The PCUSA's 219th General Assembly voted to "receive" the Middle East Study Committee report as the views of it's authors, not the position of the Presbyterian Church. The Assembly declined a request from the report's authors for an endorsement. To view the official markup of the Middle East Study Committee's requests, visit the official PCUSA 219th General Assembly webpage at: http://www.pc-biz.org/Explorer.aspx?id=3179&promoID=126
Middle East Study Committee Recommendations - Final
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Please read the following statement from the Session of the Fourth Presbyterian Church of Chicago, one of the largest PCUSA congregations in America. This congregation has taken a bold but necessary step to help keep the PCUSA from endorsing the MESC report.
Presbyterians for Middle East Peace welcomes this statement which we believe to be aligned with our objectives. We ask for the prayers of all Presbyterians that the PCUSA continue to have policies that call for its policies to be fair and balanced on Middle East issues.
Please continue to visit our website, study the issues, read our position papers and if you are a Presbyterian who concurs with our views, please let us know.
Fourth Presbyterian Church Statement
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Below is a 34 page document that combines in one place many of the reasons why the PCUSA should not accept proposals to institute official church Middle East policies that over-identify with either the Palestinian or the Israeli narrative.
In this one document, we believe that you will hear the voice of prayerful Presbyterians, both pastors and elders, who seek peace for the Middle East. These are voices of Presbyterians who believe that existing PCUSA policies and statements ought not be changed because they do allow full expression of support of peacemaking processes that can lead to reconciliation without choosing sides and without causing further division within our body of faith, or with fellow Christians. This approach will also allow for the building of strong interfaith relationships with both the Jewish community of faith and our Muslim friends.
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After considerable review and analysis of the PCUSA's Middle East Study Committee (MESC) Report, the Kairos Palestine Document, the Amman Call Document, and the overtures being considered by Committee 14, of the 219th General Assembly, Presbyterians for Middle East Peace have produced the following documents to assist commissioners as they discern the appropriate peacemaking policies for the PCUSA as they relate to the Middle East.
Clear Reasons to Reject the MESC Report - Executive Summary
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Letters from Leading Pastors Regarding the MESC Report
Nineteen Presbyterian pastors conclude that the many failures and overall imbalance of the MESC Report make it inappropriate to be accepted as an official position for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Pastoral Letter to 219th GA Commissioners
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Five Presbyterian pastors who are part of the Houston Presbyterian/Jewish Dialogue issues a "A Response and Recommendation" which concludes that the MESC report is not balanced enough to be studied seriously and recommend that the 219th General Assembly disapprove the MESC report and its recommendations because of its overall imbalance.
Pastoral Letter from Houston
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Sixteen Presbyterian pastors write a letter of concern to the members of the PCUSA's 219th General Assembly Committee 14 about the process by which they are to discern a way forward on making the committee recommendations to the full General Assembly on Israel Palestine issues and policies. Their letter arises from a proposed agenda that appears to be imbalanced in hearing the issues before them.
Pastoral Letter to 219th GA Commissioners
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Dr. Katherine Henderson, President of Auburn Seminary and Dr. Gustav Niebuhr, at Auburn Seminary recently responded to an article that appeared in the "On Faith" religion section of The Washington Post. The title of their response was "Peacemaking is more than pointing fingers". In this article Henderson and Niebuhr are critical of the content and tone of the Middle East Study Committee report. Please read their views by clicking on the link below:
"Peacemaking is more than pointing fingers" by Dr. Katherine Henderson and Dr. Gustav Niebuhr
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On June 29, 2010 the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations (CCJR), a council of 33 organizations that have a common objective of promoting interfaith understandings and relationships approved by supermajority a letter addressed to the PCUSA's 219th General Assembly commissioners.
In this letter, the CCJR critiques the PCUSA Middle East Study Committee (MESC) report, "Breaking Down the Walls", pointing out "serious theological and exegetical problems", among which are "imbalanced or unreliable analyses of religious themes, highly questionable interpretations of biblical passages, and statements reminiscent of traditional Christian anti-Judaism." The CCJR believes that the MESC "report will harm interfaith relations in the United States and the Middle East, and undermine the prospects for effective negotiations and positive outcomes for all parties." Please read the entire letter.
CCJR Letter to the PCUSA on MESC's "Breaking Down the Walls"
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Dr. Yossi Beilin is a noted Israeli peace activist and former member of the Israeli Knesset. He has held significant positions in the Israeli government and has been an active participant in peacemaking attempts in the past and has first hand knowledge of the complexities of Middle East peacemaking processes. His voice is one from the political left of Israel politics but it is not a voice that the PCUSA Middle East Study Committee chose to seek out and report to the 219th General Assembly commissioners. However, it is a voice of reason and pragmatism that every Presbyterian interested in peace in the Middle East needs to hear.
Please click on the document link below to read his views in a letter he has written and addressed specifically to the 219th General Assembly commissioners.
Yossi Beilin Letter to the PCUSA GA 2010
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To help you discern the truth about Middle East issues, we offer below the views of a Presbyterian elder, Dr. Carolyn C. James, who also happens to have expertise in international relations, particularly on Middle East issues.
Dr. James is a specialist in International Relations and Comparative Politics. Her areas of concentration center on security studies, in particular the Arab-Israeli conflict, Middle East politics, Islamic politics, North American security, civil-military relations and nuclear issues. Her recent publications have appeared in Foreign Policy Analysis, Terrorism and Political Violence and the Canadian Journal of Political Science. Dr. James has been an invited lecturer at eleven universities and professional forums, including Koç University in Turkey, Bar Ilan University and Hebrew University in Israel, and the University of Calgary and McGill University in Canada. Professional positions held in the International Studies Association (ISA) include president of the Midwest region, governing council of the Foreign Policy Analysis Section and International Strategic Studies Section, and the ISA Executive Council. Dr. James has received multiple awards in teaching excellence as well as research fellowships and grants, including the Hoover, Eisenhower and Kennedy Presidential Libraries. Since moving to southern California in 2006, Dr. James has taught at Occidental College, the University of Southern California and currently is a visiting professor at Pepperdine University*.
*The view/statements expressed in this response by Dr. Carolyn C. James are personal and are not intended to represent the views of Pepperdine University.
Please read the following critique of the Middle East Study report.
Dr. James' Response to Breaking Down the Wall
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Presbyterians Concerned for Jewish, Christian and Muslim Relations (PCJCMR) was first founded in the 1950's with a focus on building positive relationships between Christians and Jews. In 2010, the scope of the organization was expanded to include concern for positive relationships with Muslims. It is a group of members, ministers, and congregations of the Presbyterian Church (USA). In May, 2010, PCJCMR studied the training materials entitled "Steadfast Hope: The Palestinian Quest for Just Peace" that was prepared by the Israel/Palestine Mission Network (IPMN) of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and concluded that because of significant errors of fact and omission, the training material has such an imbalance as to make it inappropriate for approved use by members and congregations of the PCUSA.
A Response To Steadfast Hope Training Materials
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The PFMEP Packet listed at the top of this page contained a joint letter from five Presbyterian U.S. Senators, Senators Kyl, Bond, Enzi, Infhofe, and Barrasso who urged the commissioners to the 219th GA to not set partisan pro-Palestine policies for the PCUSA. On June 30, 2010, a group of eight Presbyterian members of the House of Representative wrote a similar letter to the commissioners. This letter was signed by Representatives Frank Wolf, John Linder, John Campbell, Howard Coble, Jo Ann Emerson, Jerry Lewis, Charlie Dent, and Shelley Moore Capito. Please read their letter below:
Joint Letter from Congressmen
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