ATLANTA (May. 11)
Out of 137 overtures submitted for consideration at the 217th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, to be held June 15-22 in Birmingham, Ala., 25 address divestment from Israel. They come in the wake of two years of intensified Jewish-Presbyterian dialogue and heated discussion on the matter among Presbyterian groups, and reveal the extent to which the issue has roiled American Presbyterians.
Here is where things stand heading into the conference:
Fourteen proposals call for rescinding the divestment resolution initiated at the last assembly.
Three explicitly reaffirm divestment: One from San Francisco, which also presses for peaceful investment; one from Boston, which urges the church to develop educational materials about divestment so people “might discover a cogent, faithful Christian argument”; and one from Newark, which calls for Israel to stop “settlement population growth” and for Hamas to end violence and “disavow the goal of expelling Israel from Palestine.”
Several other presbyteries are more subtle, calling for peaceful investment as the church reconsiders its stock portfolio. These overtures come from Washington; Chicago; Giddings-Lovejoy in St. Louis; New Brunswick, N.J.; and Missouri Union.
Florida and New York City skirt the issue: the former calls for fairness, noting that the last assembly took actions biased against Israel; the latter mandates funds for peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians while healing damaged relations with Jews. A presbytery from western New York calls for education about the Middle East.