The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) held a debate during its General Assembly in Pittsburgh, Pa., where a proposed divestment from companies doing business with the Israeli government was narrowly rejected on Thursday.
The Assembly, which will also be debating a number of key issues such as same-sex marriage, initially voted to bring the issue up for discussion and ask members whether they wanted the church to continue doing business with companies like Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions and Hewlett-Packard, which have been supplying the Israeli military with security products. These business ties are seen by some as harmful to the Palestinian people who live under Israeli occupation in disputed territories in the West Bank. The PC(USA) had reportedly been in talks with these companies for the past eight years, which was unsuccessful in implementing changes.
"It's too early to know what is going to happen, but I have been moved to tears on multiple occasions as I saw authentic recognition of Palestinian experience and deep commitment to justice for all people by the Presbyterian Church," commented Rabbi Alissa Wise, the director of campaigns for Jewish Voice for Peace, after the vote. "This is a historic moment in the struggle for dignity and justice, and I commend the PC(USA) for getting us this close to holding corporations accountable for profiting from the occupation." more >>
Days after being elected as vice moderator of the General Assembly – the second highest elected position in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – the Rev. Tara Spuhler McCabe resigned on Wednesday after realizing that her recent participation in a same-sex marriage was going to be disruptive.
"The amount of conversation in person and comments online indicate that my confirmation has obviously touched a nerve," she said in a speech to the Assembly. "The tension over all of this is real, and clearly the energy and passion about this issue runs deep – and isn't going away."
McCabe, who served as associate pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D.C., pointed out that people had posted blogs, tweets and comments that were "unhelpful" and "divisive" since she was elected by a 55 to 44 percent vote on Sunday. more >>
The Civil Union and Marriage Issues Committee at the 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has agreed upon two items to be considered by the assembly, one of which would amend the church's definition of marriage.
Those on the committee voted 28-24 on Tuesday in favor of sending the proposal, which could change the church's definition of marriage "between a woman and a man" to being "between two people," to the General Assembly for consideration. The proposal would also change the definition of marriage from being a "civil contract" to a "covenant" that "according to the laws of the state also constitutes a civil contract."
According to a live blog about the committee, they also approved sending another proposal, which would move the entire denomination "into a season of serious study and discernment concerning the meaning of Christian Marriage." This "season" would last until the next General Assembly in 2014, when the topic would be readdressed. more >>
The first openly gay bishop in The Episcopal Church recently praised pro-gay Presbyterians for creating "enormous confusion" and what he called "holy chaos" in their denomination over homosexuality.
"It was not that many years ago when our churches, yours and mine and most others, were absolutely certain what God thought of us ... and because of your courageous work, there are a lot of confused people out there and that is a huge step forward," Bishop Gene Robinson of New Hampshire said Saturday during an event sponsored by More Light Presbyterians – a pro-LGBT group.
Robinson looked to commend and further encourage gays and lesbians as they face several measures on homosexuality during the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s General Assembly in Pittsburgh. The denomination is considering a proposal to reverse a 2010 decision that allowed partnered gay clergy to serve and another measure that would redefine marriage. Votes are expected to take place later this week. more >>
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) will vote on two highly contentious issues at its General Assembly beginning Saturday with some presbyteries proposing reversal of the right to ordain openly gay and lesbian clergy and some seeking a change to the definition marriage.
Some presbyteries are calling for restoration of the 1996 standard that required "fidelity in the covenant of marriage between a man and a woman or chastity in singleness" for all clergy, according to PC(USA), which will have it biennial assembly from June 30-July 7 in Pittsburgh, Pa.
Some other presbyteries want to change the definition of marriage from being between "a man and a woman" to "two people." Five others are seeking an authoritative interpretation of the constitution that would allow pastors to officiate at wedding ceremonies in states where same-gender marriage is legal. more >>
The General Assembly of Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has suggested adding an exemption to its Board of Pensions' proposed expansion of benefits for qualified same-sex couples.
Andrew Browne, vice president and corporate secretary of the Board of Pensions, wrote in a letter to employing organizations that the creation of a "mechanism" to exempt those who may take issue with expanding pension benefits to same-sex couples is being considered.
"The Board of Pensions continues to take seriously the General Assembly's urging to design a mechanism to relieve the conscience of those for whom this coverage creates a moral dilemma," wrote Browne. more >>