Friday, June 6, 2014

Social Justice Committee - Advocacy as Discipleship

This post is a continuation of Advocacy as Discipleship Pre-GA Issue. This edition of this publication seeks to provide an preview of the social justice business before the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)

Social Justice Issues – Committee 9

Gun Violence
Sponsored by the National Capital Presbytery, overture 09-01 calls the PC(USA) to take meaningful action to reduce gun violence.  The aim of the overture is to recommit the church to its work with federal, state, and local legislators to pass laws that require background checks, closing the “gun show loophole,” banning semiautomatic assault weapons, raise the age for handgun ownership, and removal of guns from people with violent histories, such as perpetrators of domestic violence.

Overture 09-07, sponsored by the Hudson River Presbytery, calls for the entire church to engage activities which support gun violence prevention.  The overture quotes Gun Violence, Gospel Values: Mobilizing in Response to God’s Call, approved by the 219th General Assembly (2010), urging “the church take responsibility to build public awareness of gun violence and the epidemic of preventable gun-related deaths.”

Abortion Policy Review
Overture 09-02, sponsored by the South Alabama Presbytery, overtures the General Assembly to appoint a special committee to review the support that the PC(USA) provides to pro-choice, pro-life, and other related organizations and to review the existing policies that the PC(USA) has on abortion, noting that the pro-life voice in the church has largely been kept silent in denominational advocacy.

Death Penalty
Sponsored by the Greater Atlanta Presbytery, overture 09-04 calls for an immediate moratorium on all executions in all jurisdictions that impose capital punishment. This overture, in calling for the end of the death penalty as a punishment within the criminal justice system is asking the General Assembly to reaffirm the witness of previous Assemblies, ranging between 1959 and 2010, which have already declared opposition to capital punishment.

War on Drugs
Sponsored by the San Francisco Presbytery, overture 09-05 calls for a two-year study by the governing bodies of the church to discern how to advocate for effective drug policies grounded in science, compassion, and human rights. The overture calls for the creation of a Drug Policy Task Force that will develop a plan of concrete actions and policy recommendations to be reported to the 222nd GA (2016).  This overture calls the church to be intentional and deliberate on many levels to study the history, development, and implementation of drug policies.

Financial and Political Reform
Overture 09-06, sponsored by Santa Fe Presbytery, advocates for financial and political reform that addresses the failure to prosecute financial institutions responsible for the 2008 meltdown of the U.S. economy.

Food Sovereignty
The Greater Atlanta Presbytery sponsored overture 09-09 on food sovereignty, which holds that all people have the right to safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate food and food-producing resources. The overture calls on the PC(USA) to study food sovereignty and food justice and advocate for food, farm, and trade policies that support just and sustainable food supply. The item also calls on the church to support and participate in food sovereignty initiatives, working with both interfaith and secular groups.

End-of-Life Issues
Overture 09-10, sponsored by the Synod of the Covenant, reflects a response to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in five states and several nations and the increase in the technological choices facing patients and their families at the end of their lives. The item calls on the General Assembly to convene a team of Presbyterians to produce a pastoral and educational booklet giving guidance on end-of-life issues.

Maternal and Child Health
The National Capital Presbytery sponsored overture 09-11, which calls on the PC(USA) to affirm the importance of maternal and child nutrition in the 1,000 days between the beginning of a woman's pregnancy and her child's second birthday. The item overtures the GA to recognize the importance of nutrition programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), to advocate support for such programs and policies, domestically and internationally, and to call on Presbyterians to work with partners in prayer and advocacy for the health of women and children.

Voter Suppression
Resolution 09-15 is brought to the General Assembly by the Advocacy Committee on Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) and speaks to changes in voting rights and recent voter suppression efforts, which disproportionately affect racial ethnic communities. The resolution calls on the GA to update materials to reflect these developments and to continue the Presbyterian tradition of witness for democracy and equality in lifting up the rights of voters and developing and advocating for policies that address these issues.

Tax Justice
Resolution 09-16 is brought to the General Assembly by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) in fulfillment of the 220th GA (2012) direction to provide a "biblically grounded witness for current discussions of tax reform." The statement of principles and recommendations seek to create a fairer tax system that is more progressive, more transparent, and more sustainable, among other criteria.

To read the complete items of business before the Social Justice Committee, visit the General Assembly's business website at