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.