Synod Gives Belhar Discussion More Direction

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Synod 2011 instructed the denomination’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee (EIRC) to “foster a balanced denominationwide discussion on the adoption of the Belhar Confession as a fourth confession.”

Next year’s synod will decide whether to accept the Belhar Confession as the Christian Reformed Church’s fourth confessional standard.

Rev. Timothy Toeset: “We believe that the Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee will deal with this appropriately.”

Karen Huttenga

Synod was responding to an overture (request) from Classis Heartland. According to grounds for the overture, a more balanced discussion is needed because official CRC communications about the Belhar have focused on promoting it, rather than considering its “merits and liabilities.” Synod did not include those grounds in its instruction.

Several delegates observed that there has been ample time for congregations to study the Belhar, and now little time remains.

“We tried to leave this instruction open-ended,” said Rev. Timothy Toeset, Classis Pacific Northwest and reporter for the committee that considered the overture. “We believe that the EIRC has heard [the] concerns and will deal with this appropriately.”

“I wonder if this is not an attempt to reverse the decision of Synod 2009,” said Elder Fronse Pellebon Smith, Classis Holland.

Synod 2009 proposed adopting the Belhar following a three-year study period.

For more coverage while synod is in session, including webcasts, photos, discussion forums, reports, and more, see the Synod 2011 website.

About the Author

Roxanne VanFarowe is a freelance writer who lives in the woods with her artist husband James and their five children in Hillsborough, North Carolina. They are members of Blacknall Presbyterian Church in Durham.