14-01 On Supporting the United Nations—From the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta.
Source: Presbytery Sponsor:
Greater Atlanta Presbytery
Committee:
[14-01] Peacemaking and International Issues
Type:General Assembly Full Consideration
Topic:Unassigned
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ASSEMBLY ACTION
On this Item, the General Assembly, acted as follows:
Approve as Amended
Consensus
Final Text:

That the recommendation be approved with amendment.

1.     Amend Recommendation 1 as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and with a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“1.          [Acknowledge] [Affirm] the church’s historic support for the United Nations as an instrument of peacemaking and peace building and a guarantor of the human and legal rights of people and nations.”

2.     Amend Recommendation 3 as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and with a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“3.          [Call upon Presbyterians individually and collectively to pray for the efforts of the United Nations; learn about the United Nations and its work; and urge our national leaders to support fully the United Nations.] [Give thanks for the engagement of Presbyterians with the United Nations from its creation forward.]”

3.     Insert new text as Recommendations 4.–5., and re-number current 4.–6. as 6.–8., as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and with a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“[4.         Commend the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations for its long-standing witness through educational seminars, congregational programs, ecumenical and interfaith cooperation, strategic reflection, and advocacy for international justice and peace.

“[5.         Encourage Presbyterians individually, and as congregations, mid councils, and other groups to learn about, pray for,support, and make use of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations in its work to inspire, equip, and connect Presbyterians, Presbyterian mission personnel, and our partners for ministry as faithful disciples of Jesus in the global community and to witness to the United Nations community in the name of Jesus Christ, based on the policies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assemblies.]”

“[4.] [6.] Urge seminaries, universities, colleges, and campus ministries related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to provide opportunity for faculty and students to learn about the purposes and mission of the United Nations.

“[5.] [7.]         Call upon the United States government to

“a.  foster peacemaking through multilateral diplomacy rather than unilateral force;

“b.  support efforts to strengthen the United Nations and the rule of international law;

“c.   assure that its financial obligations to the United Nations are adequately and promptly met;

“d.  overturn laws that mandate an automatic cut-off of U.S. support to UN agencies that allow Palestine as a member; and

“e.   show its commitments to the extension of international order by the ratification of major international treaties still pending action in the U.S., including the Law of the Sea Treaty; the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

“[6.] [8.] Direct the Stated Clerk to communicate this resolution to the church, and to the president of the United States, the secretary of state of the United States, every member of Congress, the secretary general of the United Nations, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, and all missions to the United Nations.

COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION
On this Item, the Peacemaking and International Issues Committee, acted as follows:
Approve as Amended
[Counted Vote - Committee]
Affirmative:39
Negative:2
Abstaining:1
Final Text:

That the recommendation be approved with amendment.

1.     Amend Recommendation 1 as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and with a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“1.          [Acknowledge] [Affirm] the church’s historic support for the United Nations as an instrument of peacemaking and peace building and a guarantor of the human and legal rights of people and nations.”

2.     Amend Recommendation 3 as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and with a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“3.          [Call upon Presbyterians individually and collectively to pray for the efforts of the United Nations; learn about the United Nations and its work; and urge our national leaders to support fully the United Nations.] [Give thanks for the engagement of Presbyterians with the United Nations from its creation forward.]”

3.     Insert new text as Recommendations 4.–5., and re-number current 4.–6. as 6.–8., as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and with a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“[4.         Commend the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations for its long-standing witness through educational seminars, congregational programs, ecumenical and interfaith cooperation, strategic reflection, and advocacy for international justice and peace.

“[5.         Encourage Presbyterians individually, and as congregations, mid councils, and other groups to learn about, pray for, support, and make use of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations in its work to inspire, equip, and connect Presbyterians, Presbyterian mission personnel, and our partners for ministry as faithful disciples of Jesus in the global community and to witness to the United Nations community in the name of Jesus Christ, based on the policies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assemblies.]”

“[4.] [6.] Urge seminaries, universities, colleges, and campus ministries related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to provide opportunity for faculty and students to learn about the purposes and mission of the United Nations.

“[5.] [7.]         Call upon the United States government to

“a.  foster peacemaking through multilateral diplomacy rather than unilateral force;

“b.  support efforts to strengthen the United Nations and the rule of international law;

“c.   assure that its financial obligations to the United Nations are adequately and promptly met;

“d.  overturn laws that mandate an automatic cut-off of U.S.  support to UN agencies that allow Palestine as a member; and

“e.   show its commitments to the extension of international order by the ratification of major international treaties still pending action in the U.S., including the Law of the Sea Treaty; the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

“[6.] [8.] Direct the Stated Clerk to communicate this resolution to the church, and to the president of the United States, the secretary of state of the United States, every member of Congress, the secretary general of the United Nations, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, and all missions to the United Nations.

RECOMMENDATION

The Presbytery of Greater Atlanta overtures the 220th General Assembly (2012) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to do the following:

1.     Acknowledge the church’s historic support for the United Nations as an instrument of peacemaking and peace building and a guarantor of the human and legal rights of people and nations.

2.     Commend the United Nations for its efforts to address global poverty, hunger, and unemployment; work for economic development; expand educational opportunities; care for creation; improve the health of the human family; combat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and other diseases; and enhance the status of women, children, indigenous peoples, people of color, and others who are all too often marginalized.

3.     Call upon Presbyterians individually and collectively to pray for the efforts of the United Nations; learn about the United Nations and its work; and urge our national leaders to support fully the United Nations.

4.     Urge seminaries, universities, colleges, and campus ministries related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to provide opportunity for faculty and students to learn about the purposes and mission of the United Nations.

5.     Call upon the United States government to

a.             foster peacemaking through multilateral diplomacy rather than unilateral force;

b.             support efforts to strengthen the United Nations and the rule of international law;

c.             assure that its financial obligations to the United Nations are adequately and promptly met;

d.             overturn laws that mandate an automatic cut-off of U.S.  support to UN agencies that allow Palestine as a member; and

e.             show its commitments to the extension of international order by the ratification of major international treaties still pending action in the U.S., including the Law of the Sea Treaty; the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

6.     Direct the Stated Clerk to communicate this resolution to the church, and to the president of the United States, the secretary of state of the United States, every member of Congress, the secretary general of the United Nations, the president of the United Nations General Assembly, and all missions to the United Nations.

RATIONALE

Inspired by Isaiah’s vision of a “peaceable kingdom,” the church must honor the dignity of every person and the intrinsic value of every creature. It is our sacred calling to pray and work for the day when none “labor in vain, or bear children for calamity” (Isa. 65:23). We do so as disciples of the One who came “that [all] may have life, and have it abundantly” (Jn. 10:10). We do so based on the directions of peacemaking among all nations in the Confession of 1967, which is grounded in God’s covenant of grace. Responding to our Creator, we celebrate the full humanity of each woman, man, and child, all created in the divine image as individuals of infinite worth. Remembering that Jesus taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” (Mt. 5:9), the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) affirms that peacemaking is the believers’ calling.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and its predecessor denominations have long recognized the need to honor the deep connections within our human family and to awaken a new spirit of international community. They have seen the United Nations playing a key role in that regard. The 155th General Assembly (1943) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America adopted a Statement of Principles on a Just Peace, two of which spoke of the need for world organization:

“We believe that international cooperation should be organized to preserve peace, maintain international law, provide-adaptations to changing conditions, and that it should be directed towards cultivating the will to peace and progress” (Minutes, PCUSA, 1943, Part I, p. 167).

“We believe that by expanded collaboration of the United Nations an international conference, representative of all sovereign peoples, should be convened to work out with deliberation a comprehensive plan for a dynamic peace” (Minutes, PCUSA, 1943, Part I, p. 168).

The 156th General Assembly (1944) of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America expanded this understanding:

“The usefulness, of international organization in preventing recourse to force in the settlement of international disputes will depend greatly upon the scope of responsibility entrusted to it. Such a world organization must be given responsibility broad enough to exercise a constructive influence upon the life of the nations ... international organization should likewise be endowed with curative and creative responsibilities commensurate with at least the most pressing issues that arise in the relations between nations . ... The provisions of peace must rest upon justice among the several races and of [humanity]” (Minutes, PCUSA, 1944, Part I, pp. 226-27).

General Assemblies since that time have reaffirmed support for the United Nations, and called for a strong United States commitment to and participation in the United Nations.

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) holds special consultative status through the Economic and Social Council at the United Nations. The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations inspires, equips, and connects Presbyterians for ministry as faithful disciples of Jesus in the global community. The ministry advocates for peace and justice to the United Nations, based on the policies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assemblies.

As the 207th General Assembly (1995) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) notes: “The commitments of the church have been grounded not only on its encounter with the world, in witness and service, but in its theological understanding of the sovereignty and love of God, and the redeeming, reconciling, peace-bringing ministry of Jesus the Christ” (Minutes, 1995, Part I, p. 489).

COMMENT
COMMENT
ACSWP ADVICE AND COUNSEL

The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP) advises that the 220th General Assembly (2012) concur with the Advocacy Committee on Women’s Concerns Advice and Counsel on Item 14-01.

 
ACWC ADVICE AND COUNSEL

The Advocacy Committee for Women’s Concerns advises that the 220th General Assembly (2012) approve Item 14-01 with amendments as follows: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and a strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and an underline.]

“1.   [Affirm] [Acknowledge] the church’s historic support … [rest of sentence remains unchanged]

“2.   Commend the United Nations … [text remains unchanged])

“3.   [Call upon Presbyterians individually and collectively to pray for the efforts of the United Nations; learn about the United Nations and its work; and urge our national leaders to support fully the United Nations.][Give thanks for the engagement of Presbyterians with the United Nations from its creation forward.]

“[4. Commend the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations for its long-standing witness through educational seminars, congregational programs, ecumenical and interfaithcooperation, strategic reflection and advocacy for international justice and peace.]

“[5. Encourage Presbyterians individually, and as congregations, mid councils, and other groups to learn about, support, and make use of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations in its work to inspire, equip, and connect Presbyterians, Presbyterian mission personnel, and our partners for ministry as faithful disciples of Jesus in the global community and to witness to the United Nations communityin the name of Jesus Christ, based on the policies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assemblies.]

“[4.] [6.]         Urge seminaries … [Text same as Recommendation 4 from original.]

“[5.] [7.]         Call upon the United States government to … [Text same as Recommendation 5a.–e. from original.]

“[6.] [8.]         Direct the Stated Clerk to communicate … [Text same as Recommendation 6 from original.]”

Rationale

Given ACWC’s yearly participation in the United Nations Commission of the Status of Women and the outstanding hosting and resourcing provided for Presbyterians at this event by the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, it stood out to us that this ministry of the PC(USA) was not mentioned in this item. For this reason along with our general appreciation for the good work done by the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations, we would advise amending the item as above.

As further rationale for this advice and counsel, we cite the comment by the General Assembly Mission Council. We note the policy grounding of the overture in Peacemaking: The Believers’ Calling, the Social Creed for the 21st Century and other policies indicating support for the UN’s purposes and support for its creation.

GAMC COMMENT

Presbyterians have engaged with the United Nations from its beginning. We do so for theological, ecclesiastical, and practical reasons.

Reformed theology affirms God’s sovereignty and God calls us to live our faith in all aspects of life. Following the Calvin’s example, Reformed Christians, Presbyterians among them, have engaged in ministry in public life that includes serving as elected officials and engaging in advocacy that seeks to live out the church’s responsibility to assist government to become what God requires it to be.

The Body of Christ extends around the world. Our connection to our sisters and brothers calls us to active concern on their behalf. As we partner in witness to Christ around the world, events and policies impinge on our mission and call us to respond.

We live in a web of relationships. Life is bound together. As the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, what affects one person or place directly, affects all people and places indirectly.

Rooted in this theology, expressing this ecclesiology, and recognizing this practical reality, Presbyterians have long supported international cooperation and institutions.

Even as World War II began, Presbyterians joined conversations about how to shape the world after the war. Presbyterian Elder John Foster Dulles chaired the Commission on a Just and Durable Peace of the Federal Council of Churches. The commission made a number of recommendations about the United Nations that was to come including that it should emphasize justice, human welfare, and human rights including religious freedom. It also called for membership for all countries, a commission to oversee the progress of colonies to freedom, and the limitation and reduction of arms.1 In 1943, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America called for the creation of an international organization that would serve humanity.2

As post-war plans continued, the Presbyterians engaged in a campaign of education and advocacy that included conferences in sixty cities. When the conference on international organization that created the UN Chartermet in San Francisco in April 1945, Presbyterians across the United States were called to prayer.3 John Foster Dulles served as an advisor to the U.S. delegation at that conference. He and others from the faith-based and secular NGO community helped draft the preamble to the UN Charter and worked to ensure a role for NGOs in relation to the UN.4

Through the years, Presbyterian ministries have related to the UN as individuals, as congregations, middle governing bodies, and as a denomination. We have prayed for the UN, the nations of the world, and issues of international import. General Assemblies have passed resolutions concerning the UN’s work. Today, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) holds special consultative status to the UN through the UN Economic and Social Council. This allows our voice to be heard by a truly global audience and to contribute to its agenda by attending international conferences and events, making written and oral statements at these events, organizing side events at these events, and taking part in advocacy and networking.

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations currently represents the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) at the UN. The ministry inspires, equips, and connects Presbyterians for ministry as faithful disciples of Jesus in the global community. The ministry advocates for peace and justice to the United Nations, based on policies of Presbyterian General Assemblies.

In partnership with other NGOs, many of them faith-based, the ministry works on issues related to human trafficking, food and hunger, peace and security through the Security Council, religious freedom, Israel-Palestine, justice for women, and many country specific concerns. Meetings for mission partners and mission co-workers are arranged with staff members of UN programs and national missions to the UN. The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations partners with appropriate programs of the General Assembly Mission Council and the Office of the General Assembly in this work. The ministry facilitates the attendance of PC(USA) staff members at international events.

The ministry provides seminars on international issues for congregations, presbyteries, seminaries, and other groups. Sixteen groups held seminars in 2011. Every other year, the ministry cosponsors a January Term Doctor of Ministry course in partnership with Columbia Theological Seminary.

Working with Presbyterian Women, Women’s Leadership Development, the National Network of Presbyterian College Women, and Racial Ethnic Young Women Together, the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations facilitated the participation of forty-four Presbyterians in the 56th Commission on the Status of Women. The commission is the sole global-policymaking body dedicated exclusively to gender equality and the advancement of women. The Presbyterians worked with ecumenical partners to advocate on issues related to women living in rural areas around the world and their role in hunger and poverty eradication, development. This advocacy was based on policies of Presbyterian General Assemblies and input from our mission partners and co-workers as well as our partners in the World Communion of Reformed Churches.

The Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations helps Presbyterians take part in concrete acts of global discipleship. Prayers for people and events around the world are provided. Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, a project created by Presbyterians, is promoted, as is the UNICEF Tap Project that helps provide clean water for children around the world. In partnership with the Office of Child Advocacy and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, the ministry organizes Presbyterian participation in the Red Hands Campaign that addresses the use of children in situations in armed conflict. Since Presbyterians joined this international effort, eleven nations have ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. This international treaty helps establish a consensus that children are children, not soldiers.

Central to our Reformed heritage is the understanding that following Jesus involves a deep public spiritual life: taking our faith into the world to help shape the policies that guide our life together in our communities, our country, and the global neighborhood. Presbyterians live that public life as we engage with the United Nations in the name of Jesus.

Endnotes

1.             Mia Adjali and Deborah Storms, The Community of Nations, Friendship Press: New York, New York, 1995), pp. 9–10.

2.             Minutes, PCUSA, 1943, Part I, pp. 167–68.

3.             Robert F. Smylie, “Toward a World Community,” Church & Society (September/October 1994: Volume 85, Number 1), p. 13.

4.             Smylie, op. cit.