A Forum on the Belhar Confession

Most of us have heard by now that our denomination, the Reformed Church in America, wants to adopt the Belhar Confession from South Africa. Belhar is the location where this confession originated during the time of apartheid. Faced by the evils of racism, segregation, violence and discrimination, the Belhar Confession speaks of unity, reconciliation and justice.

Adoption of the Belhar requires that b of all Classes of the RCA ratify it prior to General Synod 2010. In order to bring us up to speed with this development, we organized a congregational forum following worship on Nov 15th. Ten women of our church had prepared special ethnic food from all corners of the earth and presented it on corresponding ethnic tablecloth. Thank you to Ellen Hamilton for organizing this!

Then we watched a DVD from the proceedings of General Synod 2009, when the parliamentary adoption process was formally launched. Following this, we had some discussion and received an introduction to the text.

When we left for home, most of us shared a feeling of satisfaction over the possibility that the Belhar Confession may become one of our foundational documents, a Standard of Unity, as we say. However, we also recognized that adopting a text from a different culture remains meaningless if we do not allow the liberation struggle of that culture to affect our own. If we adopt Belhar, we will have to face areas on our own home turf that need revision and change.

About Rev. Dr. Hartmut Kramer-Mills

Hartmut Kramer-Mills, a native of Jena, Germany, began his theological education at Heidelberg University. After the Middle Exam in 1986 he received a scholarship from the World Alliance of Reformed Churches for McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. He graduated from McCormick with a Master of Divinity in 1988. He graduated from Marburg University in Germany with the Ecclesiastical Exam in 1990, and received a Dr. theol. from Greifswald University, Germany, in 1997. From 1990 to 1991 he was vicar at St. Wenzel in Naumburg, Germany. He was ordained minister of word and sacrament in 1993 through the Protestant Church of the Church Province of Saxony. From 1993 to 1998 he served as assistant pastor in Stoessen, Goerschen, and Rathewitz, Germany. At the same time he was lecturer for Church History at Erfurt College in Germany. From 1999 to 2000 he served the Spotswood Reformed Church in New Jersey as interim pastor. Since 2000 he and his wife serve the First Reformed Church in New Brunswick, New Jersey, as co-pastors.
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