One church’s perspective on the “English Only” charter amendment

TOMORROW, January 22, is voting day on the English Only charter amendment.

Hearing the biblical call to welcome the stranger, the Session invites the congregation to prayerfully consider the following:

On December 18 the Session voted to urge members of Trinity to vote against the “English only” charter amendment in the January referendum. The Session gave the following reasons for its action: The “English only” requirement does not acknowledge the linguistic diversity that has always characterized the U.S. (the result of many factors, including voluntary migration, conquest, employment practices, and compassion toward refugees) and continues today. Furthermore it does not manifest the hospitality toward immigrants and refugees that we have every reason to expect in our public and private life. And it is out of keeping with the future character of our nation, region, and city, which will remain both red and blue, black and white, yellow and red and brown. The Presbyterian General Assembly in 1990 acknowledged “the special claim that immigrants make on Christian conscience and the contributions they make to U.S. society,” and reaffirmed the following principles:

-providing for the human needs of refugees and immigrants;

-non-discrimination in aid and in application of laws and policies;

-upholding constitutional and civil rights;

-protecting lives;

-special consideration for women and children, individuals with special needs, and unification of families;

-provision of adequate resources to communities in order to reduce tensions;

-vigorously combatting expressions of racism in policies and their implementation.

From Trinity Presbyterian Church PC(USA), Nashville, TN

A New Way of Looking at Today’s Presidential Campaign


I just received this in my email inbox from a dear friend of mine in New York City. It’s from his friend from seminary. I liked his perspective so I thought that I’d share widely this reflection on today’s politics. Let me know what you think…

Weekly Reflection by Rev. Durrell Watkins

I speak only for myself today. I am not representing my family, my neighborhood, my parish, or my denomination. Today I write to you not as the pastor of the Sunshine Cathedral, but as a member of the Temple of Democracy. The spirit that inspires me today is the spirit of justice and the sacrament that I hold up is the grace-filled act of making a choice and voting one’s convictions. The creed that fills my heart today comes not from ancient councils, but from the American motto, “E Pluribus Unum” (Out of many, One).


With that uncharacteristically patriotic introduction, let me now add that I hope that every American plans to vote in November’s presidential election. And I hope that all people will consider the important issues and vote for the common good, for “liberty and justice for ALL.”


We shouldn’t vote for the most dynamic individual (Obama might come out ahead if that were the test).

We shouldn’t vote for the person who has spent the most time in politics (that would favor McCain).

We shouldn’t vote for the person with the most impressive education (Obama would win that contest).

We shouldn’t vote for the person who has survived the ravages of war (McCain would be the winner in that case).

We shouldn’t vote for the person who is the best orator (Obama would be the clear winner there).

We shouldn’t vote for someone just for being a person of faith (Obama, Biden, and Palin each share that claim…I’m less familiar with McCain’s spirituality).

We shouldn’t vote for someone just for facing the challenges of racism (as Obama has),

nor should we vote for someone just for facing the challenges of sexism (as Palin has).

We shouldn’t vote for someone just for achieving personal success (both tickets feature very successful candidates).

We shouldn’t vote for someone for having the most attractive spouse (that would result in a tie).

We shouldn’t vote for someone for having “family values” (they all love their families).


All candidates this year have impressive credentials and have overcome some amazing odds. As individuals, we might admire any or all of them. What we are left to vote for is vision, commitment, and a plan of action to insure equal opportunity, equal rights, and equal protection under the law. So…


We SHOULD vote for the person who we believe will lead this country in the ways of peace and prosperity.

We SHOULD vote for the person who will promote freedom OF and FROM religion, and the separation of religion and state.

We SHOULD vote for the person who stands for equality for ALL citizens.

We SHOULD vote for the person who will care for our environment.

We SHOULD vote for the person who will try to provide quality care to children, elderly, and all who need medical care.

We SHOULD vote for the person who will try to make education through college accessible to the greatest number of people.

We SHOULD vote for the person will protect us from enemies while also protecting our civil liberties.

We SHOULD vote for the person who we believe best understands how to stimulate the economy without overlooking the neediest among us.

And we SHOULD always work to end homophobia in both parties and among all candidates.


In the past, both parties have offered good ideas and good leaders who have been a blessing to this country. So, we aren’t called to party loyalty or to the personality that we feel most drawn to; we are challenged in this election with weighing the ideas, the promises, and the plans of each candidate and making an informed and responsible choice for the good of our nation and our world.


Whoever you support, encourage them to keep the discourse respectful in these final campaign months. Let’s insist that these candidates discuss ideas and issues and not personally attack each other. We don’t want the person who can deliver the nastiest zinger; we want the person who will help our country be as good as it can be for as many people as possible.


Finally, if you believe in prayer, please pray for the candidates this year. Three Senators and a Governor are trying to balance their own health, the well-being of their families, the responsibilities of the current offices they hold, and the demands of the campaign trail. And whoever wins will inherit a sluggish economy and a war, and hopefully, whoever wins will try to bring unity and civility to a nation that is deeply divided on many issues. These candidates need our prayerful support as they run, and the winner will need extra wisdom and energy after winning. So, hold these candidates in prayer.


I can’t tell you who to vote for, but I am asking that you consider the issues very carefully and on Election Day, prayerfully cast your vote. If everyone does that, we’re all bound to win.