From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
PCUSA NEWS <PCUSA.NEWS@ecunet.org>
21 Jun 2002 16:10:12 -0400
Note #7320 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:
Peace, global issues agenda like tug-of-war
by Nancy Rodman
COLUMBUS, OH - The General Assembly Committee on Peacemaking and Global Issues, the committee that finished its work last, required two extensions of the docket on June 20 to complete its report to the Assembly.
After debate that was almost like a duel between the peacemaking committees and the Committee on Mission Budget and Coordination, the Assembly approved a proposal to strengthen the recruitment of long-serving, career missionaries by the Worldwide Ministries Division (WMD).
By a vote of 114-410, the Assembly voted down an amendment proposed by committee member James Harper, minister commissioner from San Joaquin Presbytery, to direct the General Assembly Council (GAC) to restore the positions cut in recent budget restrictions by making further cuts in other divisions.
That amendment drew a strong negative response from members of the Mission Coordination and Budget Committee.
Under the provisions of the proposal as it was approved, WMD will review its personnel policies; GAC will review its policies and procedures related to mission opportunities and report to the 215th Assembly; congregations will be asked to balance their own overseas projects with renewed support of the General Assembly's mission budget and to encourage mission service, especially among young people; seminaries will be reminded of the importance of career missionary service as a vocation; and the whole church will be called to enthusiastic support of the Mission Initiative.
By a two-vote margin that reflected the close vote of a committee divided on this issue, the Assembly endorsed the creation of a United States Department of Peace. Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to create such a department. Those supporting the recommendation spoke of the proposed department's holistic approach to peacemaking and its symbolic importance.
On other global issues, the Assembly took the following actions:
* Approved a "Plan of Christian Compassion to Ameliorate the HIV/AIDS Crisis in Africa." The plan asks the General Assembly to adopt a 0.7 percent giving goal in support of the denomination's international development programs, especially those that provide HIV/AIDS education, prevention, and care. The plan also calls on the federal government to direct 0.7 percent of the Gross National Product to international development assistance.
* Approved "Guiding Principles for Decisions Concerning Religious Freedom around the World." The Principles set forth affirmations, including that religious freedom is a universal human right, and calls on the General Assembly to advocate for universal religious freedom. The Assembly directed the GAC and WMD to distribute the Principles on the denominational web site and in other resources.
* Called on all parties in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to work toward a just and sustainable peace.
* Reaffirmed the actions of previous General Assemblies calling for the lifting of economic sanctions against Iraq and urged the United States government to exercise restraint in its contemplated military action against Iraq.
* Called on President Bush to release immediately U.S. funds approved by the Congress for the United Nations Population Fund.
* Encouraged those traveling to the Middle East to consult with the Middle East Office of the WMD and the Middle East Council of Churches and to meet, when in Israel-Palestine, with Palestinian Christians and Muslims, with partner groups, with Israeli peace activists and other groups carrying out nonviolent witness, and with groups representing the positions of both the Israeli government and the Palestinian National Authority and other sectors of Israeli and Palestinian opinion.
The General Assembly took two actions related to arms to control: it urged the United States to sign the Ottawa Convention banning antipersonnel land mines, and adopted a Resolution on Global Security that will be distributed by the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program as a study guide.
The Assembly approved the "Report on Presbyterian Church (USA) Participation in the United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance."
In other actions Thursday evening, the Assembly:
* Authorized publication of the 2001-2002 Human Rights Update with a study action guide,
* Called for a study and report on terrorism, the relationship of religion to violence, and the role of U.S. military, political, and economic involvement in global problems,
* Called on the federal government to ensure the security of the new nation of East Timor and to provide international aid to the people of East Timor,
* Approved the Commitment to Peacemaking and dismissed the Peacemaking Advisory Committee with thanks for having done their work so well that they have worked themselves out of a job.
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