The 220th General Assembly today (July 5) passed a wide range of social justice policies and recommendations. The report of the GA Social Justice Issues committee was divided into a number of areas, including environmental justice, economic justice and safety and justice.

Debating whether to support a fifty-year farm bill that promotes sustainable agriculture, some commissioners spoke against any action that would add more economic burdens to stressed family farmers. But the Rev. Seth Svaty of South Kansas Presbytery said that as a fifth-generation family farmer, he understands economic pressures. “But this bill will promote the development of perennial grains that will make marginal land around the planet arable. But only if groups like ours support it,” he said.

The Assembly passed a resolution encouraging the use of discipline methods that do not include corporal punishment of children. It was opposed by the Rev. James Emig of Denver Presbytery, who said, “Most people know the difference between discipline and abuse. I would like us to trust parents that most of them can responsibly corporal punishment.”

Commissioner Susan Mazzara of New Hope Presbytery had a different point of view. “I speak in favor in the land of Mr. Rogers. If we can’t stand again hitting and abusing children, what can we stand for? Let us love them and not hit them,” she said.

After spirited discussion, the Assembly instructed the General Assembly Mission Council to report on ways to affect the practices of corporations that directly manage or operate for-profit prisons.

In addition, the Assembly approved the following items:

  • Calling for an end to Poverty Zone Development and a resolution on Workers’ Rights and Income Equality
  • Supporting the work of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
  • A set of principles and actions called World of Hurt, Word of Life: “Renewing God’s Communion in the Work of Economic Reconstruction”
  • A Resolution on Racism, Incarceration and Restoration
  • Continuing the work of Deborah’s Daughters, which supports women in ministry
  • Commending the 2011-2012 Horizons Bible Study and the Accra Confession
  • Plans to update the Safe Child Policy in the PC(USA)
  • Supporting justice for survivors of sexual abuse
  • A Statement on housing and the mortgage crisis
  • Appointing two seasons of prayer to seek the will of God in this year’s election
  • A Statement of concern about prolonged solitary confinement
  • Advocating for trade reform and accountability