million people, have signed a letter to members of the U.S. House and Senate, opposing the repeal of the “don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy that prohibits open homosexuality in the military.”  More >>

The Digital Story of the Nativity

This has attracted over a million viewers on YouTube, and we don't want you to be left out.  Gene TeSelle, who told us about it, comments, "Mildly amusing, but it gets boring."

We'll let you decide.

Bullying: ‘a national disaster’

Rash of teen suicides prompts call for church to take action

Special to Presbyterian News Service, by Bob Sloan

HARTSVILLE, S.C., December 14, 2010 – A reverent silence filled the room as Presbyterian Elder Michael Adee, barely containing his emotions, stood at the podium and solemnly read the names of six young people who in recent months have taken their own lives.

“There are people that didn’t understand that Tyler Clementi, age 18, Asher Brown, age 13, Raymond Chase, age 19, Billy Lucas, age 15, and Seth Walsh, age 13, were children of God,” said Adee, addressing the hundreds in attendance at the Believe Out Loud Power Summit in Orlando, FL, sponsored by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Each of the five young people named by Adee was a victim of bullying because they were gay or perceived to be. In 2010, there have been more than two dozen publicized reports in the United States of gay or lesbian young people taking their own lives as a direct or indirect result of bullying.

An openly gay elder at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Fe, N.M., Adee is the executive director of More Light Presbyterians, a national organization that supports and promotes the full participation of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people of faith in the life, ministry and witness of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A). He sees bullying and the deaths of these young people as nothing short of a national disaster.

More >>
More on issues of sexual justice >>

“Unbridled Laughingstock”

On a proposed Noah's Ark theme park in Kentucky -- asking for government tax support     


“Sometimes, you’ve got to laugh to keep from crying,” my Presbyterian grandmother, God rest her soul, used to say.

So it is with a $150 million Noah’s Ark theme park proposed for my native Kentucky. The project, called “Ark Encounter,” would feature, among other Bible-based attractions, a 500-foot wooden ark filled with live animals.

The developers are Christian conservatives who want state government to help subsidize the ark park with tourism development incentives that could add up to a hefty $37.5 million over 10 years, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, the Bluegrass State's largest newspaper. Some of the developers are from Answers in Genesis, the group that runs the Creation Museum in Boone County, not far from the Grant County site chosen for the ark park.    More >>

Untellable Truths

by: George Lakoff, truthout | Op-Ed

George Lakoff has been writing insightful essays for some years, showing how our political rhetoric often obscures or distorts the fundamental ethical issues of our society, and how our politics might be improved by a little ethical clarification. He opens this essay:

Democrats of all stripes have been so focused on details of policy that they have surrendered public political discourse to conservatives, and with it the key to the nation's future.

Here’s one brief indication of the “untellable truths” that he wants us to see – and speak – more clearly:

All politics is moral. Policies are proposed because they are assumed to be right, not wrong. The moral values behind a policy always should be made clear.

Conservatives and progressives have two different conceptions of morality.

Democrats need to unite behind a simple set of moral principles and to create an effective language to express them. President Obama in his campaign expressed those principles simply, as the basis of American democracy. (1) Empathy - Americans care about each other. (2) Responsibility, both personal and social. We have to act on that care. (3) The ethic of excellence. We have to make ourselves better, so we can make our families, our communities, our country and the world better. Government has special missions: to protect and empower our citizens to have at least the necessities. I don't know any Democrats who don't believe in these principles. They need to be said out loud and repeated over and over. [Italics added by your Webweaver.]

Leaders need a movement to get out in front of. Not a coalition, a movement. We have the simple principles. Those of us outside of government have to organize that unified movement and not be limited by specific issue areas. The movement is about progressivism, not just about environmentalism, or social justice, or labor, or education, or health, or peace. The general principles govern them all.

The full essay is worth a careful read >>


Letter from an Immokalee Worker...

CIW member Carmen Esquivel pens a letter to Publix, another to fellow workers in Immokalee

Every hour of every day, the CIW organizes in two very different worlds: In the farmworker community, and, for lack of a better term, in the outside world.

They are two very distinct spheres of activity -- with distinct organizing styles, strategies, tools, languages, and objectives -- and rarely do they meet, usually intersecting only during the major annual actions when large numbers of CIW members and Fair Food allies come together for an extended period of living and organizing side by side.

This website is almost exclusively an organizing tool of the "outside world," where we share news and analysis of the Campaign for Fair Food in a language and a style aimed at the vast and growing network of Fair Food allies across the country, and even overseas (we're talking to you, Ahold!...).

But today, those two worlds come beautifully together in a letter -- two letters, actually -- penned by CIW member Carmen Esquivel (shown here, above, speaking at the rally following April's huge Farmworker Freedom March in Lakeland). Doña Carmen wrote the letters, one to Publix, the other to her fellow workers in Immokalee, on the occasion of last month's announcement of the watershed agreement between the CIW and the FTGE. Never one to take her eye off the ball, Doña Carmen took the opportunity to remind Publix and other workers that the campaign is far from over, and we will continue to fight until "we liberate ourselves from the injustice that still exists."

Doña Carmen's letter is a inspiring confluence of the CIW's two worlds, so much so that we were moved to share it with you today in its entirety. Go to the CIW site, , to see it today. We hope you, too, are inspired by their words for the battle that lies ahead.

Thanks - Coalition of Immokalee Workers

Observe International Migrants Day – December 18

This comes to us from the Rev. Tony Aja, Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministries for Mid-Kentucky Presbytery, on behalf of Presbyterians for Just Immigration. 

December 18th has been designated "International Migrants Day" by the United Nations. Click here for a liturgy and other resources created for this day by the Rev. Dr. Claudio Carvalhaes, professor at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, at the request of the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s United Nations Office. Eventually this will be posted in their website this week. 

However Claudio has graciously shared it with me and others just now. We ask that you would consider using all or parts of this wonderful resource in a worship service soon to bring to the forefront the plight of those who are being displaced from their homes by political, religious or other type of persecution. Others simply migrate to feed their families and improve their lives. 

During this Christmas Season we are reminded of the Holy Family's own need to seek refuge in a foreign land... 




Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
December 13, 2010

This week's messages are:

bulletSend a Christmas Card to President Obama for Middle East Peace- Join the National Christian Campaign!
bulletNew Washington Report to Presbyterians Available!
bulletLame Duck Congressional Update


Send a Christmas Card to President Obama!

Join “For the Peace of Jerusalem” - a national Christian campaign for Israeli-Palestinian peace now.

We are calling for valiant U.S. leadership in the peace process and we believe that this peace must be achieved soon, for the good of all human kind.

Today the peace process is failing, obstructed by obstacles both daunting and superficial. But we are calling for its revival now. We believe that peace in the Holy Land is vital, it is urgent, and it is possible. 

We, as Christians across the United States, are taking up our role as peacemakers to work for peace in the historic Holy Land. During this season of Advent, the time of anticipation of Christ’s birth and God coming to dwell among us through the birth of a child, we are calling on you to join us in working for the birth of peace.  

What can you do? Send a Christmas card to President Obama! 

Join thousands of Christians across the United States in wishing the president a joyous Christmas and telling him that you believe in peace, you expect peace with justice and security for all, and you expect it soon. 

For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6


New Washington Report to Presbyterians Available!

2010 4th Quarter Edition

Articles include: 

bulletEcumenical Cuban Delegation Visits Washington, D.C.
bulletA Well-Rounded Faith Perspective
bulletCalling all Interns… and Church Partners
bulletEcumenical Advocacy Days 2011
bulletPresbyterian Efforts to End Homelessness


Lame Duck Update 

Partisan gridlock has characterized this lame duck session of Congress. While Republicans in the Senate have threatened to filibuster every item of legislation until a resolution on extending the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts is reached, on the House side, even strongly bipartisan programs are subject to procedural maneuvers aimed and preventing passage – thereby preventing anyone from claiming credit. It is a time when a conversation about respectful dialogue in the national discourse is needed more than ever. 

A few items of note from the lame duck session, including unemployment insurance extension, and child nutrition authorization >> 

Published by the Office of Public Witness, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 100 Maryland Avenue, NE, Suite 410, Washington, DC 20002
(202) 543-1126;


For more information about the content of this article, please email us at . If you would like to receive this information directly, please go to .

Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is seeking applications for an Associate Director for Outreach.

The Associate Director manages the relationship between activating/growing our members/volunteers and developing the financial resources needed for PPF’s work. The success of this position depends on good communication and an extraordinary level of trust between the Associate Director and Executive Director. They must work as a "dynamic duo," interchangeable in some areas, but unique in others. Associate Director will spend an equal amount of time on each of the two areas of fundraising and action outreach and coordination.

Half time, stipended at $1,000 per month plus Health Insurance.

Click here for the full position description



Oh, for the good old days when people would stop Christmas shopping when they ran out of money.  ~ Author Unknown


'Merry Christmas, Nearly Everybody!'   ~ Ogden Nash


How do sheep in Mexico say Merry Christmas? Fleece Navidad! 


The Santa Claus at the mall was more than a trifle surprised when a beautiful young lady about twenty years old walked up and sat on his lap but Santa quickly recovered, and started talking to the college-type "And what do you want for Christmas?" asked Santa. "Something for my mother, " said the young lady. "Bring for your mother? Well, that's what I call thoughtful,'' smiled Santa. "What can I get her?" After thinking for a moment, the girl brightened, turned to Santa and said: "I'd like for her to get a son-in-law "


Why does Santa have 3 gardens? So he can ho-ho-ho. 


What if it had been three Wise Women instead of three Wise Men? They would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, cleaned the stable, made a casserole, and brought practical gifts.


Thanks to “Everything Is Connected - John Jackson's Email”

For more humor, for Christmas and otherwise

Express Scripts workers ratify settlement agreement maintaining Bensalem facility and saving 400 jobs

Settlement reverses company’s plan to shutter all Bensalem operations  

Bensalem, PA – December 10, 2010 – Workers at Express Scripts, Inc. facilities in Bensalem, PA – members of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania – voted overwhelmingly yesterday and today to ratify a settlement agreement that will preserve approximately 400 jobs at the Street Road facility, reversing the Company’s announcement of plans to shutter all of its Bensalem operations.  

In addition to maintaining most of the company’s workforce at the Street Road facility in Bensalem, the settlement provides a substantial severance package to approximately 500 workers facing layoff as a result of the closure of the Marshall Lane facility and some downsizing at Street Road.  More >>

One union member has sent a note of thanks to us >>

Note:  The Presbyterian Board of Pensions is a major client of Express Scripts, which was our reason for taking an interest in this particular labor justice issue.  We celebrate the outcome of their negotiations. 

Presbytery voting on 10-A continues 

In meetings on Tuesday, one presbytery switches from No to Yes on LGBT ordination, and one goes the other way

Four presbyteries held their votes on Amendment 10-A, to permit LGBT candidates to be considered for ordination.

The Presbytery of Eastern Oklahoma was the first that had voted 'no' on ordination in 2008, to vote 'yes' on 10-A. The vote was 55-53, following a recount when the first reported tally totaled more votes than presbyters present. In 2008, the vote was 49-56, rejecting ordination.

In the presbyteries of Holston and Central Florida, which both experienced lopsided votes against 08-B, support increased significantly for 10-A. John Shuck has posted a report on the voting in Holston Presbytery.

But one presbytery shifted its vote from supporting ordination in 2008, to rejecting it this year. Lake Huron, which had voted in favor of 08-B, couldn't maintain that support for 10-A.

For vote tallies:

bullet More Light Presbyterians >>
bullet Covenant Network >>

Total Presbytery votes so far, on 10-A:
Yes     6
No       17
Presbyteries that have yet to vote:  151

Tricia Dykers Koenig, Covenant Network National Organizer, adds some important suggestions >>

More on Amendment 10-A >>

Presbytery voting on 10-A continues 

In meetings on Tuesday, one presbytery switches from No to Yes on LGBT ordination, and one goes the other way

Four presbyteries held their votes on Amendment 10-A, to permit LGBT candidates to be considered for ordination.

The Presbytery of Eastern Oklahoma was the first that had voted 'no' on ordination in 2008, to vote 'yes' on 10-A. The vote was 55-53, following a recount when the first reported tally totaled more votes than presbyters present. In 2008, the vote was 49-56, rejecting ordination.

In the presbyteries of Holston and Central Florida, which both experienced lopsided votes against 08-B, support increased significantly for 10-A. John Shuck has posted a report on the voting in Holston Presbytery.

But one presbytery shifted its vote from supporting ordination in 2008, to rejecting it this year. Lake Huron, which had voted in favor of 08-B, couldn't maintain that support for 10-A.

For vote tallies:

bullet More Light Presbyterians >>
bullet Covenant Network >>

Total Presbytery votes so far, on 10-A:
Yes     6
No       17
Presbyteries that have yet to vote:  151

Tricia Dykers Koenig, Covenant Network National Organizer, adds some important suggestions >>

More on Amendment 10-A >>

Amnesty International analyzes the current form of the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act, a bill that would help thousands of committed students and military officers who are alien minors to legalize their status, was introduced in the Senate last week by Senator Durbin (D-IL). A House companion bill is expected any day. However, for many DREAM supporters the release of the long-awaited Senate bill last week dampened the spirits of some and outraged others.

Amnesty International provides a helpful analysis of the bill, with its concerns and the reasons for supporting it in spite of its weaknesses.

More >>

Thanks to Jonathan Nelson, Elder, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, NYC

More on immigrants' rights >>

"A remarkable victory"...

NY Times editorial celebrates Immokalee farmworkers’ agreement with Florida Tomato Growers

This comes to us from the Presbyterian Campaign for Fair Food

An editorial published in Saturday's New York Times begins: 

"Fair trade is finally coming to the tomato fields of Florida, where farmworkers have won a remarkable victory in a 15-year struggle for better pay and working conditions. Last month, they struck a deal with growers to raise workers’ pay and to create an industry code of conduct, a health and safety program and a system to resolve worker complaints..."

The editorial goes on to give a brief primer on the history of the campaign, reminds the reader that the supermarket industry has yet to do its part to support the Fair Food movement, and concludes, "The Immokalee victory won’t impose fairness overnight, but after generations of exploitation, part of the farm industry is pointing in the right direction."

Go to the CIW website to see the editorial and all the latest news from the Campaign for Fair Food.

You know something big is happening when events in Immokalee make it into the pages of, first, the Wall Street Journal and, now, the "Old Gray Lady", so stay tuned!

Thanks - Coalition of Immokalee Workers

PC(USA)-backed revenue transparency coalition honored

Publish What You Pay recognized for work in demanding accountability, responsible resource use

Presbyterian News Service reports:

A Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)-backed global coalition that works for revenue transparency in the oil, gas and mining industries has been honored by a development agency.

Publish What You Pay is a campaign that includes more than 600 faith, human rights and development groups working in more than 70 countries to combat corruption in extractive industries and to demand government accountability for responsible resource use. The PC(USA) joined the coalition in 2008 by action of the 218th General Assembly.

On Dec. 1, PWYP was awarded the Commitment to Development "Ideas in Action" Award from the Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine.

The rest of the story >>

All I Needed to Know About Life
I learned from Santa

Encourage people to believe in you. 

Always remember who's naughty and who's nice. 

Don't pout. 

It's as much fun to give as it is to receive. 

Some days it's ok to feel a little chubby. 

Make your presents known. 

Always ask for a little bit more than what you really want. 

Bright red can make anyone look good. 

Wear a wide belt and no-one will notice how many pounds you've gained. 

If you only show up once a year, everyone will think you're very important. 

Whenever you're at a loss for words, say: "HO, HO, HO!"

from Everything Is Connected - John Jackson's Email

For an index to all our reports and analyses
on the 219th General Assembly

For links to all our archive pages, listed by months, click here.


GA actions going to 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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