A Year For Confessions

Issues of Social Justice Before the 222nd General Assembly

“And Still We Are Not Saved?”

19 mins read

A Season Yet to Come Summer is coming…and still we are not saved. Two scripture lessons frame what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church today: Psalm 104:27-34, 35b and John 20:19-23. First there’s Psalm 104, a psalm which is subtitled ‘A Hymn to God the Creator’. It begins

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Divesting from the Sins of Our Past

25 mins read

Climate change has quickly emerged as one of the world’s greatest threats. You only need to turn on the television or peruse a newspaper to see the devastating effects on environments and communities around the globe. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a denomination committed to responding to God’s call to

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One Year After: US and Cuba Relations

6 mins read

A Reflection by the General Secretary of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba On December 17th, 2014 the announcement was made of restoration of diplomatic relations between Cuba and US, after some 18 months of secret talks. Official conversations had been held in Havana and Washington since then, visits at top

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New Hopes and Realities in Cuban-American Relations: A Nuevo Momento

15 mins read

A Summary of GA222 Action Item 12-07 “In fulfillment of the assignment of the 221st General Assembly (2014), in cooperation with the Cuban Partners Network, and after consultation with representatives of the Iglesia Presbiteriana Reformada en Cuba, the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy brings the following affirmations and recommendations

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Cuba Evolving

11 mins read

Reflections on a Recent Visit to Cuba Sights, smells, taste, sounds, touch… Each of these can create, or evoke, profound memories. For me, they brought out the similarities and differences between Cuba now and the Cuba of about a decade ago. Then, I visited several times (2001-2007) as part of

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A Pathway to Just Peace in Israel/Palestine

11 mins read

Statement by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship This statement was originally published by the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship on April 21, 2016 on their website at http://presbypeacefellowship.org/content/pathway-just-peace-israel-palestine#.V03d6WZWcg1. The Presbyterian Peace Fellowship thanks the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) for its document, Israel-Palestine: For Human Values in the Absence of a

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30 Days with the Belhar Confession

1 min read

Reflections on Unity, Reconciliation and Justice This useful companion to the Belhar Confession, published by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, weaves together Scripture passages and the Confession’s timely themes of unity, reconciliation and justice. Written by a diverse collection of scholars, theologians and church leaders, it is the perfect resource for

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To Break the Shackles

13 mins read

Palestinian Children and Israeli Military Detention “A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they are no more.” –Matthew 2:18 Presbyterians affirm that the Holy Spirit gives us courage “to hear the voices of peoples long silenced.”

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The Role of the PC(USA) in Ending the AIDS Crisis

11 mins read

A version of this article was originally published by the Austin American Statesmant at http://www.mystatesman.com/news/news/opinion/barstow-do-we-have-the-collective-will-to-end-the-/nrMcx/?icmp=statesman_internallink_referralbox_free-to-premium-referral. This new version is published with permission. The HIV and AIDS epidemic is now more than three decades old. Almost 35 million people have died from AIDS-related causes. Fortunately, at a critical juncture fifteen years ago,

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A View from the Inside/Outside

17 mins read

Watching the PC(USA)’s Task Force to Review and Help Reform Drug Policy in the United States Months earlier, the process had already begun. Members of a task force appointed by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America had convened twice,

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A Response to “Divesting from the Sins of Our Past”

14 mins read

A Perspective from Faithful Alternatives for Engagement with Climate Change The upcoming General Assembly will consider various overtures calling for PC(USA) action on climate change. Ben Perry has discussed the issues in his article “Divesting from the Sins of our Past”. Two groups within our denomination have been especially active

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Discovering the Doctrine of Discovery

17 mins read

It was in August of 2013 that I traveled to New York City with the Faith and Politics Institute (FPI) and a group of Congressional Representatives on what was described as “Becoming America”: a pilgrimage to celebrate the immigrant story and the role immigrants played in the creation of the

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A Response to the Foothills Presbytery from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy

30 mins read

This post was originally published as part of the Presbyterian Outlook’s coverage of the Foothills overtures at https://pres-outlook.org/2015/11/a-response-to-the-foothills-presbytery-from-the-advisory-committee-on-social-witness-policy-acswp/  Introduction The Presbytery of Foothills sent copies of several of its overtures to the Advisory Committee in June, after developing and circulating these proposals for some time. Our members have debated about responding,

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General Assembly: Family Reunion and Care for the Earth

9 mins read

A lot of Presbyterians affectionately refer to GA as a family reunion, even as we may groan about long hours, worry about contentious issues, pray for God’s Spirit to work in the stuck places, and occasionally feel overcome by bone-deep exhaustion. For me, it is indeed wonderful to see how

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Social Witness of the Church: Commentary on Foothills Overture #1 (4-01)

12 mins read

This post was originally published as part of the Presbyterian Outlook’s coverage of the Foothills overtures at https://pres-outlook.org/2015/11/social-witness-of-the-church-commentary-on-foothills-overture-1/ We live in times of tremendous cultural change. We also live in times of high anxiety as a church, having lost so many congregations over the past two years. During these times,

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Apologies Are Healthy, and This One Is Deserved

15 mins read

A Response to Dr. Barbara Wheeler Barbara Wheeler, former President of Auburn Theological Seminary has written an article in response to Overture 11-05 coming before the General Assembly this summer in Portland, an overture apologizing to LGBTQ/Q members of the PC(USA) for “harms done”. Wheeler does not contest the damages

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To First Peoples: More Than An Apology

22 mins read

A Primer on Healing and Reconciliation and The Presbyterian Church in Canada Editorial Note:This contribution speaks particularly to items 11-08 and 11-17 before the 222nd PC(USA) General Assembly, which call for an apology to First Peoples in the US and for a study of the Doctrine of Discovery, but it

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The Presbyterian Church and Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions

14 mins read

For more than a hundred years now, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its antecedent organizations have called for the use of economic pressures to challenge injustice, oppression, and other situations which they viewed as morally wrong. Examples include a call to the people of the church to “keep themselves financially

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Risking Peace in a Violent World: A Challenge to the Church

15 mins read

The upcoming General Assembly (2016) will act on “Risking Peace in a Violent World and the Five Affirmations,” as recommended by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy. The Report and the Five Affirmations are a substantial move toward strengthening the PC(USA) witness for peace. The report has been six

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Emission Responsibility Through Investment

19 mins read

Creating Criteria for Corporate Engagement and Environmental Responsibility From the earliest days of the Reformed Tradition, we have understood ourselves to be political. As God is active in all spheres of life, so are we called to be engaged in the social polis. This is one of the most difficult

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Heartbreak and Hope in the Congo

16 mins read

It was late on the night of March 20 of this year, Palm Sunday. Father Vincent Machozi, an Assumptionist priest in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, was working on his laptop in a community center near the city of Butembo, where he taught in the seminary. Suddenly, a

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Russia, Ukraine, and the West: A Question of Identity

21 mins read

I was in Russia when the first sanctions against her were announced about two years ago, and looking back today, it’s far from clear those sanctions have “worked” in the way they were intended. Russia is still involved in Ukraine’s civil war because Ukraine has always been within Russia’s traditional

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I Can’t Breathe: Showing Up for Racial Justice in Portland

10 mins read

When I heard the reports and then saw the video of Eric Garner’s arrest, something deep inside me clicked. I’ve been involved in interreligious social justice movements for more than 25 years and thought that nothing could surprise me. However, in those moments I didn’t just see the injustice of

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We Shall Not Be Moved: Advocacy in the New Age of Voter Suppression

15 mins read

An Excerpt from the Office of Public Witness’ New Study Guide on Voting Rights and Voter Suppression By Mara Sawdy and Nora Leccese – Read and/or download entire resource here! Introduction At the direction of the General Assembly, we at the Office of Public Witness have compiled resources to aid

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The Crisis with ISIS

25 mins read

Poster-Cult for Total War Almost daily, the media calls our attention to the horrendous behavior of a group known as ISIS. We are rightly concerned about the threat this group poses to the quality of life as we know it. However, discussions of ISIS seem to focus more on the

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Welcoming Christ in the Stranger

21 mins read

Being the Church of Matthew 25 One year ago, I took in my first shocking breath of the Arizona heat. Punctuated by saguaro cacti and surrounded by foreboding mountains, the Sonoran Desert represents one of the most treacherous climates for human survival. Despite rhetoric of dryness alleviating the burden of

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The Gospel is Intersectional: Considering the Foothills Presbytery Overtures

9 mins read

During his tenure as the Moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Heath Rada has listened deeply and broadly to people across this denomination. Moderators of the PC(USA) often have this unique and sacred privilege of really listening as they travel and hold conversations with Presbyterians in congregations, presbyteries,

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Making GA Accessible for All: Dependent Care

7 mins read

Much work has been done to make the General Assembly as inclusive a gathering as possible. Fair representation of both Ruling Elder and Teaching Elder Commissioners is ensured. We hear from Advisory Delegates, who represent a wider swath of voices, the majority of whom (YAADs) represent a younger generation, prior

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Apology Isn’t a Sexy Word

9 mins read

On Item 11-08 and Apologizing to Native Peoples Apology isn’t a sexy word. Quite often it seems like a weak word. A word we want to skirt around. A word we want to avoid. But that’s been the problem. We as a people of faith are called into something different.

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Divestment: Loving Creation and Each Other With Our Whole Selves

9 mins read

The author would like to note that the opinions expressed here are the author’s alone. When I came to General Assembly, I’d already spent three years of my life working on divestment from fossil fuels. Fossil Free PCUSA was born in 2013, and in the last year we’ve worked with Presbyterians

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We Need Inclusive Peacemaking in 12-06

12 mins read

The 222nd General Assembly is considering 5 Risking Peace affirmations to guide the church as we live out Matthew 5:9: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” Peacemaking is an essential aspect of “the ministry of reconciliation” (II Corinthians 5:18). The Peace Discernment process which

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From Confession to Confession

8 mins read

The Adoption of Belhar and the Public Naming of Abuse The moment was simply stunning. With no verbal form of disagreement or dissent, the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) voted to adopt the Belhar Confession. With this landslide vote, the Belhar Confession will be added to the

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When Just War is Just Not Working

15 mins read

Discerning Peace in the 21st Century – Part I We sat in a circle, our chairs so close that our knees touched and the conversation felt intimate. Following the order of lectio divina, we were sharing first scripture readings followed by silence and prayer, then a word or phrase, and

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Recovering from the General Assembly

18 mins read

Thoughts on Who We are as the PC(USA) and What that Might Mean Going Forward While doing reflections in seminary, I learned the importance of naming your social location, so here goes: I am a white, straight, married, cisgendered female. I am a mother to an adventurous 15-month old daughter,

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Through the Lens of Belhar

11 mins read

The General Assembly Acts for Justice and Liberation in Palestine and Israel “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” -Amos 5:24 The 222nd General Assembly PC(USA) took place from June 17-25, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. I was fortunate enough to attend and serve as a

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From Palestine to Portland

15 mins read

Working for Peace in the Middle East at the 222nd General Assembly About a month ago, I was sitting in a large ballroom adjacent to other commissioners and delegates to the 222nd General Assembly, anxiously waiting for the work of the Committee on Middle East Issues (Committee 8) to begin.

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Our Bodies, Our Faithful Choices

11 mins read

I am a woman of faith. I have grown up in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and have a deep love and appreciation for my denomination. Our church’s involvement in the Religious Coalition on Reproductive Choice is one of many reasons that I am proud to be a Presbyterian. As it

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“All We Want is Peace”

10 mins read

Discerning Peace in the 21st Century – Part II When the Peacemaking and International Relations Committee of the 222nd General Assembly was considering the Peace Discernment resolution (12-06) from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP), they heard from many speakers. Understandably so, as this resolution is the final report

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There is Such a Thing as Being Too Gentle

12 mins read

Watering down the LGBTQ/Q Apology Overture at GA222 I never thought “collateral damage” was a term I’d identify with as a church-lady. I was wrong. I was baptized as a young girl in a Presbyterian church that would become my family’s spiritual home for the next fifteen years. I remember

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Except on Palestine?

27 mins read

“I didn’t know church could be like this,” said Sam, a teenager who had come to an event in Fellowship Hall. That Sunday after worship, we had Anna Baltzer speaking about why, as a Jewish-American, she had come to be an outspoken critic of Israeli policies, part of her national

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