Wednesday, December 12, 2007

12 December 2007


Pair Facing Federal Charges, Possible Imprisonment
[2] Form of Government Task Force Revises Documents
[3] Diocese of San Joaquin Departs
[4] York Rejects Mugabe
[5] Rethinking Reason
[6] Thomas Forsyth Torrance
[7] Beverly Heights Transfers from USA to EPC

Pair Facing Federal Charges, Possible Imprisonment

At least two Presbyterian Church (USA) members are among 11 demonstrators facing federal charges after being arrested for crossing onto the US Army's Fort Benning in Georgia to protest a training school for Latin American military officers.

The Rev. Chris Lieberman, 54, of Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Le Anne Clausen, 29, of Chicago, both face up to six months in federal prison and fines of up to US$5,000 for trespassing on military property during the demonstration on18 Nov.

Lieberman was released after posting US$500 bail. It was unclear how much bail was posted by Clausen, who is traveling in Iran as part of an interfaith delegation and could not be reached for comment.

Federal court hearings for the two are scheduled for 28 Jan.

+ Presbyterian Church (USA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202 (888) 728-7228

Form of Government Task Force Revises Documents

Based largely on denomination-wide feedback, the Presbyterian Church (USA)'s Form of Government Task Force (FOGTF) has voted to present the two key parts of its work to the 218th General Assembly (GA) in separate recommendations.

The nine-member task force, charged by the 217th General Assembly (2006) with reorganizing the denomination's Form of Government, voted during a meeting here Nov. 29-Dec.1 to recommend that the Book of Order:

(1) Be amended by striking the text of Chapters I-IV of the current "Form of Government" and inserting a new section entitled, "Foundations of Presbyterian Polity," and

(2) Be amended by striking the text of Chapters V-XVIII of the current "Form of Government" and inserting a new "Form of Government."

The new Form of Government document "seeks to return the Form of Government to its original intent--a Constitution for our church that sets out the overarching standards that govern us as the Presbyterian Church (USA), rather than a manual of operations that imposes a 'one size fits all' set of procedures and rules," the letter goes on to say.

Concerns were raised by task force member Rev. James H.Y. Kim, who along the way has continually been the voice of the more conservative evangelical side of the denomination. He said that wing will take issue with changes to the Book of Order, particularly Chapters I-IV.

A majority of the 173 presbyteries must ratify proposed changes to the Book of Order.

+ Presbyterian Church (USA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202 (888) 728-7228

Diocese of San Joaquin Departs

Delegates attending the 48th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin on Saturday, 9 December overwhelmingly voted to leave the Episcopal Church and to align with the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone.

San Joaquin Bishop John-David Schofield asked for a moment of silence in deference to those who opposed the change, reminding the gathering that he "knows what it feels like to be a minority" before the vote tallies were read. The results, by orders were: 70-12 clergy and 103-10 vote in the lay order to effectively remove all references to the Episcopal Church from its constitution and describe the diocese as "a constituent member of the Anglican Communion and in full communion with the See of Canterbury."

"The Episcopal Church receives with sadness the news that some members of this church have made a decision to leave this church," said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori. "We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness. We wish them to know of our prayers for them and their journey. The Episcopal Church will continue in the Diocese of San Joaquin, albeit with new leadership."

+ Episcopal Church Center, 815 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10017 (212) 867-8400

York Rejects Mugabe

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, cut into pieces his clerical "dog collar" on a television program broadcast by the BBC to the world, and the Ugandan-born cleric vowed he would not replace it until Robert Mugabe is no longer president of Zimbabwe. The second-highest ranking cleric in the (Anglican) Church of England was himself a refugee from the tyrannical regime of Idi Amin, who ruled Uganda from 1971 to 1979. He said it was right for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown to refuse to attend the December conference of European Union and African leaders held in Portugal.

+ Ecumenical News International, PO Box 2100, CH - 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland

Rethinking Reason

Craig Strickland, pastor of
Hope Presbyterian Church in Cordova, Tennessee is releasing a new book, Rethinking Reason. The press release for the book says, “It's a new way of thinking about being a Christian that may give you a new purpose for your life. Why does someone have to be wrong for someone else to be right? What if the secular world isn't the problem? What if the pastor isn't always right? Why does my way have to be the only way? Do we need to think differently? How do your religious convictions impact your life? And how would your life change if you thought differently.”

+ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Office of the General Assembly, 17197 N. Laurel Park Drive, Suite 567, Livonia, MI 48152-7912 (734) 742-2020

Thomas Forsyth Torrance

Thomas Forsyth Torrance, who died on 2 December at age 94, held the chair of Christian Dogmatics at Edinburgh University from 1952 to 1979 and was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1976-77. A prolific writer, the catalog of his work topped 600 items. Internationally, Torrance was ranked as Scotland’s most effective advocate for the theology of Karl Barth.

Born 30 August at Chengdu, China, where his parents served under China Inland Mission, Torrance was educated in mission schools. Returning to Scotland as China began to collapse in the late 1920s, he continued his education at Bellshill Academy, Edinburgh University, New College, and eventually Basel.

In 1950 Torrance was appointed Professor of Church History at New College, Edinburgh. Not long after, he assumed the Chair of Christian Dogmatics. Offered Barth’s position at Basal upon Barth’s death, Torrance chose to remain in Scotland and champion the cause of union with the Church of England and ecumenism through the World Council of Churches.

At his retirement in 1979, a radical Roman Catholic, James Mackey, replaced him. A son, Iain Torrance, is professor of Patristics at Princeton Theological Seminary and served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for the 2003-04 term.

+ Church of Scotland, 121 George Street, Edinburgh, Scotland EH2 4YN UK

Beverly Heights Transfers from USA to EPC

According to reports distributed by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Beverly Heights Presbyterian Church has been dismissed from the Pittsburgh Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) so it can join the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

The dismissal was the culmination of six months of discussions precipitated by the Mt. Lebanon church's overwhelming vote in April to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The vote by the presbytery's clergy and elders was 174 for dismissal and 73 against, with two abstentions. The action takes effect immediately.

According to the settlement between the presbytery and the 400-member church, Beverly Heights will keep its building and land -- together valued at more than US$1 million -- and the rights to its name. In exchange, the congregation will pay the presbytery US$250,000 over 10 years and forfeit US$46,655 in a trust account.

The presbytery and church also agreed to not sue each other.

+ Beverly Heights Prebyterian Church, 1207 Washington Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15228