URCSA PRESS RELEASE: Adoption of the Belhar Confession by the Reformed Church in America (RCA) 9 June 2009

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The Executive of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, (URCSA) has received the news of the adoption of the Belhar Confession, by the General Synod of the Reformed Church in America (RCA), with great joy in our hearts.

URCSA and the RCA have walked together for a long time. Our path together spans over a period of more than thirty years.

In 1976 and 1979 the RCA decided to enter into partnerships with the then Dutch Reformed Church in Africa (DRCA) and the Dutch Reformed Mission Church (DRMC) respectively. They shared our pain and our joys. Our despair and our hope.

Our relationship tells the story of the RCA being at our side through the most difficult and challenging times of our history. These were the times during which the fundamental truths of the Christian faith were at stake and we were then compelled by our commitment to these truths, to re-state our faith. This re-statement of our faith came as a cry from our heart in painful conditions and found a voice in the birth of the Belhar Confession.

On Monday when the General Synod of the RCA decided to adopt the Belhar Confession as their fourth standard of faith, our cry from the heart became their cry from the heart.

The RCA’s association with Belhar started in 1985 when they received the confession as a draft. Since 2000 the RCA has committed itself to a decade of study of the Belhar Confession through reflection, worship, teaching, discernment and confession. They honestly and prayerfully wrestled with the confession during this decade, until they have arrived at this moment of joy when they said, with their decision, we believe as you believe.

The Belhar Confession is now officially recognized by the RCA.

As a church we are thankful to the RCA for this act of faith. In the presence of God we bow in all humility and gratefulness, for using us as God’s instrument at a time when the heart of Gospel was at stake.

With this decision the RCA now joins:

  •  the Evangelical Reformed Church in Germany,
  • the Protestant United Church in Belgium and
  • the Reformed Church in the Dominican Republic (Iglesia Reformanda Dominica)

who have all accepted Belhar as their fourth standard of faith.

We are also humbled by the fact that the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), who convenes for their Synod later this week, is also scheduled to consider Belhar as their fourth standard of faith.

The Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA) will consider Belhar in 2010.

Together we shall now, as a community of faith, witness to justice, reconciliation and unity in every situation in our Synodical sphere and the world where it is under threat. We are grateful that more churches see the Belhar Confession as a gift of faith and not as a stumbling block.

It is our earnest prayer that other Reformed Churches, especially in South Africa, will come to this wonderful discovery of what the Belhar Confession really is and stands for.

All honour and praise be to God.

The Executive of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa ( URCSA)
Prof ST Kgatla (Moderator)
Dr Mary Ann Plaatjies –van Huffel: Assessor (Deputy – Moderator)
Dr Dawid Kuyler : Scribe ( Executive Secretary)
Rev. MG Betha: Actuarius
Dr. HG Platt
Rev. P Moloi
Rev. R. Nel

Issued by Rev. Daniel Kuys (Media spokesperson for the Executive), on behalf of the Executive.