• Outlook Features 6 hours ago

    General Assembly: Looking Back (poem)

    General Assembly: Looking Back (poem)

    by J. Barrie Shepherd
    John Calvin would be lost here. John Knox would be hard put to find a place to rest his shaggy head, and even Eugene Carson Blake might be a bit bewildered by the way things have developed in this mean time. All these badges, pins and placards, signs and symbols signifying little more than who you are aligned with, who against. The shuttling, hustling functionaries, bearing papers, ipads, cell phones, all secure in secret knowing they have been elected to do vital work on something … not sure what. Flocks… continue reading...
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  • Outpost Blog 6 hours ago

    The art of people care

    The art of people care

    A friend, recently installed as a deacon at our church, reflected with me how many times my name, as associate pastor of spiritual formation, appears in the deacon handbook. The handbook offers steps deacons may take to address congregational needs. If deacons exhaust those steps and still struggle to meet a need or feel inadequate or unable to meet that need, the last instruction is to “Call Pastor Rachel.” The instruction makes good sense. After all, I went to seminary and took a class on pastoral care. I visit people… continue reading...
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  • Outlook Features 1 day ago

    Hoping the world will listen

    Hoping the world will listen

    by Leslie Scanlon
    Where it all leads is another question, but no one can accuse Presbyterians of not caring or being afraid to speak. Late into the night, the commissioners at the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) parsed and amended and substitute-motioned their way to crafting position statements on social justice issues — speaking out, hoping the world will listen. Here’s some of what commissioners chose to say: Drones. The assembly approved a resolution — an amended version of a measure brought by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy… continue reading...
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WCC expresses concern over exodus of Christian community in Mosul, Iraq

GENEVA (World Council of Churches) In an official statement issued on July 21, the World Council of Churches' (WCC) general secretary, the Rev. Olav Fykse Tveit, expressed deep concern over the exodus of the Christian community from the Iraqi city of Mosul due to threats from the self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Tveit called these developments a “tragedy” for both Christians and Muslims. According to local reports Christians have been told by those in control of Mosul to either convert to Islam, pay the Jizya(poll tax for non-Muslims) or leave the city. On failing to take these steps Christians are faced with threats of execution. Due to this situation, the Shia community in Mosul is also feeling compelled to depart. Currently a number of Christians have taken refuge in neighboring monasteries and villages, as well as in the Kurdish region of Iraq. “It is with great sorrow that we see the apparent ending of a Christian presence in Mosul, present there … [Read more...]

General Assembly: Looking Back (poem)

BarrieShepherd-1312

John Calvin would be lost here. John Knox would be hard put to find a place to rest his shaggy head, and even Eugene Carson Blake might be a bit bewildered by the way things have developed in this mean time. All these badges, pins and placards, signs and symbols signifying little more than who you are aligned with, who against. The shuttling, hustling functionaries, bearing papers, ipads, cell phones, all secure in secret knowing they have been elected to do vital work on something … not sure what. Flocks of lost and wandering observers looking for food and souvenirs, greeting old pals, wondering what, if anything, comes next. And the commissioners themselves, eyes glazed from lack of sleep and scanning screens and pages, tongues weary from discussion and dispute into those wee small hours, lips thirsty for the cool, sweet taste of laughter that is shared with song and joy, fingers fumbling for the touch and clasp of fellow seekers, fellow hopers yes, believers, here … [Read more...]

Tagged With: GA221

The art of people care

Rachel Young

A friend, recently installed as a deacon at our church, reflected with me how many times my name, as associate pastor of spiritual formation, appears in the deacon handbook. The handbook offers steps deacons may take to address congregational needs. If deacons exhaust those steps and still struggle to meet a need or feel inadequate or unable to meet that need, the last instruction is to "Call Pastor Rachel." The instruction makes good sense. After all, I went to seminary and took a class on pastoral care. I visit people when they are in crisis. I pray a lot. Surely, I will know better than the average congregant about how to manage a difficult family situation, a death or a surgery. Without ill intention, the instruction bolsters the assumption that I, as a "reverend," know more than my congregants do about how to care for others and that I'm better at it. The truth is, in my first five years of ministry, I have encountered numerable crises and complex situations that I felt … [Read more...]

Mr. President: Press firmly for ceasefire in Gaza and Israel

LOUISVILLE (Office of the General Assembly) As a body of 1.7-million members and more than 10,000 congregations, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) calls on the president of the United States to press for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and Israel. The situation is escalating beyond control. The bloodshed and wielding of power in the contested land is unconscionable. Hundreds have been killed and thousands wounded, and the death toll continues to rise. This day, we as people of faith and agents of peace call for an end to the shelling, an end to the rocketfire, an end to the ground attacks. Civilian casualties strewn in homes, on streets, and even within a hospital lie in the wake of Operation Protective Edge launched July 8 by the Israel Defense Forces. It must stop, and it must stop now. The PC(USA) cries out for this immediate ceasefire knowing the issue is not simple. The drama is layered thick with the realities of contested borders, occupation, blockades, security concerns, … [Read more...]

Political and religious leaders denounce European anti-Jewish outbursts tied to Gaza

PARIS (RNS) Amid mounting protests in Europe against the Gaza conflict, political and religious leaders in the region have sharply denounced anti-Semitism within their borders. “Anti-Semitic rhetoric and hostility against Jews, attacks on people of Jewish belief and synagogues have no place in our societies,” the foreign ministers of France, Germany and Italy said in a statement Tuesday (July 22) from Brussels. Fears of escalating unrest are perhaps sharpest in France, home to Europe’s largest populations of Jews and Muslims. Many have roots in North Africa, and violence in the Middle East resonates strongly here. Thousands defied a government ban against Paris-area protests over the weekend, staging pro-Palestinian rallies that degenerated into violence. “We have had eight synagogues attacked. We have had shops attacked,” said Roger Cukierman, head of the Representative Council of French Jewish Institutions. “We have heard crowds shouting death to the Jews — not death to … [Read more...]

Did Obama finally thread the needle on gay rights and religious freedom? (analysis)

(RNS) One of the toughest political calculations in Washington is balancing competing claims of gay rights with the traditional prerogatives of religious freedom. After a number of setbacks on that front, President Obama may have finally found a small patch of middle ground with Monday’s (July 21) move to bar federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation. Obama’s executive order shields gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination by companies that do work for the federal government by adding sexual orientation and gender identity to long-standing protections from bias based on “race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” Yet Monday’s action also leaves in place a 2002 order signed by President George W. Bush that gives religious groups with federal contracts some leeway by allowing them to use religious beliefs as a criterion in making hiring and firing decisions; as a candidate in 2008 Obama pledged to overturn that … [Read more...]