Belhar Confession: Affirmations

Antiphonal Affirmation

Men:

We believe in the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
who gathers, protects and cares for his Church by his Word and his Spirit,
as he has done since the beginning of the world
and will do to the end.

Women:

We believe in one holy, universal Christian Church,
the communion of saints called from the entire human family.

Men:

We believe that Christ's work of reconciliation is made manifest
in the Church as the community of believers
who have been reconciled with God and with one another;

Women:

that unity is, therefore, both a gift and an obligation
for the Church of Jesus Christ;
that through the working of God's Spirit it is a binding force,
yet simultaneously a reality which must be earnestly pursued and sought:
one which the people of God must continually be built up to attain;

Men:

that this unity must become visible so that the world may believe
that separation, enmity and hatred between people and groups
is sin which Christ has already conquered,
and accordingly that anything which threatens this unity
may have no place in the Church and must be resisted;

All:

that this unity of the people of God must be manifested
and be active in a variety of ways:

Men:

in that we love one another;

Women:

that we experience, practice and pursue community with one another;
that we are obligated to give ourselves willingly and joyfully
to be of benefit and blessing to one another;

All:

that we share one faith, have one calling, are of one soul and one mind;
have one God and Father, are filled with one Spirit,
are baptized with one baptism, eat of one bread and drink of one cup,
confess one Name, are obedient to one Lord,
work for one cause, and share one hope;
together come to know the height and the breadth and the depth of the love of Christ;
together are built up to the stature of Christ, to the new humanity;
together know and bear one another's burdens,
thereby fulfilling the law of Christ;
that we need one another and upbuild one another, admonishing and comforting one another;
that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness;
pray together;
together serve God in this world;
and together fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity;

Women:

that this unity can be established only in freedom and not under constraint;
that the variety of spiritual gifts, opportunities, backgrounds, convictions,
as well as the various languages and cultures,
are by virtue of the reconciliation in Christ,
opportunities for mutual service and enrichment
within the one visible people of God;

Men:

that true faith in Jesus Christ
is the only condition for membership of this Church;

All:

Therefore, we reject any doctrine

Women:

which absolutises either natural diversity
or the sinful separation of people
in such a way that this absolutisation
hinders or breaks the visible and active unity of the church,
or even leads to the establishment of a separate church formation;

Men:

which professes that this spiritual unity is truly being maintained
in the bond of peace
whilst believers of the same confession are in effect alienated
from one another for the sake of diversity and in despair of reconciliation;

Women:

which denies that a refusal earnestly to pursue this visible unity as a priceless gift is sin;

All:

which explicitly or implicitly maintains
that descent or any other human or social factor
should be a consideration in determining membership of the Church.

--submitted by Nolan Palsma, Pitcher Hill Community Church, North Syracuse, NY

An Affirmation of Unity

We
share one faith,
have one calling,
are of one soul and one mind;
have one God and Father,
are filled with one Spirit,
are baptized with one baptism,
eat of one bread and drink of one cup,
confess one Name,
are obedient to one Lord,
work for one cause,
and share one hope.

Together we
come to know the height and the breadth and the depth of the love of Christ;
are built up to the stature of Christ, to the new humanity;
know and bear one another's burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ
that we need one another and up build one another,
admonishing and comforting one another;
that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness.

Together we pray; together we serve God in this world.

--submitted by Nolan Palsma, Pitcher Hill Community Church, North Syracuse, NY

An Affirmation of Reconciliation

God has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation through Jesus Christ.
Thank you, God, for this wonderful gift!
We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Thank you, God, for this wonderful gift!
We are blessed because we are peacemakers
Thank you, God, for this wonderful gift!
We proclaim and enjoy the new heaven and the new earth.
Thank you, God, for this wonderful gift!
Sin and death are conquered!
Thank you, God, for this wonderful gift!
Hatred, bitterness, and enmity have no place here!
Thank you, God, for this wonderful gift!
Through our obedience, God is making the new creation!
Thank you, God, for this wonderful gift!
We will not allow racial separation to hinder God's will.
No, we will not!
We will confess our nation's history of hatred and alienation.
Yes, we will!
We will not stand silent when anyone claims that God desires separation.
No, we will not!
We will own God's call to be a force for reconciliation.
Yes, we will!
We will not allow prejudice and fear to get in the way of hearing and living the gospel.
No, we will not!
We will engage in disciplines to confront our selfishness and unbelief.
Yes, we will!
We will not pass along our racism and prejudice to our children.
No, we will not!
For God has entrusted us with the message of reconciliation through Jesus Christ.
Thank you, God, for this wonderful gift!

--By Paul Janssen, based on section two of the Belhar Confession, on Reconciliation