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PC(USA) General Assembly Committee 12 Preview

Peacemaking and International Issues committee explores reconciliation, connections

by Bob Sloan, Special to Presbyterian News Service

general_assembly_222_logo_roundThe denomination’s role in helping build a bridge of reconciliation between the United States and South Korea regarding the Korean War tragedy in the village of No Gun Ri is the subject of one of seven overtures to be discussed by the Peacemaking and International Issues Committee during the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 222nd General Assembly, which takes place June 18-25 in Portland, Oregon.

The Peacemaking and International Issues Committee will also hear an overture regarding the strengthening of Cuban-American relations, particularly in the faith community.

Overture 12-01, submitted by the Presbytery of Cayuga-Syracuse, calls for acknowledging the U.S. military’s role in the killing of nearly 300 Korean civilians near the village of No Gun Ri in July 1950. The overture requests the stated clerk of PC(USA) communicate to the president of the United States and to members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives the denomination’s desire for the nation to acknowledge its responsibility in the deaths of those Korean civilians, to provide appropriate compensation to the surviving victims and to the families of those killed or wounded in the incident.

The overture asks the Presbyterian Mission Agency to arrange a meeting between U.S. soldiers who were present at No Gun Ri and Korean survivors of the incident there for the purpose of resolving resentments and feelings of guilt, and to move toward forgiveness and reconciliation. It also calls for the Presbyterian Mission Agency to consult with the denomination’s mission partners in South Korea in regards to jointly commissioning and funding the construction of a memorial church on the grounds of or near the No Gun Ri Peace Park in South Korea.

Overture 12-07, submitted by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy, calls for the 222nd General Assembly to affirm and receive a report entitled “New Hopes and Realities in Cuban-American Relations: A ‘Nuevo Momento.’”

The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy was assigned the task of creating the report during the 221st General Assembly.

The report calls for “a better and fairer relationship than our nations have had both before and after Cuba’s 1959 revolution. The PC(USA) continues to support the self-determination and initiative of the Cuban people, a cause for which they have struggled for more than two centuries.”

More specifically, the report urges the denomination to celebrate and strengthen the ecclesial relationship of PC(USA) and the Iglesia Presbiteriana-Reformada en Cuba (IPRC) as sister churches and to update the partnership agreement between the two. It commends the U.S. government and the Cuban government for reinstating their embassies in the two countries and initiating other diplomatic engagements and calls for the ending of policies of isolation and the threat of regime change and to normalize immigration policies. It also urges the return of the island of Guantanamo to the Cuban nation.

In other business, Assembly Committee 12 will consider:

  • Overture 12-02, submitted by the Presbytery of Mission, on the completion of the six-year discernment process initiated by the 219th General Assembly to “seek clarity as to God’s call to the church to embrace nonviolence as its fundamental response to the challenges of violence, terror, and war.” It calls for Presbyterians at all levels of the church to employ the understandings and insights to respond to and prevent violence on the local level, the national level, and the international level through prayer, direct action, and advocacy.
  • Overture 12-04, submitted by the Presbytery of Chicago, pertaining to a call for the United States government and other international bodies to join together to promote credible, fair and transparent elections in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to offer encouragement and financial and technical support to the Congolese government to provide quality education for its children and youth, including civic education in order to enable them to become informed, active, and responsible citizens.
  • Overture 12-06, from the Advisory Committee on Social Witness, which calls for the approval of five affirmations as guidance for new directions in the PC (U.S.A.)’s peacemaking witness in congregations, presbyteries, synods, and the Peacemaking Program of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
  • Overture 12-08, submitted by the Presbytery of the Nation’s Capital, which urges all members of the PC (U.S.A.) to promote nonviolent resolution of disagreements, be they of a personal or a national level, to undertake actions consistent with breaking down the barriers between ourselves and persons who might be wrongly considered “the other.”
  • Overture 12-05, from the Presbytery of Muskingum Valley, which calls for the affirming of non-violent means of resistance against human oppression in American society and throughout the world.

Bob Sloan, a commissioned ruling elder from New Harmony Presbytery, will be covering Committees 12 and 13 for the General Assembly Communication Center. 

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