11-22 On Supporting Those Who Feel Called to Seek Status as Conscientious Objectors.
Source: Presbytery Sponsor:
Committee:
[11-22] 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
Hand Vote
COMMITTEE RECOMMENDATION
On this Item, the Peacemaking and International Issues Committee, acted as follows:
Approve
[Counted Vote - Committee]
Affirmative:57
Negative:15
Abstaining:0
RECOMMENDATION

The Presbytery of San Francisco overtures the 218th General Assembly (2008) to do the following:

1.   Approve the following policy:

The 218th General Assembly (2008) reaffirms the church’s position on the freedom of conscience, especially as it relates to a person’s status as a conscientious objector against participating in the armed services, (cf. the 215th General Assembly (2003) statement: On Strengthening Our Christian Peacemaking Vision and Witness in Wartime, Minutes, 2003, Part I, p. 651).

2.   Therefore, the 218th General Assembly (2008)

      a.         Encourages the Peacemaking Program to produce and identify study guides and discernment materials for individuals, congregations, and presbyteries to help church members and their friends be able to articulate God’s calling on their lives in regard to participating in the armed forces, and war. Such materials will be made available on the denomination’s Website, with notice of its accessibility sent to every congregation and presbytery in the denomination.

      b.         Encourages presbyteries to provide education opportunities for ministers, military chaplains, and sessions on how to fulfill their responsibility of educating young people about issues of faith, conscience, and war, including civic alternatives to serving the country through the armed forces.

      c.         Encourages presbyteries and sessions to create a structure to document and support those who feel called to seek status as conscientious objectors to participation in the armed forces, or war. Active members of the church can now register with the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly for conscientious objector status, and certificates are sent to the church for their records and for the church member (G-5.0202) (2003 Statement—Minutes, 2003, Part I, p. 651, Recommendations 2, 3. Also found in “Presbyterians and Military Service—PDS #7027005035). Encourages the Stated Clerk, presbyteries, and sessions to extend this ministry to non-confirmed baptized members (G-5.0201) and to attending non-members of the church as a function of the church’s ongoing pastoral care, outreach, and work of reconciliation (G-5.0301a-c).

      d.         Directs the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) to communicate the denominational stances and policies to members of the U.S. Administration, the Department of Defense, each branch of the armed forces, military chaplains, and others to include those Presbyterians who have discerned that they are conscientious objectors with all the rights and responsibilities of official conscientious objector status.

RATIONALE

The people of God, in various times and places, are called to be the voice of peace and nonviolence in a world of war and conflict, even in the hardest of times (Gen. 44:17, 1 Sam. 20:42, Esth. 8:3-8, Isa. 52:7, Mt. 25:31-46, Mk. 9:50, Jn. 14:27, Rom. 14:19, Gal. 5:22-23, Eph. 2:14-17, Heb. 12:14).

As followers of Christ, church members are called to be people of conscience (G-1.0301, G-1.0307). Presbyteries and congregations are called to fulfill their role as communities of discernment and reconciliation surrounding issues of calling, hunger, poverty, war, and violence (The Book of Confessions, The Confession of 1967, 9.21-26, 9.31-32, 9.38, 9.43-.47, 9.53-.56) “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Mt. 5:9) Broadening this ministry to baptized, but unconfirmed members and attending non-members of the church is a natural extension of our church’s common pastoral ministry.

FINANCIAL IMPLICATION

(2008): $0; (2009): $3,000; (2010): $0 [Mission]

COMMENT
COMMENT
Advice and Counsel on Item 11-22—From the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP).
Item 11-22, from the Presbytery of San Francisco, overtures the General Assembly to ask congregations, presbyteries, and General Assembly programs to support members and friends of Presbyterian congregations who feel called to seek conscientious objector status and to make it possible for non-confirmed baptized members and attending nonmembers of the congregation to register their conscientious objector status with the Stated Clerk.

The Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP advises that the overture be approved with the following amendments to Recommendation 2: [Text to be deleted is shown with brackets and with strike-through; text to be added or inserted is shown with brackets and with an underline.]

“2.        Therefore, the 218th General Assembly (2008)

      “a.        Encourages the Peacemaking Program to produce and identify study guides and discernment materials [in Spanish and English] for individuals, congregations, and presbyteries to help church members and their friends be able to articulate God’s calling on their lives in regard to participating in the armed forces, and war. Such materials will be made available on the denomination’s Website, with notice of its accessibility sent to every congregation and presbytery in the denomination.

      “[b.      Encourages presbyteries to provide education opportunities for ministers, military chaplains, and sessions on how to fulfill their responsibility of educating young people about issues of faith, conscience, and war, including civic alternatives to serving the country through the armed forces.

      “[c.       Encourages presbyteries and sessions to create a structure to document and support those who feel called to seek status as conscientious objectors to participation in the armed forces, or war. Active members of the church can now register with the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly for conscientious objector status, and certificates are sent to the church for their records and for the church member (G-5.0202) (2003 Statement—Minutes, 2003, Part I, p. 651, Recommendations 2, 3. Also found in “Presbyterians and Military Service—PDS #7027005035). Encourages the Stated Clerk, presbyteries, and sessions to extend this ministry to non-confirmed baptized members (G-5.0201) and to attending non-members of the church as a function of the church’s ongoing pastoral care, outreach, and work of reconciliation (G-5.0301a-c).

       “[d.      Directs the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) to communicate the denominational stances and policies to members of the U.S. Administration, the Department of Defense, each branch of the armed forces, military chaplains, and others to include those Presbyterians who have discerned that they are conscientious objectors with all the rights and responsibilities of official conscientious objector status.]

       “[b.      Encourages presbyteries and sessions to document and support all who feel called to seek status as conscientious objectors to participation in the armed forces, or war by:

              “[(1)           Encouraging active members of the church to register with the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly for conscientious objector status, with the Stated Clerk sending certificates to the church for their records and for the church member. (G-5.0201) (2003 Statement—Minutes, 2003, Part I, p. 651, Recommendations 2, 3. Also found in “Presbyterians and Military Service—PDS #7027005035).

              “[(2)           Encouraging the Stated Clerk, presbyteries, and sessions to extend the ministry of registration as conscientious objectors with the General Assembly to non-confirmed baptized members (G-5.0201) and to attending nonmembers of the church as a function of the church’s ongoing pastoral care, outreach, and work of reconciliation (G-5.0301a-c).

              “[(3)           Directs the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA) to communicate the position of the PC(USA) on conscientious objection to the U.S. Administration, members of Congress, the Department of Defense, each branch of the armed forces, military chaplains, and PC(USA) governing bodies and congregations so that those Presbyterians who have discerned that they are conscientious objectors will have all the rights and responsibilities of official conscientious objector status.]”

At the present time, almost all male U.S. citizens regardless of where they live, and male immigrant aliens residing in the U.S., are required to be registered with Selective Service if they are at least 18 years old but are not yet 26 years old. See www.sss.gov/must.htm for information on who must register.

There is no draft in the United States at the present time. The draft can be reinstated at any time by an act of Congress. If Congress does authorize a draft, the first draftees may be inducted as quickly as within two weeks following the authorization. Therefore, it is important that those who discern themselves to be conscientious objectors begin documenting their position before a draft is authorized.

Advice and Counsel on Item 11-22—From the Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC).

Item 11-22. On Supporting Those Who Feel Called to Seek Status as Conscientious Objectors.

The Advocacy Committee for Racial Ethnic Concerns (ACREC) concurs with the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy (ACSWP)’s advice and counsel.