Shuck and Jive

Monday, June 30, 2008

General Assembly Approves A Social Creed for the 21st Century

One of the action items at the General Assembly that has been overshadowed by the ordination question is the adoption of A Social Creed for the Twenty-First Century. This was a big deal. It was approved by a five to one margin.

This comes on the 100th anniversary of the 1908 Social Creed. You can read a history of the 1908 Social Creed on Witherspoon. Many of the same principles of the 1908 Social Creed are present in the current one.

Yet, many things have changed in one hundred years. Technology, overpopulation, the climate crisis, the extinction of species, nuclear weaponry, and the list continues.

The General Assembly asked congregations and members to study this creed and to hopefully, make decisions in our personal and collective lives that reflect these principles.

Here is the text:

A Social Creed for the Twenty-First Century

We churches of the United States have a message of hope for a fearful time. Just as the churches responded to the harshness of early twentieth century industrialization with a prophetic “Social Creed” in 1908, so in our era of globalization we offer a vision of a society that shares more and consumes less, seeks compassion over suspicion and equality over domination, and finds security in joined hands rather than massed arms. Inspired by Isaiah’s vision of a “peaceable kingdom,” we honor the dignity of every person and the intrinsic value of every creature, and pray and work for the day when none “labor in vain, or bear children for calamity” (Isa. 65:23). We do so as disciples of the One who came “that [all] may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10), and stand in solidarity with Christians and with all who strive for justice around the globe.

In faith, responding to our Creator, we celebrate the full humanity of each woman, man, and child, all created in the divine image as individuals of infinite worth, by working for:

  • Full civil, political, and economic rights for women and men of all races.
  • Abolition of forced labor, human trafficking, and the exploitation of children.
  • Employment for all, at a family-sustaining living wage, with equal pay for comparable work.
  • The rights of workers to organize, and to share in workplace decisions and productivity growth.
  • Protection from dangerous working conditions, with time and benefits to enable full family life.
  • A system of criminal rehabilitation, based on restorative justice and an end to the death penalty.

In the love incarnate in Jesus, despite the world’s sufferings and evils, we honor the deep connections within our human family and seek to awaken a new spirit of community, by working for:

  • Abatement of hunger and poverty, and enactment of policies benefiting the most vulnerable.
  • High quality public education for all and universal, affordable, and accessible healthcare.
  • An effective program of social security during sickness, disability, and old age.
  • Tax and budget policies that reduce disparities between rich and poor, strengthen democracy, and provide greater opportunity for everyone within the common good.
  • Just immigration policies that protect family unity, safeguard workers’ rights, require employer accountability, and foster international cooperation.
  • Sustainable communities marked by affordable housing, access to good jobs, and public safety.
  • Public service as a high vocation, with real limits on the power of private interests in politics.

In hope sustained by the Holy Spirit, we pledge to be peacemakers in the world and stewards of God’s good creation, by working for:

  • Adoption of simpler lifestyles for those who have enough; grace over greed in economic life.
  • Access for all to clean air and water and healthy food, through wise care of land and technology.
  • Sustainable use of earth’s resources, promoting alternative energy sources and public transportation with binding covenants to reduce global warming and protect populations most affected.
  • Equitable global trade and aid that protects local economies, cultures, and livelihoods.
  • Peacemaking through multilateral diplomacy rather than unilateral force, the abolition of torture, and a strengthening of the United Nations and the rule of international law.
  • Nuclear disarmament and redirection of military spending to more peaceful and productive uses.
  • Cooperation and dialogue for peace and environmental justice among the world’s religions.

We—individual Christians and churches--commit ourselves to a culture of peace and freedom that embraces non-violence, nurtures character, treasures the environment, and builds community, rooted in a spirituality of inner growth with outward action. We make this commitment together—as members of Christ’s body, led by the one Spirit—trusting in the God who makes all things new.

Perhaps this social creed, if we do study it and take it to heart, can mobilize Presbyterians beyond our divisions for a more just and sustainable Earth.


  1. I have been following this on your blog and even watched the streaming video. I am not sure just where I found your Blog but I did and I am grateful. I am going to post your post on my blog under the heading. "I think the Presbyterians have gotten it right." Thanks for all you have done and are doing.

  2. Thank you, Jay, and welcome! I am glad you found me and I look forward to reading your blog as well!

  3. That's a pretty good creed. Kudo's to the GA.

  4. Heh,

    I bet the whineskins are pulling their hair out over that one.
    That's a sound creed and I am happy to say that I have a renewed sense of pride in PCUSA.
    The GA has represented Jesus well in this instance.

  5. For the first time, I am really proud of my church!