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Synod Adopts Belhar

Praying before voting

After 24 years of considering the Belhar Confession, the RCA's General Synod voted this morning to adopt it as a Standard of Unity.

The Belhar Confession joins the RCA's historic standards, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Canons of Dort, and the Belgic Confession.

Earlier in the General Synod, delegates met in advisory committees to participate in a discernment process around the Belhar Confession and the Belhar-related proposals before the synod. Based on those sessions, advisory committee moderators recommended adopting the recommendation to add the confession to the RCA's Standards of Unity.

Delegates discussed the recommendation on the floor of the General Synod for more than two hours with delegates presenting heartfelt arguments in favor of and against the recommendation. Delegates voted after a time of silent prayer.

The decision, which stipulates an addition to the Book of Church Order, must be ratified by two-thirds of the RCA's 46 classes. The classes will report their votes to the next General Synod.

Delegates also approved a recommendation to commend the paper "Belhar and Our Call" to congregations, classes, and synods.

The Belhar Confession was written in 1982 by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church, a black denomination in South Africa, during apartheid, to affirm the truth of the gospel in the face of terrible oppression. It addresses themes of unity, reconciliation, and justice.

Posted 06/08/09

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