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GA 2010: Controversial Middle East policy paper gets amended, endorsed, adopted by GA

MINNEAPOLIS – The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly overwhelmingly approved an amended report on conflict in the Middle East that aims at a careful balance between Palestinian and Israeli narratives of injustice and the path to peace.[caption id="attachment_22002" align="alignright" width="360"]MRTI’s Brian Ellison addresses the General Assembly. Photo by Erin Dunigan.[/caption]

Church commissioners voted 558-119 today (July 9), for a committee’s rewrite of a report that in its original form was widely perceived by some church members as pro-Palestinian and factually suspect.

          The General Assembly also endorsed, by a 418-210 vote, the Middle East Peacemaking Issues Committee’s recommendation that it denounce Caterpillar’s profit-making from sales of heavy equipment that Israel uses for non-peaceful purposes, including the destruction of Palestinian homes. Church committees considered divestment but advised against it — meaning that the church’s Board of Pensions and Foundation will continue to hold Caterpillar stock worth nearly $11 million, plus $685,000 in the company’s bonds.

          After revising the report on Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the 53-member Peacemaking Issues committee voted unanimously Tuesday to recommend it to the General Assembly.

GA 2010: Assembly directs BOP to provide benefits for same-gender partners

MINNEAPOLIS — After a long discussion, with many questions about the financial implications, the 219th General Assembly voted today (July 9) directing the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to provide benefits to the same-gender spouses and domestic partners of church employees and their children on the same basis as it provides benefits to employees who are married.

GA 2010: Understandings with Muslims, Jews stumble ahead

MINNEAPOLIS — Commissioners to the 219th General Assembly voted overwhelmingly today (July 8) to approve a document outlining theological understandings between Christians and Muslims, but they referred back to committee a document aiming to bring greater understanding between Christians and Jews.

GA 2010: UPDATED & EXPANDED: Ordination standards to be debated, voted again throughout PC(USA)

MINNEAPOLIS – Once again, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has voted to remove the requirement in the denomination’s constitution that those being ordained practice fidelity if they are married or chastity if they are single.

That marks the fourth time since the “fidelity and chastity” language was ratified in 1997 that the denomination’s 173 presbyteries have been asked to remove it. Three times they have said “No” – but the margin has been growing closer.

Some young Presbyterians, who have spoken about ordination during this assembly, note the PC(USA) has been fighting about whether to ordain sexually-active gays and lesbians longer than they have been alive.

This vote also comes during a year when the assembly is considering action on same-sex marriages – and Jerry Andrews, an evangelical who supports the “fidelity and chastity” standard, said it would be a “jaw-dropper” if the assembly voted to liberalize both.