Why The Belhar Confession is Needed Here and Now
An open letter to Presbyterian Church (USA) [ruling and teaching] elders voting on the inclusion of The Belhar Confession in «The Book of Confessions»
First Spanish Presbyterian Church in Miami we devoted seven weeks of Bible Study to analyze and discuss the Belhar Confession. At first it looked like a history class about something that happened far away from us, in South Africa, decades ago. Then, as we examined the document more closely, we began to see how pertinent the theological content of the Confession is to our context. While we were engaged in the study of the Confession the Ferguson tragedy exploded uncovering century-old wounds that have not healed in our society. As we continued our investigation and dialogue, lots of testimonies made evident that the evil of racism is alive and well among us...
I was born in the USA --not in the continental USA, but in a piece of land that the USA owns in the Caribbean sea. Therefore, I am an American, not an European-American, but a Puerto Rican-American. Since childhood I heard about something referred to as “American values”: freedom, equality, democracy, and so on. When I moved to the continental USA, I was shocked when I realized that even though our Declaration of Independence states that “all men are created equal”, in reality some are “more equal than others” --as George Orwell's Animal Farm accurately illustrates. I was also disappointed when I realized that white Hispanics also discriminate against other Hispanics with darker skin color. Racism is systemic. Racism is sinful. Racism is evil. Racism is hate. Enmity with one another is not God's desire for humanity. Love for one another is.
The Belhar Confession gives our denomination theological tools to help us in our efforts for justice, peace, and healing in a fragmented society, broken and wounded by all kinds of inequality. The Confession reminds us “that the church as the possession of God must stand where the Lord stands, namely against injustice and with the wronged”. It also reminds us that “God has entrusted the church with the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ”. The church is called to shine Christ's light in the midst of darkness. May the church set an example that in Christ a different world is possible: the way of the Kingdom of God.
Soli Deo Gloria.
+++ RECURSOS EN ESPAÑOL +++
Descargar «La Confesión de Belhar» -traducción al español
Las grabaciones de las sesiones 2 a la 7 de nuestras presentaciones sobre el tema en la Primera Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana en Miami, FL, pueden ser escuchadas en los siguientes enlaces:
«Racismo y segregación en nuestro contexto: "The Land of the Free"» -24 de septiembre de 2014 (Recurso para la Sesión 7)