Presbyterian Voices for Justice 

A union of The Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia

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Our reports about the 219th General Assembly, July 2010

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Archive for November, 2010

This page lists our postings from November, 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.



Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Public Witness
November 29, 2010

This week's messages are: 


Urge Your Senators to Support the START Treaty!


Presbyterian Office of Public Witness Invites Internship Applicants and Church Partnerships


Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy Economic and Peace studies seeking volunteers

Obama signs order to reform faith-based office

Religion News Service reports on November 19:

President Obama signed an executive order Nov. 17 that reforms the White House’s faith-based office in a bid to improve transparency and clarify rules for religious groups that receive federal grants.

The nine-page order reflects numerous recommendations made more than six months ago by a blue-ribbon advisory council charged with streamlining and reforming the office created under former President George W. Bush.

“The recommendations that they’ve put forth make really concrete and tangible improvements to the government’s relationship with faith-based organizations,” said Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

The executive order, however, does not address controversial questions of whether grant recipients can hire and fire based on religion. Administration officials have said those questions will be considered on a case-by-case basis. More >>

Godspeed and thanks to Molly Casteel

We are pleased to announce that the Rev. Molly Casteel, who has served on the Board of Presbyterian Voices for Justice since 2009, has been appointed to a four-year term as Assistant Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, with responsibility for Representation and Inclusiveness Services. Because of her new position, she has submitted her resignation from the PVJ board.

During her time on our board, Molly served briefly as Co-Moderator. And more than that, she has consistently contributed to our work through her broad and deep understanding of the Presbyterian Church (USA), her commitment to fair representation and involvement of all the different groups within the church’s membership, and her joy in the life of following Jesus.

We are sorry to lose her contributions, but we rejoice that they will continue to be at the service of our church as a whole. We wish her Godspeed.

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the holy season of the coming of the Prince of Peace 

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Presbyterian Voices for Justice! 

You can help us build our outreach, our programs, and our publications.

Just click here >>

Some not-too-pious thoughts for Advent and Christmas


People can't concentrate properly on blowing other people to pieces if their minds are poisoned by thoughts suitable to the twenty-fifth of December. ~Ogden Nash 


It was the day after Christmas at a church in San Francisco. The pastor of the church was looking over the cradle when he noticed that the baby Jesus was missing from among the figures of the nativity set. Immediately he turned and went outside and saw a little boy with a red wagon, and in the wagon was the figure of the little infant, Jesus. So he walked up to the boy and said, "Well, where did you get Him, my fine friend?"

The little boy replied, "I got him from the church."

"And why did you take him?"

The boy said, "Well, about a week before Christmas I prayed to the little Lord Jesus and I told him if he would bring me a red wagon for Christmas I would give him a ride around the block in it."


While working as a mall Santa, I had many children ask for electric trains. "If you get a train," I would tell each one, "you know your dad is going to want to play with it too. Is that okay?" The usual answer was a quick yes, but after I asked one boy this question, he became very quiet. Trying to move the conversation along, I asked what else he would like Santa to bring him. He promptly replied, "Another train."

from Everything Is Connected - John Jackson's Email

Express Scripts vs. workers (the Service Employees Union International)

The struggle which we reported a few days ago is continuing, as union members seek ways to get Express Scripts not to close its order fulfillment facility in Bensalem, PA. I have not been able to get in touch directly with anyone from the SEIU, but it appears that Express Scripts suspended without pay a few of the workers who were involved in the union protests. They were charged with communicating with ESI clients, which apparently meant specifically the Presbyterian Church (USA).

For a bit more from the union’s perspective, click here and scroll down a bit, to the second headline.

One Presbyterian minister sent this note in response to our earlier report:

I wrote the Board of Pensions – I am very troubled by Express Scripts wanting $8million in concessions from its workers in Bensalem or they will close the plants there. Especially since George Paz, the CEO, makes about $8 million a year. How about he gives up a year's salary? I don't want to save money through Express Scripts at the expense of these workers and for management's benefit. The Board of Pensions should get involved in this and threaten to go elsewhere for prescriptions.

Dennis Maher
Lake Luzerne, NY

Have you done anything in response to this issue? Or do you have any information to add to our slender supply of news? Please send a note, to be shared here!

Watch a CBS News report tonight on the Campaign for Fair Food

CBS Evening News will broadcast a report this evening, on 50th anniversary of Harvest of Shame, CIW's Campaign for Fair Food!

Don't miss tonight's CBS Evening News, as the network that produced the seminal documentary Harvest of Shame returns to Immokalee for a look at conditions in the fields 50 years later and the Campaign for Fair Food. The PC(USA)’s involvement in the Campaign may be highlighted.

The show airs at 6:30 p.m. EST, and the story on Immokalee should run around the mid-way mark in the show (but the story's time slot could change, so it would be best to tune in at 6:30 and wait for it!).

Psalm 24 reminds us that “the earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it, the world and those who live within it.” As we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us remember God’s good intention that the earth and all people thrive.

Happy Thanksgiving,

PC(USA) Campaign for Fair Food

Thousands Converge at the gates of Fort Benning for 20th Anniversary of November Vigil to Close the SOA


Nonviolent civil disobedience action was followed by indiscriminate arrests and targeting of journalists. Among those arrested by Columbus police were three journalists, including TV news crew from RT America and unrelated bystanders.    More >>

Farmworkers and Florida Growers Sign Fair Food Agreement!

This past Tuesday (November 16, 2010), history was made as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers  and the Florida Tomato Growers Exchange signed an agreement to extend CIW’s fair food principles across over 90% of the Florida tomato industry!

Starting immediately, participating FTGE members will pass on the penny-per-pound from retailers to farmworkers and cooperate with a financial audit of the penny-per-pound.

They will also adopt the Fair Food Code of Conduct – including a worker-to-worker education process, a cooperative complaint resolution system, and a participatory health and safety program – with a goal of full implementation by the 2011-2012 season.

The Stated Clerk of the General Assembly and the Executive Director of the General Assembly Mission Council lauded the CIW-FTGE accord in a public statement.   More >>

A Season of Prayer with the People of Sudan

from The Rev. W. Mark Koenig, Director, Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations

Prayers are always in order for the people of Sudan. Prayers are particularly in order as January, 2011 draws near.

A referendum on self-determination for the people of South Sudan is scheduled for January 9. On that same day, a referendum is also scheduled for the Abyei region of Sudan where the people will vote on the question of whether to retain Abyei's special administrative status in the north or become part of Southern Sudan.

Our sisters and brothers in Sudan are in prayer now and will continue in prayer until, through, and after the referendum. We have a number of opportunities to join them. The World Evangelical Alliance has called for a Global Day of Prayer on December 5. Prayer vigils are being scheduled in a number of locations.

In Sudan and in the United States, a number of faith communities will come together in a Season of Prayer in the month before the election.  More >>

Thanks to the Rev. Diane Monger

Network News is here!

The Fall 2010 issue of Network News, the newsletter of Presbyterian Voices for Justice, is now at the printer and will soon be in the mail.  In the meantime, it's all here in PDF format.  You can download it in high-resolution format for a better appearance, or in lower resolution for a faster download.

Fall 2010

On religion and politics:
    The Editor’s Spot: Religion – dividing or healing?           page 2
Putting Hussein in Christmas, by Rita Nakashima Brock      7

Resources for issues coming to presbyteries:
    Amendment 10-A – GLBTQ ordination                                 9
    Amendment 10-2 – the Belhar Confession                          16
    Amendment 10-1 – new Form of Government                       21

Ghost Ranch
    A report from our Summer 2010 seminar                              23
    Two seminars for 2011:
        A Faithful Response to Immigration                                25
        Sex, Faith and Culture                                                  26

Is our PC(USA) supporting union busting?
    SEIU challenges Express Scripts layoffs                           27

The Editor’s Spot ... by Doug King

Mount Merapi, seen from the Buddhist temple of Borobudur

Religion – dividing or healing?

The recent eruptions of Mount Merapi on the island of Java (the photo on the front cover shows an earlier, gentler eruption) have brought back many memories for me. The clouds over the mountain carry a majestic beauty – along with the terrible destruction they bring to so many people. I lived for ten years within sight of that beautiful volcano, as a Presbyterian fraternal worker (now called a “mission co-worker” I guess) teaching at Satya Wacana Christian University.

Like many who go to places and people that are strange to them, I learned far more in those ten years than I ever expected. One thing I learned was to respect and learn from a huge variety of religious beliefs and practices. While most of our neighbors in the small city of Salatiga were nominally Muslim, many of them were also members or supporters of the Communist Party, until it was outlawed after a purported coup attempt in 1965. Many were also deeply influenced by the worldviews of the Hindu and Buddhist faiths that had dominated Central Java centuries earlier.

So our city contained mosques, Protestant and Catholic churches, Buddhist temples, little neighborhood shrines to various local spirits, floral sacrifices to gain fertility for the rice fields, and more. A couple hours’ driving took us around Mount Merapi to the ancient Hindu temple of Prambanan; a little further brought us to the Buddhist temple of Borobudur. ...

Now, why am I dredging up all these ancient memories? The cloud from Merapi’s eruption is just part of the reason. I’ve been thinking of how deeply our society is becoming divided, not by religion itself, but by the ways religion is being used. People have been using religion to throw the mantle of holiness over one political cause or another, and to condemn as evil the people and groups that they see as “different from us,” and beyond the limits of our tolerance.

Right now it seems urgent for a group like ours, committed to a faith-based progressive vision for our church and our society, to offer some response to the damage being wrought in the name of religion. What can we say, how can we act, to be a voice for reason and reconciliation in this deeply divided and fearful world?   More >>

Two more presbyteries approve 10-A.  Others, still rejecting it, do so by shrinking margins   

Albany increased its traditionally strong support for inclusiveness with a tally of 83-15-4, up from 78-25-2 on 08-B. Despite ample opportunity, there was no debate.

The Palisades (New Jersey) tallied 32-14, also a larger margin of approval than last time (35-20-2), with minimal debate.   More >>


Water from wells

A poem by the Rev. Bobbie McGarey, based on one of the lectionary readings for today, Isaiah 12.

Isaiah 12:2-3

2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

The water in the old well was sweet and pure
I remember it from childhood
The heat of the summer the cool of the water
Nothing else could slake my thirst
 So going home grown up I went to the well
 Not used since the water came through the pipes
 I almost couldn’t see it with the roses climbing over
 But there it was. I thirst.
I opened the cover and looked in surprised
No water was to be found
The old faithful well was dry
I thirst.
 I went to my father almost in tears
 Tell me why the water is gone
 Oh easy my child he said to me
 No one used it and it went dry
I didn’t understand not used should mean full
No, he said lovingly
When a well is not used the little rivers that
feed in it go dry
 You and I must dip into the soul-well
 That waters our Spirits
 So we will be full when someone comes to us
 And says
 I thirst.                                               

Bobbie G McGarey 11.09.10

The Rev. Bobbie McGarey is living in Albuquerque, NM, as the Designated Pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church.

You're invited to come and read Bobbie's almost daily musings

Here’s another view of the workers’ struggle for justice at Express Scripts

Corporate Greed as a Family Value? Express Scripts' New War on Union Workers

by Mike Doyle, Wed Nov 03, 2010 at 05:16:17 PM EDT

This should be the story of a win-win situation. In the middle of the Great Recession, a nationally prominent mega-corporation manages to achieve phenomenal profitability and decides to share its good fortune with the wage workers who helped make that profit possible. All of that happens to be true about Express Scripts (Nasdaq: ESRX), the nation’s second-largest pharmacy benefits manager--all except for the decision about how to thank its workers. To show their gratitude, Express Scripts managers went in a different direction. First, they publicly lauded union workers at their most efficient processing plant. Then they told them they were losing their jobs. Sometimes corporate America’s capacity to stick it to the little guy is so astounding, you can’t help but feel impressed by the chutzpah.    The full article >>

[If you read this article, don’t miss the closing sentence!]


Is our PC(USA) supporting union busting?
prepared by Doug King

For some time now, SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania, a branch of the Service Employees International Union, has been calling on Express Scripts to cancel its plan to close its prescription shipping facility in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, which would put 365 people out of work, many of whom are low wage workers with families.

The union workers have offered $8 million in wage and benefit concessions to help keep the plant open. Even though these concessions included giving in to the company’s demand that workers give up their pension plan, so far the company management has been unwilling with the union, which unites 20,000 health care workers from all areas of the health care industry in Pennsylvania.

Now the union is approaching a number of organizations that have sizable contracts with Express Scripts for mail-order prescription medicine, asking their support. One of those customers just happens to be the Presbyterian Church (USA). So a few days ago, a delegation of Express Scripts workers, who are union members, went to the main office of the Presbyterian Board of Pensions, seeking to make the church aware of the issue.  No one at the Board of Pensions would meet with them, and no one has responded to their letters.

We’re one of Express Scripts’ clients, since over 120,000 people with medical coverage under the Board of Presbyterians have their prescriptions filled by the company. The union believes this puts the Board of Pensions among the top 25% of Express Scripts’ largest clients.

Our church’s social policies clearly support workers’ rights, just wages, and the principle of labor unions as a means to achieving justice.

So ... how might the PC(USA) respond to this conflict between management and labor?  What does God's call to "do justice" mean for us in this situation?

For more of the story, and the questions and possibilities for us >>

A mosque in Mayfield, Kentucky?

A "good sign" for Mayfield, by Berry Craig

Mayfield, Ky., my hometown, will have a Muslim prayer space after all.      

The city Board of Zoning Adjustments recently reversed itself and approved a Somali man's request for such a space, which the media and many townsfolk have been calling a mosque.      

“This is a good-hearted town,” Tom Waldrop, a former city council member, told the Louisville Courier-Journal after the vote. “This is not a mean town.”      

In August, the board voted to grant the permit, then reconvened and voted it down.    The rest of his report >>

Aung San Suu Kyi was freed today!

This good news comes from Amnesty International

Suu Kyi, a human rights and pro-democracy leader who has been held in detention or house arrest in Myanmar for 15 of the last 21 years, spoke with a crowd of supporters outside her home shortly after her release. 

Amnesty International has been advocating for this Nobel Laureate over the course of two decades. Although she was recently barred from participating in the first elections her country has held in 20 years, we welcome the news of her freedom today.    

Hank Bremer, former Witherspoon treasurer, has died

The Rev. Hank Bremer, who served for some years as treasurer of the Witherspoon Society, died last Monday. He had been in failing health during the last year, with numerous stays in the hospital. A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church in Santa Fe, NM, on Saturday, November 27, at 11 a.m.

The leadership of PVJ joins many others in mourning his loss, and we extend our sympathy to his widow, Teresa Bremer. She can be reached at 1075 Calle Largo, Santa Fe, NM 87501

Start planning now ---

We're happy to announce that we will be sponsoring (or co-sponsoring) two very special seminars at Ghost Ranch next summer.  Click below to check out the descriptions and leaders:

Sex, Faith, and Culture:
Understanding the Mix in our Lives and Society
July 25-31, 2011


August 1-7, 2011

Visit the Ghost Ranch website for more information.
We will provide links their 2011 catalogue and reservation information as soon as they are posted.

Drone Warfare on Trial

by Robert C. Koehler – an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer.

Here's the opening of a report published at the end of September on the use of drone attack planes by the U.S. Air Force in Afghanistan and Pakistan. As new reports come out on this fearsome new tactic, here’s some helpful background.  We posted this on Sept. 30, but since the issue is back in the news, we'll tell you about it again.

Drone warfare — assassination by unmanned aircraft — is arguably one of the most hellish spawns of the modern military-industrial era, and its use is becoming routine in the Af-Pak war, yet (what else is new?) there’s no debate about it at the level of national policy, just a shrug and a void.

The nation’s future is itself on a sort of autopilot. It belongs to the market forces, in tandem with the reckless, short-term strategic interests of the Pentagon and the politics of empire. There’s no moral voice at the core of this system — not even, any longer, a voice of common sense. We live in a spectator democracy: Our role is to gape at the spectacle. The news cycle runs 24/7 and tells us nothing, if the act of “telling” includes in its meaning an invitation to participate.

Like the students who sat in at segregated lunch counters and otherwise disrupted the nation’s Jim Crow status quo nearly half a century ago, we have to find a way to interrupt the false consensus of military-industrial America at the level at which it wages war and engages with the rest of the planet. Doing so takes persistence and courage — and sometimes a breakthrough occurs.

I bring you the Creech Air Force Base 14: Father John Dear, Dennis DuVall, Renee Espeland, Judy Homanich, Kathy Kelly, Father Steve Kelly, Mariah Klusmire, Brad Lyttle, Libby Pappalardo, Sister Megan Rice, Brian Terrell, Eve Tetaz, Father Louis Vitale and Father Jerry Zawada.

The full essay >>

Two more presbyteries reject Amendment 10-A

MLP reports that on Wednesday, Nov. 10, two more presbyteries refused to approve Amendment 10-A, which would remove the explicit ban on ordination of people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Santa Barbara Presbytery, arguably one of the most conservative in the denomination, voted 25 for, 69 against. But two years ago their vote was 20 to 85 – so perhaps there’s a little shift there. And Shenandoah Presbytery voted 93 to 106 against the change, with the margin a bit narrower than two years ago, when it was 82 to 112.

Click here for the MLP listing of presbytery actions >>
Click here for our earlier reports on presbytery actions >>

The Rev. Evlyn Fulton has died at age 87

Former Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery Executive advocated for women’s rights, mission, and more

by Jerry L. Van Marter, Presbyterian News Service

A memorial service was held Oct. 31 in St. Louis for the Rev. Evlyn Wehling Fulton, executive presbyter of Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery during the crucial years before and after Presbyterian reunion in 1983 and a tireless advocate for mission, ecumenical cooperation, women's rights, and gender equality during her entire 60-year career in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She died Sept. 19 in St. Louis at age 87.

Born in Bellevue, Pa., Fulton graduated from Chatham College (1944); Carnegie Mellon University (1946); and Pittsburgh-Xenia Theological Seminary (1949), seven years before the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began ordaining women. She was finally ordained in 1978.

Fulton served in a variety of church posts, visiting more than 40 countries during her years of ministry. She served Giddings-Lovejoy Presbytery from 1979-1988 — she was named executive presbyter emeriti when she retired — and then moved to the newly-established PC(USA) national office in Louisville as coordinator of middle governing body relations. At the Presbyterian Center she was also trusted friend and valuable mentor to this reporter.

Following her "retirement" in 1997, Fulton served two years as temporary pastor of Northminster Presbyterian Church in St. Louis, and continued worshiping there until her death. Her memorial service was held at Northminster Church.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will not see another like Evelyn Fulton again.


Here are thoughts of Evlyn from people who have known and worked with her over the years, in Voices of Sophia and elsewhere:

Evlyn was such a tough and talented role model for women -- stood her ground on issues but with compassion for adversaries.

Mary Kuhns

In the patriarchal society of the church and the world, Evlyn dared to climb the stairs that would open the door for many women.

Emily Wigger

Evlyn was on the front lines of the march for women's rights in the 70s and 80s; many women and men joined the ranks because of her leadership, passion, humor, and deep caring.

Sylvia Thorson-Smith

Evlyn was a true grandmother for justice.

Barbara Dua

Pam Byers to retire from Covenant Network

Jerry L. Van Marter, for Presbyterian News Service, reports:

The Covenant Network of Presbyterians has announced that its executive director, Pamela Byers, will retire in summer 2011. Byers has held the position since the founding of the Covenant Network in 1997.

Byers is an elder at Old First Presbyterian Church in San Francisco and is actively involved in her presbytery. A graduate of Wellesley College, she earned a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree from the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 2009.

An initial celebration of her leadership was part of the Covenant Network's Nov. 4-6 conference in Houston.    More >>

Boston Presbytery approves Amendment 10-A
More Light Presbyterians is maintaining a table with the results of voting on 10-A in the presbyteries.

On November 1, the Presbytery of Boston became the first to approve Amendment 10-1, by a vote of 53-30. Boston, which sent the overture originating Amendment 08-B in 2008, had approved that version by 54-42.   [Thanks to Tricia Dykers Koenig, Covenant Network National Organizer, for this report.]

So far three presbyteries (Alaska, voting 9 for, 20 against, and 2 abstentions; Mississippi, 11 for and 47 against; The Presbytery of the James, 152 to 152, with a tie vote meaning the motion was defeated) have voted to reject the amendment. This follows the pattern of recent years, in which a number of conservative presbyteries have apparently chosen to vote early, with the hope of setting an example for others.

For details on each vote, go to the MLP table and click on the link for each presbytery reporting.

More on Amendment 10-A, to remove the ban on ordination of LGBT Presbyterians >>

A Cleaner, Leaner Form of Government for Presbyterians

Here’s one interesting and very positive take on the proposed new Form of Government, by Talitha Phillips, a student at San Francisco Theological Seminary. She wrote it while attending the 219th General Assembly.

More on the new FoG >>

Economic and Peace studies seeking volunteers

We have received this notice from the members and staff of the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy.

The General Assembly has authorized two new studies that will involve the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP). One is about the economic crisis and the other is about the peacemaking witness. We are providing links to brief prospectuses (work outlines) and nomination forms for those who want to be considered for work on these issues. Along with paid and volunteer consultant writers, the ACSWP and its predecessors have depended upon dedicated church members with particular expertise in the areas under consideration to serve on teams that define the work, contribute to it, and evaluate its adequacy. This letter is to invite your consideration of service on one of the two studies.  More>>

Proposed new Form of Government going to presbyteries for action

The General Assembly voted to recommend a revised Form of Government to the presbyteries by a vote of 468 in favor, 204 against, and 6 abstentions — a 70%-30% margin. The new Form of Government includes:

• Foundations of Presbyterian Polity — the principles that are foundational to government, worship, and discipline for the PC(USA) — preserves the vast majority of the material in the first four chapters of the current Form of Government.

• Form of Government — in six chapters, which spells out the constitutional framework for government of the PC(USA) as it seeks to respond to God’s call to life in mission.

• Advisory Handbook for Councils for the Development of Policies and Procedures — required by the Form of Government as an aid to councils (governing bodies) of the church for developing the policies and procedures to carry out their mission.

Nothing will actually be changed until a majority of presbyteries vote to approve this new Form of Government. Voting must be completed by July 10, 2011, and if affirmative, the new Book of Order would take effect the next day.

We're offering some resources (and hope to add more very soon!!) to aid individuals, congregations, and other groups in preparing to give this very important change the thoughtful consideration it deserves.

bullet Click here for a brief introduction >>
bullet Click here for a listing of the major resources posted by the Office of the General Assembly >>
Something to pass the time on this long election day —

For those of us who may find this election day rather long, the Rev. Bruce Gillette has created a crossword puzzle to keep us occupied. Its theme is no less exalted than Presbyterians and Politics. It’s posted here in PDF format, so you can print it out and carry it to your polling place, or hold it through the long evening of election results.

WARNING: Page 3 contains the solution. Don’t peek!

A new resource on Amendment 10-A -- inclusive ordination

The Revs. Doug Hagler and Aric Clark have completed an LGBTQ Ordination Resource that they hope to distribute to every presbytery for the upcoming debates on 10-A. It is a 4page document responding to common arguments against LGBTQ inclusion and making our own in favor.

Clark writes:

We aimed to be comprehensive (though not exhaustive) in a pithy, quick and dirty and to the point kind of way. We have included many people in the editing process to help cover our blind spots. We hope we have produced something useful to complement the other resources out there.

We hope you will read this reflect on it and share it with friends. The most important help you can give us though, is helping us distribute this. ...

We have created two layouts of the document for ease of use. One is a half-fold booklet format. The other is a full-page portrait format. In the coming weeks we will be doing a detailed breakdown of the arguments at with citations to support every point, so this resource will only grow and improve over time.

Here is hoping we are in a more just and inclusive church in the near future.

Doug Hagler & Aric Clark

Actions Speak Louder than Words

Engage in Nonviolent Direct Action to Close the School of the Americas/WHINSEC

This announcement comes from School of the Americas Watch

November 19-21, Vigil to Shut Down the SOA

Gather at the gates of Ft. Benning in nonviolent resistance to let our voices be heard.

This year there will be different ways for people to be involved in the Saturday action including crossing the line of the base of Fort Benning which risks federal arrest, or a city side action, outside the permitted area. But note that you may also participate without risking arrest. SOA Watch has permits for the activities in front of the base, and the acts of civil disobedience for those risking arrest will be clearly marked.

Due to our presence at the gates of Fort Benning every year, SOA Watch has become known as one of the largest, grassroots movements in the U.S. We gather in the diverse traditions of nonviolence of those who walk before us. It is one of our strongest strategies of defiance to U.S. militarism that is increasing throughout the Americas. This direct action is also what keeps pressure on the Department of Defense and Congress to SHUT DOWN THE SOA/WHINSEC.

See you at the gates of Fort Benning, Georgia!

For more information >>
SOA Watch
Office of Public Witness revamps internship program

Interns will gain experience, discernment opportunities

from Presbyterian News Service

When the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson took the reins as director at the Washington-based Office of Public Witness in May, he made clear the importance of involving young adults in the work of the Washington-based office.

Now, with a revived internship program, OPW is taking a step to provide work and guidance for those seeking “experience and vocational discernment in the church and in the public square,” according to the internship posting.

“It stems from (Nelson’s) commitment to young people and providing opportunities for education and discernment and also developing a network of folks who know and love this office,” said Leslie Woods, OPW’s representative for domestic poverty and environmental issues.

Although the office has had interns before, Woods said she didn’t know of a formal internship program.

According to the position description, interns will be assigned a public policy issue to follow through the political and decision-making process. This task might include compiling news reports, communicating General Assembly positions to Congress, attending hearings and producing resources. Other tasks will include outreach, communication or event planning.

More >>

For a full position description and application instructions >>

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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