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Synod Rejects Revisiting Adoption of Belhar Confession, Encourages Its Use

We can talk, but we need to act as well.
—Adrian DeLange, a delegate Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan
Steven Herppich

Synod 2023 unanimously resolved not to revisit adopting the Belhar Confession as a Christian Reformed confession but made separate actions to encourage its use in its congregations.

First Hamilton (Ont.) CRC brought an overture (formal request) to synod asking that the Belhar Confession, which was created by South African Christians in response to apartheid, be adopted as a CRC confession. Synod 2017 decided to adopt the Belhar in the category of “contemporary testimony” rather than as a church confession.

“We’ve had an entire synod devoted to this discussion. This has already been decided,” said Tim Turner, Classis Illiana.

Some delegates, while agreeing not to revisit the Belhar’s status, did want synod to encourage churches to act on the Belhar’s ideas by adopting several other measures.

So in a separate vote that was not unanimous, Synod 2023 encouraged churches to “make regular use of the Belhar Confession in worship and daily practice.” Synod also recognized that adopting the Belhar as a contemporary testimony in 2017 “was a significant step in a journey of ongoing racial reconciliation, and more steps are needed.” Lastly, Synod encouraged churches to make use of the denomination’s resources on racial justice available from Indigenous Ministry (Canada) and Thrive.

“We can talk and talk and talk, but we need to act and act and act as well,” said Adrian DeLange, a delegate from Classis Alberta South/Saskatchewan and reporter for the committee that addressed the Belhar overture.

Synod 2023 is meeting June 9-15 at Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich. Find daily coverage from The Banner news team at Visit for the synod schedule, webcast, recordings, photos, committee reports, and liveblog. Synod is the annual general assembly of the Christian Reformed Church.

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