Wednesday, June 11, 2014

E-mails sent to the Presbyterian Historical Society, e-mails answered

On June the third, I wrote about David Staniunas of The Presbyterian Historical Society interviewing Jeffery DeYoe of the Israel Palestine Mission Network. The subject was  Divestment and Presbyterian Policy. You can find that posting here, “The Presbyterian Historical Society and a historical lie: divestment again.”  I was bothered by the fact that only one side of a PC (U.S.A.) controversy was being added to the archives of the Society.  After posting the article I sent an e-mail with a link to my posting to the PHS.

“Dear staff of the Presbyterian Historical Society,
I am a ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), with a Masters in History and a Presbyterian blogger. I am sending you, in all fairness, a link to my latest blog posting: The Presbyterian Historical Society and a historical lie: divestment again As someone very interested in history and also very interested in Middle East Issues, I am concerned about your latest blog posting. I am hoping that you will in the spirit of historical accuracy also do an interview with Presbyterians for Middle East Peace. Perhaps with Rev. Dr. John Wimberly.

 Sincerely in Christ,
Viola Larson

The Presbyterian Historical Society replied:

Dear Ms. Larson:
 Thank you for your email. David Staniunas, our Director of Communications Samantha Piccolo, and I have all read your blog post, and we appreciate your desire to have all historical perspectives represented and preserved for the future. While that one blog post featured an interview with IPMN, it does not represent the sum total of our collection. For example, on GA-related issues, we collect official minutes, press releases and newsletters, periodicals such as the Presbyterian Outlook that feature GA coverage, and the records of many Presbyterian offices, agencies, and affinity groups that weigh in on what happens at a General Assembly. This year, we are attempting to take into our archive websites, blogs, and other social media that feature information on GA issues and have commentary on those issues. We know we cannot do a perfect job in preserving records that represent all viewpoints. But, we strive to be as neutral as possible in building our collection for the use of all interested people in the future. Your blog post has reminded us of the importance of that mission.

Nancy J. Taylor
Director of Programs and Services
Presbyterian Historical Society

 I sent another e-mail:

 Dear MS Taylor,
Thank you for responding to my e-mail. I am happy you are attempting to give a diverse view of the historical viewpoints occurring at the moment. May I ask if you have added information from the Presbyterian For Middle East Peace site? Also I am aware that Katharine Henderson head of Auburn Seminary has written several pieces on the debate about divestment and Zionism Unsettled. Hopefully you will also include her opinions.
Viola Larson

And was answered:

We plan to crawl the Presbyterians For Middle East Peace website for our collection of websites.  We are also collecting the wide spectrum of reactions to the Zionism Unsettled study guide.
Nancy J. Taylor
Director of Programs and Services
Presbyterian Historical Society"

 I still believe an interview of members of Presbyterians For Middle East Piece by PHS would be a great way to even out a rather one sided interview. But I do thank the PHS for responding to my concerns. And of course they did not say they were adding Henderson's article.   


Jody Harrington said...

My husband is a member of the board of PHS, so I am pleased to see the staff was responsive to your letter. We will follow up with your suggestion about interviewing members of Presbyterians for Middle East Peace. The GP of our presbytery is a leader in that group and would be a good place to start.

FYI--PHS will have a presence at the ECO and EPC meetings this summer as they reach out to Presbyterians of all flavors. My husband and I will be representing PHS at the ECO gathering in Dallas.

Viola Larson said...

Jody thank you for that. It feels in so much that needs to be said and needs to be known.