He helped bring about the declaration of ‘status confessions’ by the World Alliance of Reformed Churches. In 1982 they called apartheid a sin and expelled the Dutch Reformed Church from the Alliance and elected Allen Boesak president.
Naudé, 89, was buried after a service in his local Dutch Reformed Church, the once-segregated white congregation where in 1963 he denounced the role of the church in the government’s racist policies.
Very few members of PC(USA) churches ever heard of this hero.
In 1984, six of us went to visit him at his home in Johannesburg. The six included then-Moderator Harriet Nelson; her husband, John; former Moderator James Costen; Edith Patton; Bill Lowery, and myself. We were part of a group sponsored by the Presbyterian Hunger Committee studying problems in Africa with Colleen Shannon as the leader.
Beyers and his wife had been under house arrest for eight years. They could go to the store, but could talk to no one. They could not have guests in their home. The house arrest was lifted right before our visit.
Some time before, a person had thrown a rock through their living room window breaking a stained glass peace dove. Moderator Nelson had brought another stained glass peace symbol to hang in their window.
Mrs. Naudé looked so sad. I remember saying to her: “Your flower beds are gorgeous … almost perfect.” I will never forget her response: “If you couldn’t talk to anybody for eight years, you would have beautiful flower beds.” She went through so much with him.
Later, he was jailed briefly with Boesak and Bishop Desmond Tutu when the three of them knelt in the street outside the government capital and sang “Onward Christian Soldiers.” Their picture ran in the “New York Times” and other newspapers. But such incidents were quickly forgotten, as was the sacrifice of people like Beyers Naudé.
Rest in peace, Beyers Naudé. Rest in Peace.
MARJ CARPENTER, an elder living in Big Spring, Texas, is a former moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
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