Mission Crossroads

FAL 2017

Mission Crossroads is a three-time-a-year magazine focused on worldwide work of the PC(USA). It offers news and feature stories about mission personnel, international partners and grassroots Presbyterians involved in God's mission in the world.

Issue link: https://missioncrossroads.epubxp.com/i/876779

Contents of this Issue

Navigation

Page 14 of 23

Mission Crossroads 13 Gregg Brekke prejudice affect the church's witness and ministry to a wounded society. Moreover, in light of Belhar, it called Christians to action to "engage constructively with the issue of racism on different levels." Among other things, it proposed a "Season of Human Dignity" — a dialogue to "discern how we in South Africa are going to be obedient to Jesus." e conversation is not limited to racism. Church leaders identified other aspects of human dignity that also require attention, including gender, sexuality, poverty, disability, health and education. Pieter's own congregation, Sarepta URC — established in 1843 through the work of a freed slave, Johanna van der Bergh — is working to put Belhar into practice through a range of ministries. ese include intentional outreach to young people and people who are homeless or living on the street. "As a church, we tend to have relief ministries rather than transformative ministries. So part of my hope [is] to introduce in this congregation the kind of work that will have long-term impact on society," Pieter explained. "at means that you equip people to make their own choices. Ultimately, when they go out into the world, they're to transform the world. Because they're not here for the church, they're here for the world." e adoption of Belhar by the PC(USA) and other churches validates Pastor Pieter's hope that this conversation can extend beyond South Africa. "I don't see Belhar as something that … [is part of ] our tradition alone," he said, "but as something that must transform us. I believe that we can use Belhar to create a very important conversation with the North. We can speak to Europe, to America, to the East, even to the Middle East. "Let's ask how can we strengthen the theological voice of those that are at the margins, that have less, that are not in power," Pieter said, noting the pivotal role that North American and European churches played by investing in helping to train a generation of South African theologians during the apartheid era. "We can also publish together. We can have conferences where we reflect together. … I don't believe in one- directional traffic, so if the Presbyterians come to us we are ready to receive them in our congregations to work with us and vice versa. You cannot get to know a person as a real person at a distance. You need to see him or her and, in that interaction, we can grow into a greater richness." "I see Belhar is a very important gift that has been given to us. It is something that developed out of the soul of Africa, and in the context of Christians, black and white, struggling to try to find greater reconciliation and unity," Pieter concluded. "I think that through Belhar's lenses of reconciliation, of justice and of unity, we perceive the form in which God wants his community to witness to his world." Dr. Douglas Tilton is Presbyterian World Mission's regional liaison for Southern Africa, helping to strengthen the mutual ministries of the PC(USA) and partners in five countries: Lesotho, Madagascar, Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe. STRENGTHEN THE GLOBAL CHURCH Support Doug's work in Southern Africa. pcusa.org/donate/E200416 Co-moderators of committee 7 — the Committee on Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations — count votes to propose the adoption of the Confession of Belhar.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

view archives of Mission Crossroads - FAL 2017