The Confession of Belhar is a “cry from the heart” that unity, reconciliation, and justice be practiced in Christ’s church. This confession grew out of Apartheid in South Africa. Given recent events in Ferguson, we are mindful of work that needs to be done in our own time in this country as well.
“A Cry from the Heart for Unity, Reconciliation, and Justice: From Belhar to Ferguson” is a one day conference at Montreat Conference Center on Friday, October 17. We will examine the Belhar Confession in depth through four prominent church leaders, historians, and theologians. Allan Boesak, an influential anti-Apartheid activist and a principal author of the Belhar Confession, will start by clarifying Belhar in its original historical context rooted in the opposition to Apartheid in South Africa in the 1980’s. Boesak currently serves as the Desmond Tutu chair of Peace, Global Justice, and Reconciliation Studies at Butler University and Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis.
This will be followed by three Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) historians and theologians who will reflect on race relations in U.S. history and the struggles of race, class, and gender in the present U.S. context, These scholars include:
Columbia Seminary’s Dr. Rodger Nishioka and Dr. Kevin Park are both on the committee hosting the conference. Since the Belhar Confession is addressed, not to society at large, but to the church, the following question will be posed and addressed:
Can the Belhar Confession help the PC(USA) denomination to confess and repent of our continuing racism and help the church be a prophetic, transformative voice and agent toward unity, justice, and reconciliation?
Come and join what will be an exciting and relevant discussion. The conference is timely as PC(USA) presbyteries begin the process of voting on the actions of the 221st General Assembly (2014), including a proposed constitutional amendment that would add the Belhar Confession to the PC(USA)’s Book of Confessions. If the confession gains the approval of the presbyteries, the 221nd General Assembly (2016) would then be called upon to approve its inclusion in the Book of Confessions. If approved, Belhar would join the 11 Eurocentric creeds and confessions currently contained in the Book of Confessions and would be its first addition in nearly 30 years.