Monday, December 22, 2014

A letter from Veeda Javaid

Copied here is a letter from Veeda Javaid. Please pray for Pakistan and the Presbyterian Education Boark:

December 20, 2014

Dear Friends,

For many years, Pakistan has been a divided society, politically, socially, religiously. Over the years, terrorism has increased. People are no longer surprised at news of bomb blasts and shootings. Pakistan has lost thousands in terrorist attacks, but December 16, 2014 will be remembered as the bloodiest day in the history of Pakistan, the day terrorists attacked a school and massacred innocent school children, the day that united Pakistan.

Following the attack on a school in Peshawar, political parties have turned aside from their own agendas and the nation now stands with one voice, “No room for terrorism.” On December 16, 2014, one hundred and thirty-two children died, shot in cold blood by members of the Pakistan Taliban. These children should have been part of Pakistan’s future. Instead, for many families in Peshawar, there is no hope for the future. As one grieving father said, “My son was my dream. Today I buried my dream.” For the first time the country is empty of dreams. We do not have the words to describe the grief of a parent who lays his child in the earth before his time. It is a sorrow too large to bear. As someone has said, “The smallest coffins are the heaviest.”

But, with sorrow, there is anger in Pakistan today. There is anger at those who turned their eyes away from terror and let the cost be paid in human lives. There is anger at those who supported the killers and there is shame - shame that as a country we could not protect our children. There is shame amongst people who remained silent at the time of crises. Dear friends, we as a nation have a bad habit of forgetting everything within days and weeks, no matter how big a tragedy is, but this time history will not forgive us if we forget the blood of our children. People have finally started to realize and accept that extremism is a national issue; it is a war we are all involved in. We cannot turn a blind eye to what is happening in our country. As a nation, we have to stand united against this brutality.

All Presbyterian Education Board schools observed black day. Children wore black arm bands and candles were lit for the children of Peshawar. Many churches and Christian organizations have cancelled Christmas celebrations and have instead held special prayers. One student came to me and said, “I want to be an army officer because I want to punish the Taliban.” One mother shared that she was worried and concerned for her 3 daughters and didn’t want to send them to school, but the girls were adamant that they wanted to come. “We are not scared of terrorists,” they said.

The government received information that more terrorists are planning attacks on schools and in order to protect students, asked all schools and colleges to close for winter break from December 19, 2014 until January 5, 2015. Before Presbyterian Education Board schools closed, we were able to deliver Christmas gifts to all boarding house students.

Please pray for Pakistan.

Veeda Javaid
Executive Director, Presbyterian Education Board in Lahore, Pakistan

Monday, December 15, 2014

Thank you from Presbyterian World Mission

A beautiful, new thank you message is posted on the Presbyterian World Mission website. Thank you to all our congregation that participate with and support Presbyterian World Mission.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What I believe . . .

I seek to encourage, teach and proclaim a Christian witness that actively embodies in the life of our church a full range of theological perspectives and interpretations of our Holy Scripture. For me, this is our opportunity to make a faithful, strong witness to our culture. Our culture is increasingly fragmented, and often bitterly divided, between republicans and democrats, between rich and poor, between urban and rural, between Anglo-Saxon whites and other races, between sportsmen and gun-control advocates, between hawks and doves, between evangelicals and mainline Christians, between young and old, etc. and etc. Likewise it would be easier, following the example of our culture, for our church to retreat into our own, like-minded, theological caucuses and name our own caucus “the truth” or “our tradition” or “the biblical way.” I believe we now have a higher calling. Our calling fights against all the pressure from our culture to fragment, divide, and retreat into like-mindedness. We have an opportunity to proclaim that we do not need to be like-minded to be united; we do not need to think the same to serve the same Lord, we do not need to compel others to believe as I believe to be together in the same Church; we do not need to hold our convictions so tight that we must name others as wrong. This is the church I am striving to build.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

"Thank You" to our Twelve leading Shared Giving congregations.

Thank you!

These twelve congregations are leading the way in our presbytery. These congregations have pledged a total of $280,620 in Shared Mission Giving in 2014. Our total Shared Mission Giving budget for the Presbytery in 2014 is $330,000. Thus these twelve congregations are contributing 85% of our Presbytery’s total Shared Mission Giving budget in 2014. Thank you!

Thank you for your continuing and generous support.

Derry, Hershey
St. Andrews, Lebanon
Market Square, Harrisburg
Middle Spring, Shippensburg
Second Carlisle
First United, Newville
Pine Street, Harrisburg
Paxton, Harrisburg
Lower Marsh Creek, Gettysburg
East Waterford

Report from Honduras: A Growing Partnership

This report was written by Pastor Kim Wadlington, the chairperson of our Presbytery's Mission Advocacy Committee and a fellow traveler to Honduras:

In October a team from the Carlisle Presbytery went to Honduras to participate in a week of conversation with many pastors and congregation members from Honduras. World Mission staff members, Hunter Farrell (World Mission Director), Tracey King-Ortega (based in Nicaragua and serving as liaison for Central America), and Juan Sarmiento (PCUSA evangelism catalyst) were also present for conversation as well as members of both Tampa Bay Presbytery and the Presbytery of Arkansas who serve in Honduras. The team spent two days travelling the Honduras countryside visiting with pastors and their congregations, hearing about the hopes, dreams, and challenges.
We rejoiced in the growth of the Honduran church and were bolstered by their faithfulness in sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with their neighbors despite sometimes being persecuted for doing so. We received reports on many of the ministries the Honduran Church has undertaken together including the housing ministry in which we participate, scholarships for young people to further their education past the required 8th grade, healthy snacks and uniforms provided for young school children, and more.

Additionally we heard reports about the distribution of food aid supported by our Presbytery. Together we sent a total of $8,300.00 for food aid to Honduras with donations from many individuals, the September Offering received at Presbytery meeting and donations from our Mechanicsburg, Lost Creek, Dickinson, and First United churches. We were gratified to hear that in each place aid was offered, it was offered to the entire community, not just church members! Presbyterian Women in Honduras headed up this operation, purchasing the food, organizing it in bags with a message from the churches, and then travelling for distribution. They are a powerful agent for ministry within the Honduran church and it was our privilege to partner with them in this effort.

Lastly we were privileged to see the progress made on the Retreat Center and to present to the Presbytery of Honduras a gift from our Mercersburg and St. Andrews Lebanon Church to help with building that center. There will be another trip to Honduras next year to participate in the building of the Retreat Center. Mark your calendars for April 13 - April 20 and consider joining us. We always come home with spirits enlightened and faith emboldened by our relationships with our Honduran brothers and sisters! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Report to the Presbytery September 2014

September 2014

Dear Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) colleagues,

The Carlisle Initiative

The Coordinating Council of the Presbytery of Carlisle requests that Presbyterian leaders across the nation join us in a movement to renew our beloved Church. We are prepared to express our request for renewal as an Overture to the 2016 General Assembly in Portland. But, first, we seek involvement and support from all across the Church. This Initiative is offered out of the deepest commitment to and love for our Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) which in our Pennsylvania has a direct, institutional heritage of more than 300 years. We are convinced that the recent culture wars which have wracked our beloved Church with division are over. We believe great days, in God’s providence, are ahead of us as Presbyterians, certainly smaller, free from the demands of political power and cultural expectations, connected with a vibrant, global Christianity and poised to become a nimble and deeply authentic denomination in service to our Lord Jesus Christ.

There is work to do! We have defined three broad areas which, we believe, need attention: our theological foundations, our General Assembly structure and the stewardship of our financial resources:

1. Considering the theological convictions of our Church today, we seek:

A. To create a process for the writing of a new, comprehensive Confession of Faith to be added to our Book of Confessions. This Confession should seek to express our belief for our modern 21st century context.

B. To articulate our understanding of the historical concept of “central tenets.” There are vital, theological reasons why we will not articulate a “list” of our “central tenets.” We seek to articulate the ways Presbyterians today, especially our ordained officers, should understand this history and theology

C. To explore the ways an understanding of Christian doctrine and systematic theology has changed in our digital age. We seek to understand the ways that teaching and learning the Christian faith have shifted.

2. Considering the organization of our Church today, we seek:

A. To develop and express a plan for the full, institutional merger of the Office of the General Assembly and the General Assembly Mission Agency.

B. To develop and propose specific ways that the mid-councils of the Church – presbyteries, synods and the General Assembly - can improve in their mutuality, collegiality, coordination and communication.

C. To develop and propose specific ways the agencies of the General Assembly can improve in their mutuality, collegiality, coordination and communication.

D. To develop and articulate a plan by which one common vision and direction for the whole denomination is defined. Develop a means by which such a plan is communicated widely, understood and agreed to throughout our Church.

3. Considering the funding system of the Church, we seek:

A. To develop a plan for the implementation of a single stream funding system given the potential merger of the Office of the General Assembly and Mission Agency.

B. To study the historical development of the Church’s current funding system with specific attention to the history and development of the Per Capita system and the Shared Mission giving system.

C. To evaluate the Mission Agency’s recent efforts in creative fundraising. To define specific ways this effort may benefit the whole Church.

D. To study and develop a plan by which current practices of fund raising and funds development in the non-profit sector may be adopted for use by our Church.

What can you do?

· Join us! How many Presbyterians does it take to create a movement? Consider ways that we may actually accomplish these huge transformations and not simply discuss them. Is the Overture process the correct way to proceed?

· Evaluate and reflect on the goals expressed here and write your responses and reflections back to us.

· Share this paper and your responses with other Presbyterians leaders.

· Rejoice in all that God has done with and through our Presbyterian Church, and pray that God will prepare us and move us forward into a new day.

Grace and Peace!

Mark Englund-Krieger



Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Belhar Confession

An Affirmation of Faith

Our presbytery, along with all the presbyteries, will be voting on whether or not the Belhar Confession should be added to our Book of Confessions. The General Assembly approved this action and thus, as a constitutional amendment, this action requires approval by the presbyteries. You may read the the Belhar Confession at

If this Confession is approved and becomes part of the confessional basis of our church it will be important, in my mind, to include it in our worship services. This was done as part of worship at the Montreat Youth Conference I recently attended. Thus I share here an edited version of the Belhar Confession which may appropriately be used in worship as a public affirmation of Christian faith. Please note that this is not the full text of Belhar, but simply a short, edited version appropriate for public worship. This is copied from the worship bulletin at Montreat on Sunday July 6, 2014:

An Affirmation of Faith: The Belhar Confession

We believe in the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, who gathers, protects, and cares for the church through Word and Spirit. This, God has done since the beginning of the world and will do to the end.

We believe that Christ’s work of reconciliation is made manifest in the church as the community of believers who have been reconciled with God and with one another.

Unity is, therefore, both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ.

Unity must become visible so that the world may believe that separation, enmity, and hatred between people and groups is sin which Christ has already conquered.

We believe that God has entrusted the church with the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ;
That the church is called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world;
That the church is called blessed because it is a peacemaker;
That the church is witness both by word and by deed to the new heaven and the new earth in which righteousness dwells.

We believe that God’s life giving Word and Spirit has conquered the powers of sin and death, and therefore also of irreconciliation and hatred, bitterness and enmity; that God’s life giving Word and Spirit will enable the church to live in a new obedience which can open new possibilities of life for society and the world.

Jesus is Lord.

To the one and only God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be the honor and the glory forever and ever.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #18

Here is my list of the top eleven actions items approved by this year’s General Assembly. Several of these are incendiary. Several of these are not controversial at all, but deserve our attention. A hyperlink to a document which includes all of these action items is available on the Presbytery of Carlisle homepage. You may also find these actions by the item number under the committee tab in PC-Biz.

Item 04-04: On the Middle East
Item 05-04: On Synods
Item 06-15: The Heidelberg Catechism
Item 08-13: Special Offerings
Item 10-02: On Marriage
Item 10-03: On Marriage
Item 10-07: On Marriage
Item 13-01: Belhar Confession
Item 13-02: Directory for Worship
Item 13-08: On John Knox
Item 14-03: Living Missionally

Friday, June 20, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #17


A constitutional amendment allowing same gender marriage was approved by the General Assembly with a vote of 429 to 175. It will be necessary for our presbytery to vote on this action and for a majority of presbyteries to approve it before it is added to our Book of Order. In my mind, it is crucially important that the sentence copied here was added and approved also. 

"Nothing herein shall compel a teaching elder to perform nor compel a session to authorize the use of church property for a marriage service that the teaching elder or the session believes is contrary to the teaching elder’s or the session’s discernment of the Holy Spirit and their understanding of the Word of God."

The challenge before us is precisely clear. Can we be one church with two definitions of marriage? I believe we can. I will work for this kind of church. Our ability to do this may be a remarkable witness to the world. 

General Assembly (2014) #16

Pastoral Letter:

June 19, 2014

To congregations of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.):

Grace and peace to you in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Earlier today, the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved a recommendation from its Assembly Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues allowing for pastoral discretion to perform “any such marriage they believe the Holy Spirit calls them to perform,” where legal by state law.

They also approved a recommendation to change language in the Book of Order to indicate that “marriage involves a unique commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman.”
Both decisions came with much thought, discussion, and prayer, and clearly the entire body that is the PC(USA) will be interpreting these actions for some time.

Please know that the same triune God in whom we place our hope, faith, and trust in is still in control, and that the assembly’s action today is the result of deep discernment to hear God’s voice and discern God’s will.

We concur with the feelings expressed by Teaching Elder Commissioner Jeffrey Bridgeman, moderator of the Assembly Committee on Civil Union and Marriage Issues, during his presentation to the assembly.
“The apostle Paul tells us that ours is, in fact, ‘the ministry of reconciliation’ as ‘ambassadors of Christ,’ and he died for us so that we might be reconciled, that we might become reconcilers,” Bridgeman said.

In this season of both happiness and sadness over the assembly’s decisions, we call on you to remember the overflowing grace and love God gifts us with, and to take seriously our charge to bestow the same grace and love on one another.

In the name of Jesus Christ our Lord,
Ruling Elder Heath K. Rada
Moderator, 221st General Assembly (2014)

The Reverend Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly

Ruling Elder Linda Bryant Valentine
Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #15

Committee Work is finished. The whole General Assembly will convene again today, Wednesday, at 2:00 p.m. The respective committees have:

Approved, by a vote of 49 -18, an amendment to the constitution concerning marriage copied here. If approved by the General Assembly this will come to the presbyteries for vote.

   “If they meet the requirements of the civil jurisdiction in which they intend to marry, a couple may request that a service of Christian marriage be conducted by a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), who is authorized, though not required, to act as an agent of the civil jurisdiction in recording the marriage contract. A couple requesting a service of Christian marriage shall receive instruction from the teaching elder, who [shall] [may] agree to the couple’s request only if, in the judgment of the teaching elder, the couple demonstrate sufficient understanding of the nature of the marriage covenant and commitment to living their lives together according to its values. In making this decision, the teaching elder may seek the counsel of the session, which has authority to permit or deny the use of church property for a marriage service."

Approved, by a vote of 51 -18, a new Authoritative Interpretation concerning marriage copied here:

Exercising such discretion and freedom of conscience under the prayerful guidance of Scripture, teaching elders may conduct a marriage service for any such couple in the place where the community gathers for worship, [if]  [so long as it is] approved by the session; or in such other place as may be suitable for a service of Christian worship. In no case shall any teaching elder’s conscience be bound to conduct any marriage service for any couple except by his or her understanding of the Word, and the leading of the Holy Spirit. The authoritative interpretation of this section by the 203rd General Assembly (1991) (Minutes, 1991, Part I, p. 395, paragraphs 21.124–128), and the subsequent authoritative interpretations of the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission relying upon it, are withdrawn and replaced with this authoritative interpretation.'

Approved the Confession of Belhar to be included in our Book of Confessions. The committee vote was 46 to 0. This is a constitutional issue. If approved by the whole General Assembly this will come to the presbyteries for vote. 

Amended and approved the Mid Council Report, with a vote of 65 to 1, which will initiate the restructuring of our Synods. An important section of the recommendation is copied here: 

 Direct that a new configuration of synod boundaries be established [based on an emerging sense of purpose, partnership, context, and call through a collaborative process] between the synods and presbyteries [resulting in no more than 10-12 synods]. resulting in no more than eight [twelve] larger regional synods, each with an emerging sense of purpose, partnership, context, and call. The synods shall report to the 222nd General Assembly (2016).

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #14

Living Missionally

The Congregation Vitality committee approved by a vote of 44 - 0 a recommendation from the General Assembly Mission Agency titled "Living Missionally." I was at the Committee discussion and vote on this recommendation. There was a remarkable, positive spirit and enthusiasm. After the comments from the staff of the Mission Agency, various committee members expressed support. It is this spirit of unity and vision which is another important aspect of this General Assembly. All the publicity and media attention, including mention in the New York Times yesterday, is focused on our divisions and conflict. But there is also conversation, including this recommendation to Live Missionally, around which the General Assembly conversation is united and energized. As I wrote earlier, I believe this is the most important recommendation coming out of this year's General Assembly. This is not a top-down, mandated, new program. This is simply an invitation to a conversation about what Jesus is calling us to be and do together.  

The recommendation is:

1.    Acknowledge the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s historic commitment to joining Christ’s mission in local and global communities.
2.    Encourage congregations, mid councils, and the Presbyterian Mission Agency to join intentionally in God’s mission to transform our world and address root causes of societal injustices by following Christ’s example of service through faith, hope, love, and witness.
3.    Launch a churchwide initiative that will inspire, equip, and connect Presbyterians to continue to go beyond the walls of their congregations and increase their engagement in service to their communities and the world.
4.    Direct the Presbyterian Mission Agency to develop tangible metrics to determine success and impact and report back to the 222nd General Assembly (2016), sharing progress made and identifying strategies for deeper engagement in 2016–18.

The Committee's comment on this recommendation is copied here:
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has a historical commitment to joining Christ’s mission in local and global communities and many have discussed and written about the concept of the missional church in recent years. The Presbyterian Mission Agency, in its 2013–2016 Mission Work Plan, has made engaging young adults through mission and volunteer service a priority and believes shaping multigenerational, faith-based relationships dedicated to service in local communities and the world will help the church better follow Christ’s mission. For nearly 200 years, the Presbyterian church has served as one of the greatest forces for mission in the world. The church is called to minister to the immediate needs and hurts of people. The Book of Order states: “In the life of the congregation, individual believers are equipped for the ministry of witness to the love and grace of God in and for the world. The congregation reaches out to people, communities, and the world to share the good news of Jesus Christ, to gather for worship to offer care and nurture to God’s children, to speak for social justice and righteousness, and to bear witness to the truth and to the reign of God that is coming into the world” (G-1.0101). Presbyterians have sought to be a mission-centered church from their inception and have a strong, unwavering belief that there is no other way truly to be the church. Many have discussed and written about the concept of the missional church in recent years. One Presbyterian scholar, Darrell Guder, has written on this vital topic for the church today. In his book, Missional Church: A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America, Guder and his colleagues provide key insights into the recent missional church movement. Guder and his colleagues discuss three themes that are important to this proposal: the shift the church must make, the purpose of the church, and the role of denominational structures. Guder argues that to be missional the church must “move from church with mission to missional church.” Most churches articulate a commitment to mission and have a mission program. If they are large enough, they likely will have a specific pastor devoted to mission. Many churches support several overseas missionaries and are probably contributing money and service to a local mission, homeless shelter, or food bank. In this construct, mission is seen as one of the many activities and programs of the church. The purpose of the local church is not to be what Guder calls “vendors of religious services and goods,” with mission merely being one of a myriad of programs. Rather, doing mission is central to what it means to be the church. This is the shift that the church must make. The second major theme in Guder’s work challenges the very definition of what it means to be the church. Guder argues that it is “a new understanding of the church as a body of people sent on a mission.” The church is thus not only a body that gathers for a worship service. The church is also a group of people organizing together so they can serve the community around them most effectively. The purpose of gathering is to be sent. Guder states, “The public worship of the mission community always leads to the pivotal act of sending. The community that is called together is the community that is sent. Every occasion of public worship is a sending event.” To a missional church, worship is driven more by what must happen after the service. What it truly means to be the church, according to Guder, is “the people of God who are called and sent to re-present the reign of God. This vocation is rooted in the good news, the gospel: in Jesus Christ the reign of God is at hand and is now breaking in.” For Guder, the focus of the staff and the commitment of the resources are directed toward helping people to re-present Christ to their neighbors in their everyday lives.

Monday, June 16, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #11

Social Witness Policy:

In a previous era, before the internet, when information was shared in very different ways and in different forms than today the Presbyterian Church's social witness policy documents were often influential and widely read. The Presbyterian Church has a long heritage of speaking to public issues with a theological depth and academic rigor that was often widely studied and appreciated. There was a day when policy papers on social issues were themselves important discussions at the General Assembly. Times have changed, academic rigor within the church has decreased, and the attention span and interest of Presbyterians in theological reflection on social issues has diminished. Nonetheless the General Assembly continues this good work, and several important social witness policy papers are among the actions items at this year's General Assembly.  

For example: 
The Power to Change - U.S. Energy Policy and Global Warming
Available on PC-Biz under Committee 15 "Immigration and Environmental Issues." (

Tax Justice: A Christian Response to the New Gilded Age
Available on PC-Biz under Committee 09, "Social Justice Issues", 09-16 ( biz.WebApp_deploy/(S(xnlblfk1p2ip2t3fhju5a3mj))/Committee2.aspx).

General Assembly (2014) #10

The Launching of the “Fellowship Community”:
There will be a significant institutional restructuring of the evangelical voice within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The "Fellowship of Presbyterians" and "Presbyterians for Renewal" are merging their organizations to form the "Fellowship Community". The Fellowship of Presbyterians was a gathering of evangelical Presbyterians out of which the new ECO denomination emerged. The new Fellowship Community will not have any formal connection with ECO.
This note is copied from the Presbyterians for Renewal website:
It is with great joy and anticipation that we celebrate the launch of a new movement as the Fellowship of Presbyterians and Presbyterians for Renewal (PFR) join together to nurture and connect gospel-centered PC(USA) congregations and expand relationships with our counterparts in other mainline traditions.
The Fellowship Community is not an “association” to join. We are building a new community around Christ-centered mission, accountability, theological integrity, and cultural engagement. We are following the Holy Spirit’s leading into a new season of mission and ministry, shaping an evangelical witness and actively participating in God’s mission in the context of our 21st century church and culture.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #9

Celebrate World Mission

The General Assembly celebrated and commissioned a huge new class of mission co-workers. Including spouses this is a group of 49 mission co-workers, from Hugh and Teena Anderson from Cascades Presbytery to serve in China to Claire Zuhosky from Shenango Presbytery to serve in Niger. This is a remarkable group of gifted people with amazing gifts going out all around the world to serve in partnership with partner churches, schools and medical facilities on our behalf. Is this not one of the most important expressions of ministry that we do together as a church? 

Can the Presbytery of Carlisle start a simple but transforming campaign to insure that each our congregations is connected, aware and supportive of our ministry in World Mission? Can every congregation learn about and engage with the ministry of at least one mission co-worker? 

General Assembly (2014) #8

Heath Rada was elected Moderator.

Special congratulations and special thanks to all the leaders and participants in the NEXT conference. All three of the candidates for Moderator mentioned their involvement in the NEXT conversation. The elected Moderator, Heath Rada, mentioned that he was recruited to consider running for Moderator by participants at the NEXT conference. We should be paying attention to the energy and vision emerging in the NEXT conversation.  


General Assembly (2014) #7

Claiming some church history today:

The computer program PC-Biz is used to track all the action items coming forward to the General Assembly. There is a Resources tab within PC-Biz which, I was surprised to learn today, includes now a copy of the famous Swearingen Commission report from 1925. The Special Commission of 1925 was created by the General Assembly then to respond to the conflict in the church being caused by what is now referred to as the Fundamentalist and Modernist Controversy. For students of Presbyterian history (like me) this Report is an important response to one of the most difficult times of conflict in the church. The balanced, fair, and thoughtful report went a long way toward easing the conflict. The Special Commission of 1925 lifted up what they called a "principle of toleration" which, I believe, is still very relevant and appropriate as we live through our season of discord and disagreement. A paragraph on the "principle of toleration" from the Special Commission of 1925 is copied here:

The principle of toleration when rightly conceived and frankly and fairly applied 
is as truly a part of our constitution as are any of the doctrines stated in that instrument. 
Not only is the principle expressed in definite terms, but its place and authority as a part 
of our organic law is further indicated in a number of articles by clear and necessary 
implication. Furthermore, it is recognized through unbroken practice in the 
administration of our form of government and our discipline. 

 Toleration as a principle applicable within the Presbyterian Church refers to an 
attitude and a practice according to which the status of a minister or other ordained 
officer, is acknowledged and fellowship is extended to him, even though he may hold 
some views that are individual on points not regarded as essential to the system of faith 
which the Church professes. Presbyterianism is a great body of belief, but it is more than 
a belief; it is also a tradition, a controlling sentiment. The ties which bind us to it are not 
of the mind only; they are ties of the heart as well. There are people who, despite variant 
opinions, can never be at home in any other communion. They were born into the 
Presbyterian Church. They love its name, its order and its great distinctive teachings. In its fellowship they have a previous inheritance from their forbears. Their hearts bow at 
its altars and cherish a just pride in its noble history. Attitudes and sentiments like these 
are treasures which should not be undervalued hastily nor cast aside lightly. A sound 
policy of constitutional toleration is designed to conserve such assets whenever it is 
possible to do so without endangering the basic positions of the Church.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #6

In my opinion, the most important action item coming before this year's General Assembly is 14 - 03 from the Congregational Vitality committee. This is a recommendation from the Mission Agency:

The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board recommends that the 221st General Assembly (2014):

1.    Acknowledge the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s historic commitment to joining Christ’s mission in local and global communities.

2.    Encourage congregations, mid councils, and the Presbyterian Mission Agency to join intentionally in God’s mission to transform our world and address root causes of societal injustices by following Christ’s example of service through faith, hope, love, and witness.

3.    Launch a churchwide initiative that will inspire, equip, and connect Presbyterians to continue to go beyond the walls of their congregations and increase their engagement in service to their communities and the world.

4.    Direct the Presbyterian Mission Agency to develop tangible metrics to determine success and impact and report back to the 222nd General Assembly (2016), sharing progress made and identifying strategies for deeper engagement in 2016–18.

This is what I would like to be about in our Presbytery. I am particularly interested in the the concept of "tangible metrics". How do we measure the vitality and effectiveness of our congregations and our presbytery. Why are we too often content with mediocrity and a complete lack of growth? Are these not the concerns and issues we should be discussing? 

Friday, June 13, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #5

As we begin our week together for the meeting of the General Assembly in Detroit it seems from my casual conversation with our commissioners and many friends around the Exhibit Hall here that the Israel and Palestinian issue is the hottest issue. A long news article about our General Assembly in the Detroit Free Press was headlined with this issue. ( Our Commissioners told me that they received more response on this issue in preparation for the Assembly than any other issue. Our debate about divestment from Israel is now also associated with recent divestment action by the United Methodist Church and the Gates Foundation. Also, as we have heard before, a number of Jewish organizations around the nation have already publicly criticized the Presbyterian Church for even considering divestment.

This is not a debate I want to join or about which I have a passionate commitment. In many ways, from my perspective, the Presbyterian Church is fragile. I fully understand the importance of public witness and social justice. But I also understand the stress that burdens many small congregations, and the stress that burdens many of our pastors and church leaders. The contentious heat, the divisiveness, and the polarizing debate around this intractable, international issue does not build us up. Most of all, I am very concerned that many people simply disengage from these church conversations cynical and apathetic. 

I know the importance of Presbyterian social and political engagement. I know the stellar history of our social witness. In this changed culture, in this fragile church how do we engage social  issues and witness publicly in ways that lifts us up and makes us proud to be Presbyterian? In my mind, these contentious debates which will be decided by extremely narrow voting margins are not the proper means of social witness for today's church. Certainly Presbyterians should consider and debate and engage the Israeli and Palestinian issue. But should this issue be the primary issue, the dominant issue and the headline issue for our General Assembly?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #4

Constitutional Question:
An Amendment to the Book of Confessions:

Coming to the General Assembly this year is a recommendation to add the Confession of Belhar to our Book of Confessions. Since the Book of Confessions is part of our church's constitution this question is a constitutional issue. This means that if the question is approved by the General Assembly, it will then also be considered by the presbyteries. Thus if this question is approved, we will be considering and voting on this question at our presbytery. There is a good website prepared where the text of the Confession of Belhar may be reviewed along with a supportive and background information:

General Assembly (2014) #3

This litany is suggested for the opening session of each General Assembly Standing Committee: 

Litany of Hope for the 221st General Assembly

Eternal and gracious God, as we gather for the 221st

General Assembly of the Presbyterian
Church (USA), we offer you thanks and praise.

We give you thanks for

our faith in your sovereign love,
guiding and grounding our prayers and deliberations,
and this opportunity for new and renewed friendships,
confessing that we are the body of Christ together.
our out your Holy Spirit anew we pray, that
our common life this week reflects the mind of Christ,
seeking God’s guidance through our worship, prayer, discernment and action,
and our engagement with each other demonstrates the transforming love of God,
enabling us to discern God’s will together.

Lead us beyond our private concerns and petty perspectives,

that our experience together centers on
learning from Presbyterians and many others across the United States and around the world,
discovering God’s presence through worship, devotions, hallway prayers and Christ-centered conversations,
witnessing with joy and thanksgiving the emergence of new leaders for the church,
making decisions through contemplation, prayer and heartfelt sharing,
centered on the call of Christ,
and growing in our personal and church wide understanding of God’s will and ways.

In our life together during the days ahead, give us the courage

to participate in discussion, deliberation and discernment
in ways that are fair and honest and open,
to be quick to listen and not so quick to speak,
to engage with one another in love, humility and grace,
and to proclaim with clarity and determination
the great good news of the Gospel.

Through our time together this week, grant anew that

this meeting may represent the bond of union, community and mission
among all the congregations and councils of our church
to the end that the whole church becomes
a community of faith, hope, love and witness,  to the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Amen.

General Assembly (2014) #2

In this week before the meeting of General Assembly convenes, (the Assembly meets from June 14 to 21; I leave for Detroit this Friday), I am reviewing the action items that are coming forward:

Marriage: Of course, anyone paying attention to this conversation is aware of the proposals concerning the definition of marriage. This issue will be the focus of the secular media’s reporting from the Assembly. If you are following this debate, it is important that you understand the difference between a Constitutional Amendment and an Authoritative Interpretation. These are very different types of action. There are proposals coming forward in both forms.

Middle East: There are contentious action items coming forward concerning the church’s response to the Middle East and specifically the ongoing tension and conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. This debate is confounded by the larger question about the role and purpose of social justice ministry in the church today.

Synods: At the 2012 General Assembly a bold and innovative proposal, (which I appreciated and supported), came forward concerning the restructuring of our middle governing bodies. That proposal was defeated but the question itself was moved forward. Now a much smaller and less innovative proposal is coming forward to reduce, in two years, our current synods into eight new synods. But this proposal faces strong opposition from the Synod executives themselves who have a written response. This will be a contentious, internal issue for the church.

Gun Violence: There a social witness policy paper coming forward on gun violence. This is a topic I wish our presbytery would debate. This is a difficult and divisive national issue. Our presbytery, from urban Harrisburg to rural Juniata and Fulton Counties, includes the whole spectrum of convictions on this question. Should we not be discussing this?

In my mind, two important issues which may not be highlighted in the news media should also be discussed and considered in our presbytery:

1001 Worshipping Communities: There continues to be strong and growing support for this movement to create new worshipping communities. This is becoming a strategic focus of our church. Every presbytery is challenged to engage this conversation. I am seeking a congregation that will host this conversation in our presbytery.

The Mission Agency fundraisers: You should know the meeting of the General Assembly and all our constitutional concerns are the responsibility of the Office of the General Assembly (OGA). Nonetheless the other side of the General Assembly structure, the Mission Agency, reports to this meeting. In the report of the Mission Agency’s Special Offerings Taskforce there is a recommendation to continue the special fundraising efforts which have been initiated. This includes the hiring and expansion of the professional fundraising staff within the Mission Agency. A goal has been set to stop the decline in the One Great Hour of Sharing special offering and grow it to $20 million by 2020. For a Presbytery like ours, which has a strong commitment to Shared Mission Giving, this new emphasis on professional fundraising undermines our whole financial system and changes our traditional understanding of connectionalism. Our presbytery should be aware of and pondering a robust response to this new day of church finances. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

General Assembly (2014) #1

Introduction to the General Assembly

            The 221st General Assembly (2014) is scheduled for this June 14 to 21 in Detroit. We are grateful for our team of commissioners who are already preparing for this important service to our Church. Jim Speedy and I will also attend the gathering; please watch for my updates and reflections which will be regularly posted on my blog. 
            Already all the action items that will be coming forward to this General Assembly can be studied and reviewed electronically. The website, with lots of background information on the Assembly, is at or simply Google on PC(USA) General Assembly. At the Assembly all the action is considered using a special program named PC-Biz. You may find this program at or simply Google on PC-Biz. Within the PC-Biz program you may click on the “Resources” tab to find a list of all the “Business” and all the “Overtures” coming to this Assembly. You may click on the “Committees” tab to see all the fifteen committees of Assembly; clicking on any particular committee will bring up all the action items which are on that committee’s agenda.
            Action items to the General Assembly come forward in three distinct paths. There are, of course, many “Communications.” For example, the World Council of Churches brings their greetings. There are also “Recommendations” from other agencies within the Church to the Assembly. For example, there is a list of Recommendations coming to the Assembly from the General Assembly Mission Agency. But most important are the “Overtures.” Overtures are action items to be considered by the Assembly that have been approved by presbyteries. Overtures typically originate with an individual session, are approved by that session’s presbytery and sent forward to the Assembly. Almost all of the controversial issues facing the Assembly come forward as Overtures. This is very important. Thus the most important items coming before the Assembly originate with a particular session within a particular congregation. This reflects the connectional nature of our Church. Our Church is individual congregations connected together into a system of governance and mission. Our General Assembly, and the actions it considers, is driven from the grassroots of the Church. Overtures are initiated by particular sessions.

            Please pay attention to this year’s General Assembly. Let us engage together the many important issues facing us.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Introduction to Celtic Spirituality and Theology

Book Review: J. Philip Newell. Listening for the Heartbeat of God: A Celtic Spirituality. Paulist Press, 1997.

            I have recently immersed myself in some reading in the area of Celtic spirituality, theology and history. In the great sweep of history, it is remarkable that the Celtic worldview was so thoroughly crushed by the authority and control of Roman theology as early as the 7th century. Thus the Celtic vision had, as far as I can tell, no influence on the Protestant Reformation in England, Scotland or Ireland. It is not until much, much later, in the 20th century, that this quiet and gentle stream of Christian theology re-emerged and has been enjoying a grand renewal, now with a rebuilt Iona as a powerful spiritual location. How would our American Presbyterian Church history be different if the Scots, Irish and British Presbyterians who first immigrated here had a theological worldview that included some of the Celtic themes? In a larger sense, the utter crushing of the Celtic worldview by the powerful dominance of the Roman Church begs us to ponder the source and formation of Christian doctrine itself. There were some powerful forces in the realms of international relations and politics that allowed the ascendancy of the Roman perspective and the declaration that the Celtic perspective was heretical. Was this the work of the Holy Spirit? If so, how do we understand the re-emergence of these Celtic themes now, and their popularity today? Is it possible that we got it wrong in the first place? Is it possible that the intention of the Holy Spirit, as demonstrated by the recent, influential rebirth of the Celtic vision, is to help us in the Church realize that there are different viewpoints, perspectives, and worldviews? Maybe the Church is at its best when we learn to respect and hold on to all of them.    

Today J. Philip Newell is one of the leading voices for the reclaiming of the Celtic perspective. I highly recommend his small book as an easy introduction to these questions. The one paragraph copied here introduces many of the deep questions I believe we should ponder:

“The stream of Celtic spiritual, from Pelagius in the fourth century to George MacLeod in the twentieth, is characterized by the expectation of finding God within, of hearing the living voice of God speaking from the very heart of life, within creation and within ourselves. It is a spirituality that recognizes the authority of St. John and reflects his way of looking and listening for God. At the decisive Synod of Whitby in 664, where two distinct ways of seeing, represented by the Celtic and Roman missions, came into conflict, the former allied itself to John. Coleman of Lindisfarne argued that the Celtic tradition originated from St. John, the disciple who was, he said, ‘especially love by our Lord’. Wilfred, on the other hand, argued for the Roman mission, which, he claimed, was based on the authority of St. Peter, whom, he claimed, was based on the authority of the Apostles.’ The tragic outcome of the synod was not that it chose the Roman mission but that it neither made room within the Church for both ways of seeing or declared that both were firmly rooted in the gospel tradition.”

Other resources in Celtic thought:

Esther De Waal. The Celtic Way of Prayer. (Kindle edition).

Grace Clunie. Sacred Living: Practical Inspiration for Celtic Spirituality for the Contemporary Spiritual Journey. (Kindle edition, 2011). (The Rev. Grace Clunie is the Director of The Centre for Celtic Spirituality, Armagh, Northern Ireland.)

The Classics of Western Spirituality. Celtic Spirituality. (Kindle Edition).

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Report to the Presbytery of Carlisle Feb. 25, 2014

Francis Makemie: The Calling to be Connected Together.
            Take a moment with me, please, to review some of the history of our church. To begin at the beginning we must ponder a small group of rugged, devout and irascible pastors who first gathered in Philadelphia in 1706 for the first organized meeting of the first Presbytery in the United States. Francis Makemie was the driving force; he called and organized the meeting. The pastors were all immigrants from England, Scotland or Ireland. An early history of that era describes them, “They were almost wholly destitute of property; and the people to whom they ministered, being like themselves in poverty, and struggling for subsistence in a wilderness land, could contribute but a pittance to the support of their pastors.”[1] The bold tenacity of these first Presbyterian leaders and their faithful congregations are both remarkable. With strong ties to the theological, ecclesiastical and ethnic traditions of their native lands these Presbyterians, nonetheless, claimed a new freedom and planted a new church in this new land. Our new church was Presbyterian in its heart and American in its soul. It was a new thing.
            The great theological divisions within Protestantism which were now an intimate and centuries old aspect of the history of the England, Scotland and Ireland were all imported to America and our new church. The ethnic differences and the power of theological convictions became boundary lines and soon also, theological controversies in this new land. Henry Wood, in an early history of the Presbyterians, sees a constant wavering between, on one hand, “jealousies, alienations and strifes” and, on the other hand, “correspondence and union”.[2] From the first days of the new Presbyterian mission enterprise in America a new and unique church organization was created which was, nonetheless, inspired by its English, Scottish and Irish forbearers.[3]
The first Presbytery meeting included seven ministers representing both Presbyterians and Congregationalist Churches, and several churches where that distinction was blurred.[4] Francis Makemie was there under the sponsorship of the London Fund, a group of British Presbyterians sponsoring missionary work in America. The London Fund also sponsored two missionaries to accompany Makemie, John Hampton, an Irishman and George McNish, a Scotchman. These three missionaries joined Jedidiah Andrews, John Wilson, Nathaniel Taylor and Samuel Davies who were already at work in Pennsylvania and Delaware in the spring of 1706 when the first meeting of a Presbytery in America was called.[5] The Rev. Jedediah Andrews was the first pastor of the first church in Philadelphia.[6] These seven ministers who gathered voluntarily as the first Presbytery are themselves a metaphor for American Presbyterianism. American Presbyterianism has always been both encouraged and stressed by the mixing together of different flavors of Reformed heritage. Professor Charles Briggs, in historical reflection on this first gathering written much later in 1885, concluded about this first Presbytery: “It was a happy union of British Presbyterianism in its several types. It was an interesting combination. Makemie, the Scotch-Irishman; Hampton, the Irishman, and McNish, the Scotsman, sustained by funds provided by the Presbyterians in London; uniting with Puritan missionaries from New England in organic union in a classical Presbytery. (Here is my punchline, quoting Professor Briggs.) We have here in miniature the entire history of American Presbyterianism. It was a broad, generous, tolerant spirit which effected this union.”[7]
            Why did Francis Makemie and the other six ministers gather and create that first Presbytery? Certainly they each had a lot of other work to do with their congregations, and planting new congregations. The truth is that these pastors each had a powerful and spiritual calling in Christ to be connected together. I believe an essential question we each need to ponder today, in an era of stress and strain in our church, is whether or not you are called to be connected together. I would like to ask each session of each of our congregations to spend a few moments considering this question: Are we called to be connected? Are we called to be connected with other Presbyterian congregations who, in fact, will have practices and convictions very different than our own? Are we called to be connected in and through the Presbytery and what do we believe is the purpose and the benefit of those connections? This calling is where it must all begin.
            The presbytery cannot function and, I would say, cannot exist if the churches in our midst do not know themselves to be deeply and spiritually called to be connected together. We can deal with a vast diversity of practices and convictions, we can accept massive differences in style, and perspective and approach, we can manage our financial and demographic downsizing if we are called to be connected together. It is very important that your session be brutally honest about this question. If you are convinced that you truly are not called to be connected with other Presbyterians congregations through the presbytery then you need to be true to that. Or if you discern that there are behaviors, values, or convictions that you simply cannot be connected with then you need to true to that. Are we called to be connected? This calling is our starting point; it was so for Francis Makemie.   

[1] Ashbel Green, A Historical Sketch or Compendious View of Domestic and Foreign Missions, 14.
[2] Wood, Henry. The Presbyterian Controversy, with Early Sketches of Presbyterianism. Louisville: N.H. White, 1843, 25.
[3]Briggs, Charles Augustus, D.D. American Presbyterianism: Its Origins and Early History. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1885, 129. Briggs concludes: “At the opening of the eighteenth century there was no strife between the Scotch and Irish Presbyterians and the Puritans of England and America, but only the most hearty sympathy and co-operation.” See here also the text of a “letter of thanks from the Provincial Synod of Glasgow to the Rev. Dr. Mather in New England, dated 1700.”
[4]Briggs, Charles Augustus, D.D. American Presbyterianism: Its Origins and Early History. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1885, 127.
[5]Briggs, Charles Augustus, D.D. American Presbyterianism: Its Origins and Early History. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1885, 140.
[6] Wood, Henry. The Presbyterian Controversy, with Early Sketches of Presbyterianism. Louisville: N.H. White, 1843, 26. Rev. Andrews was a “Congregational Presbyterian. That church was sixty four years without any ruling elders, though under the care of the Presbytery.”
[7] Briggs, Charles Augustus, D.D. American Presbyterianism: Its Origins and Early History. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1885, 140.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Essay: From Castle to Frontier Outpost: Changing views of mission.

Essay: From Castle to Frontier Outpost: Changing views of mission.
The one, holy, universal and apostolic Christian Church has received a calling to mission directly from Jesus. The Church has always turned to the Great Commission - the resurrected Jesus’ last words to his disciples - as the starting point and inspiration for our mission work (See Matthew 28: 19, 20). Nonetheless the understanding and definition of mission is changing and shifting in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) today. Your view of these changes depends a lot on the location and viability of the congregation where you are located. I offer two different images or mental pictures of mission that may, I hope, help us understand these changes.
Castle: Consider in your mind’s eye an image of a medieval castle. Throughout Europe these amazing structures are still fascinating places to tour. Consider a castle as a definition of mission. In this regard, the church is the castle. It is strong, secure, established and solid. Imagine the heavy, secure doors of the castle opening, the drawbridge across the moat dropped down, and a group from the castle sent out on a mission. This may be the understanding of mission familiar to most of us. In this view, the church is the castle and the mission we do is sent from our secure, established home base out into the world. Mission goes out from the church. This mission may be in the form of missionaries sent out to create castles in other places. Or this mission may be in the form of simply sending money out to help with people, organizations, agencies that are beyond the walls of our castle. For our Presbytery, this understanding of mission funds our Mission Grants programs which makes financial grants.
Frontier outpost: Consider a completely different image. Consider in your mind’s eye a small group of faithful Christians venturing together into a wild, wilderness frontier and living there; this is actually the original history of Presbyterians in Pennsylvania. Consider a small frontier outpost established in a wild, savage wilderness as an image for the church. In this image the definition of mission is very different. The existence of this frontier outpost is questionable and tentative; it is not secure or established. The existence and survival of the church itself is at risk. It is constantly threatened. In this case the survival of the church is its mission. It is not at all certain that this Christian outpost living in the wilderness will survive. Thus the continuing existence of the church, in every way, is its mission. 
I believe the definition of mission is shifting in the church today from castle view to frontier outpost view. In the castle, all the work of our daily operations from the salaries of our people, to the care of our buildings, our worship and our pastoral care are all accomplished. The castle sustains itself. We are, in fact, very good at this. When everything has been accomplished making sure the castle is secure and comfortable; then we send out our mission.
If the church is understood as a frontier outpost our survival, including all the day to day operations, are our mission. Thus everything we do - including salaries, our worship and programs and our buildings - are all contributing to the existence of this fragile outpost in a threatening wilderness. Everything we do is our mission. Our mission is to exist as a church in the midst of a wild and foreign world. 

Questions for prayer, pondering and discussion:

  • How secure and established do you consider the existence of the church today? Do you feel that the existence of the church in our society is at risk or threatened?
  • Do you feel that the continuing existence of your congregation in your community is at risk?
  • What does it mean to consider the existence of the church as its mission?
  • What is God doing? In the castle image of the church, the church does mission. The church is secure, stable and established and thus sends out mission work. In the frontier outpost image of the church, God does mission. God has sent the church into the wilderness frontier of the world. The planting of the church in the wild frontier is God’s work of mission. This is, of course, the most important question: What is God through Christ doing in regard to these issues?
  • How do these different views of mission influence the ways we fund the church and organize ourselves? This opens the complicated question of our financial system.

Resource: What is Per Capita?

Resource B: What is Per Capita?

For 2014 the total Per Capita assessment for congregations in the Presbytery of Carlisle is $25.00 for each active member.
                                    General Assembly                     $7.02
                                    Synod of the Trinity                  $2.20
                                    Presbytery of Carlisle                $15.78
                                    TOTAL 2014 Per Capita       $25.00

  • The Presbytery of Carlisle has, since 2006, created a financial system that functions with one, unified budget. Thus the Presbytery does not maintain a distinction in our financial system between Per Capita and Shared Mission contributions. All Per Capita Contributions and Shared Missions contributions from our congregations are unified into one operating budget from which all expenses are drawn. (Please contact me for a copy of our 2014 Budget).
  • Our Presbytery’s unified budget clearly reflects a changing definition of the understanding of the church today. Everything the church does is mission. As discussed in the essay, “From castle to frontier outpost: changing views of mission”, this unified budget reflects an understanding of the church as a frontier outpost. Thus even a congregation’s Per Capita contribution should be considered part of their mission. This unified budget system also creates a clear, clean and transparent financial system.
  • At the General Assembly the distinction between Per Capita and Shared Mission giving is fully separate. Per Capita supports the Office of the General Assembly. Shared Mission Giving supports the General Assembly Mission Agency. The Office of the General Assembly and the General Assembly Mission Agency are separate agencies within the General Assembly.
  • Funded by Per Capita, the Office of the General Assembly is responsible for all governance and constitutional matters, all judicial and disciplinary concerns as well as the actual meeting of the General Assembly and the work of the General Assembly Moderator. (The next General Assembly is June 14 – 21, 2014 in Detroit).
Questions for prayer, pondering and discussion:

  • Is being connected together with other congregations through the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) important to you as a session?
  • How do you participate in those connections?
  • In what ways have our connections together been strained and broken in recent years? In what ways have you contributed to enhancing and nurturing our connections?
  • How do you financially support the connections we share?
  • Will you contribute your Per Capita contribution to financially contribute to these connections?