Live blogging the Thursday evening session…
If you are following along live you will want to hit refresh periodically to reload the post. (And please excuse the typos as my fingers fly.)
Also, I am experiencing technical difficulties with my connection. It is better but not perfect. I will do the best I can considering the circumstances.
The proposed docket for the rest of the Assembly is posted at Bills and Overtures.
This evening’s schedule is simple – Middle East Peacemaking Issues (Committee 15) delayed from the afternoon and Mission Coordination (Committee 10).
The evening begins the the regular items of music and prayer.
1001 Worshiping Communities video
Bills and Overtures – Like Gradye Parsons has a figure of John Calvin on his desk, Bills and Overtures has unveiled a praying gnome for their desk.
Bills and Overtures proposes that Middle East goes first this evening and when they conclude the Assembly then do all of Mission Coordination except Special Offerings which will be done in the morning.
Committee on Middle East and Peacemaking Issues – Committee 15
The Committee Moderator begins with words of introduction and the roadmap for the report.
The PC(USA) Area Coordinator for the Middle East give some background and reads a quote from the Kairos Document.
Now, a brief report from the Middle East Monitoring Group
On to business…
Item 15-04 Regarding a peaceful, diplomatic solution between the US and Iran
Recommends approval with amendment
Commissioner speaks against it reminding everyone of 9-11
Commissioner, neither for or against, reminds everyone to pray
Commissioner reminds us that Iran had nothing to do with 9-11, Also, experts remind us we have not had dialogue with Iran for a long time
Commissioner speaks against and contradicts the previous speaker saying the Iran is a serious threat
Call the question
Advisory delegates strongly yes
Commissioners – 81% yes, 19% no, 0% abstain
Item 15-11 On Corporate Engagement
Brian Ellison, chair of MRTI, gives an introduction to corporate engagement in general and this issue specifically. He makes the point the dialogue has occurred and has been over a period of time. However, it has not been fruitful so when engagement does not work divestment is the only remaining option.
[Speakers are lining up. There are 36 in line by one count from someone in a better position than I.]
Taking questions before hearing Minority Report
Advocacy by this morning’s ecumenical partner was questioned. There was a point of order that calling the question is being used in an aggressive manner.
Commissioner asks how much money and income are we taking about here? For BOP just enough shares are held by BOP directly to allow MRTI to file shareholder resolutions. In managed investment accounts it is much higher (did someone tweet these numbers – they went by too fast)
(Thanks Layman tweet) BOP has $10M in Caterpillar, $6M in HP and $432K Motorola Solutions.
Minority Report is presented – main point is rather than divest let’s selectively invest
Any amendments to the main motion? None so declared perfected
Amendment to the minority report – Instruct GAMC to create a process to raise funds to invest in the West Bank
Amendment approved 60% yes, 36% no, 4% abstain
No more amendments – The substitute motion is declared perfected
“Shall the Substitute Motion become the Main Motion?”
Caterpillar helped clean up after recent tornado
This is not either/or but both/and
Can we actually divest this money and how long would it take to do that?
Answer for BOP: Divestment list goes out to managers in early December. Managers don’t have to sell right away (It’s complicated – do it so shareholders are no harmed)
Answer for Foundation: Similar – not right away but decently and in order
Caterpillar Employee – “You are being shown a very narrow view of Caterpillar”
Palestinians are not asking for a check, they are asking for justice
This action will not achieve what MRTI seeks but will have unintended consequences and alienate partners. No one cares about our symbolic action
This is an opportunity to achieve justice in this situation
Main motion offered as a simple solution – it is actually very complex and will only be “a whisper lost in the storm”
We have enough investment from the US in Israel and the West Bank – Now is the time to divest
Afraid that divestment will harm partnership his church has. Divestment makes the PC(USA) look like an admonishing parent.
The Jewish community – if we divest it will be approved by many in the Jewish community
5 minute stretch break and house band is playing reflective music and not ABBA
Question: What about other mainline churches? Different denominations are in different places in the process and are structured differently. Brian Ellison – Methodist Church has no equivalent of MRTI and differing reports brought by different committee and the Methodists decided not to divest
Question: What about being at share holder meetings? Brian Ellison – Yes and sometimes it is our ecumenical partners
Question: If we take a motion to multiply, when will we know that we’ve reached the moral sin of greed? Answer from presenter of Minority report “I don’t know. I don’t have a good answer.” (and leaves the podium)
Question: Could ACSWP person tell the Assembly what they told us in Committee? ACSWP Rep says that it is very difficult to find places to invest in West Bank and the profitability is uncertain. Humanitarian investment
“I carefully and prayerfully call the question”
Advisory delegates right at the 2/3rds to close debate
Commissioners – 87% to 13% – debate has been closed
Voting on making the substitute motion the main motion
Advisory delegates fairly strongly “No” except EADs strong yes
Commissioners – 333 to 331, 2 abstain. The substitute becomes the main motion
Bills and Overtures moves to limit speeches to 1 minute (Requires 2/3)
Advisory delegates strongly yes
Commissioners – 85% yes 15% no – for the rest of the evening speeches are 1 minute
Commissioner moves to limit time on this item to one more hour (Requires 2/3)
86% yes, 12% no, 2% abstain
“As Presbyterians we have a lot of experience with divestment – We call it withholding per capita.” Urges supporting investment
Visited the Palestinians – They want divestment
[FYI – Right now PCUSA and #ga220 trending on Twitter]
Commissioner asks if the cards can be used to see if people still want to debate – Sea of Orange
Moderator recognizes commissioner to call the question
Commissioners – 88% to 11%, debate is closed
Questions: (actually other points) Commissioner noted that one microphone was not called on as much as the others. Another commissioner says their microphone was only called on once. One commissioner asks about the process for calling the question with the cards. There is the question raised if this is defeated can the main motion be brought back? (Answer – by a motion to reconsider)
TSADs stongly no, YAADs slightly no, EADs slightly yes, MADs all no
Commissioners – 55% yes, 43% no, 1% abstain
There is weak applause and one person in the back shouts “NO!”
Moderator compliments Assembly on civil discourse – stronger applause
Item 15-10 Pursuing a creative course of action regarind the Palestinian-Israeli conflict
Recommends approval with amendment
May be illogical in light of the action just taken. “That is your problem to deal with Mr. Moderator.” reply with a sarcastic “Thanks”
Stated Clerk recommends arresting this report to look at the language of the other items based on the previous action.
Adjourn with prayer to reconvene in the morning at 8:30 AM