Category Archives: Follow-up

Presbyterian News Headlines For The First Half Of November 2014

OK, I’m falling behind again – but trying to catch up. So here are a few of the things that caught my attention back in November…

In the ongoing news story in Trinidad, initial demolition work on Greyfriars Church in Port-of-Spain was begun and after three hours halted. The contractor was reported as saying the work was only to open parts of the building so the engineers could inspect the structure. The owner said it was to remove a toxic roof. And to bring you up to date as of this writing nothing further has happened with the building as the community continues to discuss the future.

Greyfriars demolition stopped – from Guardian – Trinidad and Tobago

Contractor: No bid to demolish Greyfriars – from Trinidad Express

Owner of Greyfriars: Toxic roof removed from church hall – from Guardian – Trinidad and Tobago

In Scotland following the Independence Referendum, the British Government established a group to look at devolution of powers and home rule. This group, the Smith Commission, had a lot of input but comments from the Church of Scotland focused on what could be done locally to improve conditions for those in the lowest economic groups, as typified by this headline:

Group seeks powers over benefits – from The Courier

The Commission included a former Moderator of the General Assembly, Dr. Alison Elliot. More on the Commission and the Kirk’s input:

Cross-party Scottish home rule campaign launched – from BBC News

Church leaders want more power for Holyrood to help the needy – from Aberdeen Press & Journal

And along those same lines but in a different sphere:

Kirk poverty campaigner reflects on Vatican visit – Church of Scotland press release; “Martin Johnstone, the Church of Scotland’s Priority Areas Secretary, recently attended the first Global Meeting of Popular Movements hosted by the Vatican in Rome.”

It was interesting to see that the Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, preached at the First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan, Connecticut.

Governor of Massachusetts to Preach at First Presbyterian Church of New Canaan – from New Canaan’s HamletHub

Two stories about saving historic churches. The first, the renovation of a building that has been vacant for 35 years that will soon house community and presbytery services and offices:

Collaborative $10M redevelopment will save historic KC church – from Kansas City Business Journal

The second, a church that saved its original structure from demolition and is renovating it to become a community space:

Presbyterians want to restore historic church for community gatherings – from press of Atlantic City

And a follow-up on that major archaeological discovery on Church of Scotland land:

Viking treasure finders reflect as first secrets are revealed – from Church of Scotland press release

A peek inside a Viking piggybank: CT scans of treasure chest reveal hidden brooches, gold ingots and ivory beads – from Daily Mail

That’s it for the news for now. On to other topics

Web 2.0 And The Internet Are Changing The World — Follow-up

Last week the journal Nature published a news piece, Peer Review: Trial by Twitter , about the changes that social media, blogs and instant communication are having on how science is done, or more specifically, how science is reviewed.  For those thinking about this sort of thing in any realm I would suggest you have a look.

I won’t rehash the history of this, you can check out my earlier post, but here are a couple of the good lines in the new article about how things have changed:

Papers are increasingly being taken apart in blogs, on Twitter and on
other social media within hours rather than years, and in public, rather
than at small conferences or in private conversation.

To many researchers, such rapid response is all to the good, because it
weeds out sloppy work faster. “When some of these things sit around in
the scientific literature for a long time, they can do damage: they can
influence what people work on, they can influence whole fields,” says
[David] Goldstein [director of Duke University’s Center for Human Genome

For many researchers, the pace and tone of this online review can be
intimidating — and can sometimes feel like an attack. How are authors
supposed to respond to critiques coming from all directions? Should they
even respond at all? Or should they confine their replies to the
conventional, more deliberative realm of conferences and journals? “The
speed of communication is ahead of the sheer time needed to think and
get in the lab and work,” said Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a postdoctoral fellow
at the NASA Astrobiology Institute in Mountain View, California, and
the lead author on the arsenic paper. Aptly enough, she circulated that
comment as a tweet on Twitter, which is used by many scientists to call
attention to longer articles and blog posts.

and finally

To bring some order to this chaos, it looks as though a new set of
cultural norms will be needed, along with an online infrastructure to
support them.

The article then has a good discussion of where fast, open reviews have been tried as well has whether or not they worked.  It also outlines some interesting ways that social media and Web 2.0 are being integrated into the traditional infrastructure.  I’ll leave it for those interested in this sort of thing to have a closer look.

Presbyterian Official Blogging Continues

My compliments to Ms. Linda Valentine, the executive director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assembly Council.  I and others took note back in October when she blogged her trip to Asia and I wondered at that time if the blogging would continue when she got back.  It has!  It is now officially named “Let your light shine!” And it has been a pleasure to regularly read her thoughts from Louisville.  Thanks for joining the Web 2.0 world and I look forward to keeping your blog on my regular reading list.  Any more Louisville bloggers lurking out there?

Witherspoon Society response to NPWL comments on women in leadership in EPC

A week ago I discussed the Network of Presbyterian Women in Leadership (NPWL) articles that asked important and hard questions about how women in leadership would be accepted by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church with the New Wineskins Association of Churches’ expected transition from the PC(USA) to the EPC.  In that posting I commented on a parallel between some of the language used in that articles about the ordination of women with the language that is used in favor of the ordination of active homosexuals.  Others have also noted that parallelism and the Witherspoon Society has posted an open letter that Karen Ellen Kavey of Chapaqqua, NY, wrote about this to Becce Bettridge, Director of the NPWL and author of one of the articles.  Ms. Kavey writes that she is appreciative of Ms. Bettridge asking these questions but then goes on to write:

An unsettling question haunts me: How can someone, such as yourself, feel and express such genuine, palpable, well-reasoned concern for themselves regarding inequality, especially inequality based on interpretation of Scripture, and not feel this very same concern for others?

If, instead of the word “women”, you had substituted all minorities into your wonderful Questions, it would be a perfect essay… a letter for all God’s people.

The question of ordination standards is not an easy one and, as this exchange points out, is a continuum. Where you draw the line as to who should and who should not be ordained varies widely depending on perspective.

NWAC responds to the NPWL

In my previous post I reported on three articles the Network of Presbyterian Women in Leadership (NPWL) posted on their web site discussing the transition of churches to the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC) and their polity that ordination of women is a local option.  The New Wineskins Association of Churches (NWAC) has responded in their web log to the first two articles posted on the NPWL web site.  The entry, titled “Advancing Biblical Truth: Women in Leadership and the Proposed New Wineskins/EPC Transitional Presbytery“, begins with the statement that the NWAC:

The New Wineskins Constitution
makes no explicit distinction between men and women serving in roles of
leadership in the church, embracing the biblical declaration in
Galatians 3:28 that in Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave
nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Women
have always been, continue to be, and will always be an integral part
of the New Thing that God is doing through the New Wineskins
Association of Churches (NWAC).

(If you followed the New Wineskins Winter Convocation you know that there was a question from the floor asking why the Strategy Team was all male.  The response was that no women had asked to be on it.)

Further on in the NWAC response where they discuss the Rev. Anita Miller Bell’s article about the glass ceiling for women in the PC(USA) there is an interesting observation that I had not previously thought about:

To Rev. Anita Bell’s credit, she admits that the experience of women pastors within the PCUSA has not been all it should be. However, both NPWL articles fail to examine underlying causes to the “glass ceiling” in the PCUSA other than a pastor’s gender. There are at least two other realities that should have been discussed. The first is the promotion of feminist and womanist theologies by the denomination. This has not helped orthodox and evangelical women pastors in finding a call. Pastor nominating committees are understandably concerned about the possibility of nominating a pastoral candidate and then later discovering the candidate does not uphold an orthodox or evangelical theology.

The NWAC  article goes on to discuss eight reasons that evangelical women pastors should consider moving to the EPC.  These include the fact that the NWAC will have its own transitional presbytery in the EPC where they will get to decide if women can be ordained and the fact that if you are an evangelical Presbyterian women looking for an alternative to the PC(USA) than the EPC is the only game in town.

Pittsburgh Presbytery same-sex marriage case trying to be re-filed

Upset with the PJC case against the Rev. Janet Edwards being dismissed on a technicality, there are press reports that a group is trying to get the charges refiled.  Just to review, Rev. Edwards was initially charged with conducting a marriage ceremony for two women on June 25, 2005, and went to trial with the Pittsburgh Presbytery PJC on November 15.  After deliberation the PJC unanimously decided to dismiss the case because the investigating committee filed the charges four days after their deadline.

Now it is reported (such as the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette) that the Rev. James Yearsley, who filed the original charges, is collecting signatures to file the charges again.  He says that this is not double jeopardy since there was no decision in the first case.  While the Rev. Yearsley was formerly a member of Pittsburgh Presbytery he is now pastor of Village Presbyterian Church, Tampa, Florida, in the Presbytery of Tampa Bay.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article says:

Mr. Yearsley said he had considered filing a complaint against
Pittsburgh Presbytery for mishandling the case but concluded he did not
have evidence of deliberate misbehavior. “Suspicions are not a
sufficient reason to paint with such a large brush,” he said.

Decision in the Pittsburgh Presbytery Same-sex marriage PJC case: Dismissed on technicality

The Permanent Judicial Commission of Pittsburgh Presbytery heard the disciplinary case of the Rev. Janet Edwards today.  This evening’s news stories report that in a unanimous decision the charges were dismissed because the investigating committee filed the charges four days after the one year deadline.  The vote by the commission came after 1 1/2 hours of deliberation.  The Rev. Edwards had been promoting the trial and sending out invitations to attend the trial and a celebration worship service afterwards.  The dismissial means that while Rev. Edwards is not guilty, the issue is still open.

You can see my original discussion of the case earlier in my blog.

Early news reports on the decision come from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the PC(USA) news service.