The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Special Committee on the Belhar Confession is encouraging churches to study the confession and embrace its major themes.
Professed by a faithful people in a historic situation—the apartheid era in South Africa— the Belhar Confession centers on the themes of unity, reconciliation, and justice. Likewise, the PC(USA) struggles with broken relationships within the church, the enduring legacy of racism that continues to shape us as a community, and weakness of resolve in working for justice for all. The committee is developing an educational strategy designed to aid congregational engagement with the confession.
“One of our goals is to be sure that the Belhar Confession is widely available and widely studied throughout the church,” said Clifton Kirkpatrick, former stated clerk, PC(USA), and co-moderator of the Special Committee.
The Confession of Belhar, from the popular Being Reformed: Faith Seeking Understanding series, explores what it means to be a confessional church and to meet and confess faith in the face of racism in its various forms. It focuses on the confession’s themes of unity, reconciliation, and justice.
Written by Cynthia Holder Rich, The Confession of Belhar is now available for e-readers at Amazon.com for Kindle and within the iBooks app for iPad and iPhone. Participant’s books are $3.00; leader’s guides are $5.00. Paperback copies are available at store.pcusa.org/being-reformed.
“[This study helps] bring the PC(USA) into a larger conversation as a member of the family of Reformed churches discerning God’s mission in the 21st century,” said Matilde Moros, assistant dean, New Brunswick Theological Seminary, and co-moderator of the Special Committee. “We are reminded how God calls us as the church to confess, to humble ourselves, to encounter God with open hearts.”
The PC(USA) Special Committee is considering whether to recommend the inclusion of the Belhar Confession in the Book of Confessions. It is preparing a formal report on the Belhar Confession for the 221st General Assembly in June 2014.
“All Christians should heed their voice for the church’s unity and against the corrosive ideology of racial division,” said Charles Wiley, coordinator, Office of Theology and Worship, PC(USA).
Being Reformed, published by Congregational Ministries Publishing, is a series of biblically based studies that provides adults with a foundational understanding of the Reformed faith. Each six-session study—written by well-known and respected scholars—features Scripture, prayer, in-depth commentary, and questions for reflection. Learn more about Being Reformed at pcusa.org/curriculum.