Presbyterian Voices for Justice 

A union of The Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia

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Archive for March, 2010

This page lists our postings all of March, 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.

Providence Presbytery (South Carolina) sends overture calling for steps toward peace in Iraq

An overture, which will be numbered OVT 107, was approved by the Presbytery of Providence on March 18, 2010.  It calls for steps toward peace, including withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq by August 31, 2010, and all U.S. armed forces and defense contractors by December 31, 2011, and aid to refugees and to returning U.S. veterans.  

For the full text of the overture >>

David McGown, former Witherspoon president, dies in Santa Fe
[updated on 3-30-10]

The Rev. David McGown, who served as president of the Witherspoon Society in 1995, and was active in campus ministry for many years, most recently at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle Campus, died peacefully Friday afternoon, March 26, at his home in Santa Fe. He had struggled with Alzheimer’s for several years and had lived in an assisted living facility with his wife Jeanne for the past several years. A memorial service is being planned for Saturday.

Jeanne McGown's address is 2400 Legacy Court, Santa Fe, NM 87507.

Thanks to Ray Kersting for sending word of this.

Remembering and celebrating Dave McGown ...

In April of 2001 – on Palm Sunday, no less – David wrote a note to us reporting on a remarkable, inclusive, joyful, violence-defying worship service at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Santa Fe. Take a look at it, and give thanks for David, for his strong witness over many years, and his entry into the New Life.

We also want to acknowledge with gratitude that David's wife, Jeanne (to whom I apologize for getting her named spelled wrong when first posting this!), was one of the first and most active members of Voices of Sophia.

David's obituary is in the Santa Fe New Mexican >>

Along with health care reform, immigration reform hit the news -- and the streets -- last week

Here are a few of the important reports on a vitally important issue:

New National Poll: people of faith support immigration reform, approve of clergy speaking out

Large majorities of major religious groups support opportunity for citizenship

A new survey of U.S. citizens who are registered to vote by Public Religion Research Institute finds broad support across religious groups for a comprehensive approach to immigration reform and strong approval for clergy speaking out on the issue. ...

“By a 2-to-1 margin, American voters strongly support a comprehensive approach to immigration reform, and they want a solution that reflects strongly held values,” said Dr. Robert P. Jones, CEO of Public Religion Research Institute. “More than 8-in-10 Americans – including overwhelming majorities of white mainline Protestants, Catholics, and white evangelicals – believe strongly that immigration reform should be guided by the values of protecting the dignity of every person and keeping families together as well as by such values as promoting national security and ensuring fairness to taxpayers.”   More >>


“Need for immigration reform is now,” U.S. faith leaders tell White House and Congress

Two reports on visits to Congress by delegations of people of faith


“A place to call home”

Ecumenical Advocacy Days calls for justice for immigrants, refugees, displaced people

Presbyterian News Service reported from Arlington, Va., on March 22:

The ninth annual gathering of Ecumenical Advocacy Days opened with an enthusiastic show of support for faith-based social justice work.

The Rev. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, asked the 700 participants [including about 100 Presbyterians] to raise their hands if they thought the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was a better theologian than Glenn Beck. The conservative radio and TV show host recently encouraged his audience to leave their churches if they hear the words ‘social justice’ or ‘economic justice.’

The event focused this year on the need for immigration reform, on which Kinnamon commented:  “This is not a call for tolerance. It is a call for hospitality.”

The full PNS report >>

Presbyterian News Service has posted a later report on the Presbyterian activities and speakers at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days event in Washington, on March 20.

The full report >>

Read the Bible with a newspaper in the other hand? No, something more is needed, says retired Presbyterian pastor

Robert A. McKenzie, in his book of reminiscences, comments on a famous dictum: 

Karl Barth, the great Swiss theologian, said that Christians need to read the Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other. He had it wrong. Newspapers, I discovered, are apologists for the world's power brokers.

To read the Bible aright we have to get behind the newspapers to the stories told by the poor and oppressed because the newspapers, not to mention governments or business or even much of the church, have no interest in the stories of the poor. But when I read the Bible from the perspective of the stories recited by the poor, I invariably find a perfect correspondence. Indeed, it is the poor themselves who make that correlation.


It's on pages 358-59 of Life Keeps Coming At Me: A Son of the Soil Takes Root in Berkeley (1st Books Library, 2003). The statement is more applicable today than at the time of its publication.

While the book has much personal and family information, it also tells the important story of how a North Dakotan who voted for Nixon in 1960 became a "Sixties radical" on the basis of his experiences in Berkeley (where he was pastor at St. John's Presbyterian Church from the Sixties to the Eighties) and in Central America. 

You can order through Amazon >>>>>

Thanks to Gene TeSelle

To Presbyterian Voices for Justice members and friends:

We’re looking for a few good volunteers
     ... to help staff the PVJ booth at General Assembly

Vicki Moss, our long-time Gracious Hostess at our Exhibit Hall booth, is looking for folks who can spend some time meeting and greeting people who come by the booth, helping them with any questions or concerns, introducing them to the materials and events that we will be providing ... and whatever else comes along.

There will be a sign-up sheet at the booth for anyone who wants to take a turn at staffing, or you can contact Vicki directly to pre-request a shift. Just e-mail her at

And even if you can’t volunteer at the booth, be sure to stop by to see folks, and enjoy the goodies, which will include buttons, bookmarks, and postcards.

Empowering Women to Claim the Fullness of Their Humanity as Created by God

Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty, an elected member of Advocacy for Women’s Concerns, and Associate Professor of Theology at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky, takes a fresh look at the theological idea of sin, as it has generally been viewed in a distinctively male perspective, as a misuse of power.  But from the experience of women, the problem is the lack of power, and the cure for sin, then, is empowerment.

Her essay is published in the Winter 2010 issue of Network News (pp. 31-32), and is now posted here in html format as well.

bullet Hinson-Hasty will be one of the main presenters for the Ghost Ranch seminar this summer on “We’re All In This Together: Confronting the Structures of Injustice.” Co-sponsored by Voices for Justice and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, it will take place from July 26-August 1, 2010.
Engaging Conversations: Social Media and Justice Networks

The Rev. Melissa Lynn DeRosia met last January with the board and network leadership teams of PHEWA in Louisville, KY, and talked with them about her experiences with social media. She says, "They were particularly interested in how I utilize it in my local ministry as a pastor and connect with others across the denomination, as I serve as moderator of the Presbytery of Lake Huron and an elected member of the General Assembly Mission Council (GAMC)."  She has kindly shared some of her knowledge with us, as well.  Click here for her article >>

This article, too, is published in the Winter 2010 issue of Network News (pp. 40-42).

Bread for the World invites us to ...

Help Make Tax Day Good News for Poor People

The Sunday after Easter is also the Sunday before Tax Day, April 15. Join Bread for the World in making it (or perhaps Wednesday, April 14) a time to reflect on the ways our nation’s tax system can help poor and hungry families.

Following the example of Zacchaeus, the tax collector whose confrontation with Jesus brought good news to poor people, our Tax Day resources—including a new hymn by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette—will help your members see the connection between tax policies and their neighbors’ ability to feed their children.

You can also use Tax Day as a way to help prepare your congregation for an upcoming Offering of Letters, or you may want to hold your offering on that day. Visit our site for more information.

BFW also provides some excellent, brief resources for reflection and worship from Maundy Thursday through the Fourth Sunday of Easter.

One more reason for being Proud you’re a Presbyterian

Thanks to my diligent search for new knowledge on the Internet, I’ve discovered that "Britney Spears" can be rearranged to spell "presbyterians."

Here's an addition from Bruce Gillette:

More reasons for being Proud you're a Presbyterian   [3-20-10]

"Presbyterian" (note no "s" on the end) is an anagram whose letters also spell "Best in Prayer" while the letters in "Episcopal" also spell "Pepsi Cola."

From Bruce Gillette (father of two college students who know the letters in "dormitory" also spell "dirty room").

Glenn Beck elicits (even if he doesn’t produce) some very good thinking

On Glenn Beck and Social Justice

Valerie Elverton-Dixon, writing for Tikkun Daily, offers some very good reflections on Beck’s much-noted call for Christians to leave congregations that call for social justice – because they’re just serving the evil goals of the Communists and the Nazis.

She begins:

Fox News host Glenn Beck has created a firestorm by calling for Christians to leave congregations that preach and teach social justice. According to Beck, this is code for a socialist agenda. He has said that the one idea that Nazis and Communists have in common is the concept of social justice. Many Christians, and I would dare say many non Christians, are outraged by such statements. It is clear that Beck has neither a clear understanding of what social justice is or what most religions require of believers. Moreover, social justice is not only a requirement of faith, but it is a duty of citizenship.

Religion is the recognition that we as individuals are connected to others—to a transcendence, to other human beings, to nature and to all of creation. This connection leads to moral responsibilities both to ourselves and to others. We err when we think that we exist only for our individual selves or only for our family, tribe or nation. The more we grow in spiritual maturity, the wider is our range of moral concern. We not only care about our moral obligations to ourselves, but that care extends out to all. The them versus us delusion falls away, and we come to recognize that they and we are the same. We each are a part of the other. Martin Luther King called it a network of mutuality. This insight helps me to know the imperative that commands me to love God with all my heart and soul and to love my neighbor as myself.

The full essay >>

There are some good comments following the essay itself – just scroll down.

Querying Queer Sexuality: Leading a Course to Broaden Awareness

by Sylvia Thorson-Smith

This article has been published originally in our newsletter, Network News, the Winter 2010 issue, pages 28-30.  It is here online in PDF format >>

I have the very good fortune of belonging to a More Light Church in Tucson, Arizona (St. Mark’s Presbyterian). Since I chair the More Light Ministry Team and regularly teach adult ed courses, I think it’s important to provide regular opportunities for our members to study issues of human sexuality, especially as they pertain to our work for LGBT justice.

In January and February, I coordinated a 6-week course called “Querying Queer Sexuality.” The reason I used the term “Queer” is to familiarize our congregation with the changing meaning and context of this term. For many, it still feels like a negative label (weird, odd, abnormal), while within the LGBT and academic communities, it’s been recast as a broadly inclusive term and one that reflects new scholarly thinking (as in queer theory). There is much to discuss about this new terminology, as well as other changing attitudes toward the politics of sexual and gender identity.

I’ve been asked to give an overview of this series in Network News, with the hope that others may be encouraged to do something similar. Following is an outline of the course with comments about the content and process of each session.

The rest of the article >>

These items from Network News  have now been posted in html format, too.

Sylvia Thorson-Smith writes on Querying Queer Sexuality: Leading a Course to Broaden Awareness
Co-Moderator Bill Dummer on doing justice locally   (page 2 )
Voices for Justice events at General Assembly    (page 6)

So what are you doing locally?

The current Co-Moderator of Presbyterian Voices for Justice, the Rev. Bill Dummer, has been encouraging us to take seriously our calling to work for justice not just at global and national and denominational levels, but also locally -- right where we are.  So we're posting his thoughts about his own activities here, and inviting you to share what you're doing locally as well.

It may be a story of your own involvement in a congregation's or other group's work for justice in your community, or a report on what others are doing in your area.

What we'd like to hear form you:

bulletWhat are you doing?
bulletWhat are you hoping to accomplish?
bulletWhat obstacles and problems are you encountering?
bulletHow are you overcoming them?
bulletWhat can the rest of us learn from your experiences?

Just send a note to, with your story and reflections, and we'll share it here.

Network News is here
-- the Winter 2010 issue is posted here in PDF format

The contents:

Co-Moderator Bill Dummer on doing justice locally   (page 2 )
Our new name    (5)
Voices for Justice events at General Assembly    (6)
The Overtures Are Coming! The Overtures Are Coming!    (9)
Middle East study – and again charges of anti-Semitism   (22)
Querying Queer Sexuality, by Sylvia Thorson-Smith    (28)
Empowering Women to Claim the Fullness of Their Humanity,  by Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty 31
The Debt Squeeze: Who Should Take the Fall? by Gene TeSelle   (33)
Engaging Conversation through Social Networks, by Melissa Lynn DeRosia (40)

plus more news ...

and ...

Ghost Ranch Seminar, July 26-August 1, 2010 –                
We’re All In This Together: Confronting the Structures of Injustice

To download this issue of Network News (in PDF format) click here.

To get it in high-resolution format -- looking better but taking longer to download, click here.

Some of the articles in the on-line print version are also posted in html format, as regular web pages.  Clicking on any of the titles above that are formatted as links will take you to those pages, which may differ slightly from the "print" version.  And we'll be adding more of those as quickly as we can.

We regret that once again we are not able to print and mail this issue.  We hope we'll be able to do better with the spring issue! YOU can help by sending a  special contribution.  Just click here.

For suggestions about printing the PDF version of this newsletter (which totals 52 pages), just look at page 5 in this issue.

Two progressive faith groups express concern about “faith-based” government initiatives

The Interfaith Alliance supports recommendations by the White House Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, that would bring the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships in line with the Constitution's guarantees of both religious freedom and the separation of religion and government. But the Alliance calls on people to urge the President to support those recommendations.

And Americans United for Separation of Church and State expresses concern about the President’s willingness to do just that, since they believe he has failed thus far to correct problematic Bush-era rules that undercut civil rights and civil liberties.

AU provides more information, and The Interfaith Alliance offers a way to send messages to the White House.


Full report of PC(USA) Middle East Study Committee is now available

‘Breaking Down the Walls’: a comprehensive report about a complex context

by Sharon Youngs, Communications Coordinator, Office of the General Assembly

LOUISVILLE — March 10, 2010 -- The full 172-page report of the Middle East Study Committee (MESC) to the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is now available.

The 219th General Assembly (2010) will meet July 3-10 in Minneapolis.

The third and final portion of “Breaking Down the Walls” was posted online at the Middle East Peace Web site today. The most recent release includes committee members’ firsthand accounts of their Middle East experiences, policy recommendations, and several appendices.

“This report reflects the extensive, hard work of the study committee and the wealth of experience each member brought to our discussions,” said the Rev. Ron Shive, a pastor in Salem Presbytery who chairs the MESC. “Given the interest in this topic and the diversity of our backgrounds, our conversations were always lively. And yet, we managed to have consensus on the bulk of our report and recommendations.”

All but one of the nine-member committee voted to approve the report and recommendations.

The MESC was established by the 218th General Assembly (2008) to “prepare a comprehensive study, with recommendations, focused on Israel/Palestine within the complex context of the Middle East.” The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of the 218th General Assembly, appointed the committee in consultation with the two previous GA moderators.

In its report, the committee writes that the complex context includes:

... two, ongoing wars, one in Iraq and one in Afghanistan and the northwest border regions of Pakistan, wars that, like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, involve issues of U.S. involvement, a use of force, an occupation, and religious tension. … ongoing struggles within particular nations: between religious and ethnic groups in Iraq and to a lesser extent in Lebanon; between the rulers and the ruled in Egypt and several other Arab countries; between the native-born and the guest workers in the Gulf region; between political factions in Palestine; between Israelis and Palestinians in Israel; between the ideals of democracy and theocracy in Iran, Israel, and Palestine; and between forces of modernization and tradition in all countries. The undue influence of outside forces continues a history of colonial interference throughout the Middle East. Yet most expert observers and popular opinion polls confirm that the Israeli-Palestinian struggle is playing a central role in exacerbating region-wide grief and grievance.

The full news report >>

Download the full report >>   (172 pages, in PDF format)

Download the "recommendations" section only >> (9 pages in PDF)

More of our reports on Israel/Palestine concerns >>

You can now register for GA!

The General Assembly website now has things set up for you to register both for the Assembly itself, as well as for hotel rooms and the many events that you may want to attend.

Click here for the first registration page.

The first official Assembly events are on Saturday morning, July 3, and adjournment is scheduled for around noon on Saturday, July 10. You may want to arrive early for events like the Voices for Justice Commissioner Orientation, which will be an early breakfast on Saturday morning. 

For the docket of official Assembly events >>
For the complete schedule of events >>  (This is 36 pages, in DPF format)

Please note that in the registration form for event tickets, you'll find our Commissioner Orientation on Saturday morning listed as "Presbyterian Voice (oops, just one voice?) for Justice Commissioner Orientation/Breakfast," 7:00 am-8:30 am

What once was the Witherspoon Awards Luncheon is now the Presbyterian Voices (we got our other voice back) for Justice Luncheon -- Sunday noon.

On the registration form, our name is abbreviated as PVJ.

About hotels – you’ll find the official GA hotels listed in the registration information, along with a map of the hotel locations.

Yes, the hotels are fairly costly, but Voices for Justice has a block of rooms reserved at a relatively good rate at the Best Western Normandy Inn, just about 5 blocks from the Convention Center. For more information, get in touch with Doug King, by e-mail at, or by phone at (608) 782-5275.

Ralph Carter offers this advice for on-line registration: 

I strongly recommend you print out the schedule of events first, before doing the registration. Another caution: there are 5 pages with <continue> between them with the online registration. Be sure to make sure all fields are the way you want them before clicking <continue>. If you have to go back (I forgot to put in my email address, for instance), the computer gets confusedArchive for March and you have to start all over again. 

Another problem with the online registration: You don't get an itemized list of the tickets you have ordered, even when you are asked for your credit card. So, be sure to make sure the tickets are what you want. When you put in the quantity for each ticket, be sure to click the <tab>, so the dollar amount shows for the ticket. This may or may not make a difference, but better safe than sorry.

Thanks to Ralph Carter of MLP for most of this helpful information.

3/8/2010 -- International Women's Day
International Women's Day 2010 - Rights and Recognition for Domestic Workers
This comes to us from the International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers' Associations (IUF).  Thanks to Gene TeSelle.

Domestic workers around the world are organizing to challenge the harsh, abusive, often slave-like conditions in which they work. They are organizing unions and support networks, and they are mobilizing in support of an international Convention that will finally recognize them as workers and establish their rights in international law.

Domestic work is one of the oldest and most important occupations for many women in many countries. It is linked to the global history of slavery, colonialism and other forms of servitude. In its contemporary manifestations, domestic work is a global phenomenon that perpetuates hierarchies based on race, ethnicity, indigenous status, caste and nationality. In the past two decades demand for care work has been on the rise everywhere. The massive incorporation of women in the labour force, the ageing of societies, the intensification of work and the frequent lack or inadequacy of policy measures to facilitate the reconciliation of family life and work underpin this trend. Today, domestic workers make up a large portion of the workforce, especially in developing countries, and their number has been increasing – even in the industrialized world. Domestic work, nonetheless, is undervalued and poorly regulated, and many domestic workers remain overworked, underpaid and unprotected. Accounts of maltreatment and abuse, especially of live-in and migrant domestic workers, are regularly denounced in the media. In many countries, domestic work is very largely performed by child labourers.

A new report from the ILO - Decent work for domestic workers - concludes that domestic workers need a Convention (the strongest form of ILO instrument which once ratified is a legally binding treaty) supplemented by a Recommendation to protect their rights. The IUF welcomes this conclusion, and on International Women's Day urges affiliates to take action in the runup to the 2010 International Labour Conference, where negotiations will begin in June to develop new international labour standards for the protection of domestic workers.

More, including action suggestions >>

[The ILO report mentioned above is 134 pages, in PDF format]

The Israel Palestine Mission Network calls upon PC(USA) leadership to stand firm

We recently reported on a statement by the Simon Wiesenthal Center which called on Jews to protest to the PC(USA), both its leadership and its members, about the yet unpublished report of the Middle East Study Group on Israel/Palestine issues, that will be presented to the General Assembly July 3-10 in Minneapolis.

The following article has been prepared by the Steering Committee of the IPMN to address “the disinformation campaign being waged by the Simon Wiesenthal Center” against the report.   It begins:

In 2008 at its 218th General Assembly meeting in San Jose, California, the Presbyterian Church (USA) affirmed the obligation of the Church to speak to U.S. and foreign governments when it sees those governments violating the commandments of God; endorsed the Amman Call created in 2007 by the Christian Churches in the Middle East which then called upon our denomination to take significant actions in our policies for seeking a just Israeli-Palestinian peace, assuring that we remain active partners in this effort; called for Presbyterians to travel and take pilgrimages to Israel/Palestine in a manner that offers a full view of life conditions for both Israelis and Palestinians; and strengthened its resolve to monitor closely U.S. corporations that support or profit from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. In addition to these justice issues affecting all Palestinians, the Assembly was very concerned that intensified Israeli control of Jerusalem and the West Bank was accelerating the shrinkage of the Christian population in the Holy Land—a matter of real urgency at this point. Thus the Assembly voted to create a Middle East Study Group (MESG), appointed by the present PC (USA) moderator and the two most recent past moderators, that would report to the 219th meeting of the General Assembly in 2010.

The full article >>

Presbyterians favor pushing corporations not to promote violence

Poll shows strong support for ‘two-state’ solution in Israel/Palestine

Jerry L. Van Marter of Presbyterian News Service reports:

At least two-thirds of Presbyterians believe the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) should try to dissuade corporations from doing things that “directly or indirectly” support violence against Israeli or Palestinian civilians, and at least three in five Presbyterians believe that the denomination should shift its investment funds away from corporations that continue to support such violence despite pleas to stop.

These are findings of the August 2009 Presbyterian Panel survey of representative samples of members, elders, pastors, and other ministers.

“Presbyterians don’t want companies supporting violence in the Middle East,” said Perry Chang, Panel administrator. “And they don’t think we should keep our investments in companies that continue to do so.”

The panel results were released before the denomination’s General Assembly Council voted Feb. 26 to ask the upcoming 219th General Assembly to denounce profit-making by Caterpillar, Inc. on sales of its heavy machinery to Israel. Caterpillar equipment is used by the Israeli government to bulldoze Palestinian homes in occupied territory and to construct the so-called “separation barrier” and settlements on disputed territory in Israel/Palestine.     The rest of the story >>

Heidelberg Catechism Special Committee approves final report

Recommends extension to 2012 to explore joint translation with Reformed churches

Sharon Youngs, Communications Coordinator of the Office of the General Assembly, reports:

The General Assembly Special Committee on Correcting Translation Problems of the Heidelberg Catechism has unanimously approved its final report to the 219th General Assembly (2010) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The report, approved March 2, recommends that the current special committee continue its work to 2012 in order to continue conversations with the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) and the Reformed Church in America (RCA) about a joint translation of the Heidelberg Catechism.

“The report brings great news to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.),” said the Reverend Neal D. Presa (Elizabeth Presbytery), who chairs the committee.

Presa continued, “This group of fifteen ministers and elders, who represent a true cross-section of the PC(USA) in theological, gender, racial ethnic, and geographic diversity, unanimously approved the report. We are speaking with one voice, and our work together is demonstrative of the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

The special committee grew out of actions of the 218th GA (2008) to approve proposed changes that revolve around correcting “translation problems in five responses of the Heidelberg Catechism as found in The Book of Confessions and to add the original Scripture texts of the German Heidelberg Catechism.”  [Webweaver’s note: These translation problems all related to matters of sexuality, and apparently introduced into the English version condemnations of same-sex relations which were not in the original languages.]         The rest of the story >>

For background on the debate over the Heidelberg Catechism >>

Phil Tom moving to Washington

Phil Tom (left) with Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow
Photo by Erin Dunigan, Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Phil Tom has been tapped by the White House and Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis to serve as the Director for the Center for Faith-based and Community Initiatives for the Department of Labor. He is currently serving as associate for Small Church and Community Ministry in the General Assembly’s Evangelism and Church Growth ministry area.  He will leave at the end of May, to begin service in Washington on April 5.

He will be serving in one of twelve Cabinet level Faith-based offices, which are coordinated by the White House Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership Office.

Last summer Phil Tom received the Rodney T. Martin award from the Presbyterian Health, Education & Welfare Association (PHEWA) during the group’s opening reception at the Big Tent event in Atlanta, June 11-13. The award is named for the late Rod Martin, who once served as executive director of PHEWA, and after his retirement was president of the Witherspoon Society in 1994.

Presbyterian Voices for Justice rejoices that Phil will be serving now in a wider sphere, bringing his insight, his creativity, and his passion for justice into the hallowed halls of Washington.

Where have all the Protestants gone?

So-called mainline Protestants led the fight for social causes such as civil rights, equality for women and other key issues of the day. Now that American society has embraced such norms, liberal Protestant groups have become marginalized. Or have they?

Oliver Thomas, a member of USA TODAY's board of contributors and author of 10 Things Your Minister Wants to Tell You (But Can't Because He Needs the Job), sees in the progressive side of the mainline denominations some movements of change that he thinks will make them far more congenial to “what matters to young people.” As examples he cites their growing openness to sexual diversity and same-sex relationships, their “growing commitment to global stewardship,” their recognition of the link “between peacemaking and poverty,” and their affirmation of “theological exploration” rather than simply the continuing repetition (and enforcement) of ancient doctrinal formulations.

To read his short essay >>

What do you think?
Let’s talk about this.
Do you see hope here that our churches might get past the current doctrinal and moral battles,
and provide to new spiritual home to the “millenial generation”?
Just send a note with your thoughts,
to be shared here

One strong voice in agreement -- already!       [3-1-10]

I do believe that mainline Protestantism's future is in a progressive Christianity. The reformation started by people who went against the grain of the majoritarian hierarchical tradition and affirmed the individual's freedom under God's grace. If we progressives in denominations like PCUSA continue to allow ourselves to be enslaved by a reactionary majority, we will lose the very people we seek to affirm. We need to explore seriously, and NOW, the formation of new associations within the ONE Body of Christ. We need to draw together progressives from PCUSA, ELCA, UCC, Episcopal, and all others who believe that the Church must be always reforming. Together, we can show the world what progressive Christianity is and what it can do, instead of fighting yesterday's battles over and over, begging for crumbs from the table of reactionary conservatives. Let progressives go forth united into the world and say "the Kingdom of God has come near to you this day".

Peace in Christ's Love, 

Tim Leadingham
Post Falls, ID 83854

The author is a Presbyterian elder and a member of Presbyterian Voices for Justice.

Here’s one bit of corroboration, perhaps:

Peter Smith of the Louisville Courier-Journal reports that Caledonia Presbyterian Church of Portage, Wis., has filed a challenge of the vote by John Knox Presbytery to ordain Scott Anderson, executive director of the Wisconsin Council of Churches. Anderson is openly gay, living in a long-term committed relationship.

Smith’s blog page invites comments. This was the first one posted:

And then the Presbyterians wonder why everyone is leaving the church.

Converge on Washington, DC

April 17-19: SOA Watch Lobby Days

from SOA Watch

Join us in Washington DC, April 17th through the 19th as we organize to close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC.

We will be demanding that members of Congress stand with us as we work for justice in Latin America. Currently HR 2567, the bill to suspend and investigate the SOA/WHINSEC has 98 cosponsors. Your voice is needed in Washington DC as we lobby and vigil.

We will gather to build community on April 17th with an evening social. We will host panel discussions on torture and immigration, go through an in-depth legislative training, and on the evening of April 18th, SOA Watch will host our first public event on U.S. access to military bases in Colombia. On Monday, April 19th we will spend the day lobbying and vigiling on Capitol Hill.

This is a critical moment for our movement and an important time to be in solidarity with our partners in Latin America. We hope that you will join us!

For more information about SOA Watch's Legislative campaign, visit

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 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.

If you like what you find here,
we hope you'll help us keep Voices for Justice going ... and growing!

Please consider making a special contribution -- large or small -- to help us continue and improve this service.

Click here to send a gift online, using your credit card, through PayPal.

Or send your check, made out to "Presbyterian Voices for Justice" and marked "web site," to our PVJ Treasurer:

Darcy Hawk
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Gibsonia, PA  15044-8312


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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