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.