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Committee on International Engagement likely focus to be on Israel/Palestine issues

Supporting Guatemala and using gospel of love as guiding principle for advocacy also on the overture docket.

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Commissioners and Young Adult Advisory Delegates serving on the International Engagement Committee have a small but important list of overtures for their consideration when it meets later this month at the 226th General Assembly in Salt Lake City, Utah.

INT-01, On Support of the People of Guatemala, is sponsored by the Presbytery of Western North Carolina. The overture notes that Presbyterians have had a presence in Guatemala for more than 100 years, during which time Guatemalans have suffered through years and decades of military rule, internal armed conflict, a CIA-orchestrated coup and a pervasively corrupt government. The overture calls for Presbyterians to walk with Guatemalans in mutuality and faith, and encourages PC(USA) agencies, mid councils, congregations and individuals to pray and work for peace; direct PC(USA) media to inform churches on the crisis; direct the Stated Clerk to urge the Biden administration to engage the country’s president and vice-president; and direct the Office of Public Witness and the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations to engage in diplomacy and support democratic reforms for peace and justice.

INT-02, That the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Utilize the Gospel of Love as a Guiding Principle in its Advocacy and Humanitarian Efforts, is brought forth by the Presbytery of Yukon. The overture recommends applying the Gospel of Love (Matthew 22:37-40) to dealing with conflict, particularly as it applies to the Israel-Palestine crisis, by taking a three-prong approach:

  1. Advocate for peace and justice
  2. Implement humanitarian action
  3. Promote dialogue and understanding.

By implementing this approach, the Church can act as a transformation agent and use its resources and influence to promote a peaceful resolution, according to the overture rationale.

The two overtures likely to get the most attention from this committee are INT-05 and INT-06, which confront the concept of Christian Zionism and ending Israeli apartheid.

INT-05, On Confessing our Complicity in Christian Zionism, is an update and expansion to the policy adopted in 2004. The overture, brought forth by Muskingum Valley Presbytery, calls on the General Assembly to:

  • Reject Christian Zionism in all its forms
  • Issue a study document that addresses the expansion of Christian Zionism expansion
  • Instruct World Mission ministry to work with partners to counter the spread of Christian Zionism globally. A webinar series has already begun to address this action here and here
  • People of faith to advocate for peace and human rights for everyone in Palestine and Israel.

The Advocacy Committee on Women and Gender Justice, the Racial Equity Advocacy Committee, and the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy has advised the General Assembly to approve INT-05. Four presbyteries have added their concurrence to the proposal.

INT-06, Educational Resources for Seeking Ways to End Israeli Apartheid, is sponsored by the Presbytery of San Francisco. Its goal is to inform members, congregations, presbyteries and national staff of two key resources that can help PC(USA) members and partners understand Israeli apartheid within the construct of European colonialism. Those resources are Why Palestine Matters, the Struggle to End Colonialism and Focus: Palestinea three-part, multi-media series developed by the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

The overture also urges educating Presbyterians about the Israeli laws and policies that constitute apartheid and directs the Stated Clerk to communicate the action to all PC(USA) entities.

For more detail on the overtures being considered by the International Engagement Committee,  click here for committee business, or select “INT-International Engagement” from the Assembly Committee drop-down menu. The list of committee members, including Young Adult Advisory Delegates, can be seen here.

The 226th General Assembly runs from June 25 to July 4. The International Engagement Committee will convene online June 25-27.

By Scott O’Neill, General Assembly News – June 6, 2024