GA221: The Aftermath

Reflections on Justice and Social Witness During and After the 221st General Assembly


Daniel Ott CarouselLet’s Focus on Nonviolence, Rev. Dr. Daniel J. Ott

Let’s focus on nonviolence! I am encouraged by the news out of the 221st General Assembly of the PC(USA). The assembly decided that we need to continue our church-wide discernment process about peacemaking, and it sounds like there was some very good discussion around nonviolence in the peacemaking committee. While it will be helpful for presbyteries to consider all five of the affirmations put forward by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, it may be even more productive if we focus our attention on nonviolence in the coming years of peace discernment. Continue Reading

WhitBodman CarouselThe Presbyterian Pre-Occupation with the Occupation of Palestine, Dr. Whitney Bodman

The Middle East is full of bad news these days. Whether the Presbyterian vote to divest from three U.S. corporations “engaged in non-peaceful pursuits in Israel/Palestine” at their recent 221st General Assembly is more bad news or a breath of fresh air is a matter of opinion. It is a small move, 10 years in the making. It will have no noticeable effect economically on the companies or Israel. It is a mostly symbolic expression of principle, of frustration, and of hope. The last is important. It would have been easier to do and say nothing, but doing and saying nothing is a (non-) gesture of despair. Continue Reading

Bethany Benz CarouselWe are FamilyBethany Benz

My friends, I bring you greetings from the 221st meeting of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Presbyterians from across the country gathered in Detroit for the last eight days to do the business of the church. We had, as I’m sure you can guess, committee meetings. We worshiped and celebrated communion together. We shared in fellowship. We came together, from near and far, to try to discern the will of God for the PC(USA). And at the end of our time together, whether we were happy about the results or not, we worshiped again. Continue Reading


Andrew William Smith CarouselDivided We Unite, Andrew William Smith

In the sad and surreal days following September 11, 2001, the slogan “United We Stand” proliferated on signs, t-shirts, and bumper stickers. A noble affirmation of national unity, it made strong rhetoric — but it never reflected our full reality. ‘United We Stand or Divided We Fall’ is an either/or construction that suggests: either you are with us or against us; patriot or traitor. As Americans discovered so distinctly in the days and years since, we don’t live in an either/or world. The same is true in the church. Continue Reading

Young Adult Live-Bloggers During General Assembly:

Casey Carbone CarouselThe Unheard Racial Narrative, Casey Carbone

I cannot remember the last time I had a conversation about race in church. From time to time I suppose we touch on the topic, but those conversations tend to be about ‘those’ people with ‘those’ problems in ‘those’ communities. At General Assembly and within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) as a whole, race is an elephant in the room, which no one seems to want to talk about. An even bigger elephant, perhaps, is the fact that the PC(UA) lives out a mixed message when it comes to race; there is a sharp dichotomy between advocating for and paying lip service to diversity and living out such diversity in our congregations and denominational institutions. Continue Reading

The New American Idol?: Gun Violence and the PC(USA)tad-hopp Carousel, Tad Hopp

Seventy-four. That’s how many school shootings have occurred since the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012. That’s an epidemic. No, scratch that. That’s a crisis. A nation-wide crisis. In the year 2010, there were an estimated eighty-five deaths per day due to gun violence. Eighty-five deaths per day. We’ve reached a tipping point. Continue Reading

Shane Webb CarouselA Time for Tough Love for Israeli Brothers and Sisters, Rev. Shane Webb

To divest or not to divest? Now that the vote on marriage is over, it’s the elephant in the room. To be clear, I will likely offend some people with what I have to say, so I must state that these views are not reflective of my congregation, presbytery, or my denomination. The long-standing conflict between Israel and Palestine is a complicated matter with no easy solutions, yet that does not mean we get to give up and go home. Continue Reading

Carol Ferguson CarouselCourage to Speak, Carol Ferguson

There are two things I have learned about General Assembly this week: it is amazing, and it is terrifying. Not for everyone, I hope. I have met many wonderful Presbyterians for whom General Assembly is a total joy. But for this introverted, conflict-avoidant, first-time attendee, the thought of 2,000+ Presbyterians all chattering, discussing, and arguing at once makes me want to crawl in a hole and never come out. Continue Reading

Presbyterians-Expand-Table-Of-ChristPresbyterians Embrace a Table for AllLayton Williams

This past week, I have sat at the Table. Not just any table, but the Table of Christ, around which I have gathered since I was a child. This week, however, the Table looked different than I have ever imagined. It didn’t look like the well-worn wooden piece—over laden with bread and chalice and liturgy—that sits in sanctuaries all over the world. Instead, this past week, the Table looked like the COBO Convention Center in downtown Detroit, where the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) held their biennial national meeting called the General Assembly. Continue Reading

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