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Archive for August, 2011

This page lists our postings from all of August, 2011

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

July, 2011
June, 2011
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For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

Fellowship of Presbyterians examines options for ‘differentiation’ from PC(USA)    

Jerry L. Van Marter, of Presbyterian News Service, has provided a number of reports on the recent gathering in Minneapolis of nearly 2,000 conservative Presbyterians, as they discussed their future in relation to the PC(USA) – within it, or separate from it, or some kind of blend of staying in, but separate.

His wrap-up report begins:

Whether to stay within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and, if so, under what conditions dominated the first gathering of the Fellowship of Presbyterians (FOP),  which drew more than 1,900 disaffected Presbyterians here Aug. 25-26.

The seven large church pastors who form the FOP’s core leadership readily acknowledged that PC(USA) congregations dissatisfied with decisions and perceived trends in the denomination “are all over the map” about how to respond. Much of the gathering was spent exploring four “tiers” or options that are being developed ? from trying to reform the denomination from within to the creation of “a new Reformed body.”

One leader – the Rev. Jim Singelton, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Colorado Springs, CO, repeatedly referred to the FOP’s next gathering Jan. 12-14 in Orlando, Fla., as a “constitutional convention” that will formally inaugurate both the FOP and the new Reformed body.”

But where the 852 congregations represented here wind up along the four-tier spectrum is anybody’s guess. “Repeat after me,” Singleton told the gathering: “It will be messy.”      The rest of this report >>   

Links to more reports from Jerry Van Marter, and from Leslie Scanlon of Presbyterian Outlook

Bachmann's prophecy, joke or not, has lots of company

Everybody (well, quite a lot of people, anyway) is talking about Michele Bachmann’s suggestion that the recent earthquake and hurricane were messages from God – specifically warnings to that wayward monster, Washington. Was she just joking, or was she serious? Whatever you choose to make of it, Daniel Burke, writing for Religion News Service, points out that she is not alone in viewing natural disasters as divine punishments. He notes:

Nearly six in 10 white evangelicals believe natural disasters are a sign from God, according to a survey conducted last March by Public Religion Research Institute in partnership with Religion News Service. A majority also believe that God punishes a nation for its citizens' sins, the survey found.

Many of us might affirm that “God works in history,” but might not say it in quite those ways. So what would you say to Rep. Bachmann and the millions who would more or less agree with her? Please just send a note, and we’ll post it here!

Latin American Protestant leaders criticize U.S. budget decisions

Jerry L. Van Marter, of Presbyterian News Service, reports on August24, 2011:

More than 100 Protestant leaders from 12 countries in Latin America, representing diverse denominations and ministries, have written an open letter expressing their concern over the economic crisis in the United States and the decisions being made by the U.S. Congress to address it.

In their letter addressed to Christians in the United States, the Latin American leaders urge them to “lift up the voice of the millions of people who do not have a part in the major economic decisions being made in Washington, D.C.”

They call upon U.S. government officials to recognize that the actions they take have consequences not only in the U.S. but also on the economies of other nations, and therefore in both the short and long terms, they will be affect millions of people in the countries of the global south.

For the rest of the news report, and the full text of the letter from Latin American church leaders >>
New Blog for Theology and Politics

We’re happy to share this note from PVJ member David True:

I wanted to make sure you knew about a new blog, There is Power in the Blog. I help edit it along with the other editors of the journal Political Theology. We hope the blog will serve as forum for the church and academy to share thoughtful and provocative commentary on theology, politics, and culture as well as new books and sacred texts (see the series, the Politics of Scripture, for commentary on the lectionary and other texts).

David True, PhD
Associate Professor of Religion
Wilson College
Chambersburg, PA

Click here for today’s post, a thoughtful comment on “the conquest of Tripoli,” by Reza Pankhurst, who has a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He was held as a former political prisoner of the previous Mubarak regime in Egypt, from 2002 to 2006.

Mexican Presbyterian Church votes to end 139-year-old relationship with PC(USA) 

Leslie Scanlon, of Presbyterian Outlook, reported on Friday, August 19, 2011, that “the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (known as INPM) has voted to end its 139-year partnership in mission with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), in response to the PC(USA)’s decision earlier this year to allow the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians.”     More >>

World Mission [of the PC(USA)] responds to ending of partnership by Mexican Presbyterian Church

Presbyterian News Service reports on August 24, 2011:

As reported yesterday, the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM) has voted to end its 139-year-old relationship with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) because of the PC(USA)’s ordination standards, which were amended this year to allow the ordination of sexually active gays and lesbians.

In response to the INPM’s decision, the PC(USA)’s World Mission ministry area has released the following statement:

...  As a result of the INPM decision, according to Farrell, World Mission cannot continue its participation in these ministries in their current form. “Our ministries have been built on the foundation of a joint partnership between our two churches,” said Maria Arroyo, area coordinator for PC(USA) work in Latin America and the Caribbean, “and without that foundation we have immediately begun to re-assess each of our ministries.” World Mission will be working with mission co-workers individually to determine next steps and possible alternative deployments. 

More >>.

World Mission is offering a webinar for more information on its Mexico response at a webinar scheduled for September 1 (10:15 am – 11:30 am Eastern Time). Visit the PC(USA)'s Mexico website  for more information.

More on Somalia (and Tea Partiers, too)

Last Saturday (8-20-11) your Webweaver suggested that some of the Tea Party folks who are so eager to get rid of "government" might benefit from a visit to a place that does without one.  Namely, Somalia.  Click here to read my brief comment >>

I received a nice comment from a good PVJ member:

Doug's reflections on the less government issue that the GOP is spouting should go further than this web-site. Why not send it to the Washington Post, the New York Times, or I know, send it to one of those Texas papers or all of them for that matter. Jody Phillips, Brighton, CO

Well, I haven't tried all the papers Jody suggested, but I have sent my little letter to our local paper, the Minneapolis Star Tribune.  We'll see if it sees the light of day there.

Any other thoughts? 
Please send a note, to be shared here!

Please read the next box below for some more practical responses to this crisis.

How might we respond to the huge humanitarian disaster in Somalia?

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance reports on its response in Somalia and Kenya.  This situation update was issued on August 5, 2011

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is responding in Somalia and parts of Kenya as a member of the ACT (Action by Churches Together) Alliance. ACT members who have experience and partnerships in the area are already responding to the crisis.

PDA made an initial contribution of $100,000 from One Great Hour of Sharing funds to assist newly displaced people in Mogadishu, drought- affected people in the Gedo region, refugees in the Dadaab camp in Kenya, and host communities in both Kenya and Somalia. More >>

You can help: Please give, if you are able, through your local Presbyterian congregation, on the secure PC(USA) Web site,  or by sending a check to:

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
P.O. Box 643700
Pittsburgh, PA 15264-3700

Another view:

Church leaders seek long-term solutions to Horn of Africa food crisis

from Ecumenical News International

Nairobi, Kenya – August 12, 2011 – Religious leaders say they are exploring short and long term strategies for communities to end reliance on food aid in Africa, as relief organizations continue to minister to thousands suffering from drought and famine in the Horn of Africa.

The worst drought in 60 years is affecting more than 12 million people in Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia. Its epicenter is Somalia, where tens of thousands are fleeing to refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.

“We would not only want to work on the immediate needs, but we are thinking, because this is becoming a chronic problem, we have got to see the root causes and fight it,” Archbishop Ian Ernest of the Indian Ocean Province and the chairman of the Council of Anglican Province of Africa told a news conference on Aug. 10 in Nairobi after a meeting of Anglican archbishops. More >>

What are your suggestions for responses to the Somali crisis?

Please send a note with your suggestions,
links to other sources of information
and channels for aid and action.
We'll share the responses here.


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.


John Shuck’s new "Religion 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 lightening up.

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 Shore blogspot

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 Flushing, NY.


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.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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