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In Spirit and Truth

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About this blog

In Spirit and Truth seeks to encourage discussion and deeper consideration of representation issues in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). It is hoped entries will prompt reflection and dialogue on aspects of expanding representation and supporting full participation in the PCUSA, especially at the assembly and mid council levels.  

This blog will occasionally feature content written by one of the fourteen members of the General Assembly Committee on Representation, who are church members, ministers (teaching elders) and ruling elders from across the country, as well as links and articles of particular interest. The ministries of advising, consulting, advocating, promoting inclusion, reviewing and recommending actions are vital to the life of the whole Body of Christ. Committees on Representation and/or their functions exists at all councils above session so from time to time we may highlight activities and insights from sister committees on representation at lower councils throughout the church.  

Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. or the General Assembly Committee on Representation.
Author/Facilitator Molly Casteel is an Assistant Stated Clerk and the Manager for Equity and Representation in the Office of the General Assembly.  She is a teaching elder (a.k.a. Minister of Word and Sacrament) in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary.

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July 24, 2013

Diverse Perspectives: A Competitive Advantage

Guest blogger: Kathy Martinez, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Disability Employment Policy.

Reprinted, with permission, from (Work in Progress), The Official Blog of the U.S. Department of Labor.

July 26 marks the 23rd anniversary of a landmark event in our nation’s history: the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Like other civil rights legislation that came before it, the ADA works to ensure a more inclusive America, one where more people have the freedom to lead full lives, pursue their dreams and reach their greatest potential. It also reaffirms the inherent value of one of our core national assets: our diversity.Patty stands in a grocery aisle.  She is wearing black and has a walker.  She is looking directly into the camera with a broad smile.

From its earliest days, America’s strength has derived not from the commonalities of its people, but rather their differences. That’s because diversity drives innovation.

The same concept applies in business. Research tells us that groups outperform individuals − even brilliant individuals − working independently. Even further, groups representing a range of perspectives outperform those with superior, but similar, skill sets. By fostering a corporate culture respectful of individual differences, including disabilities, businesses benefit from varied approaches to confronting challenges and achieving success. That’s why many of today’s most successful companies proudly deem diversity to be a core value.

The Cover Page of The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies.  Predominantly black, the title appears in bold colors, red and yellow, in the lower left corner.    In his book “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools, and Societies,” University of Michigan researcher Scott Page summarizes this principle about as succinctly as possible: “diversity trumps ability.” He then goes on to illustrate, through mathematical modeling and case studies, how employee diversity creates higher performing organizations.

Today more than ever, businesses need people with the ability to adapt to different situations and circumstances. They need people who think divergently. They need people who think diversely.

The anniversary of the ADA presents an opportune time for America’s businesses to affirm their commitment to workplace policies and practices − including internships and other work experience programs for young people with disabilities − that welcome the talents of all qualified individuals.

As a leader, I’ll always choose a solution that represents an amalgam of opinions and insights rather than the one that approaches a problem from only one angle. Because in business, as in society at large, diversity drives innovation.

For more information on disability, diversity and inclusion, check out some of these resources:

Kathy Martinez is the assistant secretary of labor for disability employment policy.  The original post was published July 22, 2013, on the Department of Labor blog (Work in Progress).

PCUSA resources on disability concerns were highlighted in a July 2012 blog post on the anniversary of the ADA.

Tags: ada, ada anniversary, add us in, americans with disabilities act, campaign for disability employment, diverse perspectives, diversity, inclusive workforce

July 18, 2013

An Open Letter to the Six Jurors in the George Zimmerman Trial

I hardly know where to begin, because my heart is so heavy with disappointment, and incredulity.  My initial reaction upon hearing of the death of Trayvon Martin more than a year ago, was sympathy for his family.  As more details emerged, I began to get angry.  I was angry because it was clear from the recorded call between Zimmerman and police, that he had undeniably racially profiled this boy.  But I was more horrified that he had been released, in possession of his weapon that night, before Trayvon had even been identified.  This child, killed ...

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June 28, 2013

Anniversaries abound and histories surround us

I’m feeling especially grateful these days.  This week I received a colorful package from California.  Inside was a book, 40th History of the Ethnic Concerns Committee, a great gift from Joan Alston, a colleague in the Synod of the Pacific.  The cover is a beautiful rendering of the two sides of the hand-carved doors to the chapel here in the Presbyterian Center where I serve. More than once this week, I’ve given in to the temptation to peruse a few of its pages and in it I’ve learned so much more about the deep history ...

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April 25, 2013

Five Verbs, Seven Groups and a Case Study

A visitor at this meeting, I was given privilege of the floor to advise the Synod commissioners about language in soon-to-be adopted Synod by-laws about the Committee on Representation.

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March 12, 2013

Lent: A Time for Giving Up

What are you giving up for Lent? That was the question.  In fact, I will always remember a new friend's answer to that question. She proudly said, "Do you know what I’m giving up for Lent? I'm giving up celibacy," and before I could feel my ears turning red and my cheeks blushing she announced "I'm getting married!" The idea of giving something up for Lent may or may not be in our Presbyterian/Reformed ethos. We tend to say that our grace-oriented faith does not require our efforts to purify ourselves to please God. But instead, we ...

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