Friday, August 30, 2013

Oppose Military Action in Syria!

As tensions rise due to the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime, urge the President, the Secretary of State, and members of Congress not to take military action in Syria.

Click Here to send a message today!

While the use of chemical weapons should be unequivocally condemned, regardless of who perpetrated the attack, it is also the case that many states have helped fuel the armed conflict in Syria by sending weapons to the region.  Instead of exacerbating the conflict with military strikes, the United States should seek an international agreement on an arms embargo and back dialogue that alone can end the horrific violence.

We must use extreme caution in implementing policies that might escalate the conflict.  Limited engagement is never truly limited and any military option the President might choose will result in the deaths of more Syrians, including innocent civilians.

And, given the British Parliament’s refusal to support joining the United States in such an action, the United States does not currently have much support for military action in the international community.

Please urge the administration and members of congress to have the courage shown by other strong leaders in the past to hold off on military action and renew the efforts for a diplomatic solution.  We must work with the United Nations and other governments to contain the violence, restore stability in the region, provide humanitarian assistance, and encourage the building of an inclusive society in Syria that protects the rights of all its citizens.

Click Here to send a message today!

It is only through nonviolent means that we can hope for radical change that leads to a just peace.

The 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) urged our government:

 • to support a mediated process of cessation of violence by all perpetrators, including the Assad regime and armed opposition groups; • to call for all outside parties to cease all forms of intervention in Syria; • to support a strong and necessary role for the United Nations, possibly including observers and peacekeeping forces; and • to refrain from military intervention in Syria.

The United States should not hastily enter into conflict. It is imperative that we choose to support a true resolution instead of  perpetuating violence.

Support a just and lasting resolution to the conflict in Syria. Contact the President, Secretary of State, and your legislators for a peaceful solution today!  Click Here to send a message!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Join the Webinar on Curbing Corruption and Conflict

Curbing Corruption and Conflict: Next Steps in the Fight to Implement Transparency Law in the Extractives

Wednesday, September 11, 2013 1:30 PM - 2:30 PM EDT

Webinar Registration
Presbyterians were at the forefront of two initiatives to help curb corruption and reduce conflict in countries where profits from natural resources are siphoned off at the top, while the poorest people lives amidst poverty, violence and human rights abuses. With the passage of the Dodd-Frank Act three years ago, Congress approved two provisions whose significance engaged the church. Section 1504 requires oil, gas and mining companies to publish their payments to governments to curb corruption. Section 1502 mandates that companies disclose if their products contain conflict minerals.

However, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the oil industry lobby and some sectors within the extractive industries are attempting to undermine this progress through court cases and through exemptions slipped into new legislation.

Learn what work has been done by Presbyterians and other allies and then join us to hear what next steps will be to protect hard-fought legislation on corruption, combating conflict minerals in central Africa and on reducing violence in resource-rich nations.

Join us for a Webinar on September 11
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:

Hedge Funds Win 2nd Circuit Court Ruling in NML Capital vs. Argentina; Global Poor Lose

August 23, 2013
WASHINGTON, DC – In the landmark case of NML Capital, LTD v.  The Republic of Argentina, the New York based U.S. Circuit Court upheld a previous ruling ordering Argentina to pay $1.33 billion to hold out hedge funds. Argentine bonds soared and antipoverty advocates held their breath as the 2nd Circuit Court delayed the ruling until the U.S. Supreme Court decides if they will take appeals on the case. 
“Our eyes are on the U.S. Supreme Court. We pray the court will not forget the world’s poor as they consider taking the case,” asserted Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the religious antipoverty campaign known as Jubilee USA.
In June, Argentina preemptively filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court asking to overturn an earlier U.S. 2nd Circuit Court ruling that ordered Argentina to pay holdout creditors. Now that the 2nd Circuit Court has upheld the ruling, the fate of the case lies in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. In July, France filed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in support of Argentina’s request. The International Monetary Fund’s Christine Lagarde planned a similar U.S. Supreme Court filing because of the case’s significant implications on poverty and country debt restructurings. Although Lagarde has maintained her concern about the hedge fund behavior, the IMF did not file with the U.S. Supreme Court based on advice from the U.S. Treasury. The U.S. Treasury will likely file in support of Argentina if the U.S. Supreme Court accepts the case. The U.S. has filed in support of Argentina at various stages of the case before lower courts because of the appeal’s impact on global debt restructuring, poor country access to credit and state sovereignty rights.
“The religious community is saddened by the 2nd Circuit’s decision as it hurts poor people around the globe,” shared LeCompte. “It’s up to the U.S. Supreme Court now to overturn the 2nd Circuit ruling in order to prevent these hedge funds from targeting poor countries and struggling economies.”

NML Capital, a subsidiary of Elliott Management, purchased Argentine debt cheaply when the nation defaulted in the early 2000s. Since then, ninety-two percent of debt holders restructured. Holdout creditors, led by NML Capital, rejected restructuring deals and continue to sue Argentina for the full amount. Hedge funds, like NML Capital, that purchase deeply discounted debt of poor or financially-distressed countries and then sue to make high profits are known as “vulture funds.” Often, these funds try to collect off of funds meant to benefit the poorest in developing countries.

In addition to the U.S. raising concerns, the IMF and World Bank have continually expressed concern over this hedge fund behavior. German courts sided with Argentina and rejected similar hedge fund claims to Argentine assets in Germany.
At the end of 2012, the U.S. 2nd Circuit Court ordered Argentina to pay holdout creditors $1.3 billion upon its interpretation of a pari passu, or parity clause. Argentina appealed and the U.S. Court suspended the ruling to hear new oral arguments in February 2013. After arguments, the court ordered Argentina to outline an alternate payment plan to holdout creditors. Holdout creditors rejected the plan that was essentially the same deal that ninety-two percent of creditors previously took. The 2nd Circuit upheld its ruling and interpretation of pari passu or the parity clause in today's ruling.
“Unfortunately, the decision of the 2nd Circuit is too narrow and short-sighted. Their interpretation of the parity clause is deeply flawed,” noted LeCompte.
Read the case here
Read more on our webpage dedicated to the case.
Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 U.S. organizations, 250 faith communities and 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee's mission is to build an economy that serves, protects and promotes participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA has won critical global financial reforms and more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world’s poorest people.
Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director
Contact: Jennifer Tong, Communications Director

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Denominational leaders make statement on March on Washington for Justice and Jobs 50th Anniversary

The PC(USA) remembers the March on Washington

Calls for continued justice advocacy on behalf of the marginalized
August 21, 2013


Martin Luther King, Jr., Eugene Carson Blake and other speakers at the March on Washington. (Religious News Service, from Presbyterian Life , Oct 1, 1963)

 The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) celebrates the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Justice. Our legacy as a denomination is grounded in the principles of biblical justice and the mission of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ shared in his mission statement at the beginning of his ministry.
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” (Luke 4:18-19)
Our presence at the March on Washington in 1963 was both prominent and prophetic. Reverend Dr. Eugene Carson Blake, the Stated Clerk of one of our denomination’s predessesor bodies, The United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America (UPCUSA); was a principal speaker at the Lincoln Memorial on Wednesday, August 28, 1963. Dr. Blake represented the UPCUSA, now the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Council of Religion and Race of the National Council of Churches in Christ. He served as the Council’s vice president. In his speech he said, “We do not, therefore, come to this Lincoln Memorial today in any arrogant spirit of moral or arrogant spiritual superiority to ‘set the nation straight’ or to judge or denounce the American people in whole or in part. Rather we come – late, late we come – in the reconciling and repentant Spirit in which the humble Lincoln of Illinois once replied to a delegation of morally arrogant churchmen, ‘never say God is on our side, rather pray that we may be found on God’s side.’”

Today, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) identifies with the need to continue Jesus’ biblical calling of our faith – to be on God’s side - as we engage the struggle for jobs, justice and equal protection under the law for all citizens of the world. Both our justice and mission work around the globe are reminders of the dismal realities that many persons face in these difficult times. Hunger; joblessness; racism; gun violence; greed; homelessness; unemployment; voter suppression; wars; religious persecution and a host other unjust categories that make life difficult are pervasive throughout the world. These difficulties are symptomatic of our failure as a global community to combine God-given wisdom with undaunted courage in an effort to build a world community committed to justice for all people. As Dr. King reminded us we must be about the work of establishing a livable wage, eradicating war and rebuilding both the spiritual and economic infrastructure that provides hope and opportunity for all people now, and for generations to come.

We join the President and our other brothers and sisters in Washington, D.C. this week in celebration or the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. However, we are aware that we cannot tarry in this or any other commemoration for too long. The world needs to feel the presence of Jesus Christ through active participation in justice advocacy on behalf of the marginalized. It is then that those persons who know longsuffering too well will join us in declaring that we are one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all.

Neal D. Presa, Moderator of the 220th General Assembly (2012)
Gradye Parsons, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Linda Bryant Valentine, Executive Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

A Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches concerning the situation in Egypt- August 2013


A Statement by the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches concerning the situation in Egypt- August 2013

“Blessed be Egypt my people…” (Isaiah 19:25)

We, the Patriarchs and Heads of Churches in Jerusalem, follow with great concern the dreadful situation in Egypt, which suffers from internal divisions, deliberate violence and terroristic acts against innocent people, both Muslims and Christians.  Government institutions were attacked, a great number of Egyptian soldiers and policemen have been killed, public property was destroyed, and Christian Churches were desecrated. The desecration and burning of churches is an unprecedented scandal and goes against the values of tolerance, lived in Egypt for centuries. We appreciate the fact that many Muslim compatriots have stood by the side of Christians in defending churches and institutions.
We strongly condemn these acts of vandalism carried out by some extremists, and call upon all parties to stop violence and killing and to work towards national unity, without which Egypt will risk a civil war.
We stand with the Egyptian people in their strife against terrorism and militant groups, both locally and internationally. We offer our condolences and sympathy to all victims and casualties and pray for healing of the wounded and afflicted.
We call upon the International Community to stand against violence and terrorism, to help the people of Egypt to overcome this cycle of violence and bloodshed, and to help to get the country back on track.
We pray the One Lord to enlighten the Egyptian leaders to save the values of democracy, dignity and religious freedom.

+Patriarch Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarchate
+Patriarch Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarchate
+Patriarch Nourhan Manougian, The Armenian Apostolic Orthodox Patriarchate
+Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, ofm, Custos of the Holy Land
+Archbishop Anba Abraham, Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate, Jerusalem
+Archbishop Swerios Malki Murad, Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Abouna Daniel, Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate
+Archbishop Joseph-Jules Zerey, Greek-Melkite-Catholic Patriarchate
+Archbishop Mosa El-Hage, Maronite Patriarchal Exarchate
+Bishop Suheil Dawani, Episcopal Church of Jerusalem and the Middle East
+Bishop Munib Younan, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land
+Bishop Pierre Malki, Syrian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate
+Msgr. Yoseph Antoine Kelekian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchate

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

A Message from the Secretary General of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Egypt

15 August 2013
A message from the Secretary-General
 August 14, 2013, was a day of extreme anxiety for Egypt, when the Security Forces broke up the sit-ins at Raba’a El Adaweya and Nahda Squares. These were not peaceful sit-ins. Rather they were a threat to the stability of the country and disrupted people’s lives. These sit-ins included armed banditry that terrorized citizens, and showed contempt for the law, and defied the authority of the state. No government can tolerate such situation.
Over the past six weeks, the interim Egyptian government had tried repeatedly to achieve a peaceful political solution to the impasse with the Muslim Brotherhood, but to no avail. In addition, the international community’s efforts to mediate a compromise with the Islamist group also failed, as their leadership insisted to impose its will on the nation. 
For this reason, a majority of the Egyptian people demanded the closure of these protest camps and combating this movement that adopts violence and terrorism. Although those in the protest camps represent no more than 5% of the Egyptian people, this minority nevertheless tried to impose its will by force on the rest of the population, without having the political experience or expertise. 
Dismantling these sit-ins resulted in the death of several policemen and protesters alike, and was followed by attacks on several government and security institutions, and attacks on nearly twenty churches of different Christian denominations, some of which were burned completely. In addition, a large number of property owned by Christians were destroyed.
We as Christians reject violence of all its forms, and regret the suffering experienced by all Egyptians in these events. Along with all Egyptians, we have lost the sense of security, but we never doubt the presence of God with us. In the midst of these difficult circumstances, I would like to leave with you a few observations:
First, we trust completely in God's full sovereignty, and that he directs all things according to his will which is good and acceptable and perfect.
Secondly, we believe that the best that can be done in these circumstances is lifting up prayers and petitions to the Lord.
Thirdly, grounded in faith, the Church cannot respond to violence with violence, or repay terrorism with terrorism. Rather, the Church yields this responsibility to the State which is able to do so. And, in fact this is what actually happened today – as the Church did not respond to acts of terror and destruction against it.
Fourthly, when evil and violence abound, the Church must intensify its efforts for peacemaking and reconciliation, and emphasize its message for dialogue and renouncing violence.
Fifthly, the Church is not buildings and bricks; but it is the people of God who must testify about God with energy and clarity. Though some church facilities have been destroyed, still these congregations remain alive and vibrant, fulfilling their purpose to the fullest.
Sixthly, these elements that espouse violence in the Egyptian society do not believe in the transition to democracy, or acceptance of the other, or community dialogue. On the contrary, they seek to control the government, by mixing religion and politics, and exploiting the religious sentiments of ordinary people. For this reason, this Islamist movement opposed all state institutions (the army, police, judiciary, media, Al-Azhar), and neglected the people's demand and needs, and appointed its supporters in national leadership positions.
Seventhly, we ask our partners and friends everywhere to understand the situation in Egypt; to support our country in every way possible; and to stand with our nation as it takes steps on the right track.
With sincere regards and appreciation,
Rev. Refat Fathy
Evangelical Presbyterian Church Egypt
Synod of the Nile