Jin Kim for PC(USA) Moderator

I sent an email to a friend saying “I’m elated about this,” after reading this story.  Jin Kim, the pastor of Church of All Nations in Minneapolis is running for moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s General Assembly this summer.  I remember hearing Kim preach at the 2004 General Assembly in Richmond, VA, when I was there as a youth delegate.  As in his work at Church of All Nations, his sermon at GA addressed America’s “original sin” of racism and critiqued the church’s complicity with it.   Having heard Kim speak at other conferences since then, I have a deep respect for him and am confident in his ability to lead the PC(USA) in the coming years.  I don’t know who else will show up in the running for Moderator, but I don’t hesitate in saying that I think Jin Kim is a great candidate.

I also can’t help but think that it’s perfect timing for Kim to run: Like Bruce Reyes-Chow who was the home-town favorite in San Jose two years ago, Kim will be running for moderator at the GA in Minneapolis, where he currently ministers.  More importantly, this is the year the Assembly will consider adding the Belhar Confession to our Book of Confessions.  Belhar was written by the Dutch Reformed Mission Church (DRMC) in South Africa – the church that was founded by the Dutch Reformed Church for the purpose of segregation.   The DRMC was created for “coloureds”, or people of mixed-race who wouldn’t fit into the legal categories of Black and White in South Africa.  Similarly, the Dutch Reformed Church in Africa (DRCA) was founded for Black South Africans.  Belhar, with its explicit call for reconciliation across race and class lines, was useful in uniting the DRMC and the DRCA, but the white Dutch Reformed Church refuses to adopt it.  For the PC(USA) to adopt it as one of our confessions this year would (1) be a powerful sign addressing the racial division still present in America, and (2) potentially shame the Dutch Reformed Church into taking the call to reconciliation more seriously.  A pastor who’s dedicated his life in ministry to racial reconciliation and multicultural ministry would be ideal to lead the PC(USA) through adoption of Belhar.

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2 comments
  1. althea agape said:

    You list good reasons for a referendum or statement of the GA, but is the Belhar confession as written something on a par with the Heidleberg for teaching and confessing our faith?

    does it meet the following criteria (from the book of confessions):

    1. A sense of urgent need to clarify the faith over and against some distortion of the gospel that threatens the integrity of the church’s faith and life.
    2. A political or cultural movement outside the church that openly attacks or subtly seeks to compromise the church’s commitment to the gospel.
    3. The church’s conviction that it has a new insight into the promise and demand of the gospel that is needed by both church and world.

    Does it meet the criteria “A confessional statement should prove itself foundational to the church’s
    faith and life before it is proposed for inclusion in the church’s confessional standards.foundational to the church’s faith and life before it is proposed for inclusion in the church’s confessional
    standards.”

    does it teach things in a way that can be misinterpreted? because the BOC is used to state and teach the faith.

    Ratify it, support it, but don’t include it in the BOC unless there’s real need and reason other than “we agree with the intent”. and We’re really sure it isn’t written in a way to mean things we don’t mean.

  2. Chris Brown said:

    Yes, I think Belhar is on par with other confessions for “teaching the faith”. The reason is that justice and reconciliation are insperable parts of our Gospel. The entire New Testament deals with the themes of racism and segregation between Jews and Gentiles. The emphatic teaching of the Church was that such segregation had no place in Christ’s Church (Ephesians 2, Galatians 2 and 3). The American church for centuries justified segregation of black and white churches while supposedly believing the same Gospel. “Civil rights” may have come, but the church has lagged behind in repenting of this sin.

    And the fact that it was written in a specific social context in no way negates that. The Theological Declaration of Barmen is in our Book of Confessions, and it’s likewise a confession that arises out of a political situation into which the Church was called to speak prophetically. All Confessions of course derive from certain historical (and hence political) situations. That in no way minimizes their value; it reflects the Incarnate Son of God who entered into human history, human political situations, and proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom of God.

    The three criteria you listed are all in fact present: (1) Racism and segregation, still blatantly present in American churches, is a distortion of the Gospel. (2) The apathy of American churches in moving towards reconciliation is without doubt somthing that “subtly seeks to compromise the church’s committment to the Gospel”. And (3) the “new insight” of Belhar is only “new” to our Book of Confessions. It fills in a gap in our articulation of the essential faith of the Church.

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