Presbyterian Voices for Justice
For Witherspoon Society news
from 2002-2003 >>
PVJ Coordinating Team meets, focuses on “getting better
Co-moderator Bill Dummer reports on the accomplishments of the
coordinating team meeting help on August 15 - 17 in Pittsburgh.
One of their greatest achievements (in my biased opinion) was
naming Vicki Moss (who has for years been the manager and
welcoming presence at the Witherspoon/PVJ booth at each General
Assembly) to succeed me as manager of communications for PVJ. We
are working at a transition. Welcome, Vicki!!
Bill’s report on the meeting is posted here as he sent it to us.
with thanks from Doug King, your (outgoing!) WebWeaver
The Co-Moderator’s Column
PV4J Getting Better Organized
By Bill Dummer
The Coordinating Team held a very productive annual face-to-face
meeting August 15 to 17 in Pittsburgh. Most of the team plus
Vicki Moss (our new
website manager and media coordinator) was present for the 48
hour meeting. We spent the first block of time doing some
brainstorming of what we need to do during the next year. Then
we took some steps to get better organized to do it. Here are
the decisions that we made, along with plans for the year ahead:
The Executive Committee consisting of the co-moderators,
secretary and treasurer will coordinate conference call and
face-to-face meeting agendas.
The Moderator(s) will keep in touch with CT members to keep them
on task (“ride herd”) and moderate meetings. |
Vicki Moss will be coordinating with Lorelei Hillman to put the
content of Network News on the website, with the exception of
the issue that goes out to GA commissioners (see elsewhere the
details of this change in publishing policy). She will also be
our Facebook and Google-groups administrator. |
Sylvia Carlson will be the CT secretary and also co-signer on
the checking account. |
Lorelei Hillman, as our “publisher” will be updating our
membership brochure |
Treasurer Darcy Hawk will shepherd the spring fundraising letter
in preparation for going to GA. He will also be receiving the
membership checks, and will then forward the names to the
Membership Coordinator. |
Colleen Bowers will write the fall membership renewal letter.
She will also be looking into new software for maintaining the
membership database. |
Sylvia Thorson-Smith will continue to handle issues and
education material, and in so doing will resource the website.
She will partner with Colleen in seeing what former members of
the two previous groups need to be reactivated. |
Each CT member will select 10 members to do the membership
survey over the phone. Lorelei will call Arizona and California;
Sylvia (West) will call New Mexico and Iowa; Bill will call
Wisconsin and Minnesota; Colleen will call Maryland and
Virginia; Darcy will call Ohio and Pennsylvania; Sylvia (East)
will call Kentucky; Pam and Jeremiah will call New York and
Mitch will call New Jersey. If you live in these states you may
be getting a phone call in the near future. |
Membership: We will offer
half-price memberships at GA for the remainder of the year for
$30. From now on we will send out membership renewal letters to
every member before December 1. At GA we will also offer YAADs
and TSADs free two-year memberships if they join during the
assembly meeting. The new membership rates will be: Regular $60,
limited income $30, and students $10. |
will have a presence at the PW Churchwide Gathering in July of
2012 GA: Commissioner
Orientation will be done via media – e-mail and mailing the GA
issues edition of the Network News. The Awards Luncheon and
membership meeting will possibly be held at East Liberty PC on
Sunday noon, with the Co-Moderators working on this. The
Presbyterian Voices for Justice (note name change) breakfast
will be Tuesday, Colleen and Sylvias working on it. The PV4J
Dance on Tuesday evening will be worked on by Darcy, Jeremiah
and Mitch. Once again, exhibit hall booth will be handled by
Vicki. We will be introducing the Red Tent as a safe place for
Nominating Committee will
be Bill, Darcy and a former Board/CT member. |
Thirteen months after announcing his retirement, Doug King can
finally put his feet up. Meanwhile, I need to shop for a saddle
Godspeed and thanks to Molly
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.
Hank Bremer, former Witherspoon treasurer, has died
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,
We celebrate the
life of Hank Bremer, former Witherspoon treasurer
Adding a bit more about Hank Bremer's life --
Hank Bremer, who
served as Treasurer of the Witherspoon Society from 1992 to
1999, died peacefully at home on Monday, November 8, 2010, after
a lengthy illness. Born in 1932 in Peculiar, Missouri, he
graduated from Park College in Parkville, Missouri, and later
from San Francisco Theological Seminary. His many productive
years in ministry, both as pastor and as administrator in
Presbyterian retirement homes, were marked by strong social and
political leadership and involvement in peace and justice
movements in California, Mexico, and Central America.
After retiring in
1997, he and his wife Teresa moved to Santa Fe, where he
worshiped in First Presbyterian Church.
treasurer, Hank contributed both his administrative skills and
his passion for justice, along with his concern for people, and
the wisdom gathered through his own life struggles. We’re
grateful for what he shared with us!
The leadership of PVJ
joins many others in mourning his loss, and we extend our
sympathy to his widow, Teresa Bremer.
Voices for Justice
H - 414-475-0076
H - 443-722-7248
H - 973-784-4818
W - 973-627-1059
H - 724-443-0748
W - 724-443-2092
New York, NY
Cell - 646-675-7029
Members at Large
Sylvia Carlson (2009-11)
H - 724-755-2288
Molly Casteel (2009-11)
C - 502-693-8517
Sylvia Thorson-Smith (2009-11)
(Also Issues Coordinator)
H - 520-207-1825
Lorelei Hillman (2010-12)
H and C - 602-803-2878
W - 480-966-6267
Diane C. Monger (2010-12)
Pamela Szurek (2010-12)
C - 316-641-7422
H and C - 516-241-8420
W - 516-731-3808
(Ex Officio )
2805 Lakeshore Drive, # 9
La Crosse, WI 54603
H - 608-782-5275
C - 952-270-8134
Introducing our newest PVJ
Our membership meeting on Sunday, July 4, 2010, at GA,
elected these new Coordinating Team members. They have
each provided brief self-introductions.
Elected as Membership Coordinator:
has been until recently
Executive Assistant to the Pastor at Rutgers
New York City, and lives in Manhattan.
New at-large members:
is pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Levittown, NY,
on Long Island.
Minister-at-Large from Southern Kansas presbytery, is
now living back in her hometown of Wichita, KS.
Most recently she was on staff at Inter-Faith Ministries
in Wichita, working with the interfaith community to
fight poverty & injustice.
is the Interim Associate Pastor for University PC in
Tempe, Arizona, where she has been for almost 3 years.
She is also on the executive board of the Interfaith
Alliance for Worker Justice, and chairs Grand Canyon
Presbytery’s Theology and Worship Committee. Two primary
social justice interests are Immigration and GLBT
Voices of Sophia
and Voices of Women
posted a short account of the beginnings and witness of Voices
of Sophia, now a vital part of Presbyterian Voices for Justice.
It was written by Sylvia Thorson-Smith for the Peacemaking Issue
of The Journal of Sacred Feminine Wisdom, Fall, 1996.
We're happy to share it here,
both in easy-to-print PDF
format, and in easy-to-open
We'd be very happy
to hear your comments,
or additions or corrections!
Just send us a note!
laid to rest
Service reported on July 30, 2010, that Mollie Brown Hopper, who
with her husband Bill – a member and supporter of the
Witherspoon Society since 1994 – served as a Presbyterian
mission worker in Iran for many years, was interred in the
Memorial Garden at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
here July 27. Millie Hopper died earlier this spring at
Westminster Gardens in Duarte, Calif. where she and Bill Hopper
A brief service
accompanied the interment, led by the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick ,
former General Assembly stated clerk and world mission director
for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Former national staff
colleague the Rev. Kathy Lancaster read an account of Mollie's
life written by her husband, who was unable to attend due to
Our thoughts and prayers are with Bill and
their family in these sorrowful days.
at the 219
Saturday, July 3, 7:00 to 8:30 am
Presbyterian Voices for Justice Commissioner
(continuing the Witherspoon Society
Everything Presbyterian progressives need to know in order to
be effective participants in the Assembly. This is a wake-up
call that will include a continental breakfast, interactive
sharing, worship, and information about GA issues. Come, meet
people, and be energized for our week together!
Hilton Hotel. Tickets: $27.00
Sunday, July 4, 12:00 to 2:30 pm
Presbyterian Voices for Justice Awards
(continuing the Witherspoon Society Awards
Join us after Sunday worship to see old friends and meet new
ones. The keynote speaker, Mary Elva Smith, will speak on the
topic, "God’s Urgings: Are We Listening?" She will be
inviting us to explore with her the question of how, in this
season of dis-ease and uncertainty, we might have the courage to
be still and listen, to wonder and discern in community what God
may be calling us to do now.
Mary Elva says of herself: I am a risk taker, love adventures
and avoid getting up early! I have been involved in the
church all my life and called by the church for 40 years.
I love God and still have more questions about my faith than
answers. I am an administrator with ‘an attitude’ of
faithful hope. Having studied the Art of Spiritual
Direction at SFTS, I found myself nourished and nurtured by the
experience. It is out of my own journey of faith and the
learning in that venue that I now delight in listening, paying
attention and wondering with others as they seek to focus their
experiences with God. Happily retired, I delight in being
freer to explore the world and to serve as retreat leader,
spiritual director and staff member for the SFTS Diploma in the
Art of Spiritual Direction.
Our two awards will be presented: The Andrew Murray Award to
an outstanding leader of the Presbyterian Church (USA), and the
Whole Gospel Congregation Award to a congregation in the Twin
Cities area that exemplifies the commitments of Presbyterian
Voices for Justice, to living out the radical, liberating Good
News in our society and the wider world.
NOTE: Our Membership Business Meeting (and our first meeting
as a newly merged organization!) will be held immediately after
our Luncheon program.
Hyatt Regency Hotel, Nicollett Ballroom. Tickets: $42.00
Tuesday, July 6, 7:00-8:30 a.m.
Voices of Sophia Breakfast
(sponsored by Presbyterian Voices for Justice)
ReImagining Church: De-Centering Privilege as an Act of
Speaker: The Rev. Dr. Christine Smith, professor of
preaching, United Seminary of the Twin Cities (UCC) and preacher
for the first "Re-Imagining" gathering in 1993.
What does it mean to have social privilege? How might
Christians "de-center," or relocate, themselves socially?
How is this process of de-centering a faithful, prophetic act of
justice in our world? Dr. Smith’s message will challenge
us to look at the complex language of margin and center, of
stranger and other. She will also help us to consider
actions and spiritual disciplines that all of us, as privileged
citizens, need to adopt in order to live more justice-loving
lives. Christine Smith is eminently qualified to help us re-imagine
a just church in a global world.
Hyatt Regency Hotel. Tickets $27.00
Tuesday, July 6, 9:00pm-1:00am
sponsored by Presbyterian Voices for Justice
Time for a break! This is a great chance to relax and enjoy
great music, dancing, and conversation – and an informal place
to meet and mingle with others at the Assembly.
Hilton Hotel. Tickets $20.00 Tickets can be ordered through
the General Assembly ticket service, and will be also be
available at the door.
Tickets can be ordered through the General Assembly
website, by going to
We have a new name!
We are delighted to announce the
new name of the merged organization of Witherspoon Society and
Voices of Sophia: Presbyterian
Voices for Justice. We offer our thanks and
congratulations to Anne Barstow for offering the winning entry
in our contest to find a new name -- and our thanks to all the
others who have offered very good ideas as well.
We believe it is clear about
who we are as a merged organization, maintaining both the
“Voices” aspect of the former Voices of Sophia and the
broad-reaching “Justice” concerns of the former Witherspoon
Society. And it makes clear that we are Presbyterian in
membership and outlook. Also, it has a short and easy acronym!
We look forward to continuing our discernment of God’s “voice”
for justice in church and society.
David McGown, former Witherspoon president, dies in Santa Fe
The Rev. David McGown, who served as president of
the Witherspoon Society in 1995, and was active in campus
ministry for many years, most recently at the University of
Illinois at Chicago Circle Campus, died
peacefully Friday afternoon, March 26, at his home in Santa Fe.
He had struggled with Alzheimer’s for several years and had
lived in an assisted living facility with his wife Jeanne for the
past several years. A memorial service is being planned for
Jeanne McGown's address is 2400 Legacy Court,
Santa Fe, NM 87507.
Thanks to Ray Kersting for
sending word of this.
Remembering and celebrating Dave McGown ...
In April of 2001 –
on Palm Sunday, no less – David wrote a note to us reporting on
a remarkable, inclusive, joyful, violence-defying worship
service at St. Bede’s Episcopal Church in Santa Fe.
a look at it, and give thanks for David, for his strong
witness over many years, and his entry into the New Life.
We also want to acknowledge with
gratitude that David's wife, Jeanne (to whom I apologize for
getting her named spelled wrong when first posting this!), was one of the first and most
active members of Voices of Sophia.
David's obituary is in the Santa Fe New Mexican >>
approves a new Mission Statement.
In a conference call on November 19, 2009, the
Voices/ Witherspoon Board voted unanimously to adopt a new
statement of our mission, to reflect the merger of our two
organizations and the changing demands of our times.
We welcome any comments you’d like to share about
this new statement! Just send a note to
email@example.com, or call our Membership Coordinator, Gusti
Newquist, at (520) 325-1001.
Another request: As you reflect on this mission
statement, it might suggest new ideas for a new name for our
merged organization. Or even an idea for a new logo, for which
we have so far received no suggestions!
Click here for more about this gigantic contest – and
The new mission statement reads:
We are a spirited and passionate community of
women and men in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) who are
called to proclaim the Gospel vision of God’s extravagant
love and justice in church and society. We seek the wisdom
of the Spirit for following Christ’s example and for living
into the hope of sustained gender equality, racial
reconciliation, full human rights for LGBT persons, economic
justice, environmental wholeness, an end to war and all
forms of violence, and a justice-loving shalom over all the
earth. We commit to risking the transformation of our own
selves and our organization to live into this vision, even
as we invite both church and society to meet this challenge.
Calling all artists, doodlers,
creative thinkers, feminists,
& independent minds
To print and share with
others, get the PDF version
of this announcement >>
We are merging two progressive Presbyterian
organizations — Voices of Sophia and the Witherspoon Society —
and now we need to live into a new identity.
Sooo ... we’re looking for a new name and a new logo
and you can help!
Join one or both of these contests and win huge
logo submission should express the mission and character of the new,
united organization. (These include peace, justice, affirmation of
women’s distinctive experience and perspectives, and an inclusive
and hospitable community of faith in the Reformed tradition.) Please
submit an image that
will fit within a 3" by 3" square
(though it does not need to be exactly that size), and that can be
reproduced in a variety of formats – black and white, grayscale, and
in one, two and four colors.
Please suggest a name of one to four words that will reflect the
mission and character of the group, as outlined in the “Logo”
paragraph. If you wish, feel free to add a brief explanation of your
no more than 50 words.
AND THE WINNERS WILL RECEIVE ...!
winning entry to each contest will receive:
Your choice of a $50 cash award, |
your choice of free tickets to any three of our events during
the 219th General Assembly (July 2 - 10, 2010) in Minneapolis:
the pre-Assembly “Reformation 2010” conversation, the Voices of
Sophia Breakfast, the Commissioner Orientation, the Witherspoon
Luncheon, and (ta-daa!!) the Witherspoon Dance.
All entries will become the property of the Witherspoon
Society/Voices of Sophia.
PLEASE SEND YOUR ENTRIES BY DECEMBER 31, 2009
ONLINE with “Name and Logo Contest” in the Subject line, to Mitch
First Presbyterian Church
35 Church Street
Rockaway, NJ 07866
Please call Mitch Trigger at (973) 784-4818, or send him an email:
by Jake Young, Witherspoon co-moderator
Officers of the Presbyterian Church (USA) vow,
among other things, to serve the church with imagination. That’s a
wonderful idea. It reminds us to pursue creativity in our service to
God and one another. Theologian Matthew Fox says that human
creativity is the Holy Spirit at work in and through us. In this
sense, the activity of creatively imagining—indeed, reimagining—new
ways of being the church is exactly where the spirit of God leads
us. Likewise, attempts to squelch imagination are akin to what our
Pentecostal sisters and brothers might call “quenching the Spirit.”
Board members of the Witherspoon Society are
excited these days about the prospect of serving you and the PC(USA)
with imagination. You may not think of excitement and imagination
when you think of Witherspoon (especially if you have not attended
one of our General Assembly dance parties), but that’s about to
change. For several months we have been in conversation with the
leadership of Voices of Sophia about a merger. Today we are proud to
publicly announce that merger. The WS Board has been expanded to
include four gifted and creative leaders of VOS. (See Sylvia
Thorson-Smith’s article for further details on this development.)
Together, the different strengths of VOS and WS will enable our new
organization to serve the church more effectively, with greater
energy and imagination. We are grateful for your support of each
organization and invite you to join us and renew your vow—so to
speak—to serve the church with imagination.
Jake Young, Co-Moderator
Announcing a Holy Union:
Sophia and the Witherspoon Society Merge
by Sylvia Thorson-Smith
For about a year, the idea of a merger between the
Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia has been in the works.
Thanks to the efforts of many dedicated people in both groups, we
are now happy to announce that this union is a reality.
Since this article appears in what has been the
communication piece of the Witherspoon Society, it might be helpful
to review a bit of the history of Voices of Sophia. VOS was
organized in 1995 in response to the backlash against the 1993
feminist theological event known as “ReImagining.” It was felt by
many who were active in the PCUSA at the time that those who
advocated feminist values, particular women staff, were under siege
and needed a critical mass of support outside the structures of the
church. For 13 years, Voices of Sophia has been an untamed witness
on behalf of women and women’s issues, working in partnership with
other progressive justice-loving groups in the Presbyterian Church,
like the Witherspoon Society.
Discussions between these two groups began in
conversations at General Assembly in 2008, and the serious work of
exploring merger commenced in the fall and early 2009. I came on the
Witherspoon Board, in part as a liaison between the groups. Basic
agreement was reached between the leadership of WS and VOS on steps
that would be taken, including the following:
- four new members would join the WS board as a
VOS caucus, participating fully in decisions of the board and
providing a particularly feminist perspective to its work;
- the VOS caucus would be responsible for
continuing some previous VOS work, such as breakfasts that
feature women theologians at General Assembly;
- at least for now, the balance of VOS monies
would be (and have been) kept in a separate account, managed by
the WS budget officer, and available for GA breakfasts and other
particularly VOS/feminist-related needs; and
- other details of the merger would be worked
out by the newly enlarged board.
An email was sent to VOS members seeking three
interested persons to join me in forming the VOS caucus of the
board, and the following women enthusiastically offered to serve:
Colleen Bowers, a nurse who lives in Baltimore, MD; Sylvia Carlson,
a retired minister in Redstone Presbytery; and Molly Casteel, who
until recently held a position as staff for women’s advocacy in the
Racial Ethnic and Women’s Ministry Program of the church.
In addition, Heather Reichgott (former board
member of More Light Presbyterians) will be an adjunct member of the
caucus and will manage a new feminist blog on the Witherspoon
website. Heather is working with Doug King and her blog is now
operational (check it out at
There are still
issues to address regarding this merger, and these will be discussed
at a board meeting in Minneapolis in May. For now, though, we are
moving forward with energy and enthusiasm in this (hopefully) holy,
justice-seeking union. It's exciting to see it actually become a
reality, because we all agree on the importance of maintaining a
progressive/feminist voice in the PCUSA – even from the margins.
We'll want to keep communication flowing with the members of both
groups, so this unified group can become an even stronger witness
for peace and justice than we were separately. We hope that
current members of WS and VOS will want to maintain your ties and
new members will want to join.
We ask for prayers
and all forms of support as we re-imagine a united Voices of
Sophia/Witherspoon Society. Feel free to ask questions, give us
input, and share ideas about how to strengthen our work together. I
welcome emails regarding this merger (firstname.lastname@example.org),
and you may direct them to other board members as well. We look
forward to reporting more progress in upcoming issues of Network
News and here on the website.
Howell – former editor of Christianity & Crisis and a very
good friend of Witherspoon – has died [3-2-09]
We received word last week of the death of Leon
Howell, journalist and leading thinking in the progressive wing of
U.S. Christianity. His family said that Leon died at home in his
sleep early Thursday, February 26, in Silver Spring, Maryland.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am on
Tuesday, March 3 at Chevy Chase Presbyterian Church, One Chevy Chase
Circle NW, Washington DC 20015.
The family suggests that, in lieu of flowers,
donations may be made in Leon’s name to:
National Ghost Ranch Foundation
HC 77, Box 11
Abiquiu, NM 87510
Bread for the World
50 F Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20001
A Witherspoon comment:
Jane Hanna, former president of the Witherspoon
Society, has worked with Leon over the past few years as he has
frequently led summer seminars at Ghost Ranch, which featured Leon
in conversation and debate with various informed guests, on moral
and ethical issues confronting our society today.
Jane wrote of Leon Howell: “Frank [her
husband] and I truly mourn his passing as we loved him greatly and
just felt the week of ‘Discerning the Signs of Times’ seminar each
summer to be one of each year's highlights. We will miss him greatly
and although plans are already underway to continue the seminars
into the future, his absence will very much be felt. Leon leaves as
many friends from around the world as anyone I know. There is a lot
of sadness with his passing.”
Witherspooner Bill Coop
has shared with us his message to Leon Howell’s widow, Barbara
I wanted to be with you on Tuesday to celebrate
the life of Leon, the Blogging prophet in our midst. But the
snowstorm in the northeast has given me pause. However, as
Bi-National Servants, we want to affirm that Leon has been a drum
major for justice in our midst. His commitment to calling us to
ministries of compassion has been crystal clear. We celebrate his
life among us (also his insights into the sports venues that he
followed with a passion).
We are with you this day. And may the Grace, Peace
and Spirit of our Lord comfort you today and into the Memory Stones
of the future.
BiNational Service Council
|Witherspoon is on Facebook!
Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia have joined the "Web 2.0"
world with our Witherspoon Society page on Facebook.
It's been a treat to see so many friends join us
from around the country and even around the world. One of the people
joining us as a member of our Facebook community is the Rev. Roberto
Jordan of Argentina, one of the people instrumental in drafting the
Accra Confession and the featured speaker at our 2007 fall
conference on global discipleship.
By joining us on
Witherspoon Society Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=50517709365),
you can keep connected with other friends passionate about social
justice issues and keep up-to-date with notes about the latest news
from a variety of PC(USA) social justice groups.
If you don't know much about Facebook, it's a
simple way of getting connected with old friends, people with
similar interests and it's free. If you are a first-timer, simply go
to www.facebook.com and
register. By joining as a member of our Facebook page, you too can
post news from your church or presbytery that might be of interest
to the rest of us or begin a discussion on a topic close to your
heart. It's fast, fun, and free – something we all enjoy! See you
Mitch Trigger, Secretary/Communicator of the
And our hearty thanks to Mitch
for leading the way!
in the news
Margaret Howland celebrates 50
years as minister – one of the first women to be ordained [10-21-08]
Peg Howland has been a Witherspoon member for some
years, and has been very active in the leadership of the
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship.
to view a WNBC report on the celebration of the 50th
anniversary of her ordination at her congregation in White Plains,
NY – or read a report from the Westchester Journal News.
in the news
Service report dated October 9, 2008, by Jerry L. VanMarter.
The Rev. Richard W. Irwin,
a retired Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission worker who served in
Brazil from 1947-1995, died there Sept. 26. He was 88. [And he
has been a member of the Witherspoon Society since 1991.]
Irwin had continued living in Brazil after his
retirement and served on the pastoral team of First Presbyterian
Church in Sao Paulo until his death. He also was a columnist for the
Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil’s newspaper.
During his 48-year term for the PC(USA) in Brazil,
Irwin taught liturgy at Sao Paulo Seminary, an institution of the
Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil. He also used media to
acquaint many in Brazilian society with Protestantism. He produced
the country’s first Protestant film as well as dramas and cartoons
Services were conducted at First Presbyterian
Church in Sao Paulo on Sept. 27, and he was buried in Brazil’s first
cemetery for Protestants near the grave of A. G. Simonton, the first
Presbyterian missionary to Brazil.
School has presented its Alumni Award for Distinction in Theological
Education to the Rev. V. Bruce Rigdon, a Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.) pastor, theological educator, ecumenical leader and social
activist. [Not to mention a member of the Witherspoon Society since
Rigdon, one of the world’s foremost experts on
Reformed-Orthodox relations, served as pastor of Grosse Pointe
Memorial (Presbyterian) Church in Michigan from 1988-2002 and
president of Ecumenical Theological Seminary in Detroit from
1997-2006. Though now retired, he continues to teach at Ecumenical,
McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and Columbia Theological
Seminary in Decatur, GA.
Rigdon, who holds B.D., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees
from Yale Divinity School, was an innovator in the globalization of
theological education. In addition to his groundbreaking work in
Russia, he has been active in the Middle East, and is currently
president of the board of Pilgrims of Ibillin, an organization that
supports and interprets the significance of institutions established
in Galilee by Archbishop Elias Chacour to educate together
Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Druze young people.
In retirement, Rigdon serves as pastor of
Siasconset Union Chapel, a summer ecumenical congregation on
by Trina Zelle
[Published in the Summer 2008 issue of Network News, and
posted here on 10-9-08]
I had never heard of the Witherspoon Society until they selected
me to receive their Andrew Murray Award at the 1999 General Assembly
in Fort Worth, Texas. In fact, I had never attended a General
Assembly, unless you count participation in the opening communion
service at the Hartford, Connecticut, GA in the early ’80s. My
memories from Hartford center around a group of hearing impaired
folks a few rows in front of me who signed the Lord’s prayer as
everyone else said it out loud. The insight from that night, that
God receives all of our prayers no matter how they are delivered,
moves me to tears to this day.
Since Fort Worth that same valuing of inclusivity has kept me
connected to the Witherspoon Society with its diverse and sometimes
quirky membership. God knows we’re a fractious and disorganized
bunch that manages to combine institutional memory and amnesia in
the course of one meeting. It’s a marvel that we survive from year
to year. But survive we do, and thrive, because and in spite of
ourselves – and I think mainly because our cause is not only just,
it is justice itself.
Along with our allies who live with us at the margins of the
Presbyterian Church, the Witherspoon Society represents the voice
that refuses to be silenced, the witness who refuses to go away.
Fortunately, our impulse to dance keeps us from sinking under the
weight of the challenges that face our church. In fact, I believe it
is in just such playfulness that as a community of faith we will
finally, in the words of the Shaker hymn, come down to the place we
ought to be.
I am grateful to have been included on the journey that
Witherspoon has been traveling since the early ’70s (and before in
its predecessor organizations). This month marks my transition off
the board. After nine years of intense involvement with Witherspoon
and the issues that confront the PC(USA), I will be taking a break
of sorts. Of course, once a Witherspooner always a Witherspooner,
especially when it comes to dancing, so I don’t plan to stray far.
In the meantime, I want to thank the people who have become close
friends and colleagues both on the board and in our larger
membership. No one could ask for better companions.
Witherspoon welcomes new officers,
says thanks to two outgoing ones
[Published in the Summer 2008 issue of Network News, and
posted here on 10-9-08]
As part of the Witherspoon Society’s membership meeting following
our luncheon at General Assembly, we elected Sylvia Thorson-Smith as
a new at-large member of the Board, and elected Gusti Newquist, who
has been serving as an at-large member, to the post of Membership
Coordinator. John Harris, who has been filling that post, was
elected for a one-year term as a member at large.
To introduce our newest Board member: Sylvia Thorson-Smith was
born and raised a Lutheran in Anchorage, Alaska, but she's been a
Presbyterian all of her adult life. In the 1980s she served on COWAC
(the Council on Women and the Church) and staffed the 1988 GA
report, "Pornography: Far From the Song of Songs." She was a writer
of the 1991 GA report, "Keeping Body and Soul Together: Sexuality,
Spirituality, and Social Justice," and has written books on human
sexuality and LGBT justice. Sylvia is a founding member of Voices of
Sophia, an affinity group formed in 1995 to advocate the
theological/liturgical contributions of women and promote
interconnected activism on all social justice issues. She is retired
from teaching sociology, religious studies, and gender/women's
studies at Grinnell College and lives in Tucson, AZ, where she
serves on the session of St. Mark's Presbyterian Church, enjoys life
with husband Mike Smith, and cavorts with her 4-year-old airedale,
We want to express our hearty thanks to Trina Zelle, who has
served since 1999, first as Secretary, and most recently as one of
the Co-Moderators of the Board. Thanks also go to Peter
Barnes-Davies, who is retiring from the Board to devote himself to
his new position as Stated Supply at First Presbyterian Church of
Scottsburg, Indiana. They will both be missed!
Visiting San Jose??
As a place to stay in San Jose,
your Witherspoon board members would like to recommend
the Ramada Limited, San Jose.
We stayed there for the General Assembly, and held
a couple of our main public events in their large public meeting
room – and they were great hosts.
So if you have occasion to visit San Jose and are
looking for centrally located, economical accommodations, why not
give them a call, or visit their website.
Their address is
455 South Second St.,
San Jose, CA 95113
For reservations, call
1 (866) 962-6700,
or (408) 298-3500.
Their website is at
Peace Fellowship and Witherspoon both get some attention from
The Layman [5-30-08]
The Presbyterian Layman recently called
attention to a “correction” offered to the Witherspoon Society by
the Rev. James Berkley, Director of Presbyterian Action, a part of
the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD). Mr. Berkley
thoughtfully advised that a column of theological reflection which
appears regularly in Witherspoon’s Network News, authored by
Dr. Douglas Ottati, deserves to draw the attention of the Internal
In his column, Ottati dares to speak as if
Presbyterian progressives might lean toward either of the two
contending candidates for the Democratic nomination for President,
rather than the sole surviving Republican. Witherspoon, says
Berkley, is “beating the drum for a political party in the election
Read Berkley’s blog >>
Ottati’s essay is online, too >>
The Layman, having been alerted by Berkley to his
revelation of Witherspoon misdeeds, repeats substantially what he
wrote in his blog. And it quotes Berkley as saying in addition that
“the Witherspoon Society has shown its true colors: It's a Democrat
But the Witherspoon Society is in good company.
The Layman has also chosen this week to scold the
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship for holding a retreat on dealing
conscientiously with military service – and scheduling the event
(gasp!) on Memorial Day weekend. Held at Ghost Ranch, Abiquiu, NM,
the event was designed to provide training “for young adults who are
interested in countering the military recruitment efforts on their
high school and college campuses.”
The Layman apparently called Rick Ufford-Chase,
former PC(USA) moderator and now Executive Director of the Peace
Fellowship, to ask the reason for this choice of dates. He is quoted
as saying, “This is in no way intended to dishonor the valuable
service and the great service that has been offered by so many
people, Presbyterians and others, who have served in the armed
forces, but to create alternatives for students who may not know
that there are other, non-military options for living out a life of
service to the Church. I understand that there's some conversation
going on out there, but no one's called me about it.”
Peace Fellowship announcement of the event >>
Read the Layman’s article >>
You might also be enlightened by reading some of
the comments that came in response to the Layman’s exposé of
the wicked peace people.
Click here, and go to the archive for May, 2008.
Well, it’s refreshing to see our friends at The
Layman concerned about something besides sex. Now we can worry
about war, politics, and taxes, too.
We should add, perhaps, that the Witherspoon
Society has no intention of campaigning for the Democratic Party.
Certainly that party and many of its leaders seem to show some
commitment to the values which we as Christians and as Presbyterians
hold dear – but so do some members of the Republican Party as well.
We believe strongly, however, in the right of Christians and other
people of faith to engage in serious reflection and conversation
about the pressing issues of our day, and the best ways to respond
to those issues in the “public square.”
At our Fall board meeting, held in September at McCormick
Theological Seminary in Chicago, the Board of the Witherspoon Society voted
to take some concrete steps toward engaging more directly with the big wide
world. We adopted as a working title for this project the "Global Engagement
As one step in this project we have committed to provide
partial support for Shannon O’Donnell, who has recently gone as a Mission
Volunteer to serve at the Sabeel Ecumenical and Liberation Theology Center
We are happy to present more information about this new
Witherspoon project, including an
introduction by Board member Peter Barnes-Davies, a
Jerusalem" by Shannon herself, a
Sabeel of its current "points of emphasis," and more.
a beautiful collage created by the people of Sabeel to represent their
people, their situation, and their mission.
Click here for
a page that will be devoted specifically to our partnership with the PC(USA)
in its global mission, through Shannon O’Donnell and Sabeel in Jerusalem.
If you have comments or suggestions
about the Global Engagement Initiative,
please let us hear from you.
Just send a
Witherspoon Board reaffirms unity of the church, laments divisive moves
The Board of the Witherspoon Society,
meeting from September 13 through 16 at McCormick Theological Seminary in
Chicago, today adopted a statement expressing dismay at the actions and
statements by some Presbyterians, congregations and presbyteries that seem
to violate the spirit of "harmony and covenanted partnership" that were
fostered by the Theological Task Force and experienced by many at the 217th
General Assembly in Birmingham.
The statement concludes: "We pledge to join with all
Presbyterians in carrying out the letter and the spirit of both the AI and
our broader Presbyterian tradition: to defend our Constitution against
anarchy and misinterpretation, to seek more thorough discernment, and to
assist candidates and committees as we all try to live our way into the new
opportunities brought to us by the Theological Task Force, the actions of
the 217th General Assembly, and the Reformed heritage upon which
the Presbyterian Church (USA) stands."
The full statement >>
Presbyterian minister – and Witherspooner – runs for Congress in
The Rev. Jill Martinez, who was nominated for Moderator of
the 212th General Assembly in 2000, and who joined the
Witherspoon Society in the same year, is running for Congress in
California's 24th congressional district. That district covers Ventura and
Santa Barbara counties, and, she says, appears to offer a "winnable race"
for a Democrat in what has been a Republican district.
If anyone is interested in learning more about her
campaign, there’s information on
her website – including a brief bio sketch and policy papers on issues
such as education, health care, housing, the need to "change course in Iraq,
immigration policy ... and more.
She can be contacted at
or by phone at (805) 446-3000. Her Ventura office is located at 89
California Street in Ventura, and her Santa Barbara county office is at 1301
East Clark Rd, in Orcutt.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the
University of Hawaii, a Masters of Divinity from San Francisco Theological
Seminary. Martinez’ post graduate work at SFTS emphasized research in
examining the "Mestizaje process" where people of differing cultures come
together and form new cultural identities.
Network News for Summer 2006 is now online
Our latest newsletter is now in the mail to members, and
we’re glad to share it with anyone else who’s interested -- in PDF format.
The contents of
Network News for Summer 2006
A time for embodying love
After the 217th GA –
Where do we go from here?
Analysis by Gene TeSelle – pp. 4-7
A call to recognize "the
things that make for peace"
– pp. 8-9
The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship responds to the violence in the Middle
Going on in the USA? – pp. 10-19
Mark Lewis Taylor’s
keynote at the Witherspoon/Semper Reformanda Pre-Assembly Conversation,
looking at "the
rise of an imperial triumvirate"
The Witherspoon Luncheon
love" in a whole
Gospel congregation – pp. 20-22
Eugenia Gamble on
Peacemakers Anne Barstow and Tom Driver receive Andrew Murray Award – pp.
A Matter of Trust, by Kenneth Smith, comment on the Assembly, by
outgoing president of Witherspoon – pp. 25
Creed" of 1908:
some background, by Gene TeSelle – pp. 26
Energized by Lamb Power
Two reports from the Ghost Ranch Seminar on Economy, Ecology, and Empire, by
Jake Young and Kent Holmes – pp. 27-30
Coming events – pp. 31
Reflecting on Witherspoon’s
mission, by John Harris – pp. 32-33
New Wineskins studying options –
a report and a comment – pp. 33-35
New Witherspoon Board elected – pp. 36-37
The Witherspoon Board –
how to find us
– pp. 38
For the full issue of Network News
for Summer 2006 >>
Witherspoon members elect new Board
during General Assembly
membership meeting, held just after the Awards Luncheon on Sunday, June 18,
took two very important actions.
First, the group approved a set of revised by-laws, which
takes into account the shift to biennial General Assemblies, and – in
harmony with many similar groups – renames our group of officers as a Board
rather than an Executive Committee. It also shifts our leadership from a
single President to two Co-Moderators.
You’ll find the new by-laws – which were not changed from
their draft form – in the Winter 2006 issue of Network News.
and scroll or jump (using the page box at the bottom of the Adobe Reader
screen) to pages 32-37.
Following that action, we elected a full slate of
officers, since no election was held last year, and all the earlier terms
had expired. About half the officers were elected for one-year terms, and
the rest for full two-year terms. In the future, all elections will be held
by mail-in ballots each May.
A strong slate of officers was elected, with Trina Zelle
and Jake Young taking office as Co-Moderators. Here’s the full list, with
brief bio sketches of each one.
Members of the
Witherspoon Board, 2006
Co-Moderator (2-year term): Trina Zelle
Trina has been attending General Assembly since 1999 in
Ft. Worth, TX where she received the Andrew Murray award from Witherspoon.
Ordained in 1980 by the Presbytery of Southern New England she has pastored
churches in Connecticut, Minnesota, Hawaii, Texas, and Arizona, as well as
being involved with community organizing and empowerment. She currently
serves as lead organizer for Interfaith Worker Justice of Arizona, a
national organization that provides technical assistance and support to
churches engaged in labor justice issues.
Co-Moderator (1 year term): Jake Young
As a TSAD at the 2000 GA in Long Beach, Jake met Jane
Hanna. He has been working with Witherspoon ever since. He served two years
on the nominating committee before joining the Executive Committee in 2003.
Jake and his family live in Anderson, South Carolina, where he serves as
pastor of the only More Light Presbyterian church in the state: North
Anderson Community Church, Presbyterian.
Treasurer (2-year term): Darcy Hawk
Darcy holds a D.Min. from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
and is a member of Pittsburgh Presbytery. He has been pastor of Gibsonia
Presbyterian Church since being ordained in 1984. He was previously employed
by The United Cerebral Palsy Association of Pittsburgh community living
program and having served on the board of Renaissance Center, a community
mental health provider. He chaired Pittsburgh Presbytery's committee on the
concerns of people with disabilities. Finding that physical barriers are
easier to remove than attitudinal ones, he welcomes the challenging
prophetic work of full inclusion of all God's people.
Secretary/Communicator (1-year term): Mitch Trigger
Mitch served as the Wareham intern at the 1995 General
Assembly in Cincinnati and has been a regular attendee at General Assembly
ever since. Mitch and his wife Sue have served as co-pastors in Indiana and
upstate New York and have been strongly committed to social justice issues
throughout their ministry. Before entering into ordained ministry, Mitch
worked in the broadcasting field (radio & TV).
Issues Analyst (1-year term): Eugene TeSelle
Gene taught Church History and Theology at Vanderbilt
Divinity School for thirty years, and in Nashville he has been involved in
issues of school and residential integration, housing, and neighborhood
organizing. He has attended most General Assemblies since 1988, sometimes as
WS Issues Analyst and sometimes as WS President (1996-2000).
Membership Coordinator (2 year term): John E. Harris
John first learned about the Witherspoon Society when he
served as a YAD to the 1980 UPCUSA GA in Detroit. He has attended many GAs
since in order to advocate for peace, justice, the integrity of God’s
creation, and the full inclusion of all God’s people in church and society.
He currently pastors a wee-kirk, serves on Presbytery Staff as a "Special
Presbyter" and Stated Clerk Pro-Tem, and teaches Religion and Philosophy at
the college level in West Virginia.
Member At Large (2-year term): Peter Barnes-Davies
Peter is a rising fourth-year M.Div. student at San
Francisco Theological Seminary/Graduate Theological Union. He recently
completed nine months of service as pastoral intern at Knox Presbyterian
Church (Santa Rosa, CA), a small congregation that welcomes all in the name
of Jesus Christ. He believes the justice-seeking power of God’s love may
transform the world and the church’s witness to it, and that in a time of
globalization and empire, such radical love is more than necessary to
counteract the effects of fear-mongering, preemptive war-making, and
distortions of social and theological truth.
Member At Large (2-year term): Bill Dummer
Bill is a 1966 MDiv graduate of San Francisco Theological
Seminary. He served on the staffs of churches in Long Beach and Monterey,
California, where he was involved in both Christian Education and community
ministry. For 15 years he took a detour in rural mid-america, serving
churches in Nebraska and Kansas. In 1987 he returned to his home town of
Milwaukee as pastor of Calvary Church, which hosted the Witherspoon Society
Dinner at the 1992 General Assembly. Since 1993 he has been an interim
ministry specialist and is currently involved in community ministry and
Member At Large (1-year term): Michelle Freeman
Michelle is an Associate Pastor of First Presbyterian
Church Birmingham, Recipient of the 2006 Whole Gospel Congregation Award.
She was ordained by Peace River Presbytery a year ago. She has coordinated
many of the activities involving First Church at this year’s Assembly.
Member At Large (1 year term): Lucy Harris
A graduate of Union-PSCE in Richmond, VA, Lucy served as a
TSAD at the 2002 GA in Cincinnati and as the WS Wareham intern at the 2003
General Assembly in Denver. She has been active with the Witherspoon Society
since 2002 and is working this year as a Covenant Network committee liaison
in the Church Orders committee. She has been serving as the Associate Pastor
of First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater, OK since 2004. Before ordination
she served as a youth director and worked as a professional musician for
Member At Large (1-year term): Ken Smith
Ken is the last President of the Witherspoon Society (due
to a reorganized structure.) He helped negotiate the merger between
Witherspoon and Semper Reformanda in 2001 and has served on the Witherspoon
Board ever since. Since his early retirement in 1991, he has been an
activist in the PCUSA, focusing on health care reform, anti-racism and full
inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church.
Member At Large (1-year term): Kent Holmes
Kent has served churches in California and
Michigan and now serves the Presbyterian Church of Punxsutawney, PA. He
chairs the CPM of Kiskiminetas Presbytery and served as Presbytery Moderator
in 2001. He was a Commissioner to the 212th GA in Long Beach and has also
served on the board of APCE. A Certified Christian Educator and Certified
Associate Church Musician, he is a Life-long "progressive/liberal"
Presbyterian and proud of it! He is currently reading Doug Ottati's new
book, Theology For Liberal Presbyterians and other Endangered Species
and recommends it as a great read.
2006-2008 Nominating Committee
The 2006-2008 Nominating Committee was also elected by the
membership. It included:
A new Witherspooner comes in from the cold. Or rather the
We received this note on January 17.
We invite YOU to follow Barbara Howard’s fine example, and join us!
Dear Doug King,
I am a 75 yr old that has just discovered the
Witherspoon Society! Where in the world was I all these years you may ask
-- I was born and raised here and have spent my life in Houston, Texas,
most of it as a Baptist. When I became a Democrat I found the Presbyterian
Church USA and the more liberal and progressive I became, I found a few
like minded souls. One of these friends goes to the same church I do, his
name is Charles Stogner, and he gave me one of your publications.
Now the sad part is I live on Social security and can't
afford to join even though I would so much like to.
However I wanted you to know how thankful I am to know
that your publication exist and you are associated with the PCUSA. My
church is Westminster Presbyterian Church in Houston, Texas. Thank you for
keeping up the good work and sending out much needed information to those
of us surrounded by the "Bush dogma." It's like a drink of cool water in
the desert. We need to step up as Christians and take back the values we
have allowed to be so shamefully used by the right wing. I applaud you and
I believe our spiritual crisis is real; you are my heroes!
A little note: We’ve added Ms. Howard to our membership
list with a complimentary membership for 2006. We’re glad she’s with us! And
we’ll welcome YOU, too.
information about us >>
Join us online! >>
Chuck McLain, Witherspoon board member and
long-time activist, died this All Saints’ morning at age 71.
Lisa Larges, Regional
Partnership Coordinator of
That All May Freely Serve,
who lives in San Francisco, sent this note:
Presbyterian Minister, activist, singer, band leader, dancer, chef, and
symbol to so many of us of God's gracious hospitality, the Reverend Chuck
McLain died this All Saint's morning, at age 71.
Details regarding services celebrating Chuck's life will be forthcoming
from Montclair Presbyterian Church where Chuck has served for many years
as Parish Associate.
May we live in love as Chuck did so well.
And Jake Young, another Witherspoon board member, sent
this personal word:
I received word that Chuck McLain died this morning.
Most of you have known Chuck much longer than I have, but during the few
years I've known him, he became a dear friend. Every time I learned
something new about his life's work, I was amazed by his commitment to
justice and the gentle way he had of speaking truth. For that reason, I am
not amazed that this is the day of his death, Nov. 1, All Saints Day.
And a word from Chuck:
"We cannot be silent about justice"
Looking for a little more about Chuck’s life, you
WebWeaver found this, from
report in the Washington Times from the 215th General
Assembly in 2003. In that Assembly, an overture to delete G-6.0106b from the
Book of Order was essentially rejected, when commissioners voted to refer
the whole matter of lgbt ordination to the Task Force on Peace, Unity and
the Purity of the Church, which had been created two years earlier.
The Times reported:
Leaders of the Covenant Network, including the newly
elected assembly moderator, the Rev. Susan Andrews, said they wouldn't
support this year's effort, although the group supports ordination of
Then, seeking other opinions, they talked with Chuck
"We cannot be silent about justice," said the Rev.
Charles McLain, pastor of Montclair Presbyterian Church in Oakland, Calif.
"I understand that they want unity, but this is too painful to those who
have been denied."
Mr. McLain is an openly homosexual pastor, but he began
serving before 1978, when the church issued its "Definitive Guidance" on
Chuck, we’ll miss you, and we praise God for your life and
witness among us.
Michael Adee, National Field Organizer of More
Light Presbyterians, adds his reflections on the life and ministry of the
Rev. Chuck McLain
Written 11-1-05, posted 11-2-05
This morning, the Rev. Chuck McLain, Parish Associate, Montclair
Presbyterian Church, Oakland, CA, a More Light Presbyterian Church, died
after a valiant battle with cancer. He is survived by his sister, Louisa and
her family, his Montclair church family and friends all across the country.
Those of us fortunate enough to have known Chuck remember and honor him
and his faithful, generous and loving ministry as a Minister of the Word and
Sacrament, Presbyterian Church (USA). A graduate of McCormick Theological
Seminary, Chuck served congregations in Los Angeles before moving to
Chuck's long and varied ministry is characterized by working [for] and
with persons on the margins such as farm workers; for civil rights; for the
full embrace of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and their
families; peacemaking; affordable housing and economic justice issues.
For Chuck loving and serving God meant loving one's neighbor, and for him
everyone was neighbor. I often stayed with Chuck when I went to the Bay Area
for MLP field outreach work. His hospitality was legendary and he delighted
in sharing his home and garden with friends. A gourmet meal prepared by him
was not complete unless French wine was served. Such was standard fare at
Chuck served on the National MLP Board and could always be counted upon
in his presbytery to champion LGBT and other peace and justice causes. For
several years, Chuck's Barrelhouse Jazz Band led the More Light Presbyterian
contingent in the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade as he played trombone and
was often vocalist as well.
Chuck often described his coming out as a gay man later in life as
liberating and part of his faith journey. In a sense, his coming out was his
coming home to himself and the church he loved and served so dearly. The
validation of his call and gifts for ministry by his beloved Montclair
Presbyterian Church meant the world to him. Special gratitude to Rev. Karen
Stokes, pastor, for her extraordinary leadership and service in and through
Montclair Presbyterian Church.
Last year Montclair Presbyterian Church hosted a 70th Birthday Party
celebration for Chuck, which turned out to be a standing room only gala
event complete with jazz music, tributes shared by friends of how Chuck had
made a difference in their lives, and a reception with dancing. In his black
tux, Chuck danced gracefully around that church hall floor surrounded by the
love and cheers of his friends and church family.
Now with Chuck's passing from death into life eternal at age 71, a
memorial service will be held soon at Montclair Presbyterian Church at a
date not yet announced. Please join the National Board of More Light
Presbyterians and me in giving thanks for Chuck's life, ministry and witness
as well as in prayer for his family and friends.
with hope and grace,
Michael J. Adee, M.Div., Ph.D., National Field Organizer
More Light Presbyterians, 369 Montezuma Avenue # 447, Santa Fe, NM 87501,
All May Freely Serve --
God Calls Chuck Home...
That All May Freely Serve is deeply saddened by
the loss of our dear friend and colleague Chuck McLain, who was such an
amazing witness for justice and love. His presence among us inspired us into
action --to invite the church to be a welcoming and affirming Place. Chuck
died this morning, November 1, on All Saints Day, and so he joins that
communion having been such an example of what it means to be a loving and
welcoming human being whose heart was so full of loving kindness.
Chuck McLain, a
founder of TAMFS in Northern California, a former board member of More Light
Presbyterians and of the Witherspoon Society worked and prayed diligently to
bring folks together in our common ministry.
His love of music, his singing, his playing the
trombone, his dancing so effortlessly, his smile, his advocacy across so
many justice lines wooed us into joining him to work for liberation and
wholeness. He never gave up. He always would say, we can do this -- now let
us make a plan and off we would go with him down the yellow brick road.
Thank you Chuck for your undaunting spirit, for
your love, for your courage, for your never giving up -- for singing and
dancing into our lives. We will continue with you in our hearts and will
carry your message of love and justice.
May you rest in peace knowing you are working
with us from the other side so that all will freely live and serve.
We love you and will miss you terribly!!
Your Tamfs Family
A note from the pastoral staff
at Montclair Presbyterian Church reads in part:
Chuck McLain died peacefully
on Tuesday morning, November 1st, at John Muir Hospital, following a
courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He had just returned from a trip
to Paris, which he had decided to take when his doctors could no longer
treat the disease. A celebration of Chuck's life will be held at Montclair
Presbyterian Church, 5700 Thornhill Drive, Oakland CA, on Sunday,
December 4th at 2:00 PM. Our prayers are with Chuck's sister Louisa, the
rest of his family, and all who knew and loved him.
Rodney Martin dies at 84
Former PHEWA director served also as president of
Rodney T. Martin, 84, a Presbyterian elder who pioneered
new models for social justice work and mentored countless young pastors and
activists, died June 24 in Napa, CA, at the age of 84.
Martin served as the executive director of the
Presbyterian Health, Education and Welfare Association (PHEWA) for 18 years,
and after his retired served in 1994 as president of the Witherspoon
Society. He received Witherspoon's Andrew Murray Award in the year
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday,
July 30, at the First Presbyterian Church in Oakland, CA.
Rod’s daughter, the Rev. Shona Martin Kilsgaard, sent
a moving note to friends in the PHEWA
network, the day before Rod died.
Greetings from a new John Witherspoon
We've recently received an interesting note from someone
who is portraying John Witherspoon in a play -- and learning good things
I have recently been granted the honor of portraying John Witherspoon in the
musical "1776." The Reading (PA) Civic Theatre will be producing the show on
April 29, 30, and May 1. Rehearsals began on Sunday January 30, and I found
myself wondering who John Witherspoon was. Sadly, he is one of the signers
of whom I knew nothing, but happily I have found much information on the
web, including your site.
My research has been very gratifying. It is heartening to know that men like
John Witherspoon were with us when our Country needed them. I can think of
no better legacy than the existence of organizations such as the Witherspoon
Society. Surely, Reverend Witherspoon is pleased to know that you continue
his good work.
I pray that I can present a good picture of this fine man.
Evan L. Cooper
P.S. For those who are interested, there is an excellent DVD available for
"1776." I recommend it, as it may well be one of the best film adaptations
of a Broadway musical. And yes, John Witherspoon is featured, as a prominent
secondary character, in the film.
Here's the website
for Reading Civic Theatre
And you'll find there
information about the play.
Are you missing Network News for Summer 2004?
We've heard that some of you haven't received your copy of
the Summer 2004 issue of Network News, which was mailed over two
weeks ago. We're not sure what the problem is, but some copies may not
have been sent. If that's the case for you, here are two options:
Sorry for the problem!
Doug King [10-6-04]
Witherspoon's membership brochure is
updated, and it's right here -- in Adobe pdf format.
Take a look at it if you're
thinking about joining us -- and print a few to share with friends!
to download (free!) Adobe Reader software to view this and all PDF files.
Ken Smith, elected at General
Assembly as the new President of the Witherspoon Society, introduces
A note of thanks from the Witherspoon board:
We're very grateful for the generous support our members
have been giving in response to Treasurer Dave Zuverink's appeal for
special funds to support and expand Witherspoon's communications. We're
nearing $4,000 toward our goal of $10,000. That will help a great deal,
but more support will enable us to reach out more effectively -
distributing free copies of Network News to seminarians and
others; offering someone a small stipend to help improve the appearance of
our website and add to its content. If you haven't sent a contribution
yet, we'll still graciously accept your gift! You can use the membership
envelope in this issue - but be sure to mark your check or the envelope
for "Communication Fund." Thanks!!
You can make a gift online with a credit card.
Just click here
to go to the bottom of our membership form, and there you are!
Witherspoon annual meeting confirms new
At the close of the annual Witherspoon Society Awards
Luncheon at the 2004 General Assembly, Kent Winters-Hazelton convened the
organization's annual meeting, with some 50 members present.
The election of new officers was confirmed, and they
have taken office with the end of the Assembly.
The full list of officers
is part of our report.
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!