Presbyterian leaders oppose rush to war with Iran
The Presbyterian News Service this week reports on the Stated Clerk’s letter to President Obama opposing a rush to war, and a similar overture from Greater Atlanta Presbytery, which calls for “direct, unconditional negotiations.” See the Unboundeditorial on Iran Bombing Threat: Creating a Mindset that Leads to War, by Chris Iosso. As this is written, our attention is drawn to the paid statement in the Washington Post by retired U.S. Generals opposing a “war of choice” with Iran. The Friends Committee for National Legislation coordinated a letter that addresses the latest AIPAC-sponsored legislation directly. Signers include the Rev. J. Herbert Nelson, Director of the Office of Public Witness. Please consider contacting your legislators and urging them not to support legislation that would restrict diplomacy and perhaps yield initiative in U.S. war decision-making to a foreign power.
Fast For Fair Food, March 5-10
Members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and allies from the faith, student, human rights, and sustainable food communities are undertaking a six-day fast outside of Publix grocery headquarters in Lakeland, Florida. Through this sacrificial act, the fasters make a direct moral appeal to Publix to join the Fair Food Program and underscore the brutal effects of the grocery industry’s high volume/low cost purchasing practices on tomato pickers’ wages and working conditions. The Rev. Noelle Damico of the Presbyterian Hunger Program has been blogging her reflections on Unbound. Click here to learn more, follow her blog, and find out how you can stand in solidarity with the farmworkers.
Economic crisis report workshop at CPJ Training Day
Drs. Gloria Albrecht and Bill Saint, an ethicist and an economic development specialist, will be presenting the major economic report going to the 220th General Assembly on Friday, March 23, at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. Read a summary of the report at the end of this newsletter. Albrecht and Saint are engaging teachers and primary sources themselves as co-chairs of the study team that produced the report (write to receive copy). Their presentation will be part of the Compassion, Peace, and Justice (CPJ) Training Day initiated by the Office of Public Witness and preceding Ecumenical Advocacy Days (March 24-26). Featured are Dr. Patrick Evans, worship professor at Yale Divinity School; Dr. Margaret Aymer, New Testament professor at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta; Rev. Dr. Gary Dorrien, Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary; and Ellen Nissenbaum, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. (Unbound readers may note that both Margaret Aymer and Gary Dorrien have been contributors, and Gary serves on the Advisory Board). Register today!
ACSWP meeting in January authorizes submission of four reports to General Assembly
Although the editing and posting process of the GA will still take several weeks, the Advisory Committee met in late January in Louisville to review submissions to the GA. In addition to its narrative report, summarizing the Committee’s activities, ACSWP is submitting four reports, of which we will present summaries in our next issue of Salt & Light:
- “World of Hurt, Word of Life: Renewing God’s Communion in the Work of Economic Reconstruction.”
- “For Human Rights and Civic Freedom: Movements for Democratic Change in the Arab World.”
- “Encountering the Gospel of Peace Anew: An Invitation to Discernment and Witness,” which is also the Interim Report of the Peace Discernment Steering Team, and
- Human Rights Update 2012: Reproductive Health Access, Workers Rights, and Civil Liberties and National Security in the United States since 9/11/01.
New issue on Unbound!
Check out the Feb/Mar 2012 issue of Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice: “Jesus Returns to Washington: The Public Witness of the Church.” Read all about the issue here. Gary Dorrien explains why he is still a Christian. Kenyan pastor, Timothy Njoya, reflects on preaching a revolution. Margaret Aymer offers a Bible study on the Beatitudes. Read about eco-villages in Haiti, public witness at the UN and in D.C., social media as the new public square, and a man once known as the “Protestant pope.” All that and more, including worship and action resources, in this latest issue of Unbound!
Become a Friend of Church & Society Magazine
Fans of Church & Society: The Journal of Just Thoughts were disappointed when the magazine was disbanded in 2006 in a budget cut. But now those fans can become “friends” of C&S by liking its new Facebook page. Share your memories and favorite issues on the FB wall. Follow updates as we continue the legacy of C&S through its new online incarnation as Unbound: An Interactive Journal of Christian Social Justice, which is developing on-line access to past C&S issues, which will then be available through Unbound.
Help us keep the legacy of Church & Society alive! ‘Like’ the Facebook page today!
Call for Copies of Social Progress, GA Minutes
One of the predecessors of Church & Society was Social Progress, which is also being digitized. But! We are missing several issues: 54:7 Jl-Ag 1964; 55:6 Jl-Ag 1965; 56:6 Jl-Ag 1966; 57:1 S-O 1966; Commemorative Edition Ap 18 1967; 57:6 Jl-Ag 1967; 59:6 Jl-Ag 1969. If you have any copies of these issues, please send them ASAP to ACSWP c/o Patrick Heery, 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville KY 40202. We also seek back copies of General Assembly Minutes for 1944, 1945, 1946, 1949, 1956, 1958, 1959, and any before 1926, if a church or pastor you know has decided to de-accession library contents. We will pay postage; please let us know if you are planning to mail, send us an email.
Criminal Justice Convocation at Stony Point
On February 17-19, a consultation on Criminal Justice was held to begin organizing a network of persons involved in prison ministry and other aspects of restorative justice. Held under the auspices of PHEWA, as authorized by the 2010 General Assembly, this group developed a steering team and an action plan, part of which has already gone forward. Read coverage inUnbound, including ways for you to get involved and learn more: People, Not Profit: Presbyterians Form Criminal Justice Network.
Presbyterianism: Principles, Practice & Social Teaching
The Advisory Committee is particularly happy to publicize the expansion of the General Assembly course taught by theologian and former Moderator, Jack Rogers, and Dave Tomlinson of San Francisco Theological Seminary, on Presbyterianism in action. This has been a popular way for seminary students and observers to analyze the General Assembly process. For this coming Assembly, former Stated Clerk Cliff Kirkpatrick and social ethicist Teresa Chavez Sauceda will join the course and add “Social Teaching” to its title and subject matter. ACSWP is a new co-sponsor of this course.
Economic crisis report in brief:
The report on the economic crisis, “World of Hurt, Word of Life: Renewing God’s Communion in the Work of Economic Reconstruction,” was developed by an eleven-person study team including economists and ethicists. The report looks at both short-term impacts and longer-term consequences of the credit melt-down of 2008 and subsequent severe recession. In terms of causes, there are the proximate factors of real estate bubble and misbehavior in the financial markets, but the crisis also reveals a de-moralization of economic life seen in gross inequality, disdain for the common good, and the spread of market values within the church. It then looks at the impacts of high unemployment, debt increased by two wars and tax cuts, rising poverty rates (15% overall — higher among young children), and a hamstrung government in four key areas; Jobs, Families, Neighbors, and the Future.
What should Christians do? The report claims the practice of communion as the source of a renewed communal ethic. Communion roots us in God’s love, and by making us one body, reveals our solidarity and equal place around the table. Following Paul, the church is an inherently mystical and social body. This communion approach builds on earlier covenantal emphases in church witness with distinctive communion-derived principles. Maintaining that individualism and class divisions have gone too far, and left out too many, the core of the report is a Biblical and Reformed recovery of the common good and a re-affirmation of the positive role of government in a mixed economy.
The report does not idealize the church, which is also “wounded” economically, but communion can illuminate distinctive values in the church’s hospitality, fellowship, mission and evangelism. Consistent with the church’s own hopes, the public policy section focuses on the ethical challenges in redirecting economic activity to serve more of the human and natural communities. It encourages job creation and strengthening the position of workers; new options to help families, from paid parental leave to more sufficient pensions; policies of economic inclusion and alternative economic development in the United States; and ways to re-orient the economy toward sufficiency and sustainability, re-affirming the positive roles of an accountable government in economic life.
None of this summary is a direct quote from the study and its recommendations which are NOT policy or guidance to the church unless so affirmed by the 220th General Assembly, June 30-July 7, 2012.