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Archive for July, 2011

This page lists our postings from all of July, 2011

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

June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011
March, 2011
February, 2011
January, 2011
December, 2010
November, 2010
October, 2010
September, 2010

August, 2010
July, 2010
June, 2010
May, 2010

April, 2010
March, 2010
February, 2010
January, 2010

For links to earlier archive pages, click here.

Reject a Constitutional Amendment to Balance the Budget

This Action Alert was issued on July 19, 2011, by the PC(USA) Office of Public Witness 

This week or next week, Congress is expected to consider an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would require the federal budget to be balanced each year. Writing this requirement into the Constitution would pose a serious threat to our economy and to the well-being of millions of people by forcing large and indiscriminate spending cuts. In the event of another economic downturn, which would result in a drop in federal revenues, a BBA would exacerbate hardship by reducing the government’s ability to respond to newly created need (as it did in 2008-2009).

Click here to contact your members of Congress and tell them to oppose a balanced budget amendment!

A balanced budget amendment would impose caps on spending that would force serious cuts in essential programs – including Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, SNAP (formerly Food Stamps) and other anti-hunger programs, education, HIV/AIDS programs, and countless other initiatives that make a difference in the lives of millions of people. Rigid multi-year spending caps, whether enforced through a constitutional amendment or by other legislation, will harm our economy and our people.

Through the prophet Isaiah, God challenges a nation that, on one hand professes delight in seeking God and knowing God’s ways, but on the other serves self interests, oppresses workers, neglects poor and hungry people and quarrels to no good end. Isaiah calls the nation to a righteous practice that loosens the bonds of injustice, lets the oppressed go free, and breaks every yoke. (Isaiah 58:1-12)

Don't wait! The House is expected to vote TODAY and the Senate sometime later this week. Please tell Congress to vote against a balanced budget amendment and other spending cap measures in order to protect vulnerable people and the economy. Click here to contact your members of Congress!

In addition, the Office of Public Witness recently took part in an interfaith conference call when religious leaders, including Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons and Director for Public Witness J. Herbert Nelson, expressed “grave concern and dismay” that cuts to poverty alleviation and prevention programs are on the negotiating table. Their message: The religious community cannot make up the difference caused by cuts to poverty alleviation programs. Click here to read about it on our blog and to listen to a recording!

General Assembly Guidance:

The 207th General Assembly (1995) called on Congress “to defeat any proposals that base budget or deficit reductions primarily on the services provided to children, families, the needy, and the homeless and urged strengthening federal commitments to these groups.” The Assembly called on Congress “to insist on a government that follows ethical values of justice for the poor, welfare for children, hospitality to the stranger, and assistance to the disadvantaged.” (Minutes, p. 718)

‘Fair trade, not just free trade’

Presbyterians join with other citizens to protest Colombia Free Trade Agreement; 4 protesters arrested

Ginna Irby, an intern with the PC(USA)’s Office of Public Witness, added this to our earlier report on the witness in Washington:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – July 18, 2011 – On July 11, more than 150 U.S. citizens from faith-based, environmental and human rights organizations gathered in front of the White House to protest the pending Colombia Free Trade Agreement. A Presbyterian presence was prominent among them.

“We are here right now to recognize that we are called to advocate for justice,” said the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Office of Public Witness. “We believe in fair trade, not just free trade.”

Along with other groups, OPW and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship helped organize the protest. Leaders from both groups spoke alongside environmental activists and trade unionists from the United States and Colombia about the devastating consequences the free trade agreement would have on laborers, farmers, Afro-Colombians and other Colombian citizens.    More >>

A reader comments – supporting Northumberland Presbytery's action against LGBT ordination

I appreciate what the Northumberland Presbytery did. I am not fearful of change nor am I homophobic. The issue for me is not a justice one but one of interpreting Scripture to mean what it has always meant when it comes to sexuality. Sex is reserved between a man and a woman in the context of marriage. It doesn't matter what transpired with Amendment 10-A. Those who voted in favor of this Amendment have not studied the Scripture nor do they understand the pro-gay movement and how it has helped blind the eyes and hearts of many within the PCUSA. 

Jeff Winter

Jeff is a minister member of Southern New England Presbytery, currently serving a non-denominational church on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.

One presbytery acts to keep old ban on LGBT ordination

Northumberland Presbytery (in north central Pennsylvania) took two actions on July 16, 2011 in response to Ordination Amendment 10-A, which has now become G-2.0104 in the Book of Order. First they reinstated the old G-6.0106b (the “fidelity and chastity” requirement) as the policy of the presbytery, and then the majority also passed a motion allowing individual churches to withhold per capita from GA as protest against 10-A passing. The Presbytery will not be permitted to send the missing per capita payments to GA.

The wording of the presbytery action on ordination:

"Whereas each Presbytery is now called to establish its own standards for ordination, we move that Northumberland Presbytery adopt as ordination and/or installation policy the 2011 Book of Order section G60106.b as a requirement for ordination and installation within this Presbytery.

b. Those who are called to office in the church are to lead a life in obedience to Scripture and in conformity to the historic confessional standards of the church. Among these standards is the requirement to live either in fidelity within the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman (W-4.9001), or chastity in singleness. Persons refusing to repent of any self-acknowledged practice which the confessions call sin shall not be ordained and/or installed as ministers of the Word and Sacrament."

This indicates that the struggle for justice and inclusion in the PC(USA) will continue, as fears of change and “the other” and “impurity” continue among many Presbyterians.

If you’re aware of similar reactions in other presbyteries, or even better, if you have suggestions for helping our church and our people deal with such reactions, please send a note, and we’ll share it here!

Four PPF members arrested outside White House, opposing the Colombia Free Trade Agreement

from the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship e-mail Newsletter

Rick Ufford-Chase arrested in front of White House
Rick Ufford-Chase is arrested in front of the White House, opposing the Colombia FTA

July 11, 2011, Washington D.C. – Today four members of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship – Rick Ufford-Chase (Executive Director), Rev. Sally Juarez, Kevin Moran, and Katie Rains – were arrested in front of the White House in a peaceful, nonviolent demonstration against the Colombia Free Trade Agreement. They were joined by many members of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship and many who came from across the country today to rally in Lafayette Park.   More >>


The Big Tent offered insights and inspiration in many important areas of concern and mission

I regretted not being at the Big Tent gathering of over 1,700 Presbyterians in Indianapolis from June 30 through July 2. From the many news reports reflecting a variety of the smaller conferences within the whole event, I know good things happened there.

You can see on one website page a quick listing of all the news reports. (At least I think it must be all of them!)

Here are tidbits and links to a few of the stories that might be most interesting to friends and members of PVJ:

[NOTE: You’ll notice from the datelines that many of these reports were posted days after the event, but there are couched in “present tense” language. I have not tried to revise that to reflect the fact that they are now posted here about two weeks later.


WERE YOU THERE??  If you were (or even if you weren’t!), and have comments or other reports you’d like to recommend, just send a note, to be shared here!


7/10/2011 -- with apologies for my long absence!  DK
A day for celebration and hope ...

As most of you surely are aware, this is the day on which the 2010 General Assembly’s action to affirm the legitimacy of ordination of LGBT Presbyterians goes into effect.

The new Book of Order, with the revised Form of Government and no more G-6.0106b, goes into effect today – one year from the adjournment of the 219th General Assembly, which sent those and several other amendments to the presbyteries. It includes G-2.0104b, which makes clear that ordination is a fully legitimate possibility for LGBT people.

Here’s the full text of the new policy: 

Those who are called to ordained service in the church, by their assent to the constitutional questions for ordination and installation (W-4.4003) pledge themselves to live lives obedient to Jesus Christ the Head of the Church, striving to follow where he leads through the witness of the Scriptures, and to understand the Scriptures through the instruction of the Confessions. In so doing, they declare their fidelity to the standards of the Church. Each governing body charged with examination for ordination and/or installation (G-14.0240 and G-14.0450) establishes the candidate's sincere efforts to adhere to these standards. 

According to one tally of the votes so far, 97 presbyteries voted for approval of Amendment 10-A, while 72 voted against it. Twenty-three presbyteries shifted from opposed a similar change 2 year ago to supporting it now, while four presbyteries shifted the other way.

This is surely a day for thanksgiving – to the God of grace and truth who has led us to this point, to the countless women and men who have borne witness faithfully and courageously, and to the many, many others in our church who have come to the point of supporting this change.

So to the individuals and groups who have helped our church see the (more) light, PVJ says Thanks! And thanks be to God whose embrace includes us all!

And this is also a day for hope – that love may prevail over fear among the many who are deeply concerned about this change, and that all of us may act with determination and wisdom to make the slogan “welcoming church” a reality through our denomination, around the country, and in the wider world.

For more background and commentary on this historic change >>

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

June, 2011
May, 2011
April, 2011
March, 2011
February, 2011
January, 2011
December, 2010
November, 2010
October, 2010
September, 2010

August, 2010
July, 2010
June, 2010
May, 2010

April, 2010
March, 2010
February, 2010
January, 2010

For links to earlier archive pages, click 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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