This page lists our postings
from earlier in April,
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
For links to
all our archive pages, listed by months,
Maggie Lauterer is third GA moderator candidate
Pastor endorsed by Presbytery of Western North
Presbyterian News Service reports that the
latest candidate to stand for moderator of the 219th General
Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) was named on April
27, when the
Presbytery of Western North Carolina endorsed the Rev.
Maggie Palmer Lauterer to stand for moderator.
The Rev. Maggie
Lauterer is the third candidate for the
moderator position, joining the Rev. Jin S. Kim (Presbytery of
the Twin Cities Area) and Elder Cynthia Bolbach (National
Capital Presbytery). The new moderator will be elected July 3,
the first day of the weeklong biennial meeting in Minneapolis.
The winner will succeed the Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of
the 218th GA.
Since 1999, Lauterer has served as pastor of
Church in Burnsville, N.C. A second-career pastor, Lauterer
came to the ministry after working in newspaper, magazine and
television journalism. She also made an unsuccessful run for
Congress, being the first woman to run for a congressional seat
in western North Carolina.
If you care about a more multicultural
church, and one more welcoming to immigrants ...
May 16th is Multicultural Church/Immigration Sunday.
Join us on May 16 to celebrate Multicultural
Church Sunday. Multicultural Church Sunday is a date on which
congregations are invited to intentionally organize
multicultural worship that seek to recognize, celebrate and
incorporate a diverse membership in worship by using music,
hymns, languages, arts and theological expressions that reflect
the diverse makeup of the church’s community.
You might want to include something about
Immigration or our New Immigrant brothers and sisters on that
Learn more >>
Don't miss the 11th National Multicultural Church
May 26-30, 2010
Pre-conferences May 26-27, 2010
more information and to register >>
conference explores the theme, “H20: Deepening our Faith,
Widening our Culture” focusing on the biblical vision of Ezekiel
seeks to explore “growing the Christ’s church deep and wide” in
an increasingly diverse world. The conference is a place of
differences. People with varying languages, cultures,
ethnicities, theologies, genders, generations and backgrounds
will come together to recognize the amazing potential of
differences and, through affirming and celebrating those
differences, create something new.
Religious leaders say new Arizona immigration law is unjust,
dangerous and contrary to biblical teaching
New York, April 26,
2010 – The National Council of Churches and other religious
organizations have sharply criticized Arizona's new immigration
law as fundamentally unjust, dangerous to citizens and
non-citizens alike, and a rejection of centuries-old biblical
precepts of justice and neighborliness.
The Rev. Dr.
Michael Kinnamon, NCC General Secretary, who last week urged
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to veto the legislation, reiterated
the view of NCC member communions and Arizona religious leaders
"that this legislation will not contribute to the reform of our
nation's immigration system" and may stimulate similar
anti-immigrant legislation throughout the country.
The rest of
the story >>
U.S.’s toughest immigration law
is signed in Arizona
The New York
Times reported on April 23, 2010, from Phoenix, Arizona:
Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona signed the
toughest illegal immigration bill in the country into law on
Friday, aimed at identifying, prosecuting and deporting
illegal immigrants. The governor’s move unleashed immediate
protests and reignited the divisive battle over immigration
Even before she signed the bill at a 4:30
p.m. news conference here, President Obama strongly
criticized it. Speaking at a naturalization ceremony for 24
active-duty service members in the Rose Garden, he called
for a federal overhaul of immigration laws — an overhaul
that Congressional leaders signaled they were preparing to
take up soon.
Saying the failure of officials in
Washington to act on immigration would open the door to
“irresponsibility by others,” he said the Arizona bill
threatened “to undermine basic notions of fairness that we
cherish as Americans, as well as the trust between police
and our communities that is so crucial to keeping us safe.”
The rest of this report >>
The Christian Science Monitor offers a more ho-hum
Arizona immigration bill: just the latest among
immigration bill, which the president called 'irresponsible' and
'misguided' on Friday, is one of many state initiatives
introduced in the absence of strong national immigration reform.
And among some Arizonans, a call for “noncompliance” —
This note comes
to us from the Rev. Trina Zelle,
Interim Pastor at
University Presbyterian Church,
Phoenix, Arizona, and a former co-moderator of the Witherspoon
A few local Presbyterians put together a
website after last week's immigration conference, in
anticipation of the governor signing SB 1070. The
www.1070ipledge.net. You can read our
statement and sign on online or download the form.
The comments that are coming in with the
signatures are heartening. We'll be putting up a
comments page soon.
Wade says this is 'not your mother and father's church
by Duane Sweep, Special to
Presbyterian News Service
DEERWOOD, Minn. — April 23, 2010 --- The Rev.
Byron Wade, vice moderator of the 218th (2008) General Assembly
of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), looked out on his audience
at the Clearwater 2010 conference here, and asked for a show of
hands from the "boomers."
He told them, "You are the last generation
that goes to church on a regular basis."
In an April 17 address on change in church,
Wade spoke about a church in a foreign land. The conference had
the theme, "Finding Our Way in the Wilderness."
"We're going through something in the church,"
Wade said. "Our current church is in a foreign culture. ... You
can't put the same old thing in a new culture and expect it to
The rest of
the story >>
Farmworker Freedom March tops 1,000 as it arrives
News release from
the Rev. Noelle
Damico, Campaign for
Fair Food, Presbyterian
The prophet Isaiah
reminds us that practicing our faith means we are to loose the bonds of
injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the
oppressed go free, and
to break every yoke” (Isaiah 58:6).
Determined, jubilant and a thousand-strong,
Coalition of Immokalee
Workers, people of faith, students and ordinary
consumers from across Florida and around the nation marched
from Tampa to Lakeland, headquarters of Publix grocery this
past Friday to Sunday. The three-day, 22-mile march was led
by the CIW’s
Florida Modern-Day Slavery Museum and called for freedom
from forced labor, abuse, poverty and degradation.
Read more about the march at
www.pcusa.org/fairfood and let Publix know you want them
to work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to address
modern-day slavery in the fields and end the poverty and
powerlessness in which it flourishes, by
sending an email to Publix’s CEO, Mr. Ed Crenshaw.
PC(USA) Campaign for Fair Food
The Rev. Noelle Damico, Campaign for Fair
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
NY Office: 631-751-7076
Supreme Court hears crucial religious freedom case
from The Interfaith Alliance
Just this week, the United States Supreme
Court heard oral argument on Christian Legal Society
v. Martinez, a case that puts religious freedom and
non-discrimination at odds. Interfaith Alliance has kept a close
watch on this case and we weighed in on these complex, critical
issues by filing a
friend-of-the-court brief with our colleagues at the
Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty (BJC).
The issue in question is whether a public university, in this
case the University of California's Hastings College of the Law,
can deny school funds and other benefits to a religious student
group, the Christian Legal Society (CLS), because it requires
voting members and officers to sign a "Statement of Faith."
This case could have far-reaching implications for the rights of
religious groups at public universities and the extent to which
the government can fund their activities.
with suggestions for action >>
Many are protesting Arizona legislation requiring police
crack-down and criminalization of “unauthorized” immigrants
Here are three statements and calls for action:
Presbyterian “Crossing Borders” conference
issues statement on immigration reform
PHOENIX, Ariz. — April 22, 2010 — After two
years of planning, the timing of the April 15-17 "Crossing
Borders, Encountering God" conference seemed so perfect as to be
"We are gathered here to have this conference
around issues of immigration and borders and on the very day we
gather we have these two events — ICE (Immigration and Customs
Enforcement) raids throughout Arizona and the passage of Arizona
Senate Bill 1070, mandating law enforcement to determine
immigration status, going to the governor's desk," said the Rev.
Mark Adams, director of Frontera de Cristo Ministries and a
member of the conference planning team.
For a more
complete report on the conference itself >>
The Latin America Working Group in Washington,
If allowed to
pass into law by Gov. Brewer, SB 1070 would effectively
force police to engage in racial profiling, criminalize
unauthorized migrants for 'trespassing' into Arizona, and
permit anyone to sue local agencies if they believe that the
law isn't being adequately enforced. Such policies are as
sweeping as they are dangerous.
reside in Arizona or not, Governor Brewer needs to hear that
institutionalizing racist and discriminatory policies is bad
for all of Arizona's families. Tell her to veto SB1070!
More – with suggestions for action by Arizonans as well as the
rest of us >>
Arizona's immigration bill is a social and racial
Jim Wallis, as an
evangelical activist for justice, writes a very personal account
of his visit to Arizona to join in protests against the
anti-immigrant bill passed by the Arizona legislature.
law is not only mean-spirited -- it will be ineffective and
will only serve to further divide communities in Arizona,
making everyone more fearful and less safe. This radical new
measure, which crosses many moral and legal lines, is a
clear demonstration of the fundamental mistake of separating
enforcement from comprehensive immigration reform. We all
want to live in a nation of laws, and the immigration system
in the U.S. is so broken that is serving no one well. But
enforcement without reform of the system is merely cruel.
Enforcement without compassion is immoral. Enforcement that
breaks up families is unacceptable. And enforcement of this
law would force us to violate our Christian conscience,
which we simply will not do. It makes it illegal to love
your neighbor in Arizona.
The full article >>
urges people to take action for immigration reform, through
the Sojourners website >>
Pass the Word: Sweatshop-Free T-shirts
From Melanie Hardison, Enough for Everyone,
Do you know a congregation, camp, youth group or Vacation Bible School
that’s planning to print T-shirts? Please share with them the
good news of
Sweat-Free Ts – shirts made by a cooperative, not a
sweatshop – available from the PC(USA).
come from the
Nueva Vida sewing cooperative in Nicaragua, which began as
an economic development initiative in the wake of Hurricane
Mitch. In 1998 the Presbyterian Hunger Program provided seed
money, and in 2003 was proud to come full circle with our
support by also becoming a customer. Since that time, support
from groups across the church has made it possible for us to
purchase over 133,000 T-shirts from the cooperative! (And this
figure does not include special orders for Presbyterian Women,
Presbyterian Youth Triennium and Presbyterian Disaster
Shirts can be
ordered from Presbyterian Distribution Service
online or by phone. They come blank with only the
Sweat-Free T logo printed in black on the sleeve; groups are
free to screen print, tie-dye or otherwise creatively imprint
the shirts with their own logo or design.
available in 100%
organic cotton that feels great. Colors are White, Natural
and Presbyterian Blue. Sizes range from Child Small to Adult
Get educational materials.
helping spread the Good News!
Melanie Hardison, Enough for Everyone,
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
(888) 728-7228 x5626
Reflecting on the crisis in the Roman Catholic Church
The current criticisms of the Catholic Church’s
responses to the many long-standing complaints of various forms
of child abuse, by its clergy and others, and attempts to cover
up or ignore many of those complaints, continue to receive a
great deal of attention in the media.
We offer these two articles as providing very
helpful perspective and analysis on a complex situation.
Hendrick Hertzberg, writing in the New
Yorker under the title, “Indulgence,” begins with this very
On October 31, 1517, a Roman Catholic priest and
theologian, Dr. Martin Luther, put the finishing touches on a
series of bullet points and, legend has it, nailed the result to
the door of the castle church in Wittenberg, Germany—the
equivalent, for the time and place, of uploading a particularly
explosive blog post. Luther’s was a protest against the sale of
chits that were claimed to entitle buyers or their designees to
shorter stays in Purgatory. Such chits, known as indulgences,
were being hawked as part of Pope Leo X’s fund-raising drive for
the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica. The “Ninety-five Theses
on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” touched off a
high-stakes flame war that rapidly devolved into the real thing,
with actual wars, actual flames, and actual stakes. The
theological clash that sundered Christendom didn’t just change
the face of Western religion; it birthed the modern world.
Half a millennium later, the present agony of
Catholicism is very far from being in the same league, even
though the National Catholic Reporter has called it “the
largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in Church
history.” The crisis is not about doctrine, at least not
directly. It’s about administration; it’s about the structure of
power within the Catholic Church; it’s about the Church’s
insular, self-protective clerical culture. And, of course, like
nearly every one of the controversies that preoccupy and bedevil
the Church—abortion, stem-cell research, contraception,
celibacy, marriage and divorce and affectional orientation—it’s
The full article >>
Nicholas Kristoff writes in the New York
Times under the title, “A Church Mary Can Love.”
I like his opening too:
I heard a joke the other day about a pious soul
who dies, goes to heaven, and gains an audience with the Virgin
Mary. The visitor asks Mary why, for all her blessings, she
always appears in paintings as a bit sad, a bit wistful: Is
Mary reassures her visitor: “Oh, everything’s
great. No problems. It’s just ... it’s just that we had always
wanted a daughter.”
That story comes to mind as the Vatican wrestles
with the consequences of a patriarchal premodern mind-set:
scandal, cover-up and the clumsiest self-defense since
Watergate. That’s what happens with old boys’ clubs.
It wasn’t inevitable that the Catholic Church
would grow so addicted to male domination, celibacy and rigid
hierarchies. Jesus himself focused on the needy rather than
dogma, and went out of his way to engage women and treat them
He goes on to explain how the Vatican would be
better off if it paid closer attention to the priests and nuns
who, like Jesus, are devoted to helping the poor and the sick
out in the real world.
The full op-ed article >>
Thanks to Elizabeth Sarfaty
SEC lawsuit of
Goldman Sachs overdue and welcomed by Illinois People’s Action
posted reports and commentary last November on a demonstration
at the Goldman Sachs office in Chicago by an Illinois
grass-roots citizens’ group, Illinois Public Action. They issued
the following press release today, commenting on the recent SEC
announcement of a suit again Goldman Sachs.
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the Federal
Government announced over the weekend it is suing Goldman Sachs
for its role in the financial market meltdown due to its role in
predatory mortgage lending practices.
Illinois People’s Action (IPA/ciop) says it’s about time. “Last
November about 200 IPA/ciop leaders went to Goldman Sachs in the
Chicago loop,” said IPA leader, Jack Porter. “We called them out
for their major role in the economic catastrophe we’re all going
through. Now our judgment has been confirmed by the SEC.”
week after the Chicago action, IPA leaders joined with other
grassroots groups from around the country to march on Goldman
Sachs in Washington D.C. When Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein,
claimed Sachs was doing God’s work, IPA Board President, Rev.
Tony Pierce, stood before a crowd of hundreds, decrying
Blankfein’s claim. Pierce received international press coverage
for his comments. Both the Chicago and Washington demonstrations
against Goldman Sachs were organized by National People’s
IPA/ciop has been organizing on predatory lending since it saw a
2043% increase in foreclosures in central Illinois from 1993 to
1999. IPA noted that the increase in foreclosures was positively
correlated with subprime and predatory mortgage lending and
sounded the bullhorn that unless predatory lending was stopped,
it could bring down the entire market. While IPA believes the
SEC should have listened to warnings and taken action years ago,
it is encouraged to see the SEC taking action now.
“Fortunately, our United States government is willing to back
the people and deal with fraudulent activities in the business
world. We are glad to see them stepping up at this time and hope
they will look further at other big banks that have done the
same,” said Rev. Charlotte Dotts, IPA leader and pastor at Word
of Life Church in Bloomington. Many of Rev. Dotts parishioners
have been negatively affected by predatory lending.
IPA is joining its affiliates across the country to demand
accountability by the big banks and government. It held a
Showdown on Foreclosures in Peoria last week that was attended
by over 300 community leaders and the U.S. Department of
Treasury. It held a similar meeting in Decatur last August that
was attended by 500. It plans to take its case to D.C. again in
IPA is a faith-based organization whose membership is comprised
of 40 churches and grassroots community groups across the state.
For more information on IPA’s campaigns, go to
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to give $500,000 for seeds
of hope in Haiti
Seeds and tools will help
Haitian farmers feed the country and build the economy
Press release from PC(USA), dated April 19,
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It is rainy season in Haiti.
While that sometimes creates terrible challenges for those whose
homes were destroyed in the earthquake, it is also good news.
The rainy season is the growing season. And for thousands of
farmers, it is both an opportunity for economic recovery and a
chance for them to play an important role in their country’s
Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is
partnering with the Presbyterian Hunger Program to provide funds
and staff support for seeds of hope for Haiti. PDA has committed
$500,000 to purchase seeds and tools for farmers who are trying
to feed the hundreds of thousands of displaced Haitians who have
left Port-au-Prince, as well as the communities that are hosting
The rest of the story >>
More Malarkey About Health Care
legislative debate is over, but the false and exaggerated claims
just keep on coming.
Summary of a longer report from
We’ve seldom seen a piece of legislation so
widely misrepresented, and misunderstood, as the new health care
law. We stopped counting the number of articles and items we
turned out on the subject after the total reached 100.
Some of that is understandable. The debate
went on for more than a year, while the different House and
Senate bills changed their shape constantly. The final law was
the product of an awkward two-step legislative dance that first
enacted the Senate’s version, then quickly amended it with a
reconciliation "fix." No wonder people are confused.
And even now the misrepresentations continue.
The new law is no longer a moving target, but some opponents
persist in making false or exaggerated claims about it. Our
inboxes are filled with messages asking about assertions that
the new law:
* Requires patients to be implanted with
microchips. (No, it doesn’t.)
* Cuts benefits for military families and
retirees. (No. The TRICARE program isn’t affected.)
* Exempts Muslims from the requirement to
obtain coverage. (Not specifically. It does have a religious
exemption, but that is intended for Old Order Amish.)
* Allows insurance companies to continue
denying coverage to children with preexisting conditions.
(Insurance companies have agreed not to exploit a loophole that
might have allowed this.)
* Will require 16,500 armed IRS agents to
enforce. (No. Criminal penalties are waived.)
* Gives President Obama a Nazi-like "private
army." (No. It provides a reserve corps of doctors and other
health workers for emergencies.)
* "Exempts" House and Senate members. (No.
Their coverage may not be as good as before, in fact.)
* Covers erectile-dysfunction drugs for sex
offenders. (Just as it was before the new law, those no longer
in jail can buy any insurance plan they choose.)
* Provides federal funding for abortions. (Not
directly. But neither side in the abortion debate is happy with
For details on these claims about the new law,
please read our Analysis section.
For desktop Users >>
For mobile Users >>
An update on the recent elections in Sudan
Advocacy Forum, with thanks to Bill Andrus
specifically addresses the current status of the elections, the
results of which are scheduled to be released on Tuesday April
Center's monitoring team gives the following as their initial
"While it is
too early to offer a final overall assessment,
it is apparent that the
elections will fall short of meeting international standards and
Sudan's obligations for genuine elections in many
respects. Nonetheless, the elections are important as a key
benchmark in the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and because
of the increased political and civic participation that has
occurred over the last several months. Ultimately, the success
of the elections will depend on whether Sudanese leaders take
action to promote lasting democratic transformation."
Carter Center Preliminary Report April 17, 2010 [emphasis added]
The Carter report
takes a long view of Sudan's elections; however, a view
anticipated by a prophetic statement issued very early in the
process suggests that the people rather than the leaders will
have the most to say about the future of Sudan:
for optimism would do better to scale back their expectations of
the polls and to look instead at the incredible resilience of
ordinary Sudanese people and the heroic efforts of a vibrant
civil society to fight for human rights, gender equality and
Inspirational leadership is more likely to come from the tens of
thousands of women and men working on a new Sudan at the
grassroots in Darfur, Jonglei and Kordofan, than from the
Islamists, generals and 'former' warlords who still run the
country." Harry Verhoeven guardian.co.uk, Monday 12 April 2010
What is critical for the Sudanese right now?
Indeed, it would appear that very little will change
immediately. That will result in disappointment for many
Sudanese who pinned their hopes on change via the ballot box.
Regardless, we believe that
at all cost the
Sudanese must avoid violence. We, whether Sudanese or
friends of the Sudanese, must all work and pray that the ongoing
phases of counting, tabulation and posting the results will be
carried out peacefully and without violent reaction from
disappointed voters. We join with those leaders who have called
for people to remain calm and demonstrate civility during the
elections process and beyond because it is only peace that will
take Sudan forward in the future.
said to his disciples: "Don't be frightened. No matter what,
don't be afraid." God is sovereign; His love is certain; and,
His justice will be done! Recognizing this, we encourage all
Sudanese and friends of Sudanese to
pray, and pray hard, and
to avoid any violence.
In His Service,
Sudan Advocacy Action Forum
"I hereby command
you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed;
for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9
More on Sudan and Darfur >>
So I’m not alone in saying dumb things!
These goodies have come to us from John
Jackson (April 18, 2010)
Applicants for jobs at a company are asked to
fill out a questionnaire. Among the things candidates list is
their high school and when they attended. One prospective
employee dutifully wrote the name of his high school, followed
by the dates attended: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and
I spent 20 minutes explaining life insurance
options to one of our employees. After reviewing the different
plans, he decided to max out, choosing $100,000 worth of life
insurance. But he had one last question. “Now,” he said, “what
do I have to do to collect the money?”
A distraught senior citizen phoned her doctor.
“Is it true,” she asked, “that the medication you prescribed has
to be taken for the rest of my life?” “Yes,” the doctor told
her. There was a moment of silence before the senior lady
replied, “I’m wondering, then, just how serious is my condition,
because this prescription is marked ‘no refills’?”
What Did John Witherspoon Mean by
he defend property rights against health care reform?
With all the discussion these days (or maybe “ranting
and raving” would be more appropriate) about individual property rights
standing against the authority of government to limit them for the
common welfare (as in requiring some people to obtain health insurance,
for instance) Gene TeSelle reminds us of John Witherspoon’s famous
statement in 1776 that if people give up their right to “property,” they
will “at the same time deliver the conscience to bondage.” It sounds
like a great argument for the Tea Party folks, but TeSelle shows that
Witherspoon’s intention was quite different.
For people who as followers of Jesus want to change the
world, here’s some sober, creative, and promising guidance
To Change the World: The Irony, Tragedy, and
Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World, by James
The Amazon.com review begins:
The call to make the world a better place
is inherent in the Christian belief and practice. But why
have efforts to change the world by Christians so often
failed or gone tragically awry? And how might Christians in
the 21st century live in ways that have integrity with their
traditions and are more truly transformative? In To
Change the World, James Davison Hunter offers persuasive
– and provocative – answers to these questions.
To read the rest of this review, or to order
the book, click here.
For other reviews, and an interview with the
Desmond Tutu calls for “divesting from injustice”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in
1984, has written out of his own profound commitment to both
peace and justice, in support of a recent call by students at
the University of California, Berkeley, for the University to
divest their funds now invested in companies that engage in
activities supportive of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian
Thanks to PVJ member John
Simpson, of Fair Oaks, CA
Desmond Tutu's statement >>
Here's the latest on the UC Berkeley vote, coming up tonight >>
For more on the Berkeley action:
which is based in Berkeley, has provided a number of materials
related to the proposal by the Berkeley Student Senate Bill
calling for divestment from two companies that help Israel
maintain the Occupation of the West Bank.
The first statement [critical of the
divestment proposal] comes from J street and is signed by the
New Israel Fund as well. They are important voices for peace and
justice in Israel.
Following that is the resolution [for
divestment] being debated.
In support of the divestment proposal they
present statements from Jewish Voices for Peace, Bishop Tutu,
Naomi Klein, and others.
Click here for the whole collection.
WITNESS IN WASHINGTON WEEKLY
from the Washington Office of
the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
March for Farmworker Justice
Action at Reynolds' Shareholder Meeting
from the Farm Labor Organizing Committee (FLOC),
May 7th, 2010, 10:30-1:30
Lloyd Presbyterian Church
748 N Chestnut St, Winston Salem, NC
There is less than one month until the
Reynolds American annual shareholders meeting, where company
executives, board members, and shareholders will gather to
discuss and decide issues regarding Reynolds' profits and
corporate policies. As in the past two years, hundreds of FLOC
members and supporters will gather in downtown Winston-Salem to
demand justice for the workers at the bottom of the
corporation's supply chain. Please save the date. More details
Tens of thousands of tobacco field workers
continue to suffer rampant human rights abuses, as RJ Reynolds
makes billions from their labor. For over two years, Reynolds
CEO Susan Ivey has continually refused to even meet with
farmworker representatives to address the harsh realities they
face in Southern tobacco fields.
Join us on May 7th, as we gather to
express widespread community support for responsible corporate
policies that allow farmworkers to have a voice in the decisions
that affect them. Visit our website for more information on the
Responding to the West Virginia mine disaster
This comes to us from Kim Bobo, of
Interfaith Worker Justice
Mother Jones is often quoted as saying, "Pray
for the Dead, Fight like hell for the Living." The 25 miners who
lost their lives in the
Upper Big Branch mining disaster call us to both prayer and
We must pray for the miners still missing, the miners who have
lost their colleagues and the families of those killed. Let us
pray for them individually and through our congregations. April
28 is Workers Memorial Day, a time to remember those who have
lost their lives in the workplace. Consider using IWJ's
Litany for Workers Memorial Day in one of your
congregation's services later this month.
We must also fight to protect those who work in dangerous
workplaces like mines. The Upper Big Branch mine is operated by
the Performance Coal Company, a non-union company operated by
Massey Energy. In the last 22 years, the company has committed
over 1,000 health and safety violations. Since the beginning of
March 2010, the company has had 12 serious ventilation
violations, including 8 for failing to follow the ventilation
plan. This company had a pattern of violating health and safety
guidelines. Such patterns of violations kill and maim workers.
There are two ways we can fight for other miners and workers.
1) Support the rights of workers to organize unions. Union mines
are safer than non-union mines because the union plays a role in
enforcing the safety guidelines. Unfortunately, like many other
workers, miners often fear losing their jobs or retaliation for
joining a union. Miners and other workers need labor law reform,
Employee Free Choice Act. Send a letter today and urge your
senator to support efforts to reform the nation's labor laws so
workers can join labor unions without fear and harassment. Click
2) Support budget requests for more mine inspectors. The
Department of Labor needs additional funds for mine inspectors
as well as other enforcement staff for the Wage and Hour
Division and OSHA. Interfaith Worker Justice supports the
expansion of these important enforcement agencies. Send a letter
to your congressional representative urging him or her to fully
fund the Department of Labor's budget requests for additional
enforcement staff. Click
Thank you for your prayers and your action.
|A West Virginia Presbyterian comments:
The Rev. John Harris, until recently
a member of the Witherspoon Society board, now
pastoring in Flushing, New York, was born and has
lived and worked most of his life in West Virginia.
He reflects on the mine disaster on his
SummittoShore blogspot, concluding:
West Virginia coal is both a
blessing and a curse, and coal mining in West
Virginia is like an addictive drug that offers a
quick fix high but also occasionally kills when
improperly administered or when one overdoses. Like
a third world colony West Virginia has had its
lumber clear cut, its gas pumped out, and its coal
extracted at the cost of environmental degradation
and lost lives, this week twenty nine more lost
lives. Mountaineers are always free, free to sell
their minerals, land, natural resources and very
lives to out of state absentee entrepreneurs who
enrich themselves while their workers survive on a
few scraps of leftovers.
May God comfort the afflicted
families, friends, co workers and neighbors of the
twenty-nine West Virginia miners killed in this
recent mine explosion. May God afflict those who
comfortably sat by, counting their money while
allowing this to happen.
Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons expresses thanks for new
strategic arms limitation treaty
A crucial, necessary step
The Reverend Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of
the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), issued
the following statement today in response to the signing of a
new strategic arms reduction treaty (START) by President Obama
and President Medvedev:
The new nuclear arms reduction treaty
signed by the United States and Russia on April 8 in Prague
is an event that the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has long
awaited. This initiative resonates with the vision of the
prophet Micah who looked toward the day when nations “shall
beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into
pruning hooks” (Micah 4:3). Guided by this biblical vision,
General Assemblies of the church and its predecessors have
understood that following Jesus and working for God’s
intended order and life abundant involve seeking
international disarmament and arms control measures. ...
This could also lead to further reduction in their nuclear
arsenals. We give thanks for the courage and will to
negotiate this treaty and we look forward to its
The full text of the statement >>
on supporting the START treaty from the Presbyterian
More Light church in Houston
Community of The Servant-Savior Presbyterian Church Destroyed by
A huge fire
destroyed a southeast Houston church on Thursday night, KPRC TV
reported. Investigators said the two-alarm fire started on the
west side of the church, sparked by incendiary devices – meaning
it was an act of arson. Church members said this church was the
only open and affirming church in the area, and has received
hate mail in the past.
From Michael Adee of More Light
Please hold this
congregation, its pastor, Rev. Dr. Alan Brehm, and
the Presbytery of New Covenant, in your thoughts
and prayers as they grieve the loss of their
church buildings, support each other during this
time and discern their future.
congregation will be holding the Sunday worship
service at 11:30 AM outside on church property
on April 11. For those of you in the Houston
area, it would be great if you could join them
for worship this Sunday to express your care and
support in person. The address in southeast
Houston is: 11303 Hughes Road, Houston, TX 77089
you would like to send a note to the
congregation and its pastor, you can
send it to the Rev. Alan Brehm at
Myth of the 'gay lifestyle' used to justify bias
LZ Granderson, a senior writer and columnist for
ESPN The Magazine and ESPN.com, writes about his own life as a
gay man whose life with his partner is largely occupied with
“grocery shopping and getting my son off to school.”
He offers a nice, realistic response to the
marriage advocates who opposed marriage for some, and the
pro-family groups who are concerned to find homes for abandoned
children, but only certain kinds of homes.
Click here for his article >>
Immokalee farmworkers seek email support for Freedom March
(April 16-18) and negotiations with Publix Grocery
This comes to us from the Rev.
Campaign for Fair Food,
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
You may know that
on April 1, the CIW made its
8th fairfood agreement
with Aramark Corporation. On April 16-18 Presbyterians
will join the CIW and other supporters on the Farmworker Freedom
March from Tampa to Lakeland, FL, headquarters of Publix
Grocery. In light of the upcoming action, CIW has set up an
e-action by which people can send emails to the CEO of Publix,
urging the company to work with the CIW.
Just click here to send your email.
We hope Publix
will be moved by this public witness and by emails from across
the country to change course and work with the CIW.
Experience the good food
Earth Agrarian Road Trip to the U.S. Social Forum
June 13-26, 2010
received this from Andrew Kang Bartlett, Presbyterian
Come experience food justice as we
visit church and community initiatives in Kentucky, Tennessee,
North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan along
the way to Detroit for the
2010 U.S. Social Forum. Celebrate the grassroots sustainable
food and agricultural revolution that is sprouting up
everywhere. Join with college students, farmers, musicians,
bloggers, and other adventurous souls. Hosted by the
Presbyterian Hunger Program and rooted in the agrarian heart of
Learn more and sign up today.
Download an application and a
The Faith-Based Militia: When is Terrorism ‘Christian’?
Reflecting on the recent arrest of members of the
Michigan-based Hutaree Militia for allegedly plotting the murder
of one or more police officers as an expression of their
Christian beliefs, Frederick Clarkson sees a need to consider
the wider subject of “faith-based terrorism.” He mentions the
conviction in 2003 of serial anti-abortion terrorist Clayton
Waagner, who had sent envelopes of white powder purporting to be
anthrax to some 550 reproductive rights groups and clinics. More
recently we have seen reports of the trial and conviction of
Scott Roeder for the murder of Dr. George Tiller, an abortion
provider in Wichita, Kansas.
Clarkson notes that relating Christian
religious faith to what we call “terrorism” is offensive to
many, but is suggesting that we need to pay careful attention to
the links between what is claimed is Christian faith and
violent, terroristic action. And he reminds us that often this
linkage appears in relation to struggles over abortion.
It may be helpful to keep this in mind for the
coming debates at our 219th General Assembly, as we
deal once again with the question of abortion and women’s right
to choose. It would be helpful if the Assembly could provide
some guidelines and language for members of the PC(USA), and the
Washington office, so that the links between ideological
absolutism and armed intimidation and violence can be seen more
Click here for Clarkson’s essay >>
Frederick Clarkson, whose writing about
politics and religion has appeared in magazines and
newspapers from Mother Jones, Conscience and
Church & State, to The Village Voice and
The Christian Science Monitor for 25 years. He is the
editor of Dispatches from the Religious Left: The Future
of Faith and Politics in America (Ig Publishing 2008),
and co-founder of the group blog, Talk to Action.
More of our
posts on the "Religious Right" >>
hear from Washington leaders about importance of faith in
Presbyterian News Service has posted a report
on the Presbyterian activities and speakers at the Ecumenical
Advocacy Days event in Washington, on March 20.
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
For links to
all our archive pages, listed by months,
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!