From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Season of Prayer Declared in Pittsburgh Presbytery
04 May 1996 20:49:38
96021 Season of Prayer Declared in Pittsburgh Presbytery
Following Actions Deemed Racist and Sexist
By Julian Shipp
PITTSBURGH, Pa.--Responding to actions by Pittsburgh Presbytery it believes
"racist and sexist" toward ministries among the poor and African-American
communities throughout the city, the Black Caucus of the presbytery has
declared a "40-day Season of Prayer and Fasting" through Jan. 15.
Following a walkout during a regularly scheduled presbytery meeting
Dec. 7, the Rev. Johnnie Monroe, pastor of Grace Memorial Presbyterian
Church in Pittsburgh, said the Pittsburgh Black Caucus and African-American
pastors have also called upon their membership to not attend any gatherings
or meetings of the presbytery during that time.
According to the Rev. Samuel W. George of Pittsburgh, who said he also
attended the meeting, approximately 30 Black Caucus members and two whites
participated in the walkout.
Monroe said the presbytery's recent actions have not been supportive
of women, racial-ethnic minorities and children. He said mission programs
have been cut in the name of financial conservation while institutional
self-support has become the presbytery's central focus.
"When we put things together we began to question where the presbytery
is in terms of inclusiveness and things of that nature," Monroe said,
adding that protesters are seeking divine guidance for the spiritual
strengthening of the presbytery and undertaking devotional readings from
the Old and New Testaments of the Bible.
Specific actions cited by the Black Caucus include
the closing of poor churches in African-American communities --
Melrose Church (now Pleasant Valley Shelter) and Blackadore Church (after a
promise to build a new church never materialized) -- and cutting mission
funding at Hazelwood Church. The trustees and presbytery also refused to
lend the financially self-supporting Grace Memorial Church $150,000 for
needed repairs to make its building handicap accessible. (These actions
reportedly were taken to save funds. According to the Black Caucus,
however, the presbytery granted more money to congregations in
predominantly white communities than it was willing to lend Grace Church.)
the cutting of mission funds during the middle of the fiscal year,
damaging the presbytery's assistance efforts toward the most needy segments
of society, including services to the elderly, poor children, feeding
programs and help for the homeless.
the firing of seven female administrative assistants (four of whom
are African American) to save $65,000 next year. These women were given
less than three months' notice of termination. Yet, according to the Black
Caucus, the presbytery approved a much more costly severance package last
year for its former executive presbyter, who was offered nearly a year to
find other employment.
The Rev. Beverly James, newly elected moderator of Pittsburgh
Presbytery, said the presbytery has not officially responded to the
allegations and concerns of the Black Caucus, but will do so during the
next Pittsburgh Presbytery Council meeting Jan. 24. She said the next
Pittsburgh Presbytery meeting is scheduled Feb. 10, but added that meeting
agenda has not been finalized and won't be until after the council meets.
"While there has been no official response from the presbytery, there
have been a number of informal conversations," James said.
James said a Martin Luther King Jr. memorial worship service scheduled
Jan. 7 at Bidwell Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh was canceled due to
inclement weather. Ironically, James said, she is not aware of any African
Americans or Black Caucus members who were planning to boycott that service
as part of the protest.
"I was called by a member of the Black Caucus who'd been part of that
group who'd walked out and had been asked to bring greetings from the
presbytery for this service," James said. "I was going to do that even
though it was within the 40 days of the Season of Prayer."
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
Browse month . . .
Browse month (sort by Source) . . .
Advanced Search & Browse . . .