News of the PC(USA) --
archive for January - June, 2008
Click here for all
the more recent stories on the PC(USA).
Earlier stories are indexed:
39 organizing groups to share
Grants will support
congregation-based community programs
From Presbyterian News Service —
Hunger Program (PHP) in partnership with the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.)’s Small Church
and Community Ministry office, recently allocated $214,000 to 39
congregation-based community organizations (CBCOs) in urban and
rural areas across the country.
They are among the hundreds of
Presbyterian U.S. congregations making a difference in their local
communities through CBCOs.
CBCOs are broad-based coalitions of
congregations working in partnership with other community
organizations that address quality of life issues such as affordable
housing, public healthcare for children, living wage and public
Grants are provided to support
training for lay leaders, pastors, middle governing bodies staff and
seminarians to develop the skills for congregational-based community
organizing. “Presbyterian congregations and their leaders are
working together through congregational-based community
organizations with other churches and faith communities to
effectively address poverty-related issues impacting their larger
communities,” said the Rev. Phil Tom, associate for the PC(USA)’s
Small Church and Community Ministry office.
The funds are from the Community
Development portion of the One Great Hour of Sharing offering.
Recipients were chosen during a March 14 meeting of the Presbyterian
Hunger Program Advisory Committee.
Presidential candidate Sen. Barack
Obama has lifted up the subject of community organizing since he
worked as a community organizer on the Southside of Chicago in the
mid-1980's. The community organizing movement was pioneered in
Chicago in the late 1930's by Saul Alinksy. The PC(USA) has been a
supporter of the community organizing movement since the 1950's.
The full story,
including a list of all the groups receiving grants >>
Advisors to Ed Koster announce that
he intends to stand for election as Stated Clerk of the General
release from Ed Koster, dated April 17, 2008.
the Presbyterian News Service report >>
Edward H. Koster shall stand for election as Stated Clerk of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
know Ed Koster, have seen his dedication to Jesus Christ and his
Church, and have observed his skills in his work as stated clerk
of the Presbytery," said Neil Cowling, spokesperson for Advisors
to Ed Koster. "For eight months we have been advising, meeting
with him, and praying with him as he has described his sense
that God has called him to seek election. We believe that his
call is genuine, and that if elected he will make an outstanding
Koster comes to
the election from a varied experience. He is a graduate of the
United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and served
five years in the Navy during the Viet Nam War. After receiving
his Master of Divinity from Union Theological Seminary in
Richmond, VA, he studied Old Testament history in the doctoral
program of the Department of Near Eastern Studies of the
University of Michigan for three years, receiving his MA in
1974. He served as pastor of Calvary Presbyterian Church in An
Arbor, Michigan for 10 years, during which time he also served
as chaplain in the Washtenaw County Jail, President of the Ann
Arbor Council of Churches, and chaplain at the VA Hospital in
Ann Arbor. He studied organizational development in 1985-86
under the late Dr. Ronald Lippitt, then at the Institute for
Social Research at the University of Michigan, and Kathie
Dannemiller, who was principal in Dannemiller-Tyson Associates
of Ann Arbor.
He entered the
University of Toledo College of Law in 1988 and began his law
practice in Ann Arbor in 1992. He practices in the Washtenaw
County Juvenile Court in cases of abuse, neglect and
delinquency. He is trained by the Michigan Supreme Court
Administrator's Office as a mediator and mediator trainer in
Michigan's community mediation program.
Koster has served
since 1995 as the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Detroit, the
regional body of Presbyterian churches in southeast Michigan.
The Detroit position is the regional parallel to the Stated
Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.). This work involves organizing seven Presbytery
meetings a year and preparing the minutes, advising on process
and parliamentary procedure, staffing various committees and
teams of the Presbytery. He works with Presbyterians throughout
the region to advise on church rules and procedures, and
consults with local churches to help them through times of
change and difficulty. He is a parish associate at First
Presbyterian Church, Ann Arbor.
Koster is the
author of a dozen published articles about issues facing the
church at national and local levels.
Responding to the
announcement of his advisors, Koster said, "I feel that God has
called me to serve the Church in this way, to lift up issues I
see from my experience in the church as pastor, attorney, and 13
years as Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Detroit. I believe
that while our leadership has been faithful and competent, it
has increasingly strayed from the core of the church. If I am
called to serve, I believe I can make a difference."
The election to
the position will take place at the General Assembly of the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which will be held in San Jose,
California, June 21-28. Nominations will be made to the Assembly
on the evening of June 22nd, and the election will
take place on the morning of the 27th. Mr Koster will
be nominated by his pastor, Douglas Brouwer of First
Presbyterian Church of Ann Arbor. The Presbytery of Detroit
voted to support Mr. Koster when he announced in January that he
had submitted his application.
The Stated Clerk
is an officer of the General Assembly, responsible for
arrangements for the biennial meetings of the Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.), publishing and announcing the proceedings of
the Assembly, giving advisory opinions on the Constitution of
the Church, representing the Church in its relations with other
churches and faiths, and performing administrative functions for
the agencies and boards of the General Assembly. The term is for
Advisors to Ed Koster are Ruth Knoll (Ann Arbor, Michigan),
Elders Dixie Elam (Livonia, Michigan) and Virginia Koster (Ann
Arbor, Michigan), and ministers Allen D. Timm (Grosse Pointe
Park, Michigan), William Zambon (Ypsilanti, Michigan), Douglas
Brouwer (Ann Arbor, Michigan), and Kevin Johnson (Detroit,
An added note from your WebWeaver:
Winfield Casey Jones, who was a candidate for Stated Clerk
in 2000, and applied for the position, as did Mr. Koster, in
2008, has endorsed Ed Koster, citing with approval Koster's
words that "our leadership ... has increasingly strayed from the
core of the church."
Gradye Parsons tapped as
Stated Clerk nominee
successor to Cliff Kirkpatrick set for June 27 at GA
by Jerry L. Van Marter,
Presbyterian News Service [4-3-08]
LOUISVILLE — April 3, 2008 – The Stated Clerk
Nominating Committee (SCNC) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
announced today that the Rev. Gradye Parsons is its consensus
nominee to serve as the next General Assembly Stated Clerk, the
top ecclesiastical post in the 2.3 million-member denomination.
The election to a four-year term is slated for
Friday, June 27, during the 218th General Assembly of the PC(USA).
If elected, Parsons will succeed the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick,
who earlier this year declined to seek a fourth term.
Parsons has served as associate stated clerk
of the General Assembly for the past eight years. In that role,
he has been the director of operations for the Office of the
General Assembly (OGA), including director of OGA’s General
Assembly Meeting Services department.
Previously, Parsons served as pastor of two
churches in Tennessee for fifteen years. He was executive
presbyter and stated clerk of Holston Presbytery for six years.
“Guided by a strong faith in Jesus Christ and
a deep love of the church in general and the PC(USA) in
particular, Gradye Parsons brings a wonderful blend of
experiences and creative leadership to successfully fill the
position of Stated Clerk,” said Steve Grace, an elder, member of
the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly and
chairperson of the nomination committee.
“Gradye has led the way in changing from
annual to biennial General Assemblies and encouraging the church
to explore tools of discernment and other innovative ways of
decision-making. The committee was excited to hear about his
vision to revitalize elder leadership in the church, which began
with the first-ever national elders conference last August.”
Grace noted, “Gradye brings a broad knowledge
of the church, as well as a breadth of experience — from a
pastoral perspective and a middle governing body leadership
Parsons said, “I am humbled and excited to be
asked to serve the PC(USA) as Stated Clerk of the General
Assembly. This church matters, not only within the PC(USA), but
as part of the larger body of Christ. I look forward to the
opportunities to be both a leader and a learner in this new
The SCNC was elected by the 217th General
Assembly in 2006 in Birmingham, AL. The nine members include
four past General Assembly commissioners, three individuals from
the Committee on the Office of the General Assembly, a
representative from the General Assembly Council and a
representative of middle governing body staff.
Since its election, the committee has overseen
a churchwide application process that resulted in fourteen
applications being submitted and reviewed by the committee.
Telephone interviews were held with all of the applicants. The
committee then held face-to-face interviews with five of the
“Our committee has been through a marvelous
discernment process,” said Grace. “We truly felt God’s presence
with us on our journey. All the applicants had many gifts for
ministry, but it is very clear to all of us that Gradye Parsons
is the person we believe is being called by God to serve as
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly.”
“We enthusiastically endorse his nomination.”
But most observers expect a contested
All of the applicants not selected by the
nomination committee have until 45 days prior to this year’s
General Assembly (May 7) to notify the committee that they
intend to stand for Stated Clerk as well. The Standing Rules of
the General Assembly require that persons wishing to stand for
the position of Stated Clerk in addition to the committee’s
nominee must have submitted an application to the committee by
last December’s deadline and have gone through the committee’s
Formal nominations will be made on Sunday,
June 22, the second day of the Assembly. “A new feature this
year,” Grace said, “is a ‘meet-and-greet’ with the candidates on
Wednesday morning, June 25. “We are very sensitive to the ‘no
campaigning’ issue, but we want to give commissioners the
opportunity for more time with the candidates.”
The Stated Clerk is an officer of the General
Assembly, leader of the Office of the General Assembly staff,
spokesperson for the church as directed by the General Assembly,
and permanent ecumenical representative for the church.
If elected, Parsons will assume his duties no
later than thirty days after the General Assembly.
In addition to Steve Grace, an elder from
Beulah, MI, members of the Stated Clerk Nomination Committee are
elders Tom Adger of Atlanta; Pamila Deichmann of Winterset, IA;
and Joan Fong of Fremont, CA; and ministers Anna Case-Winters of
Chicago; Helen Baily Cochrane of Bethlehem, PA; Lyle Hillegas of
Santa Barbara, CA; John Purcell of Dallas; and Donnie Woods of
Charleston, SC. Carol McDonald of the Synod of Lincoln Trails
served as staff to the committee.
information about the work of the nomination committee is
communication director for the Office of the General Assembly,
contributed to this story.
Rick and Kitty Ufford-Chase named Stony Point co-directors
‘Transitional’ term begins in August
Presbyterian News Service reports that former
General Assembly moderator Rick Ufford Chase and his wife,
Kitty, have been named transitional co-directors of
financially-troubled Stony Point Center, the Presbyterian Church
(U.S.A.)-owned conference center in New York.
They will share the full-time director’s
position beginning August 1, succeeding the Rev. William Pindar,
who recently resigned.
Rick Ufford Chase founded BorderLinks in the
1980s to engage U.S. Christians with U.S.-Mexico border issues
and served as its director until 2006, when he became executive
director of the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. He was elected GA
moderator in 2004. He will continue part-time with the Peace
Kitty Ufford-Chase, a life-long Quaker with a
commitment to spiritual nurture and justice, most recently has
been working as the “faith community coordinator” for the
Community Food Security Center of Tucson’s Community Food Bank.
News of the 218th General Assembly:
Four candidates seek election as GA Moderator
Since late November 2007, a total of four
Presbyterians have declared their interest in serving as
Moderator of the 218th General Assembly when it
gathers in June in San Jose, and for the following two years.
The Witherspoon Society has a practice of not
endorsing any candidate for the position, but we do want to
provide basic information on the candidates, and help our
readers to find more information, especially if they will be
serving as GA commissioners with the responsibility for electing
the Moderator at the beginning of the Assembly.
We are providing now the Presbyterian News
Service reports of each candidacy as it was announced, along
with links to the websites of the candidates. We encourage
you to get in touch with any or all of the candidates through
their websites, asking your questions and letting them know
your concerns and convictions.
Also, we will soon be sending a short list of
questions to each of the candidates, seeking their responses to
be published in the Spring 2008 issue of our newsletter,
Network News, which will be sent to all commissioners and
advisory delegates, and will also be posted here.
The four candidates are listed here in the
order in which they announced their candidacies. They are:
We invite any and all of the candidates to
submit occasional "think pieces" of their own for posting here,
although we may need to exercise some editorial judgment to
insure that submissions from no one candidate too far out-weigh
those from the others.
And you our readers are invited to share
comments as well -- as long as they are not [in the opinion
of your WebWeaver!] in bad taste, overly hostile or personal, or
mere "campaign speeches" for or against any one candidate.
Just send your notes to
(and please identify yourself -- no anonymous notes will be
Gene TeSelle, Witherspoon’s Issues Analyst, sends this note
of gratitude for the life of Jack Stotts
was one of the first people I met when I went to Yale for
graduate study. My carrel in the library was near his (and near
the more controversial Jim Nelson's), and I learned much about
ethics from them.
Jack Stotts was always notable for his quiet
wisdom. He did not need to raise his voice; his thoughtfulness
and the content of what he said were enough. While I know only
indirectly of his contributions to McCormick and Austin, all
that I have heard constitutes a tribute to him.
We invited him to be a speaker at the
Witherspoon Society luncheon at a crucial time in the life of
the church, and I am glad that Doug King will be making his
address available once again.
I also recall that, in his capacity as chair
of the Special Committee drafting the new Brief Statement, he
attended the Witherspoon "gathering" in 1988 at the Bergamo
Center in Dayton. If we in Witherspoon can brag a little,
several of the suggestions made at that conference were
incorporated into the final draft for the Brief Statement, and I
am sure that Jack in his diplomatic way helped ease the way.
We will miss him greatly. But we can also be
thankful for the many contributions he made to us, individually
Jack Stotts dies in Austin, Texas, at age 75, after long and
brilliant theological service to the PC(USA)
Theological giant’s career spanned pastorate,
classroom and seminary president’s offices
[Headline for the report by Jerry Van
Marter of Presbyterian News Service]
The Rev. Jack L. Stotts, whose ministry in the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) took him from the pastorate to the
classroom to the president’s office of two seminaries and into
some of the most crucial theological deliberations of his
generation, died Jan. 24 at Christopher House, a hospice care
center in Austin, TX.
He was the featured speaker at a Witherspoon
Society luncheon at General Assembly some years ago, and we will
post his talk as soon as we get home from our current
story from Van Marter >>
Presbyterian Outlook carries a tribute to Jack Stotts
from James S. Currie, associate dean of Austin Presbyterian
Theological Seminary, where Stotts served as president from 1985
to 1996 – among the many great things he did.
Currie notes that early in his ministry,
Stotts served as chaplain at the University of Tulsa. His tenure
there was brief because he invited Jim Lawson to speak to
students and faculty there. Lawson had been expelled from the
Vanderbilt Divinity School for leading non-violent civil rights
sit-ins. As a result of this invitation to Lawson, the
University did not renew Stotts’ contract as chaplain.
That seems to reflect that moral stature and
courage that Jack showed throughout his ministry.
July 1-5, 2008 -- Montreat Conference Center
When are we going to stop complaining about
the Church we see and start becoming the Church we dream of?
What is standing in the way? What are you going to do about it?
Who else can you work with to make this dream a reality?
Come together with Presbyterians across
boundaries of age, gender, culture, race, theology, and other
barriers to envision a Church Unbound. Experience speakers who
are diverse, provocative, and challenging; workshops that hone
skills; small groups that foster relationship-building;
energizing worship and Bible study; and real conversations with
real people doing ministry in different settings.
Register soon because of limited Montreat
housing during the week of July 4th. Fee structures are designed
to encourage students, spouses, newer ministers, and families.
Recreational programs for children of conferees are provided.
For more information (including speakers, program, costs, and
more) and to register, go to
Co-sponsored by Presbyterian Outlook,
Cross Cultural Alliance of Ministries, and Montreat Conference
Click here for all
the more recent stories on the PC(USA).
Earlier stories are indexed:
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!