The Belhar Confession has its roots in the struggle against apartheid in Southern Africa. This "outcry of faith" and "call for faithfulness and repentance" was first drafted in 1982 by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church (DRMC) under the leadership of Allan Boesak. The DRMC took the lead in declaring that apartheid constituted a status confessionis in which the truth of the gospel was at stake.
The Dutch Reformed Mission Church formally adopted the Belhar Confession in 1986. It is now one of the "standards of unity" of the new Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa (URCSA). Belhar's theological confrontation of the sin of racism has made possible reconciliation among Reformed churches in Southern Africa and has aided the process of reconciliation within the nation of South Africa.
Belhar's relevance is not confined to Southern Africa. It addresses three key issues of concern to all churches: unity of the church and unity among all people, reconciliation within church and society, and God's justice. As one member of the URCSA has said, "We carry this confession on behalf of all the Reformed churches. We do not think of it as ours alone." The Belhar Confession was adopted by the RCA's 2009 General Synod. It was then ratified by two-thirds of the RCA's classes and incorporated into the Book of Church Order as a doctrinal standard at the 2010 General Synod.