From the Worldwide Faith News archives


Date 05 May 1996 07:32:51


                         By Julian Shipp 
SANTA FE, N.M.--The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy 
(ACSWP) has principally completed revision of its major policy 
paper on the theology of vocation and issues of work in the United 
      Committee members and task force members assigned to write 
the paper for the committee fined-tuned the document Jan. 18 - 22.  
Additionally, several ACSWP staff members will review the paper 
over the next two weeks and make any additional refinements. 
     "God's Work in Our Hands" will then be submitted to this 
year's 207th General Assembly in Cincinnati for action.  Last 
year's Assembly referred the paper, which was authorized in 1988, 
back to the committee for more work. 
     "We have massaged this paper significantly," said the Rev. 
Fane Downs, a Presbyterian minister from Dallas who was added to 
the task force last summer to help refine the paper. 
     According to Jack Yost, a Presbyterian elder from Muskegon, 
Mich. and co-chairperson of the original policy paper task force, 
Assembly commissioners criticized the report as difficult to read, 
incomplete and unbalanced in terms of its recommendations regarding 
labor-management relations. 
     Downs said the most important changes to the paper occurred 
in its recommendations section. Changes included the use of more 
precise language, reducing the number of words without sacrificing 
content, shifting from a passive to active voice and avoiding 
redundancy whenever possible. 
     "I feel pretty good about (this policy paper)," Yost said.  
"The reason it's going to get through the General Assembly is 
because it's good stuff.  It's dealing with a subject close to 
people's lives:  work. 
     "Our main theme is everyone must have full employment, 
everyone must have a job," Yost said. "There has to be fair, non- 
discriminatory employment. There has to be sustaining and 
participatory employment. Workers should have a say in things that 
effect their lives."  
              "Race and Toxic Waste" Paper Readied  
     A re-draft of the document titled "Race and Toxic Waste" was 
also presented to committee members for comments.  Essentially, the 
study examines the correlation between race, economics, the 
location of hazardous materials manufacturing complexes and toxic 
waste sites. It also outlines the denomination's policy for 
addressing these problems. 
     According to Otis Turner, a liason to ACSWP from the Racial 
Ethnic Ministries program area in the National Ministries Division, 
the task force assigned to the paper will review the committee's 
recommendations, which included further clarification to dispel the 
notion that industries deliberately look for minority communities 
as waste disposal sites. 
     "The feedback process has been quite helpful," Turner, who is 
associate for racial justice policy development, said. "The paper 
has gone through several revisions since the first time it was put 
together, but this was the second major group feedback session." 
     The paper will be submitted to the Racial Ethnic Advocacy 
Committee on Feb. 3 for approval before being sent to the General 
Assembly for action. 
       Start-up of "Building Community" Task Force Delayed 
     The task force assigned to the study "Building Community Among 
Strangers" has not met due to scheduling and nomination 
difficulties, according to the Rev. Kitty Borchert, ACSWP's 
coordinator. The 14-member group was originally scheduled to meet 
last Fall. 
     "We are disappointed because we have not yet had our first 
task force meeting and I am assuming we will not meet for another 
month at least," Borchert said, adding the committee is seeking a 
Native American female to complete the process. 
     "We are trying to be very true to our mandate to ask the 
church for nominations to assure that the community is as diverse 
as the prospectus wished it to be, but I think we need to elicit 
other names as well," Borchert said. 
     During ACSWP's October meeting, the nominating committee 
approved an incomplete slate of 11 people for the study. Nominees 
included six ministers, five lay people, three ecumenical liaisons, 
one disabled person and five racial ethnic people. 
     The study will address the many facets of diversity and its 
role in dividing people in America. It will also examine 
significant racial, social and economic factors, recommend 
solutions and suggest what the church's role should be. Six  
metropolitan areas; New York, Atlanta, Cleveland, San Antonio, 
Tacoma/Seattle and San Francisco/Oakland, will be examined. 
           Work on "Sustainable Development" Proceeds 
     Work is also ongoing on the committee's paper on "Sustainable 
Development, Reformed Faith and U.S. International Economic 
     According to Peter Sulyok, ACSWP's associate for policy 
development and interpretation, the paper essentially deals with 
the collective survival of Earth and all its people. 
     Sulyok said feedback from a churchwide study document has 
begun to filter in from churches and presbyteries which 
participated in the study last fall. Their feedback is being 
reviewed by the Feedback Review Team and preliminary findings and 
analysis will be presented during a meeting of the Coordinating 
Steering Team Jan. 27 in Newark, N. J. 
     In April, all data from the study will be reviewed by the 
entire task force as it holds its final meeting to draft the 
proposed policy statement. The document will then be submitted to 
the ACSWP during its July meeting.   
     Following a fall synod consultation, the committee will send 
the document to the General Assembly in January of 1996 for action. 
     "The task force is moving along with a lot to do between now 
and April," Sulyok said.   
                            # # # 

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