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Judge Rules in Favor of Athens Church

A Superior Court judge has issued an injunction, ruling that a congregation that voted to disaffiliate from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to join ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians can – for now – continue to use the church property.

The judge ruled that the ECO congregation – formerly known as Central Presbyterian Church in Athens, Ga., showed it had a “likelihood of prevailing on its claim that no civilly enforceable trust exists” in the church property. The church now goes by its new name – Alps Road Presbyterian Church.

However, because of pending legal actions, the church may not sell, transfer or encumber the church property. There are several other stipulations in the ruling that the church and presbytery must adhere to until all legal matters are settled.

The Book of Order of the PCUSA includes a property clause, stating all church property is held in trust for the denomination:

All property held by or for a particular church, a presbytery, a synod, the General Assembly, or the Presbyterian Church (USA), whether legal title is lodged in a corporation, a trustee or trustees, or an unincorporated association, and whether the property is used in programs of a particular church or of a more inclusive governing body or retained for the production of income, is held in trust nevertheless for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church (USA)” G-4.0203 of the Book of Order.

Testimony during the trial,  however, “showed that CPC believed that its property rights were not going to be affected by the reunion (or by the amendments to the PCUS constitution pre-dating the 1983 merger containing similar trust language.)

“Reunion” refers to the merger in 1983 of the Northern (United Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, UPCUSA) and Southern (Presbyterian Church in the United States, or PCUS) branches of the Presbyterian denominations becoming one denomination — The Presbyterian Church (USA).

In his ruling, Superior Court Judge Eric W. Norris cited a 1981 letter written by Rev. James Andrews, the PCUS Stated Clerk at that time, regarding a similar trust clause proposed by that denomination, stating that the new trust clause “would not change the Presbyterian Church’s historical position on property.” Andrews’ wrote “These amendments do not in any way change the fact that the congregation, in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S., owns its own property.”

Norris also highlighted a 1982 report from Andrews which affirmed the denomination’s position in a report to all of the PCUS commissioners: “The language dealing with trust does not in any way establish any kind of an encumbrance on church property as that term is understood in connection with real estate.”

Timberridge Ruling

In an earlier church property dispute between Timberridge Presbyterian Church and Greater Atlanta Presbytery in 2011, the Georgia Supreme Court, in a 4-3 opinion ruled in favor of the PCUSA, stating that Timberridge was a part of a “hierarchical denomination” whose constitution includes a “trust clause.” The court then concluded that mere membership in such a denomination implies that a local church has consented to placing his property in trust, even if the local church never explicitly expressed such consent.

The opinion said “… Timberridge’s act of affiliating with the PCUSA in 1983 with the trust provision already in its governing constitution demonstrated that Timberridge assented to that relinquishment of its property rights – rights it then chose not to reassert by leaving the new national church during the next eight years.”

Judge Norris addressed this issue in his ruling, stating that the “Timberridge opinion does not refer to any pre-vote or pre-reunion communications between the general church and the local church concerning the property clause in the PCUSA (or PCUS) constitution. The existence of this type of evidence would have been relevant to the Supreme Court’s conclusion regarding the intention of the parties. Given this distinction, the court finds that the Timberridge precedent does not require finding the existence of an implied trust in the instant case. Moreover, the same legal principles articulated in the Timberridge decision could result in a finding that the parties to this action did not intend a trust to be imposed on the local church’s property.”

The History

On Jan. 24, 2016, the congregation voted 159 to 36 (82% to 18%) to be dismissed from the PCUSA and affiliate with ECO. Northeast Georgia Presbytery appointed an Administrative Commission for the church, and on Dec. 13, 2016 the AC report had three recommendations:

  1. that schism be declared at CPC and that the faction wishing to remain in the PCUSA was entitled to all CPC property;
  2. that the NEGP deny the departing faction’s request to leave the denomination with CPC’s property; and
  3. that NEGP appoint a new Administrative Commission that would take necessary action to appoint a new session for CPC.

On Jan. 20, 2017, the presbytery approved the first two recommendations, but did not vote on the third, since a temporary restraining order had been granted by the civil court the day before.

Meanwhile, following the report of the AC’s recommendations, the congregation’s board of directors voted unanimously (13-0) on Jan. 4, 2017, to disaffiliate with the PCUSA, and filed the lawsuit in civil court.

According to local newspaper, members of the church who are loyal to the PCUSA are meeting at 11 a.m. in the Presbyterian Student Center near the University of Georgia campus for Sunday services.

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Court Arguments Reveal Deep Divide in First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem

(By Sarah M. Wojcik, The Morning Call). Arguments in court Friday [2/17/17] painted a picture of tension and emotion at the sprawling campus of the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.

Northampton County President Judge Stephen Baratta said he’s not looking forward to handing down a decision in what’s shaping up to be a complicated church property dispute dividing the congregation.

With lawyers appearing before him for the first time since legal filings last summer over ownership of the 31.5-acre property, Baratta didn’t seem convinced that the case could end without going to trial.

“I really would hate to render a decision at some point that’s going to hurt members of the community in matters of faith,” Baratta said. “If you’re getting close to a resolution I will do whatever I can to work with you, to push you over that line. But please, consider, 10 years from now when you look back on this, it may not be as difficult an issue as it is today.”

The massive Bethlehem church at 2344 Center St., with roughly 2,600 members, is in the midst of upheaval.

The majority of members who cast ballots June 26 voted to switch affiliations, leaving the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) in favor of the more conservative Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians denomination. The majority of the membership, leaders say, left the national branch because its theological views no longer aligned with their own as the Presbyterian Church (USA) took increasingly progressive stances on same-sex marriage and gay ministers.

But the Lehigh Presbytery, the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s regional authority, disputed the split and claims ownership of the church property. The denomination’s Book of Order, revised and adopted in the mid-1980s, included a clause that indicates church property is “held in trust” for the denomination. The Lehigh Presbytery said that means the membership cannot unilaterally break away and take all the assets with it.

But Forrest Norman, attorney for the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, argued the deed for the property names only the church and there’s no indication that in adopting the new Book of Order rules in the 1980s, the membership also took on the trust clause.

“It is strictly held by the local church for the local church as any corporate entity would do,” Norman said of the property.

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LGBTQ Advocates Offer Glitter Ash For Lent

(By Jeffrey Walton, Juicy Ecumenism). For those that didn’t think anything could subvert the solemnity of Ash Wednesday more thanAshes to Go,” think again.

Proclaiming “the need for progressive Christian witness has never been more urgent,” a New York-based LGBTQ advocacy group with roots in the Presbyterian Church (USA), has launched “Glitter+Ash”. Parity characterizes glitter ash as a way for churches observing Ash Wednesday to incorporate pro-LGBTQ advocacy into the beginning of the 40-day Lenten season.

Formerly known as Presbyterian Welcome, Parity aims to “support emerging LGBTQ pastors (the forerunners of historical policy change) as they live into their callings” and to “empower LGBTQ and allied young people to integrate their spiritual, gender and sexual identities.”

The group explains that it seeks to “create a world where gender or sexual identity are not barriers to living the whole, full lives that we are called to by God.”

Christians in liturgical traditions apply ashes made from palm branches blessed on Palm Sunday, placing them on the heads of participants to the accompaniment of the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

But while the Christian church has historically understood the imposition of ashes as a sign of penance, Parity sees it as an opportunity for advocacy.

“We will be seen,” the Glitter Ash web site announces. “Glitter is like love. It’s irresistible and irrepressible.”

Parity offers a web site for Glitter Ash, planning to list participating churches, an explanation of the newly-updated practice and instructions on how to impose ashes, along with  a handout to distribute to those who receive Glitter+Ash on Ash Wednesday. The site also promises suggestions for liturgy and prayers, soliciting input from those authoring their own liturgy.

“Offering glitter ashes will present an opportunity to breathe fresh life into your liturgy, recapture the surprise in the Christian message, and draw new people into your worship,” Parity promises.

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Related article: The Heartbreaking Misdirection of Glitter Ash Wednesday, by Carmen Fowler LaBerge

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Documentary Follows Trials and Triumphs of LGBTQ Presbyterian Leaders

(By Gregg Brekke, Presbyterian News Service). “For decades, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pastors could face judicial charges within the church.” These words are part of the opening screens of the recently released documentary, Out of OrderThe title sequence describes the years-long debate within the Presbyterian Church (USA) that ultimately led the denomination’s highest governing body—the General Assembly—to approve an official path to ordination for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) persons at its 2010 gathering. The decision was affirmed by a majority of the church’s regional presbyteries in 2011.

Filmmaker Amanda Bluglass heard about the struggle through the wife of one of the film’s subjects, the Rev. Mieke Vandersall, founding pastor of the Not So Churchy worshiping community in New York City. Bluglass was intrigued by why, after so many years of struggling to be fully accepted as a gay minister in the PCUSA, she chose to remain.

“I found the determination of these pastors inspiring and bewildering—that people who had been so rejected would even want to stay in the church,” says Bluglass. “As the years of filming unfolded I began to realize the courage to stay was deeply rooted in the Christian values they shared. This was their home and they belonged here. This is that story of love and acceptance.”

Vandersall, one of the first openly gay persons to be ordained in the PCUSA, is co-founder of the LGBT Community of Future Pastors and former executive director of Parity (previously known as Presbyterian Welcome), an organization that offered training and connection opportunities for other LGBTQ clergy as they navigated the former restrictions on their ordination to ministry.

“It’s a film of hope and a film of the beauty and strength of community,” she says. “To see these people that I’ve loved so dearly come together on screen like that [lets] others see that they are beautiful people too. It’s a testimony to what can happen in communities that are being marginalized when they come together to find their strength and find their voice—no matter what that community is.”

The Rev. John Russell Stanger, a current Marriage and Family Therapy student at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and former director of Parity, was the first openly gay person ordained in Texas. His involvement in the film came through his longtime friendship with Vandersall. He says the filmmaker was interested in telling the story of the family support he received, having grown up on a cattle ranch in Texas.

“I come from these country people who you never see affirming their gay children,” he says. “We agreed it was important for [my part in the film] to be about my family and the people I come from—to show that kind of affirmation and closeness and loving was still possible. I grew up so isolated and didn’t have any idea that actual gay people existed—that they lived any kind of healthy life… It was important that we could put up a truly positive story from an isolated place that might reach some isolated kid somewhere.”

While the official position of the church is one of acceptance for LGBTQ pastors, not all presbyteries or churches have fully embraced this welcome. Congregations and presbyteries are free to call pastors of their choosing and Vandersall believes discrimination based on sexual orientation still happens broadly. Yet she’s hopeful a new generation of leaders will find a different approach.”

“We’re not really good at leadership transitions, and letting new generations take flight,” says Vandersall. “The film shows that transition happening.

Even as gains are made for many, she believes transgender inclusion in the ordination process is the next milestone for the LGBTQ community.

“There’s so much lack of understanding,” she says. “Trans people are more visible in the world today. Trans folks are on television more than they used to be. But we don’t really understand the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation. We have so much more educational work to do. When you educate yourself on trans issues and the things trans folks encounter on a daily basis, it changes how we have to have church. Like, can they go to the bathroom here? And when we talk about ‘brothers and sisters in Christ,’ is that excluding for some?”

Bluglass didn’t shy away from approaching those who disagree with the General Assembly’s decision, even inviting Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, to have a part in the film. Fowler LaBerge, a former pastor in the PC(USA), says she “set [her] ordination aside” in 2011 when the denomination declared itself open to gay clergy.

“[My ordination’s] value had completely disappeared,” she says in the film, after being asked if it was “awful” to renounce her ordination. “It was not a difficult decision at all.”

Fowler LaBerge appealed to the authority of the Bible and called public opinion regarding the acceptance of LGBTQ clergy “a horrible barometer of what the church ought to be doing in terms of moral leadership.”

Vandersall is appreciative Fowler LaBerge’s perspective was offered in the film—not only for context, but because of her understanding of the connectional nature of Presbyterianism.

“Through the process of this film—partially because of this film—I was encouraged to have conversations with people who didn’t agree with me,” she says of her time with Fowler LaBerge. “I really did enjoy spending time with her and getting to know her, and finding places where we actually have similarities.”

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Lawsuit Over Ownership of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem to be Heard Today

(By Sarah M. Wojcik, The Morning Call). The Lehigh Presbytery and the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, PA, will appear in Northampton County Court on Friday (2/17/17) in hopes of settling a dispute over ownership that has led opposing congregants to hold separate Sunday services at 31-acre property on Center Street.

The hearing is over a lawsuit the church filed in June asking to be declared the sole owner of the property at 2344 Center St. and seeking an injunction to stop the Lehigh Presbytery from establishing new leadership as the denomination rules dictate. Northampton County President Judge Stephen Baratta will rule on both requests. 

The dispute arose over the church’s desire to leave the mainline Presbyterian Church (USA) and join the more conservative Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians — a denomination church leadership said better reflected members’ theological beliefs.

The Lehigh Presbytery, the regional authority for the Presbyterian Church (USA), informed the church that it could not move forward with the dismissal process because a poll showed it fell 9 points below the required support of 66 percent of the congregants.

First Presbyterian argues that the majority of members want to leave the Presbyterian Church (USA) and that it should retain ownership because its members have donated the money needed to build and maintain the facilities.

The Presbytery argues the church is obliged to follow the bylaws of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and as a member of the denomination, it had placed the church property “in trust” with with the national entity. The Presbytery also insists the congregation’s June vote, where 76 percent of the 1,048 ballots cast were in favor of leaving the Presbyterian Church (USA), was invalid since it violated the church’s own charter.

Jackson Eaton, counsel representing the Lehigh Presbytery, said the last several months have been filled with discovery and depositions. Both sides, he said, are prepared to make final arguments Friday to Baratta, though the chances of the judge issuing an immediate ruling are slim.

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U.S. Senate Letter to Turkey Garners 78 Congressional Signatures to Release Andrew Brunson

(The EPConnection press release). An open letter from the U.S. Senate to Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, President of Turkey, has garnered 78 signatures from members of the Unites States Congress. The letter requests that Evangelical Presbyterian Church teaching elder Andrew Brunson, “an American citizen who has been unjustly detained in Turkey, be immediately released and deported.”

Signatories to the letter remind Erdoğan that Brunson’s imprisonment “has been raised repeatedly by U.S. Government officials with officials of the Government of Turkey. Unfortunately, high-level efforts to secure Mr. Brunson’s release have been unsuccessful. We have closely followed developments with this case, and are deeply disappointed.”

The letter was led by Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representatives Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), the chairman and ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I continue to be very grateful for our friends on Capitol Hill,” said Jeff Jeremiah, EPC Stated Clerk. “The letter they have drafted sends a very clear message that we want nothing less than Andrew safely back in the United States soon.”

Click here to read the full text of the letter, which is expected to be released by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to national media outlets on February 16.

Other Senators who have signed are Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Christopher Coons (D-Del.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), James M. Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Ron Paul (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), James E. Risch (R-Idaho), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Mark R. Warner (D-Va.), Roger F. Wicker (R-Miss.), and Todd Young (R-Ind.);

Representatives who have signed are Robert B. Aderholt (R-Ala.), Brian Babin (R-Texas), Gus M. Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Mike Bost (R-Ill.), Brendan F. Boyle (D-Pa.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), David N. Cicilline (D-R.I.), Gerry E. Connolly (D-Va.), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Tom Emmer (R-Minn.), Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.), Garret Graves (R-La.), Bill Flores (R-Texas), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), Thomas A. Garrett Jr. (R-Va.), George Holding (R-N.C.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Walter B. Jones (R-N.C.), David P. Joyce (R-Ohio), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill), Barry Loudermilk (R-Ga.), Tom Marino (R-Pa.), James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Patrick T. McHenry (R-N.C.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), Ted Poe (R-Texas), David E. Price (D-N.C.), Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Peter J. Roskam (R-Ill.), Steve Russell (R-Okla.), Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), and David G. Valadao (R-Calif.).

Visit the EPConnection web site.

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Handing Lutheran, Episcopal and Presbyterian Women a Cup of Poison

(By Viola Larson, Naming His Grace). It’s as ancient as the sin of our mother Eve and our father Adam, the desire to establish our own identity—minus the purpose of God. We would be our own gods and goddesses; deciding what is good and evil.

fierceThe publishing house of the Lutheran Church in America, using Theology of the People, a division of Augsburg/Fortress Press, published a book entitled, Fierce: Women of the Bible and Their Stories of Violence, Mercy, Bravery, Wisdom, Sex, and Salvation. The author, Alice Connor, is an “Episcopal priest and a chaplain on a college campus.” An ad with a free reading guide, introduction, content, first chapter and a video was sent to me this morning, via e-mail, by the Presbyterian Women of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

At the bottom of the ad, PW stated, “Presbyterian Women will occasionally send an email on behalf of organizations that may be of interest to our constituency. These paid advertisements help fund Presbyterian Women’s publishing work and other ministries. Thank you for supporting organizations that support PW.”

I have ordered the book with the thought of reviewing it, but so much information was sent, including a link to Augsburg/Fortress and Amazon, (which offers some pages to read), so I am to setting out several warnings—about apostasy. I am certain that many women received the same information that I received.  And it seems that this book will touch women in at least three mainline denominations.

Probably the worst chapter, “So God Had a Wife, Maybe? Probably,” is on the ancient pagan goddess Asherah. It begins, “She was erased.” And continues to suggest that the Israelites worshiped not only a male god but his wife, Asherah. The author, Alice Connor, writes:

“Like math sums done wrong, or a letter phrased poorly, bits of her were scraped away and wiped off the page, as carelessly as if she did not exist. And in a way, I suppose she doesn’t anymore. Her presence has been denied for generations. She was Asherah. She was Mother of the Gods, she was the Lion Lady, and she it was who subdued the sea. She was the wife of Yahweh, She was the embodiment of nourishment; her breast fed multitudes.  She represented not only survival but plenty. Her hips birthed gods; her presence created abundant harvests. The people made sacrifices to her—grain and animals, even their children from time to time. …”   

Connor continues stating that Asherah was worshiped alongside of Yahweh. Continuing with her story she suggests that eventually Asherah was erased when the Israelites were searching for a reason for their defeat and exile.

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PCUSA Church to Sponsor Racism & Racist Anonymous Meetings

(By Carla Hinton, NewsOK). A preacher isn’t sure what he’ll find when he opens the doors of his Oklahoma City church on Wednesday evening. That’s when the first “Racism & Racists Anonymous” meeting will take place at Trinity Presbyterian Church, in Oklahoma City, OK.

How many people are going to be willing to admit in front of a group of strangers that they are racist?

The Rev. Richard Mize, Trinity’s pastor, said he has no idea.

“I don’t know what to expect — maybe nobody will show or maybe there will be a crowd,” he said.

Mize said actually, the premise of the gatherings isn’t to get people to embarrass themselves or draw negative attention to their innermost thoughts.

He said that’s why he tweaked the local format so that it differs a bit from the small-group program called “Racists Anonymous” that it is patterned after.

“Racists Anonymous” was started by a black pastor in California. Mize, who is white, said he was intrigued when he talked to the Rev. Ron Buford about the program at Buford’s Congregational Community Church of Sunnyvale.

Trinity’s meetings will be based loosely on Buford’s program, but Mize said the Oklahoma City gatherings are not only for people who wish to examine the racism within themselves but also for individuals who wish to learn how to deal with other people’s racism.

He said each of the meetings will start with a speaker who will discuss his or her own personal challenges with racism and the challenges of living with and around racism and racists. Several people from the community-at-large have been invited to speak, including a law enforcement officer, small business owner and a doctor.

Mize said at some point, he plans to share his own testimony as a “former Confederate flag-waver” who gave up “embedded racist thinking because I couldn’t square it with the Gospel.”

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PCUSA’s Mission Agency Launching Facebook Live Interfaith Chat Series

(By Michael Gryboski, The Christian Post). Presbyterian Church (USA) will soon be launching an educational forum for interfaith discussions on Facebook Live.

PCUSA Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Office of Interfaith Relations will spearhead the monthly live chats, with the first scheduled for Thursday and will broadcast on the Mainline Protestant denomination’s official Facebook page.

Kathy Francis, spokeswoman for PCUSA, told The Christian Post that the regular Facebook Live series “offers an opportunity to learn and be challenged.”

“The Facebook live chat series provides a forum in which Christian leaders can gain insight and new ideas regarding how best to engage with multi-faith partners on matters of shared concern,” explained Francis.

“It’s an opportunity for those interested in hearing the point of view of Presbyterians who take the Gospel seriously and those of other traditions who seek Christian partners who will stand with them in difficult times.”

Francis described the live chat as “an interactive format” in which there will be “brief comments from the host and speakers” as well as a Q&A section for people viewing it.

“Our hope is that those watching will gain insight and new ideas on how best to engage with multi-faith partners,” continued Francis.

“The work of interfaith relations — especially building and fostering relationships with people of other religious traditions — is an integral part of the work of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.”

The first live chat is titled “Welcoming the Stranger: A Conversation About Leviticus 19 and Matthew 25 for Our Time” and will be led by Rick Ufford-Chase, associate director of Interfaith Formation at PMA.

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View Rick Ufford-Chase’s commercial for the Third Thursday: Multifaith Conversations on Complex Issues in our Time – to take place on Thursday the 16th at Noon Eastern Time.

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Presbyterian Pastor a ‘Pawn’ for Turkey

(By Bill Bumpas, OneNewsNow.com). The Evangelical Presbyterian Church says it has launched a petition drive in hopes of drawing attention to the imprisonment of Andrew Brunson. 

The American-born Presbyterian teaching elder has been ministering to the Turkish people for more than 20 years.  But in October of last year, he was arrested and accused of having “membership in an armed terrorist organization.” 

Carmen Fowler LaBerge, president of the Presbyterian Lay Committee, says that charge is false and Brunson’s only “crime” is being a Christian.

“He’s only being held, I believe, as essentially an international pawn,” she alleges, “in Turkey’s attempt to have the United States extradite a person who lives here that Turkey would very much like to have in Turkey so that they can charge him with issues in their own country.”

LaBerge says believers should speak out against this.

“The punitive nature of this related to their faith is something that Christians must be concerned about,” she says. “And as an American who is being held in a foreign country for no legitimate reason, it is an issue that should rise to the concern of our federal government as well.”

She asks for prayers for Brunson and his family.

Article originally posted at OneNewsNow.com.

Sign the petition by clicking here.

Related article: Evangelical Presbyterian Church launches petition to free imprisoned pastor in Turkey, Washington Times

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