A Religious Liberal Blog

This site hopefully can provide some vehicle by which I can comment, complain, and once in a while praise the state of religion in this country and around the world from a liberal protestant perspective.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

The stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA Clifton Kilpatrick sent out a clarification of what went on in the  general assembly in relation to Israel and Judaism. This letter addressed a number of concerns while sidestepping other ones. 

The disinvestment campaign is not a blanket one, it is not a boycott of Israeli goods and firms. It's rather targeted to specific companies who are directly involved in the violence and suffering of Palestinians. The denomination is also on record in it's denunciation of the violence and terror attacks being committed by Palestinian groups.

But the issue of funding of a messianic congregation was sidestepped. Kilpatrick argued that the decision to fund was determined by the presbytery in question and that the national body only supplements such expenditures. But this is still an endorsement by the national body of the efforts to target Jews for conversion. It also does not address the fact that the national denomination can and does overrule presbytery activity (as has been seen when it comes to gay and lesbian ordination) .

But Kilpatrick notes that a study has been set up by the general assembly which will explore the state of Jewish-Christian relations and examine what courses of actions, in terms of missions and evangelism, is appropriate in light of these relations. We'll see what comes of the study and if it impacts the national church at all. A previous study from the 1987 rejected conversion activities does not appear to have impacted the denomination's decisions in this regard.

And in the end of July there will be an international gathering of presbyterian, congregationalist and mainline reformed denominations from around the world. One of the issues on the agenda will be whether the present economic system as it is constituted ought to be rejected as a heresy. Latin American bodies are working for the stronger language while churches in the north are not so keen on the blanket language. But it's an important issue to confront and the result should be of interest.


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