Allan Boesak, a church leader and former anti-apartheid activist, presented a lengthy report on homosexual members to his church, the Uniting Reformed Church in Southern Africa, at its general synod Oct. 2.
He dramatically insisted that the church’s Belhar Confession demands the defense of the full rights of gay members. When the synod rejected this, he announced his intention to resign from all church offices and left the synod floor with his wife.
Boesak was the chair of a synodical committee appointed to clarify the theological and moral status of homosexual unions and to clarify the ordination of practicing homosexuals into ministry.
The report, which included a lengthy exegesis of the implications of the Belhar Confession for the topic, recommended full acceptance of homosexuals in loving and faithful relationships to the ministry of the church.
Presenting this report to the synod, Boesak told delegates that the Belhar Confession demands that they move in this way. The Belhar, he said, was never meant to be just an anti-apartheid document, but a document against discrimination of all kinds.
Delegates reacted angrily. One even suggested that Boesak’s use of the Belhar Confession for this purpose was slanderous, although that delegate later apologized for the charge. The synod received the report but did not adopt any of its recommendations. Instead, it called for another committee to present the “other side” of the issue.
The URCSA executive said that the committee was late with its report, and there was no time to process it through the church before it came to the synod. “Dr. Boesak should . . . take full responsibility for what happened with the report at synod. He should not try to lay the blame on the synod.”
They described the report as an outstanding piece of work that would be sent to the regional synods for discussion.
(Kerkbode, Beeld, REC)