Apartheid Legacy Lament

Our pilgrimage into Cape Town during the Lausanne Congress this week left some of us uneasy.  Our group drafted the following statement today.  Tell me what you think.  See the people supporting the statement here.

Statement of Lament for Evangelicals and the Legacy of Apartheid

This Lausanne Congress 2010 in Cape Town gathered in a land which 16 years ago stood in the grip of one of the greatest evils of our time—apartheid.

We regret that this was not named or confessed at the opening of the Congress.

As participants at the Congress we gathered for dialogue sessions and biblical reflection on peacemaking and reconciliation with careful listening to the stories of Christian involvement and resistance to apartheid. We were also encouraged by stories of hope for the future taking place through local reconciliation ministry.

This leads us, with others, to lament our failure in much of the evangelical church both in South Africa and throughout the world who remained silent about or complicit in apartheid.

Yet we also rejoice that there were Christian witnesses who spoke out prophetically and lived faithfully, at great sacrifice.

This invites us into repentance before our Lord Jesus Christ. We reject the theological heresies which undergirded apartheid.  We lament the socioeconomic suffering which is apartheid’s on-going legacy.

This calls the evangelical church to not only lament apartheid’s legacy but opens our eyes to see the pain and wounds of the current realities and injustices which the church fails to protest and engage in our own contexts today.  We are called to deeds of repentance and to resist injustices.

Wherever there is suffering in our world today, we rejoice where the church lives the alternative, and lament where the church remains silent.

We call upon this Congress to join in this spirit of lament and confession.

See also:

Also See: Official Lausanne Congress site

Previous Reconcilers Posts from Lausanne Cape Town:


  1. Chris, thank you for sharing this lament, it is powerful.

    But can I ask why you say (more than once) ‘the evangelical church’? While I can certainly lay claim to that as a American Baptist, it seems to describe a divide within our Christian Church family. Who are the ‘evangelicals’ and who might not be?

    The lament should be for the church as a whole, and while you may mean that, it seems to me popular usage of the word ‘evangelical’ denotes a particular portion of the church universal – as opposed to Catholic, ‘Mainline Protestant’ and the more liturgical Protestant churches. It could even point to division within church groupings that speak of their ‘evangelical wing’.

    I raise this as a question and perhaps yet one more place of needed unity.

    Blessings as always in the much needed work you are doing.


    1. Excellent critique. The reason we say ‘evangelical’ is because this is the audience of Lausanne gathered here, and the statement is to this group, using their self-description. As for me ‘evangelical’ does not capture the ‘whole church.’ As I wrote in an earlier blog this week, Catholics are not here so this is hardly the whole church but only a slice.

    2. Also, as a South African, I have to acknowledge that the “rest” of the church that you gentleman refer to was much more vocal in their opposition to apartheid. It was those of us from the evangelical and Pentecostal portion of the body that were embarrassingly silent. Many of us did, however get an opportunity to declare our sin during the TRC hearings.

  2. Excellent, Chris! I am so glad you and your colleagues are able to name this in the moment, so that the laments can be heard and addressed, instead of silenced as they have been for all the generations before.

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