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221st General Assembly (2014)

GA221 on the Confession of Belhar

 

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The 221st General Assembly (2014) sent to the presbyteries a proposed amendment to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Book of Confessions that would add the Confession of Belhar (English, Spanish, Korean). View the final Assembly action.pc-biz logo

Faithful Mission: The Confession of Belhar

"Last summer, millions of people across the United States celebrated the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King Jr.’s inspiring “I Have a Dream” speech. Yet even as we reflected on the progress in civil rights since 1963, we painfully acknowledged the persistence of racism and its destructive consequences in our church and culture." - Linda Valentine
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A Day on the Belhar Confession

Montreat held a one day conference examining the Belhar Confession in depth through four speakers who are prominent church leaders, historians, and theologians.

Learn more or at the Montreat web site or watch the entire event below.


 


Resources

  • Cynthia Holder Rich discusses The Confession of Belhar in the Advent season on ecclesio.com.
    Read "Incarnation: A Reflection on Advent in Three Parts, III"

  • As the Rev. Allan Boesak rose to give his powerful testimony of his life under the apartheid regime in South Africa and the genesis of the Belhar Confession there, a hushed reverence fell on Montreat Conference Center’s Convocation Hall.
    Read "If not now, when?"

  • By an overwhelming vote, the 221st General Assembly (2014) sent a proposed amendment to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)'s Book of Confessions that would add the Belhar Confession, which has its roots in the struggle against apartheid.
    Assembly sends Belhar Confession to presbyteries for inclusion in Book of Confessions

  • For a second time, the Confession of Belhar is being sent to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) to determine if it should be added to denomination’s Book of Confessions.
    Committee sends Belhar Confession to Assembly for approval

  • Rather than use their 15 minutes on stage to detail the conclusions of their report, the co-moderators of the Special Committee on the Confession of Belhar chose instead to briefly state their recommendations and allow other voices to speak on behalf of the confession.
    Belhar Committee turns to a variety of voices to make its case for new confession

  • The Special Committee on the Confession of Belhar issued its report and recommendations to the 221st General Assembly (2014) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

  • Learn more about the common questions people have that are associated with the proposed inclusion of the Confession of Belhar in our Book of Confessions.
    Frequently asked questions

  • The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is again facing a critical time in its history. We are rent apart by division and schism, we have yet to directly confront and confess the racism that has been a significant force in our own history, and we have shown a failure of resolve to make courageous stands for justice.
    Why Belhar, Why Now: Belhar and the U.S. context (PDF)

  • The General Assembly Special Committee on the Confession of Belhar has made available The Bible and Belhar, a new resource co-authored by Stephen Hayner and Mark Labberton which addresses the biblical basis of the confession.
    The Bible and Belhar

  • A version of the Confession of Belhar with references included to support the text.
    The Confession of Belhar with references

  • The Belhar confession was written by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church as a theological challenge to South African apartheid.  The six-session study guide explores Belhar and its historical context alongside the confessions of the PC(USA) and the legacy of racism in the United States.  Each session includes an essay and questions for discussion, framed in worship.  The guide contains the text of the confession, its accompanying letter and Martin Luther King's "Letter from Birmingham Jail."
    Belhar Confession study guide

  • There are a variety of ways to use this workshop design. One suggestion: when learning with large groups, gather in the large group for singing hymns, prayers, and presentation of material and separate into small groups of 6-8 persons for reading and discussion.
    A workshop design for the Confession of Belhar

  • The Confession of Belhar was written as a protest against a heretical theological stance by the white Dutch Reformed Church that used the Bible and the Confessions to justify the harsh and unjust system of Apartheid.
    Belhar Confession historical context by Jack Rogers

  • This letter was a statement made upon the adoption of the Belhar Confession by the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa.
    Accompanying letter to the Confession of Belhar

  • Dawid Kuyler, General Secretary of the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, engaged in a dialogue on the Confession of Belhar during a workshop at the Polity Conference of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
    Watch the video

  • Vernon Broyles, a volunteer serving in the Office of the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, shared his thoughts on the Confession of Belhar during the annual Polity Conference of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Prior to his work as a volunteer Broyles served in the Social Justice area of the General Assembly Council, now the Presbyterian Mission Agency.
    Watch the video

  • Essays by members of the Special Committee on the Belhar Confession are being made available on ecclesio.com.

  • Testimonials about the Confession of Belhar

    • "We realized that the challenge to our faith had been elevated globally. It was no longer necessary to refer to Apartheid. The confession describes the ways in which crimes against humanity can in fact be or become sins against God." - H. Russell Botman, Vice-Chancellor and Rector of Stellenbosch University, former president of the South African Council of Churches.
      Read his full statement.

    • "The Belhar Confession calls us to rethink what is fundamental to the Gospel and to give up separation in search of comfort with people like ourselves." - Jane Dempsey Douglass, Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Historical Theology, Emerita, at Princeton Theological Seminary.
      Read her full statement.

    • "I resonate with the Belhar Confession. For us, a international immigrant family from the global south, we depended for our survival on the active manifestation of the unity of the people of God."  - The Rev. Margaret Aymer, Associate Professor of New Testament and Area Chair of Biblical Studies at the Interdenominational Theological Center, the home of Johnson C. Smith Seminary.
      Read her full statement.

    • "The Belhar Confession has been a very important source of inspiration and strength to many of us in our church..." - The Rev. Syngman Rhee, Special Assistant to the President for Global Mission and Development, Moderator, 212thGeneral Assembly, Presbyterian Church (USA).
      Read his full statement.

  • The Reformed Church in America has collected a considerable array of materials on Belhar as part of their process.

  • Committee 13, The General Assembly Special Committee on the Confession of Belhar, on PC-biz.org pc-biz logo


Worship Resources

These worship resources have been compiled by the Special Committee on the Confession of Belhar for use in worship in congregations and the councils of the church.


More information:
oga.communications@pcusa.org

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