General Assembly has said that apartheid is sinful and incompatible with the gospel (A&P 1983, pp. 329-330, 65). The moral and theological justification of apartheid is a travesty of the Gospel and, in its persistent disobedience to the Word of God, a theological heresy. Context note: Lasting from 1948 to 1994, apartheid (meaning “apartness”) was a brutal segregation regime that discriminated against the majority non-white South African population and maintained the economic and political dominance of the minority white population. Apartheid policies enforced strict racial categorization (including on identification), and controlled movement, housing, access to employment, health care and education while resistance was met with violent, and often deadly, suppression.
1994: General Assembly drew attention to “In Support of Democracy in South Africa,” a record of statements on apartheid in South Africa. Context Note: The first democratic election involving citizens of all races was peacefully held in 1994. (A&P 1994, pp. 314, 68)
1991: General Assembly asked the church to consult with the South Africa Council of Churches and consider ways to help re-build post-apartheid South Africa. Letters were sent to the Council of Churches in Namibia, the Council of Churches in Mozambique and the Inter-Church Coalition on Africa expressing support to continue economic sanctions against South Africa until apartheid was dismantled. (A&P 1991, pp. 319-324, 57)
1990: The 116th GA greeted the World Alliance of Reformed Churches President Rev. Allan and endorsed a call by the Inter-Church Coalition on Africa for continuing support of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa as it pressed for full democratization. The General Assembly called on the Government of Canada to implement full economic sanctions and exercise appropriate diplomatic sanctions for the full democratization of South Africa. (A&P 1990, pp. 391, 62, 556, 38)
1989: General Assembly called on the Government of Canada to impose comprehensive sanctions against South Africa, endorsed the Kairos Document (a theological statement issued in 1985 by mainly Black South African theologians) and re-affirmed its commitment to support those who were oppressed by apartheid. General Assembly urged the Government of Canada to support peacekeeping efforts and to assist front line states that were suffering because of sanctions against South Africa. (A&P 1989, pp. 261, 24, 366-367, 28)
1988: General Assembly praised the Government of Canada for its leadership in opposing apartheid. It asked congregations to support Christian leaders who were opposed to apartheid in South Africa and pray for those “who in fear and blindness fight to maintain power and control.” (A&P 1988, pp. 367, 51, 525, 47-48)
1987: The 113th GA suggested members study the Kairos Document, along with a commentary from the Church Doctrine Committee. (A&P 1987, pp. 248-250, 70) Context note: This document originated at the Institute for Contextual Study in Johannesburg and reflected the thinking of 50 Black pastors working in townships in the area. It was subsequently endorsed by 150 theologians, pastors and lay persons, White and Black within South Africa. The church noted that the Kairos Document “does not equivocate but calls upon the Christian Church in South Africa to follow the apostolic tradition of confronting the state and disobeying it in order to obey God. It is an incisive document, penetrating in its analysis of the present situation of South Africa.”
1986: General Assembly adopted eleven recommendations regarding apartheid in South Africa. They were: 1) to call on all congregations to commit themselves to join the struggle against racism within our own society and also against apartheid in South Africa; 2) to recommend presbyteries and congregations use the action package on South Africa prepared by the Inter-Church Coalition on Africa; 3) to observe a day of prayer on June 16, 1986, to end unjust rule in South Africa; 4) to prayerfully support (Anglican) Primate Edward Scott and other members of a Commonwealth team, who are seeking to bring about substantial change in South Africa; 5) to re-affirm moral and material support for the South African Council of Churches; 6) to re-affirm moral and material support for the South African Council of Churches; 7) to pray for The Presbyterian Church of South Africa as it seeks to be a force for reconciliation and justice within South African society; 8) to commend the GOC for its public stance against apartheid and its implementation of limited sanctions; 9) to recognize the African National Congress as the legitimate voice of the majority of the people of South Africa; 10) to ask the GOC to extend moral support and humanitarian aid to the African National Congress; 11) to ask the GOC to call on the Government of South Africa to begin negotiations with the ANC, in order to dismantle apartheid and create a democratic, non-racial state. (A&P 1986, pp. 374-376, 56)
1985: The South African Council of Churches called for a day of prayer to end the unjust rule in South Africa. The 111th GA responded by encouraging all commissioners to share this appeal with their congregations and presbyteries. The GA also approved communication with the Government of South Africa, in order to persuade it to speak with the black people of South Africa as equals.
1984: General Assembly approved and adopted ecumenical documents on the sinfulness of apartheid and the heresy of providing it with moral and theological justification.
1983: General Assembly adopted a report concerning the actions of World Alliance of Reformed Churches in electing Rev. Alan Boesak as its president, re-affirming that apartheid is sinful and incompatible with the gospel, and suspending the membership of two Reformed churches in South Africa. (A&P 1984, pp. 482-483, 48)
1981: General Assembly resolved to initiate and support efforts designed to pressure the South African government to abandon apartheid policies. (A&P 1981, pp. 314-316, 97)
1972: General Assembly adopted policies on apartheid previously affirmed by the World Council of Churches (between 1954 and 1968) and by the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church (in 1971). General Assembly encouraged the Government of Canada to strengthen trade relationships with newly-independent African states. It also praised the Presbyterian Church in South Africa for refusing to withdraw from the World Council of Churches (Government of South Africa demanded that the Presbyterian Church in South Africa withdraw from the World Council of Churches due to the Council’s Program to Combat Racism). General Assembly authorized the Board of Evangelism and Social Action (predecessor to Justice Ministries today) and other church boards to make the elimination of racism the primary task of the church. (A&P 1972, p. 302, 66)