18-01 Minority Report
We the undersigned, a minority of Committee 18, the Confessions of the Church, recommend that the 220th General Assembly (2012) adopt the following:
That a pastoral letter be authored and be sent to all of the congregations of the PCUSA, utilizing the existing Confessions of the Presbyterian Church USA and their Biblical foundations, as well as the Belhar confession, to address issues of racial division and discrimination.
1. This will help the Belhar Confession have a wider audience, while at the same time respecting the votes of those in the church who disagreed with its elevation to confessional status.
2. It will give the church the opportunity to use already available education materials in study and discussion of the Belhar Confession in the context of the special needs of local presbyteries.
3. This will respect the historical context of the Belhar Confession.
4. This will avoid raising the concept of unity above all else. The Belhar Confession declares that “…anything that threatens this unity may have no place in the church and must be resisted.” Further it states that “a refusal earnestly to pursue this visible unity as a priceless gift is sin.” In 1980’s South Africa, the meaning of these phrases was clear and on target. The attempt to divide the church in South Africa on the basis of race was sinful and needed to be resisted. In the Presbyterian Church USA, we value diversity.
5. The proper priority is to pursue Jesus Christ. The Westminster catechism reminds us that the chief and highest end of humankind is to glorify God and fully enjoy God forever.
We urge the substitute motion to further the peace unity and purity of the church.
Bob Bryden, Presbytery of Lackawanna
Nora Johnson, Presbytery of Great Rivers
Dale Scott, Presbytery of Eastern Oklahoma
Sharon Brinks, Presbytery of Lake Michigan
Gwen Scales, Presbytery of Upper Ohio Valley
Lance Allen, Presbytery of Los Ranchos
General Assembly Committee Moderator’s statement:
In accordance with Standing Rule E.7.h.(1), I affirm that the position expressed as recommendation for action by the assembly in this minority report was presented to the whole committee during its consideration of the matter.