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Presbyterians Launch Petition to Reconsider ''Divestment'' from Israel

The highly anticipated online campaign grew from only 24 member to a whopping 11,224 signatories in one day
( [email protected] ) Aug 24, 2004 10:14 PM EDT

Members of the Presbyterian Church USA began a web-based petition to bring about a reconsideration of the denomination’s controversial proposal to “divest” funds from corporations working alongside Israel, Monday, August 23, 2004.

“We endorse the Call to the Presbyterian Church to reverse its anti-Semitic resolution on divestment Petition to Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church USA,” the petition states.

The online petition, which began with only 14 signatures of Presbyterians on Monday, grew to a whopping 11,224 Total Signatures by 4 p.m. Tuesday. Nonetheless, the signatories have a long ways to go before bringing the issue back up on the table. According to Presbyterian law, 25 percent of the denomination’s commissioners – the representative member from each church that receives a vote during the PCUSA’s general assembly – must concur with the request for a special assembly to reconsider the issue.

To date, the PCUSA has never successfully called in a special meeting of the General Assembly to reconsider any formerly made decisions. The assemblies have met annually for the past several decades until this year; the commissioners will now meet biennially with the next meeting scheduled for 2006.

The petition includes an opportunity for signers to make a brief comment about the PCUSA's stance on the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The following is the full text of the petition, which is available online at http://www.petitiononline.com/mod_perl/signed.cgi?presby2:

Whereas, on July 1, 2004 Commissioners at the 216th General Assembly voted (431-62) to direct the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) initiate a process of phased selective divestment in multinational corporations operating in Israel, in accordance to General Assembly policy on social investing, and to make appropriate recommendations to the General Assembly Council for action;

And, whereas many in the worldwide Judeo-Christian community of faith have been deeply offended and have denounced this action.

And, whereas the General Assembly will not have a regular meeting until the summer of 2006; And, whereas the Presbyterian Church (USA) Book of Order provides for Special Sessions through concurrence by 25% of the Commissioners.

Now therefore, we, the undersigned members, elders, and ministers of Presbyterian Church (USA), respectfully request the 216th General Assembly Commissioners re-examine the Biblical implications of their divestment actions and re-consider them in a fair and balanced forum by immediately calling a Special Session. We make this request knowing the General Assembly Council, which is charged with carrying out the will of the General Assembly, must proceed with selective divestment.

Furthermore, we call for the Commissioners to a Special Session of the 216th General Assembly to limit the purpose to the following order of business:

1. The Commissioners to the 216th Special Session shall suspend the rules for secret balloting and require all votes be recorded in an effort to restore confidence in the representative structure of the governance of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

2. The Commissioners to the 216th Special Session shall vote on a motion to rescind in its entirety the resolution to divest in multinational corporations operating in Israel.

3. The Commissioners shall call upon the Judeo-Christian community of faith and the Islamic community of faith to seek a peaceful resolution of issues that have led to violent conflict in the Middle East region and beyond.