Divestment: A conflict of values

Let's get clear what's at stake. What's at stake is not clear.

We love our Jewish neighbors. Any lack of love any of us harbors toward any of them is sin. Our faith is rooted in Hebrew soil. Given the long history of Christian mistreatment of Jews, we bear the primary responsibility to rebuild trust between our communities. 

We support the right of the nation of Israel to live in freedom with safe borders.

We love our Palestinian neighbors. Any lack of love any of us harbors toward any of them is sin. We feel a special affection for our ecumenical partners, the Palestinian Christians. Given that an international concern for justice led the United Nations to grant a homeland to the Israeli people, we bear a corresponding responsibility to promote justice for the Palestinians displaced from much of that land.

We support the rights of the Palestinians to live in freedom with safe borders.

Divestment: Clearing the table

The GAC's formal recognition that the divestment issue has created deep divisions among us is welcome. Their suggestion to establish a small work group on the issue is wise and pastoral. In effect, the GAC recommends setting up a process that should have been employed prior to any vote on divestment in 2004.


Peace and common good


Editor's Note: This article is based on the text of a roundtable presentation at a meeting of the Presbytery of Philadelphia on April 23, 2006. Used by permission.


"As a means of pursuing peace and the common good of Israelis and Palestinians, the 2004 General Assembly adopted a seven-part resolution that affirmed its longstanding opposition to the Israeli occupation and took action to demonstrate the depth of its conviction, instructing Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) to start a process of 'phased selective divestment' consistent with General Assembly policy on responsible investing."

--PC(USA) Web site


Four basic issues arise when deciding the moral appropriateness of an action like divestment. 

Servant Leadership, Pakistani style

With all the orientation and reading we did before we came to Pakistani as Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission co-workers, we were simply not prepared for some aspects of life in Pakistan. One of the most difficult things for us has been the matter of employing household staff. I've been raised in the strong Dutch Calvinist tradition of hard work and self-reliance; my parents have always told me that my first sentence was 'I do it myself!'  And while our flat with 12-15 ex-pat teachers in Cairo where I taught as a young adult mission volunteer was carefully tended by Abdel Zaher, he was employed by the school rather than us personally.

Great Revival sparks development of Cumberland movement, church

Editor's Note: This year the General Assembly of the PC(USA) will meet concurrently with the GA's of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church and the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America. This is the first of a two-part series of articles on those sister denominations.


On February 3, 1810, three riders left Logan County, Kentucky. Their destination was Dickson County, Tennessee. Specifically, they sought the farm of Samuel McAdow near Burns, Tenn. Two of the riders, Finis Ewing and Samuel King, had been ordained as ministers by the Presbyterian Church since 1803 and 1804, respectively. Ephraim McLean, the third rider, had been a probationer since 1803. Samuel McAdow had been a Presbyterian minister considerably longer. Although the exact date of his ordination is unknown, McAdow had been ordained by 1796, possibly before. The dates of ordination of these frontier preachers are significant, as are the circumstances in which they found themselves in 1810.

Bill … Jim … Linda

You barely have a chance to say farewell to Jim Andrews, and you have to say farewell to Bill Thompson, too. As the final stated clerks of the southern and northern streams, Jim and Bill together helped engineer the reunion--at the cost of one's continued ecclesiastical employment. Two decades later, their entry into the church triumphant just a few weeks apart assures that the former counterparts are both employed again, partnering in the promotion of God's reign through the cosmos.

Their legacies of leadership challenge their successors of today and tomorrow to excel

Church meetings, then and now

Acts 15: 1Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. ... 4When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, "It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses."

Let's shift the issue before that body, ever so slightly. Let's focus, not on circumcision, but on another important issue for the Jews.

What alternatives?

As the General Assembly receives the report of the PUP Task Force and starts to discuss it, one simple question ought to be on our minds: What are our alternatives?

One, the GA can approve the report. This could lead to pressure for schism and anger breaking out because now Presbyterians will essentially permit an action that by vote of presbyteries three times in the last twenty years we have refused to approve. 

A barometer of what’s ahead for PCUSA

Having been going to GA's for thirty years and serving on the GAC for five years and as an executive presbyter in the past, I offer to you four barometers of where the PCUSA may be going.  I do not think that they will happen as described, but they may.  It is much more likely that some of them will happen. 

Conspiracy theories

Conspiracy Theory. Loved the movie. Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts put on a show. 

This year's conspiracy theory installment, The Da Vinci Code movie, based on the wildly popular book out for several years, promises to sell many more tickets than the Gibson-Roberts film. 

Americans love conspiracy theories. Attributing the worst motives to "those other people"--especially if they represent the bureaucracy of government, law enforcement or the religious establishment--pulls readers and viewers into a web of juicy intrigue. It makes high entertainment.

But conspiracy theories prove less entertaining to those falsely accused of such conspiring.