Synod Report IV

Much of the time dedicated to business on Sunday centered on the Belhar Confession. The Belhar was presented in the morning and the “major issue advisory groups” met in the afternoon to discuss the issue. Informal reports suggest that most groups went heavily in favor of adoption. However, some were issuing caution.

The mood might have shifted with the addresses from two persons from South Africa at the ecumenical dinner. Piet Naude from the NGK made the remarkable address in which the white church pled with us to adopt Belhar for their sake. The RCA’s adoption would have profound effect in the South African situation (and the European as well, as it turns out). Russell Bottman from URCSA reviewed the history of the Belhar. He pointed out the importance of Belhar as a confession. For example, the section on justice is not about justice per se, but about God. He also pointed out the difference between the Kairos document that pushed the notion that some things cannot be reconciled and the Belhar as a confession that placed reconciliation at the heart of the gospel. He claimed that when people ask why South Africa did not end up in the predicted blood bath, the difference was Belhar. This is all astonishing stuff. And the RCA is in the thick of it!

This is of interest to CI folk, I think, because we have continually claimed that confession is important at the heart of the church. This is what we are about. And it is encouraging to see delegates “getting it.”

The decision is this morning. The decision on MSTF report is this afternoon. The recommendation on that report will be to defeat the major recommendations, and to continue to talk. There will also be a recommendation to include deacons in higher assemblies and to go to biannual synods. But those old chestnuts have come up before. We’ll see.

Al Janssen

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One thought on “Synod Report IV

  1. Saturday, just prior to my leaving, I had heard also heard that the final MSTF recommendation would be “to continue discussions.” rather than proceed with R-13 & 14. Curiously, this was prior to the meeting of the of the sub-group that was to work out the final recommendations. “To continue the discussion”, however, means that the original concepts of some form of merger and running local ministry from a GSC platform are still alive. Though the Synod may vote against these 2007 resolutions, it can still be interpreted that by calling for further discussion, they saw some merit in the concepts that just had to be refined. We would all be smart to prepare now to seize the initiative in these “further discussions” using the momentuum of the moment. If we feel that R-13/14 crossed a line, we should be clarifying for ourselves just what role in the development of innovative ministries is proper for the GS to play, so that we may draw that line in the discussions to come. We are at the end of the first mile. The second mile is about to begin.

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