Dutch Reform Church welcomed into SACC fold

After 40 years of isolation, the Dutch Reform Church has finally been accepted into the fold of the South African Council of Church (SACC). The move has been heralded as signifigant and a historical breakthrough.

The white dominated Dutch Reformed Church supported the apartheid system, arguing that the Bible supported the division of races. The church established four seperate structures for white, black, coloured people and Indians.

The SACC says it has accepted the Dutch Reformed Church into its ranks as part of the country's reconciliantion process. Russel Botman, the SACC president, says the church has been an observer for 10 years and it was time to welcome the church into its ranks. He says the council consulted widely before the decision was made.

Willie Botha, an information officer of the Dutch Reform Church, says as a church they have apologised for their past. He says they were humbled as the reception they received by the SACC.

Botha says theirs has been a huge paradigm shift in the church and its members have embraced the transformation process. However, the church's four structures have yet to become one unified body. Botha says it is a difficult situation.

Both groups believe that the move will advance the country's reconciliation process as the Dutch Reform Church has about three million members.