for our index page on GA 2010
PVJ Events at the
Page 2: reporting on the events!
Voices for Justice Awards Luncheon offers moments for
With over a hundred
people present, the new Presbyterian Voices for Justice gathered
on Sunday, July Fourth, just after the Assembly worship service.
The Rev. Bill Dummer, PVJ co-moderator,
welcomed everyone to the luncheon, and then introduced the Rev.
Landon Whitsitt, the newly elected Vice Moderator of the
Presbyterian Church (USA). Whitsitt greeted the group on behalf
of Moderator Cynthia Bolbach, and expressed appreciation for the
work of both the Witherspoon Society and Voices of Sophia in the
cause of justice.
The invocation was given by the Rev. Catherine
Snyder, and after giving everyone a few minutes for enjoying
their lunch, PVJ Treasurer Darcy Hawk and Secretary Mitch
Trigger made a pitch (with the Treasurer in drag of sorts,
playing the role of Sophie Witherspoon) for support for PVJ
through memberships and gifts.
Sylvia Thorson-Smith, a member of the PVJ
board, then introduced the speaker, the Rev. Mary Elva Smith.
Smith served as Director of Women’s Ministries in the
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) from 2001-2006, and is now the
Acting General Presbyter for the Sierra Mission Partnership.
Mary Elva began by describing what she had in
mind for our time together:
What an auspicious day to gather to celebrate the
Voices of Justice as you begin a journey unified by interest and
passion. For the next span of time, we are going on a
mini-retreat … to take time to listen for the voice of Godde and
to allow the movement of the Spirit space to work…To that end
join me in affirming your purpose by reading your mission
Smith went on to
invite us into this silence, to attend to our own breathing and
to images and words from Scripture and from our own deep
She then asked us to
focus on a few questions for reflection, the written versions of
which you can read – Questions for Conversation and Questions
for Clarity – which she offered for our reflection in our few
minutes together, and in the days to come.
She closed with an
invitation to listening:
We are a spirited and passionate community of women and men in
the Presbyterian church (USA) who is called to proclaim the
gospel vision of God’s extravagant love and justice in church
and society. We seek the wisdom of the Spirit for following
Christ’s example and for living into the hope of sustained
gender equality, racial reconciliation, full human rights for
LGBT persons, economic justice, environmental wholeness, an end
to war and all forms of violence and a justice-loving shalom
over all the earth. We commit to risking the transformation of
our own selves and our organization to live into this vision,
even as we invite both church and society to meet this
Were going to open
this moment in time together by listening: not to me or to you
but … to GOD!
admonishes: Be still and know that I
am God… Psalm 46:10 (pause…silence)
What a time to call for silence, in the midst of the opening
days of a General Assembly…
The Psalm, where God speaks this word to us is out of the chaos
of that day offering a promise of stability and change.
Take time to listen, first for the still small
voice of God, then to each other that the Spirit may move within
you to breathe new life and direction into the call you hear to
do justice, to love kindness and walk humbly with your God.
We encourage you to join in on the very brief
“mini-retreat” on which Mary Elva Smith led us, by reading
through and reflecting on the prepared material she has
generously shared with us:
For the full prepared text of Mary Elva Smith’s
For her Questions for Conversation >>
And her Questions for Clarity >>
If you have thoughts
that arise out of this reflection, we’d be grateful if you could
share them with us, as material for our own thinking as a
Coordinating Team (formerly known as the Board) of PVJ.
just send a note!
The recipient of this year’s Whole Gospel
Congregation Award, Kwanzaa Community Church (Presbyterian)
in Minneapolis, was introduced by the Rev. Bebe Baldwin. She
described vividly some of the many ways in which Kwanzaa’s
commitment to its community has changed lives and made a
difference in the quality of life in its community.
More about the
The award was presented “in grateful
recognition for ‘bringing saving freedom to body, mind & soul’
through the Good News of Jesus to all the people of the
community.” The Rev. Alika Galloway, who is co-pastor of the
congregation with her husband, the Rev. Ralph Galloway, accepted
the award on behalf of the congregation, which was represented
by some 20 of its members.
PVJ Acting Co-Moderator Colleen Bowers presented the Andrew
Murray Award to Ann and Manley Olson, long-time active
Presbyterian leaders at congregational, presbytery, and national
levels. The award was presented “in grateful recognition of
their commitment and passion to social justice for all of God’s
people in their service to the entire Church.”
More about the
The Reverend Sylvia Carlson, another member of
the PVJ Coordinating Team, offered the benediction, using
the words of a blessing the comes out of the Franciscan
tradition. We’ve been asked by a number of people for the words
of that blessing, so here it is:
A Franciscan Blessing
God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half
truths, and superficial relationships, so that you
may live deep within your heart.
God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression,
and exploitation of people, so that you may work for
justice, freedom and peace.
God bless you with tears to shed for those who
suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so
that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and
turn their pain into joy.
may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe
that you can make a difference in this world, so
that you can do what others claim cannot be done.
PVJ/Voices of Sophia speaker Chris Smith reflects on
‘Perhaps it’s time we move to the margins.’
Voices sings a blessing to the
Bolbach receives the traditional Voices
of Sophia blessing.
Danny Bolin, PNS
Moderator Cindy Bolbach arrived early for the PVJ/Voices
of Sophia breakfast, and we were delighted that she
chose to stay for the meal. Many of the women
present, who have been active in the Voices of
Sophia organization, stood and joined in singing
their traditional blessing for the new Moderator.
Given the history of years of conservative attacks
on the group, its leaders, and numerous women
members of the national staff, it was a rich and
GA219 Communication Center, by Sandy
Minneapolis, July 8, 2010
More than 100 people gathered early Tuesday
for the Presbyterian Voices of Justice (PVJ)/Voices of Sophia
breakfast as part of the 219th General Assembly (2010).
The Rev. Christine Smith, professor of
preaching at United Theological Seminary, Twin Cities, spoke to
those gathered on "Reimagining Church: De-Centering Privilege as
an Act of Global Citizenship."
"This notion of de-centering privilege
requires reimagining what it means to be human from those who
are not privileged," began Smith. "Then the definition of (who
are) God’s people needs to reflect the more than three-fourths
of God’s people who are not so privileged."
"As I walk into my furnished house and eat
the food I have – like this breakfast – and realize that I spend
more on my dogs than most people earn to support a family, I
realize where I am in all this and that I am not like most of
God’s people, and that’s painful for me," Smith said.
She concluded by challenging attendees to
examine the center-to-margin concept. "We are guilty of creating
a pseudo-reality where we put ourselves in the center," Smith
said. "Perhaps it’s time we moved to the margins."
EDITOR’S NOTE: We hope to publish the
full text of Dr. Smith’s presentation before too long, at
least on our website, and perhaps in the next issue of
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!