Town Hall on General Assembly Actions: September 21 at 9:30 a.m.

GPC TOWN HALL: What the PCUSA General Assembly did, and what it means to us
The General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA took action in June to allow same-sex marriage, divest from U.S. companies in Israel-occupied territories, add the new Belhar Confession and more.  The GPC Adult Ministries Committee will host a town hall-style discussion of the PCUSA’s actions and their impact on Georgetown Presbyterian Church.

A panel including Matthew Taylor, Adrian Vaagenes and Alan Wisdom, moderated by Susan Page, will provide information and context about what happened. We also want to give GPC members a chance to express and discuss their views on these important issues. Please join us in the Georgetown Room at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, September 21.

Nursery care and Sunday School begin at 9:30. Youth 6th grade and up are encouraged to attend the panel discussion. Please send your comments, suggestions and questions beforehand to [email protected], post them on Facebook, or tweet them to @gtownpres.

Below is a summary of decisions that we will be discussing.


To explain and discuss actions by the General Assembly of the PCUSA
Georgetown Room
September 21, 2014

Panel: Matthew Taylor, Adrian Vaagenes and Alan Wisdom, moderated by Susan Page

The Presbyterian Church USA ended up on the front page of the New York Times twice in June with actions taken at the 221st General Assembly. The GPC Adult Ministries Committee is hosting a town hall to explain and discuss what the PCUSA did and what it means for Georgetown Presbyterian Church. We’ll focus on three specific actions.

  1. The Belhar Confession (Panelist Adrian Vaagenes)

By an overwhelming 551-87, the General Assembly approved adding the Belhar Confession, which has its roots in the struggle against apartheid, to the Book of Confessions. The decision now must be ratified by two-thirds of the denomination’s presbyteries – that is, 115 of the 171 presbyteries – within the next year. Then the next General Assembly, in 2016, must again approve the inclusion. It would be the first addition to the Book of Confessions in nearly 30 years. The Belhar Confession, written in 1982, is based on themes of unity, justice and reconciliation. In 2010, the General Assembly approved inclusion of the Belhar Confession, but it fell eight votes short of the two-thirds ratification by presbyteries.

  1. Same-sex marriage (Panelist Matt Taylor)

By 371-238, the General Assembly voted to allow pastors to decide whether they will perform same-sex marriages, in states where they are legal. Also approved, by 429-175, was a revision to the Book of Order to read that ‘marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.’ The change in the Book of Order requires ratification by a majority of presbyteries. The PC(USA) in 1991 and 2008 voted to bar its pastors from performing gay marriages, and it has held ecclesiastical trials for ministers who violated the ban and blessed gay couples. In 2010, the General Assembly decided in ordain openly gay pastors. Since then, about 350 congregations have left the denomination, many citing opposition to that action.

  1. Divestment (Panelist Alan Wisdom)

By a narrow 310-303, the Assembly approved a proposal calling for divestment from three U.S. companies that it says supply equipment used by Israel in the occupation of Palestinian territory. Supporters say the three companies – Caterpillar Inc., Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions – are engaged in ‘non-peaceful pursuits’ in the region. Some supporters likened the action to divestment in the 1980s of companies that helped South Africa enforce apartheid. Many of those opposed argued it would damage relationships with Jews and Jewish organizations. A similar overture had failed 333-331 at the General Assembly in 2012. The measure that passed this time also reaffirmed Israel’s right to exist, endorsed a two-state solution in the region and encouraged interfaith dialogue.


GPC Community Town Hall: Oct. 19 at 9:30 a.m.

Religion in the Public Square:

A conversation about how religion affects politics and how politics affects religion. 

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Please join us for the second annual GPC Community Town Hall. We’ll hear from two White House veterans about the role of religion in their lives and in their administrations, and about how religion is used and sometimes abused by politicians. How has religion’s role changed during their time in politics? And what is the appropriate role for it to play?

Mike McCurry was the chief White House spokesman for President Clinton and is now a Partner at Public Strategies Washington, Inc., and a distinguished professor at Wesley Theological Seminary.

Michael Gerson was a speechwriter and a policy adviser for President George W. Bush and presently works as a political columnist and senior advisor for the ONE Campaign, an organization committed to ending extreme poverty.

Susan Page is the Washington Bureau Chief for USA Today, hosts Capital Download and guest-hosts The Diane Rehm Show, and also serves as an Elder at GPC. She  will moderate the discussion and a question-and-answer period.

Light refreshments will be served. All are welcome.

Event Poster

Director of Music John Lintner Retires

After 34 years of service, John Lintner retires on June 29th as GPC’s much-beloved Director of Music. Please join us this Sunday after the service to thank John and wish him well.
John’s message to his GPC friends.

New Associate Pastor for Mission

GPC’s new Associate Pastor for Mission is Christopher Michael Chatelaine-Samsen of Washington, DC. His first Sunday with us will be June 22. To find out more about him and what his work will involve at GPC, click here. During the week, he will be in the office on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Mark your calendars: Chris’ ordination service will be on Saturday, September 13 at 2 p.m. We welcome Chris and his wife Katie to the GPC family!