This page lists our postings
from February, 2011
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
from earlier in June, 2011
For links to earlier archive pages,
10-A voting on Saturday, February 26, 2011
John Shuck has put together the first report I’ve seen about
presbytery voting this weekend on Amendment 10-A, to open
ordination to LGBT Presbyterians:
So far eleven presbyteries have voted this week:
Three FLIPPED from no to YES:
|Central Nebraska 36-16|
|Indian Nations 45-41|
Four held on to their previous YES:
|East Tennessee 71-63|
|Santa Fe 101-17-1|
|Tres Rios 35-32|
Five held on to their previous no:
|Tampa Bay 91-120|
|Northeast Georgia 75-87 (but with big
|South Dakota 32-49|
|Western Colorado 13-29|
|Flint River 26-54|
None switched from YES to no this week!
according to MLP is 55-40 in favor of Amendment A!
Where are we so far?
The big news: twelve flips from no to YES so far.
One flipped the other way.
But we only need nine net flips to win.
We are in good shape with tough votes to come.
We have to hold every yes and work to flip some more nos!
From Mackinac Presbytery, Moderator
Steve Hammond reports that 10-A passed by a vote of 44-30. [That
was little changed from the vote 2 years ago.] He adds that it
was “a collegial gathering and civility on all sides [was]
SB 1070, Immigration, and Worker Rights:
From Arizona to Wisconsin and Beyond
Rev. Trina Zelle gave the keynote address on Thursday morning,
Feb. 24, for the
Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice of South Central
Wisconsin, on the occasion of their Labor/Religion
Breakfast. It obviously comes at a critical time for the labor
movement in Wisconsin, when labor unions in general, and
especially public employee unions, are under attack by the
state’s governor and the Republican-dominated legislature.
Trina is the director of
Worker Justice of Arizona, and served as co-moderator of the
Witherspoon Society from 2006 to 2008.
She began her talk:
Good morning. It is an honor to be here
with you today. And let me begin by bringing you greetings
of solidarity from the 60% of Arizonans who aren’t – to use
that Texas phrase I am so fond of – a bubble off plumb.
(I’ll leave that to the carpenters and construction folks
among you to figure that out!) That is to say, the good
people of Arizona who get up and fight every day for the
working families of Arizona.
I am here to tell you that what has been
going on in Arizona, and what is going on here in Wisconsin
is linked. Literally. One of the most draconian
anti-immigrant bills ever to be written and the attempts of
Governor Walker to eviscerate the union movement in
Wisconsin are of a piece. Both in terms of a dystopian world
view that sees working people as commodities to be
manipulated and in terms of the actual behind-the-scene
players. Both part of a larger effort to turn back the clock
to the Robber Baron era or the England of Charles Dickens.
Both constituting a grave threat, not only to the people of
our respective states, but all working Americans, the union
movement, and the Union – as in these 50 United States –
She goes on to detail the attacks on labor –
especially immigrant labor – in Arizona as a way to put the
Wisconsin struggle in a wider context, and to show just how
critical the situation really is.
full text of Zelle’s talk >>
More voting this weekend on Amendment 10-A
So far, no big changes
This comes from John Shuck, on his
Shuck and Jive blog, with the first results added by your
Thousands of Presbyterians will be discussing,
debating, and hopefully voting YES on Amendment A this weekend.
I have been scouting about places like this, this, and that and
have learned the names of the presbyteries who will be voting
Here are the ones that voted YES last time and
need to vote YES again:
|Tres Rios – Voted today, 35 to 32 in
favor of 10-A|
And those that voted NO last time and could
use a good flip:
|South Dakota – Voted today, 32 - 49
|Western Colorado – Voted today, 13 -
29 against, with the “Yes” votes losing a bit of ground
compared to two years ago.|
This will be a challenging weekend. A few of these NOs could
definitely flip and so an encouraging phone call would be most
Posted By John Shuck to
Shuck and Jive at 2/23/2011 10:50:00 PM
An Evangelical responds to Margaret Thomas’ analysis of the
claims of a crisis in the PC(USA)
Robert Campbell, pastor of Tully Memorial Presbyterian Church in
Sharon Hill, PA, has written a thoughtful comment on Margaret
Thomas’ recent essay on
“Governance in a Time of Ferment,” in which she raises
questions about the
letter from a number of Evangelical tall-steeple pastors
which claims that the PC(USA) in “deathly ill.”
Campbell also raises some challenging
questions both for the supporters of the “deathly ill” letter,
and for the PC(USA) as a whole.
Campbell’s note >>
Fair Food Update: March in Boston on February 27 and sign on
to a clergy letter to Stop & Shop
comes to us from Noelle
of the PC(USA) Campaign for Fair Food:
This coming week
the Coalition of Immokalee workers and consumers all along the
east coast will be calling on Ahold (parent company of Stop &
Shop, Giant and Martin’s), Trader Joe’s and Publix to work with
them to end poverty wages and ensure human rights for
farmworkers harvesting tomatoes for the companies’ Florida
tomato suppliers. Presbyterians will be joining other people of
faith in bearing witness to the justice and dignity God intends
for all people. See full details of the march to Stop n Shop in
Boston on February 27 and the major demonstration in Tampa at
Publix on March 4 at
The Right Thing Tour.
Please join us if
you are able or pray for this witness and
drop off managers’ letters if you cannot be present. If
you’re clergy, check out the sign-on letter to Stop & Shop/Ahold
below, and consider adding your name.
Free copies of back issues of Network News
A note from Doug King, your WebWeaver
My wife and I are moving again. (This “pilgrim
people” thing gets a little wearing after a while – but has its
Part of the challenge of another move is another
purging of our STUFF. Since I am laying aside my roles as editor
of Network News and as manager of the PVJ membership database,
I’m trying to clean out mountains of paper, including back
issues of Network News.
And so here’s an
offer for all of you: If you can use any copies of back issues
of Network News, perhaps to hand out in your congregation
or presbytery, or at other events coming up, I’ll be happy to
send you some, if you’ll just reimburse me for the postage.
DEADLINE: Since we'll be moving about March 25,
PLEASE SEND YOUR REQUEST BY MARCH 15!
Here’s a list of the issues available:
Fall 2010 – Religion as dividing
or healing? Resources for issues coming to presbyteries:
Amendment 10-A, Belhar Confession, new Form of Government (50
Summer 2010 – Post-GA issue: reports on
GA actions, PVJ events, etc. (50 copies)
Spring 2010 – Pre-Ga issue: analysis
of issues, etc. (100 copies)
Winter 2010 – Not published in hard
Fall 2009 – Not published in hard
Summer 2009 – Not published in hard copy
Spring 2009 – Celebrating union of
Witherspoon and Voices of Sophia; articles on freedom to marry,
Calvin’s significance then and now; a feminist statement of
faith, and more (100 copies)
Winter 2009 – Calvin and Crisis –
reflections on Calvin at a time of economic crisis (40 copies)
To look at any of these issues on our website,
and click to the one you’re considering.
If you're interested in copies
of any older issues (back through 1994), let me know, and I may
be able to come up with something.
Let me know what
you’d like, how many copies, and where to send them. Unless you
request otherwise, I’ll send them at the cheapest rate possible.
Just send me a note at
Our little thought for the day --
sent to us by two friends in Western Pennsylvania!
More Light Presbyterian Board issues statement on Amendment
We stand at
the half way point in the presbyteries’ voting on proposed
Amendment 10-A, which would return the church to our
historically Presbyterian way of calling church officers. In
true Reformed tradition, faithful Presbyterians throughout the
church have been advocating passionately to affirm the
inalienable right of governing bodies to elect their own
We are very hopeful that this will be the year
that the church acts to unbind the Holy Spirit and open the door
to ordination for those qualified and called to serve. We
rejoice in this positive momentum and give thanks for all those
who have labored to change hearts and minds, and for those
presbyteries that have come to understand that the conflict
created in our church by the present G-6.0106 b. is intolerably
hurtful to our denomination.
We encourage and welcome the support of all in
the ratification of 10-A, confirming our commitment to work
faithfully together, acknowledging our oneness in Christ, and
our common call to reconciliation.
Adopted by the National MLP Board of Directors
on 2/21/2011 in Kansas City, Missouri
Follow the vote, or inquire
about getting involved at
Governance in a Time of Ferment
Margaret J. Thomas offers a sharp, thoughtful response to the
“Fellowship PCUSA Letter” (which she refers to as the “Deathly
Ill Letter”). She traces the long history of tension and dissent
in the Presbyterian family of churches, and points out some of
the healthy ways we have dealt with those problems – and some of
the not-so-healthy ways that she sees in the current
“evangelical” movement behind the “Fellowship” letter.
for her 5-page essay, in PDF format.>>
Thomas has served the Presbyterian Church in a variety of roles
over many years. Now honorably retired and living in
Minneapolis, she was the Deputy Executive Director of the UPC/GAMC,
and then executive of the Synod of Lakes and Prairies. She then
served as executive of the Minnesota Council of Churches, and
during that time she became a member and moderator of both the
GA Permanent Judicial Commission and the Advisory Committee on
the Constitution. Out of this broad and deep experience, she
offers some of her insights on the proposed new Form of
Government – both describing its positive aspects and pointing
to two proposed changes that could undermine the whole
distinctive style of governance in the Presbyterian Church
She has also
a short essay commenting specifically on the proposed new Form
of Government, now being considered in the presbyteries.
If you have comments to add to these papers,
send a note
and we'll post it here.
So, what shall we say about this part of our glorious
snippet of our history was sent to be by Berry Craig, a
professor of history at the West Kentucky Community and
Technical College in Paducah. He and his wife Melinda are
long-time members of the Witherspoon Society/Presbyterian Voices
for Justice. He sent this along with their membership renewal –
This made me very proud of my Presbyterian
heritage. I know it will make you proud to be a Presbyterian man
of the cloth. I can certainly see a sermon topic in here.
An account of 18th century
backcountry America (South Carolina, Georgia, North Carolina and
"the Floridas") in Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in
America by David Hackett Fischer (p. 617):
Sectarian conflicts became commonplace in
the backcountry. Many denominations were planted in the
wilderness, but various groups of Presbyterians outnumbered
all others, and outrivaled them in religious bigotry. The
journal of the English missionary Charles Woodmason was a
running chronicle of religious strife. When Woodmason tried
to conduct an Anglican sermon in the back settlements,
Presbyterians disrupted his services, rioted when he
preached, started a pack of dogs fighting outside the
church, loosed his horse, stole his church key, refused him
food and shelter, and gave two barrels of whiskey to his
congregation before a service of communion. One Baptist
tried to discredit the Anglican missionary by stealing a
clerical dressing gown, climbing into bed with a woman in
the dark and "making her give out next day the Parson came
to bed with her."
Their victim complained bitterly that "the
perverse persecuting spirit of the Presbyterians displays
itself much more here than in Scotland ... the sects are
eternally jarring among themselves." He quickly learned the
border variant of the golden rule - do unto others as they
threatened do unto you.
He preached furiously against the
Presbyterians, and tried to start legal actions against
them, but all in vain. "As all the magistrates are
Presbyterians, I could not get a warrant," he wrote, and
further, "if I got warrants as the constables are
Presbyterians likewise I could not get them served."
Northern Waters Presbytery has voted Yes on
Belhar Confession, new Form of Government, and 10-A
The Rev. David Oliver-Holder of Bayfield,
Wisconsin, has reported these results from Northern Waters’
meeting on Saturday, Feb. 19:
| On Belhar yes, 42; no, 14; abstain, 2
| On FOG yes, on a voice vote
| On 10-B thru L, N and O yes, on a voice
| On 10-M yes, 12; no, 41
| On 10-A yes, 39; no, 14
Here's hoping that the trend continues.
More movement toward an inclusive
Here are the results from
the 10 presbyteries voting on Amendment 10-A today:
5 continued their support, voting to approve
both 08-B and 10-A
|Arkansas, 120-42, widening their margin
to nearly 3-to-1|
|New Hope, 158-118, also a strong showing|
|John Knox, 60-19, crossing the 75%
|Northern Waters, 39-14, solid but with
fewer numbers than last round|
|Greater Atlanta, 262-157-5, transforming
a 10-vote margin on 08-B to over 100 on 10-A!|
3 remained in the 'no' column
|Lake Erie, also 36-44 and a significant
|Palo Duro, 35-50|
2 switched to support!!
|South Alabama, 34-33|
|North Alabama, 36-28|
Initial reports from both Lake Erie and North
Alabama mentioned several speakers witnessing to their change of
mind - some that even surprised the organizers!
The presbytery tally now stands at 46
approving, 34 failing to approve, and over 55% of individual
presbyters voting in favor of the change.
The presbytery voting now stands at 46-34
with eight net shifts from opposing to supporting an inclusive
church. Ninety-three presbyteries have yet to vote.
So it’s not a done deal! For passage of
Amendment 10-A, a net of one more presbytery must shift to
supporting the amendment. But that means continued efforts to
help brother and sister presbyters see the virtue (yes, virtue!)
in moving toward an open and welcoming church, with an inclusive
ministry and elder leadership. It means continued efforts to get
out the vote. (Did you notice that South Alabama approved 10-A
by 1 vote?
So there is still work to be done! But we say
a warm word of thanks to all who have brought us this far.
Presbyteries voting this week include:
|Tuesday, Detroit and Wabash Valley|
|Tuesday or Wednesday, Western Colorado|
|Friday, South Dakota (postponed from
Monday due to snow) and Tres Rios|
|Friday or Saturday, Yukon|
Thanks to Tricia Dykers Koenig,
National Organizer and to
indefatigable blogger (and minister)
And lots of other good people as well.
For vote charts:
If you have
news to add
- perhaps details from one of the presbytery meetings --
or opinions to offer,
just send a note,
and we'll share it here.
Governance in a Time of Ferment – observations on Amendment
10-1, the proposed New Form of Government
Rev. Margaret J. Thomas has served the Presbyterian Church in a
variety of roles over many years. Now honorably retired and
living in Minneapolis, she was the Deputy Executive Director of
the UPC/GAMC, and then executive of the Synod of Lakes and
Prairies. She then served as executive of the Minnesota Council
of Churches, and during that time she became a member and
moderator of both the GA Permanent Judicial Commission and the
Advisory Committee on the Constitution. Out of this broad and
deep experience, she offers some of her insights on the proposed
new Form of Government – both describing its positive aspects
and pointing to two proposed changes that could undermine the
whole distinctive style of governance in the Presbyterian Church
time when the denomination is having trouble sustaining its
presbyteries and synods as both programmatic and ecclesiastical
structures, she sees the new, leaner structure as offering “a
less directive Constitutional framework for allowing each
presbytery to shape its structures and operational manuals to
function in whatever way most effectively reflects the realities
of its geography, size, missional priorities, levels of
diversity, staffing, and financial realities.”
she warns, current efforts to push this new structure into
“smaller, ecclesiastically focused entities with little to no
staff and programmatic initiatives arising solely out of the
congregations. Some even envision a return to state based
missional synods,” which would lose the distinctive and valued
diversity within the Presbyterian Church.
second concern focuses on groups pressing for “a polity that
would allow them to organize themselves into affinity groups for
governance.” This often takes the form of proposals for
“non-geographical” presbyteries or synods, such as the current
Korean-language based presbyteries. She urges strongly against
this way of allowing some Presbyterians and congregations simply
ignore provisions of the Constitution with which they disagree,
while maintaining full participation in the legislative process
by which those rules are adopted and applied.
concludes that “such proposals move beyond the Foundational
Principles of Presbyterian governance – expressed in a polity
which has ample room for dissent within the bounds of mutual
forbearance without the creation of church dividing parallel
encourage you to look at her full essay (it’s just over 2
pages, in PDF format)
We'd like to hear your comments!
Please send a
to be shared here!
Preaching Peace, Living Nonviolence:
Resources for Worship, Study and Action
This Sunday/February 20th’s Lectionary Gospel Lesson: Matthew
[Jesus said] "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an
eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist an
evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the
other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat,
give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one
mile, go also the second mile. Give to everyone who begs from
you, and do not refuse anyone who wants to borrow from you. ..."
This coming Sunday, February 20th, preachers and worshippers
have an opportunity to understand Christ’s call to nonviolence
in his famous Sermon on the Mount in light of amazing reports of
the nonviolent revolutions in the Middle East.
Rev. Bruce Gillette outlines and links to a rich selection
of resources and ideas for preaching on this vital topic.
Click here for his essay >>
Savannah Presbytery shifts to support 10-A
Presbytery actions so far: 39 for, 31
By 40 to 33, the Presbytery of Savannah voted
today to support Amendment 10-A, which would definitively open
the Presbyterian Church to the possibility of ordaining gay and
lesbian persons, shifting from their past opposition to such a
This followed actions by two
Hudson River Presbytery approved the change
by a pretty convincing margin: 81 to 6. And Olympia Presbytery remained in the No column,
by a vote of 39-78, which was narrower than in past votes.
That puts the presbytery tally at 39-31, with
a net gain of 6 out of the needed 9 new supportive presbyteries.
Presbyteries voting tomorrow (Saturday,
February 19) are Arkansas, Greater Atlanta, John Knox, Lake
Erie, New Hope, North Alabama, Northern Waters, Palo Duro,
Pines, South Alabama.
And on Monday, South Dakota Presbytery will
Thanks again to the
Rev. John Shuck
and Tricia Dykers Koenig,
National Organizer .
More on Amendment
More on the uprising in
"The people are over the moon
An American well-acquainted
with Egypt offers insights (and calms some American fears) about
the recent, amazing uprising there.
PVJ Coordinating Team member Sylvia Carlson
sent us this now-widely-circulated email by a former student of
a friend of hers. The author, Casondra Sobieralski, described
herself this way when I asked her to tell our readers a bit
I live in Oakland,
California. I am a digital media artist, and I have worked
several field seasons doing digital documentation work for
French archaeologists in Luxor, Egypt. I have an MFA in
Conceptual and Information Arts, and my 2005 MFA thesis piece
was a 3-projector video installation about the Hatshepsut. My
statement for that piece reads: "I went to Egypt seeking the
pharaoh Hatshepsut. I thought I was failing, until I realized
that I was looking for an ancient Hillary Clinton when I
probably should have been looking for a character more like
Hatshepsut’s patron goddess of love, play, sensuality, music,
and mothering, Hathor. Then I began to see Hatshepsut all around
me, in the people of Luxor."
One quick quote from her note, and then I hope
you’ll take a look at the whole thing.
The people are over
the moon happy that the revolution is happening. Everyone is
nervous about what comes next, but 31 years of (US backed, of
course) oppression, corruption, torture, mafia rule, secret
prisons within secret prisons, and back room deals with Israel –
If you have been especially concerned about the
possible gains by the Muslim Brotherhood, click here to
right to her reassuring words about that question.
Voting on inclusive ordination is running in favor of
As of this morning, voting by
presbyteries on Amendment A was 37 for, and 30 against. That in
itself is good news, and holds promise for the long-awaited
change to make our denomination more open, more welcoming, more
just. A net shift of four more presbyteries (there have been
five so far) would put this historic change into effect.
Sorry for my poor arithmetic that led me
to say a shift of nine more presbyteries is needed - it's
just four! Your numerically challenged WebWeaver.
And thanks to
for catching this.
Belhar Confession generating spirited discussion online
Theological conversation indicate confessions
still matter in Presbyterians’ common life together
from the General Assembly Mission Council,
by Paul Seebeck, Communications Associate, Theology Worship
LOUISVILLE – The Belhar Confession, which is
being considered as an amendment to The Book of Confessions of
the PC(USA), is generating a vigorous and spirited discussion on
the General Assembly Mission Council’s website. Underneath the
fully downloadable version of the confession, which was adopted
by the Dutch Mission Reformed Church in South Africa in 1986,
are more than 100 posts that fill nearly 50 screens.
“For six months we’ve had this sustained,
challenging theological conversation—online— about the nature of
the church’s unity in Christ,” says Charles Wiley, coordinator
of the PC(USA)’s office of Theology and Worship. “The call of
Belhar to unity, reconciliation, and justice has people thinking
about the faith, engaging each other with questions and
Note from your WebWeaver: So far 31
presbyteries have acted on the proposal to add the Belhar
Confession to the PC(USA) Book of Confessions. The vote so
far is 19 Yes, and 12 No. Since a two-thirds vote is needed
to amend the Book of Confessions, and 142 presbyteries have
yet to vote (and 97 are needed to pass the change), this
looks like a very close vote.
What's happening in your presbytery as it
deals with Belhar? Please share your news with us, to be
More on the Belhar
Rev. Perry Harvey Biddle dies in Nashville
We have just received this note about the
death of a former active member of the Witherspoon Society and
activist for justice:
I wanted to let you know of my father's death
on February 10, 2011. A retired Presbyterian minister who served
churches throughout the South, Perry Harvey Biddle, Jr., was a
supporter of the Witherspoon Society, one of the many aspects of
his life-long advocacy for civil rights.
The memorial service will be Saturday morning,
February 19, 2011, at Second Presbyterian Church in Nashville,
Tennessee. Memorials may be given to Alive Hospice, Inc., 1718
Patterson Street, Nashville, Tennessee 37203 (www.alivehospice.org).
He is survived by his wife, Sue Biddle, 916
Evans Road, Nashville, Tennessee 37204; by his two children and
their families, Lindsay Louise Biddle and Perry Biddle, III; and
by his sister and her family, Stella Biddle Fitzgerald.
Thank you for your prayers at this time,
Rev. Ms. Lindsay Louise Biddle
30 Ralston Avenue
Glasgow, Scotland UK G52 3NA
Amendment A by bullet point
Thanks to John Shuck, who has posted this neat update on the
voting, on his blog,
Shuck and Jive
Earlier, on Tuesday, Feb. 8, these votes were
reported by Tricia Dykers-Koenig, of Covenant Network
a presbytery that was an 08-B switch, held on strong at 19-9|
a consistently supportive presbytery, voted yes in a
by 66-46 after voting against 08-B|
by 99-72-3 after tying on 08-B.|
Rev. Jean Southard acquitted by GAPJC in marriage equality
More Light Presbyterians,
Tuesday, February 08 2011
The decision by
the General Assembly's Permanent Judicial Commission in the Rev.
Jean Southard marriage case was released today. Charges had been
brought against Rev. Southard, who officiated at the wedding of
two women at First Presbyterian Church, Waltham, MA, a welcoming
and affirming More Light church in a state where same sex
marriage is legal. The charges in the disciplinary case against
Rev. Jean Southard have been dismissed by the GAPJC.
We encourage you
read the entire GAPJC findings to understand the nuances of
Presbyterian polity and procedures and the basis for their
We also urge you
to read the two concurrences from members of the GAPJC that
follow the decision. One concurrence raises the question as to
whether or not W-4.9001 "provides an effective and unambiguous
definition of Christian marriage." The other concurrence calls
marriage equality a "human rights issue" and calls upon the
General Assembly to amend the constitution to allow for marriage
of same sex couples in the PCUSA.
We give thanks to
God for the faithful ministry of Rev. Jean Southard. We are
grateful that charges against Rev. Southard have been dismissed
by our Church's highest court. We are grateful that the
concurrences that accompany this GAPJC decision recognize that
marriage equality is a human rights issue and call upon the
General Assembly to amend the constitution to allow for marriage
Presbyterians is wholeheartedly committed to spiritual equality,
ordination equality and marriage equality in the life, ministry
and witness of the Presbyterian Church (USA). This GAPJC
decision and its concurrences are important steps toward the
achievement of marriage equality.
with hope and
Michael J. Adee, Executive Director & Field Organizer, More
Jean Southard herself has sent out this note:
I am grateful to
the GAPJC for finding that I did not violate the constitution or
my ordination vows, and pleased that they have made statements
in their concurrence calling for change in the church. I wish
they could have found a way forward for ministers to do
same-gender marriages in the church, but it seems that must wait
for another day.
Thank you for
your prayers and support. I have attached the decision for those
of you who haven't seen it.
May God give us all
strength to continue the journey.
More on marriage
Speaking of same-sex marriage and its legitimacy ...
Dateline February 4,
University of Iowa student Zach Wahls last week
told the Iowa House of Representatives about the meaning of
family – when both his parents are women
(CBS) LOS ANGELES
– Zach Wahls captured the attention of the nation this week
after a speech he delivered defending gay marriage in front of
the Iowa House of Representatives went viral on YouTube.
University of Iowa student spoke during a public forum against
House Resolution 6, which would end civil unions between same
sex couples. It's a subject that is very near and dear to Zach's
heart too. He himself was raised by two women who are now
Read about the CBS News interview with Wahls, and see him
deliver his speech >>
“Fellowship PCUSA” letter acknowledge some “poor
Two of the main authors of
this letter from “Fellowship PCUSA” have
issued a second letter in an effort to correct some of what
they acknowledge as the “poor communication” of their first
letter. Among other things, they note the concern of many people
about the total absence of women among the signers of the
letter, explaining that because the signers are pastors of large
churches, and large churches don’t call women as head pastors,
there just weren’t any women involved in the letter. They also
apologize for claiming support for some of their effort on the
part of the Covenant Network.
A little comment from your WebWeaver:
I find it modestly encouraging, at least,
the some of the Big Steeple Pastors are at least willing to
the possibility that other Presbyterians might have had
legitimate reasons for their expressions of concern. If that
can happen, is it possible that the right and left sides of
the church just might be able to have some useful
What do you
We’d like to hear your comments,
so we invite you to
and help carry on the conversation here!
Arizona high school students offer insight into “the illegal
Bordering an affluent
neighborhood in Phoenix, Arizona, one can leave the campus of
Arcadia High School and drive up nearby Camelback Mountain to
catch a breathtaking view of the Phoenix Valley. Or, in three
hours one can be standing on the border between Mexico and
Arizona. Arizona, and its capital city, Phoenix, are on the
front lines of the illegal immigration battle.
The Border follows 6 Arcadia High students as
they try to separate fact from fiction and get to the bottom of
the illegal immigration debate. The kids interview Russell
Pearce, co-author of Arizona’s controversial SB-1070,
controversial Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, advocates for
the Dream Act, and everyday people who are affected by the
Here’s a trailer with some glimpses of the film >>
As far as we know, the film itself has not yet
been posted online, but we’ll let you know as soon as we can.
Thanks to PVJ coordinating
team member Lorelei Hillman
More on the struggle for
immigrant rights >>
from the Presbyterian Hunger Program:
Food Justice Fellow
For this new initiative, the Presbyterian
Hunger Program is seeking individuals who are working to build
just, equitable and sustainable local food economies in their
communities and around the world. A potential Food Justice
Fellow is someone who is concerned about hunger in a world of
plenty; someone who is excited by direct connections between
farmers and eaters and is eager to make that possible in ‘food
deserts’; someone who is motivated by their faith; and above
all, someone seeking justice. If this describes you,
send in your application before February 28.
The Presbyterian Hunger Program will gather
the group of Fellows for an annual training and networking. We
will also connect Fellows with partners and organizations in the
United States and around the world and facilitate regular
conversation among Fellows. By strengthening localized food
systems based on Christian principles of justice and
stewardship, communities are able to become more self-reliant
and economically prosperous.
Become a Food Justice Fellow and pass this
information to a young (or young at heart) adult who would be
great for this.
Read more and download the application at the Food and Faith
More on hunger and food aid >>
A theological concern about the Belhar Confession:
We recently received this thoughtful comment from
a website visitor:
I'm concerned about the opening paragraph of
the Belhar Confession that reads:
We believe in the triune God, Father, Son
and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects and cares for the
church through Word and Spirit. This, God has done since the
beginning of the world and will do to the end.
While perhaps implied by scripture, the phrase
"triune God" does not appear in the Bible.
The doctrine of the trinity is a later
development of the church. Because this doctrine has been a
barrier in our relations with Jews and Muslims, I would prefer
the following wording:
We believe in one God who we experience as
creator, redeemer and sustainer.
With kind regards, I am
Sumter, South Carolina
on the Belhar Confession >>
Conservative Presbyterians call
for envisioning a “new future”
from Presbyterian Voices for Justice (a merger of the
Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia)
The statement recently issued by “Fellowship
PCUSA” clearly contains echoes of past struggles within the
PC(USA) over what it is to be church together. For some it will
echo of New Wineskins; others will be reminded of the
Presbyterian Church in America effort of 35 years ago, others of
the Confessing Church. ...
We note that the General Assembly just
affirmed a new Form of Government and authorized a commission to
work on presbytery, synod and other inter-council relationships.
This letter suggests that some ministers are making their own
moves regardless of how those churchwide efforts go; perhaps,
despite all those echoes of past efforts, they have something
new to propose.
One thing looks pretty old, though: the
lack of any women among the signers. This is deplorable,
coming from a large group of pastors who seek to speak for
Presbyterian Voices for Justice stands with
all of the Presbyterians who have contributed to our
denomination over the years. We embrace all six Great Ends of
the Church. We stand by our ordination vows and honor the unity
of the church, even as we continue to work for greater justice,
inclusiveness and welcome. ...
We reject the notion that the movement for
LGBT ordination rights is the root of the conflict that plagues
our church. History shows us that justice-seeking – on behalf of
people of color and women – has not been without struggle, but
in the end it has made the Presbyterian Church stronger and more
consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We stand with all
Presbyterians who believe that faithfulness to God's
justice-loving call demands that we extend to lesbian, gay,
bisexual, and transgender persons all of the rights and
privileges of membership in the PCUSA. ...
This is a time for church leaders to present a
higher vision than simply “let us cultivate our own gardens.” It
is also a time when some degree of truthfulness would be
helpful. Yet to the best of our knowledge the Covenant Network
has had no connection with this proposal, and has not encouraged
it. To imply otherwise, as the letter does, seems to show a
rather casual attitude toward mere facts.
We do not believe that God is calling our
church to further division in the name of some kind of doctrinal
or moral “purity.” Rather, we are convinced that God calls us
today, as always, to follow Jesus, the Christ, with courage,
love, and respect for all people – which means doing justice,
loving others with mercy, and walking in humility with God.
Future of the church
GA leaders invite all Presbyterians to join in
The three top leaders of the PC(USA) have
responded to the letter from “Fellowship PCUSA” with
brief statement posted on the PC(USA) website.
Cynthia Bolbach, Moderator of the 219th General
Assembly, Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly,
and Linda Valentine, Executive Director of the General Assembly
Mission Council, have published a letter headed “Future of the
Speak up for immigration reform that will be fair to same-sex
At this crucial time in the
immigration reform debate, the group Immigration Equality is
urging people of faith and others to join in contacting members
of Congress and the President, asking them to support the
Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).
Here is more of their communication to us,
The UAFA has been endorsed at the national
level by dozens of immigration, labor, civil rights,
professional, business, and faith groups, including the
Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church, General Board of
Church and Society, the United Church of Christ, the Union for
Reform Judaism, the Unitarian Universalist Association of
Congregations, More Light Presbyterians, Lutherans Concerned,
Catholics for Equality, and many others. [Your
WebWeaver adds: Presbyterian Voices for Justice has also
joined in endorsing one of these letters.]
As you may be aware, if an American citizen
(or legal permanent resident) falls in love with someone from
another country, they may petition for an immigration benefit to
bring that person to the US (green card).
If you happen to be gay or lesbian, you are
denied this basic right.
Even if you get married, or enter into a civil
union or domestic partnership in any of the States or other
nations that allow this, you still cannot bring your partner to
23 other nations (most of our closest allies,
Argentina, Australia, Canada, Israel, Western Europe and South
Africa) allow their gay and lesbian citizens to sponsor their
foreign-born partners, and most of these nations do not have
There is a bill about to be introduced in this
Congress called the Uniting American Families Act that would end
this discrimination. It would allow gay and lesbian Americans to
sponsor their partner (or spouse), in the same manner that
straight couples can, along with the same penalties for fraud.
This is one of the most popular immigration bills in the US
House of Representatives in the last Congress, with 135
On the uprising in Egypt
General Assembly leaders offer a call to prayer
Bolbach, Parsons, and Valentine lift up
peoples and nations of the Middle East
General Assembly Mission Council
by Barry Creech, Coordinator, Executive Office and Policy
LOUISVILLE – Jan. 28, 2011 – In the wake of
escalating tensions and civil unrest in the Middle East,
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) leaders today have issued a call to
prayer for the peoples and nations of the Middle East, as well
as PC(USA) partners.
The Moderator of the 219th General Assembly
(2010) Cynthia Bolbach, General Assembly Stated Clerk Gradye
Parsons, and General Assembly Mission Council Executive Director
Linda Valentine called Presbyterians to pray with these words
Why Jews around the world are praying for the victory of the
Rabbi Michael Lerner,
editor of Tikkun Magazine
and chair of the interfaith
affirmed on Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2011, that there is a growing
upsurge of support for the Egyptian Uprising in the Jewish
Ever since the
victory over the dictator of Tunisia and the subsequent uprising
in Egypt, my email has been flooded with messages from Jews
around the world hoping and praying for the victory of the
Egyptian people over their cruel Mubarak regime.
on the uprising in Egypt >>
It's official: South Sudan set to secede with a 99.57 percent
From The Christian Science Monitor:
"Cheers and spontaneous dancing broke out as the first official
announcement of results from South Sudan's independence vote was
made in the oil-rich region's capital by members of the
commission that organized the referendum held earlier this
month. 'The vote for separation was 99.57 percent,' said Justice
Chan Reec Madut, head of the southern bureau of the Referendum
Commission, after reading the vote tallies for 'unity' and
'secession' for each of the south's 10 states. Mr. Madut was
referring to the results for the south, while Mohamed Ibrahim
Khalil, the head of the Commission, announced the results from
polling in northern Sudan and in eight countries that held
voting for South Sudan's far-flung diaspora population."
Read the Article
Gap between rich and poor named 8th Wonder of the
From The Onion, January 24,
2011, Issue 47•04
In the HUMOR DEPARTMENT: Leave it to
The Onion to speak the truth. Last week they published
Gap Between Rich and Poor Named 8th Wonder of the World. The
World Heritage Committee acknowledged it as the “most
colossal and enduring of mankind’s creations.”
The awe-inspiring gap.
From The Program on Inequality and the Common
PARIS—At a press conference Tuesday, the World
Heritage Committee officially recognized the Gap Between Rich
and Poor as the "Eighth Wonder of the World," describing the
global wealth divide as the "most colossal and enduring of
"Of all the epic structures the human race has
devised, none is more staggering or imposing than the Gap
Between Rich and Poor," committee chairman Henri Jean-Baptiste
said. "It is a tremendous, millennia-old expanse that fills us
with both wonder and humility."
"And thanks to careful maintenance through the
ages, this massive relic survives intact, instilling in each new
generation a sense of awe," Jean- Baptiste added.
The vast chasm of wealth, which stretches
across most of the inhabited world, attracts millions of stunned
observers each year, many of whom have found its immensity too
overwhelming even to contemplate. By far the largest man-made
structure on Earth, it is readily visible from locations as
far-flung as Eastern Europe, China, Africa, and Brazil, as well
as all 50 U.S. states.
The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship is sponsoring a "Peace
Consultation" on Apr 7-9 at Stony Point Conference Center.
Focus will be on the country of Colombia
Among the leaders will be Rev. Adelaida
Jinenez and Rev. Gloria Ulloa from the Colombia Presbyterian
Church. Revs. Jimenez and Ulloa are leaders in the work with the
displaced persons communities in the Presbytery of the North
Coast there. Rev. Jimenez is also dean of religious studies at
the Reformed University in Barranquilla and Rev. Ulloa is
Director and chaplain at the Colegio Americano there.
Join us to learn the latest effects of U. S.
policy on life in Colombia – the building of 7 new U. S.
military bases there. Apply through
Thanks to Anne Barstow, Presbyterian Peace Fellowship
Bread for the World seeks new staff:
Associate for Denominational Women’s Organization Relations
Bread for the
World, a collective Christian voice urging our nation’s
decision makers to end hunger home and abroad, seeks a motivated
professional to engage denominational women’s organizations in
partnerships with Bread and promote their involvement in the
1000 Days Campaign on maternal and child nutrition.
For an index to all our reports
the 219th General Assembly
from earlier in June, 2011
For links to earlier archive pages,
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.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
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
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
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!