Despite past differences in approach to social and political problems, evangelicals in South Africa say it is time to unite and step forward for peace in the face of nearly 800 deaths from black factional fighting.

This week, evangelicals will join representatives from the South Africa Council of Churches (SACC) and the Dutch Reformed Church in a convocation to discuss the church’s role in dismantling apartheid. This marks the first time such a diverse group has met under one roof.

More than 80 percent of the churches in South Africa will be represented at the gathering, which will be chaired by SACC’s Frank Chikane and Louw Alberts, a senior government official who will be acting in a “personal capacity.” The five-day meeting could provide a rare opportunity for South African churches to speak “in one voice” on apartheid.

Warning against “spectatoritis,” Michael Cassidy, founder of the evangelical ministry African Enterprise, said Christians have a unique opportunity to help turn the nation around. “Don’t leave [the nation’s future] to President de Klerk and Mr. Mandela,” Cassidy said. “It requires a people movement to save the nation, and the people are the people of God.”

Cassidy is joined in his call for church action by other South African leaders. Bishop Bruce Evans of Port Elizabeth said, “I believe, being an evangelical myself within the Anglican Church, that all the different church groups, whatever their theological position, need to get together and to move and to speak with a united voice over issues of injustice, irrespective of how injustice comes.”

Evans has high hopes for the gathering of South African churches planned ...

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