This is a translation of an article that was published in the Dutch Reformed Church news publication Kerkbode on Wednesday
Dr André Bartlett [chairman of the DRC synod Hoëveld in Gauteng] apologised to Dr Chris van Wyk [a Port Elizabeth DRC pastor] after remarks Bartlett made to a Rapport reporter in 2018.
At the time, Bartlett was reacting to Van Wyk’s statements about “hurtful connection” that Van Wyk made between homosexuality, pedophilia and bestiality, according to Bartlett’s judgment.
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“Although my comments were factual, the investigating body that dealt with the complaints against me found that it could be seen as directed against the person and to the detriment of Dr Chris van Wyk,” Bartlett said in a statement this week.
This comes after an internal investigation committee found him guilty of violating the 9th commandment. A requirement of the finding is that he must take corrective action in the form of a public apology, which Kerkbode publishes elsewhere in full.
Dr Chris van Wyk is a pastor of Qheberha (Port Elizabeth) and former chairman of the Eastern Cape Synod who was a moderator of the General Synod of the Dutch Reformed Church at the time of the incident.
In September 2020, Dr Johann Ernst, a former member of the General Synod’s moderation, accused Bartlett of violating the ninth commandment with his statement in Rapport.
An internal investigative body, consisting of members of the Dutch Reformed Church Free State, was set up to investigate the complaints. The Presbytery of Johannesburg has requested that the Free State Synod handle the investigation because Bartlett is chairman of the NG Synod Hoëveld.
The investigation would begin in December, but was eventually continued in March after it had to be repeatedly postponed due to the Covid pandemic. The full ruling, which comprises 94 pages, was made available to the NG Synod Hoëveld and the presbytery this week. Requests from Kerkbode for access to the result have so far been rejected.
“I respect the finding of the investigating body and in the light of this apologise for any pain and prejudice that Dr Van Wyk and his family suffered as a result,” Bartlett said in his ‘public correction’.
“I want to assure [Van Wyk] of my intention to be in a professional and respectful manner with him and to refrain from any use of language that gives the impression that I want to demean his person and dignity.”
Bartlett added that he is not sorry that he spoke out and also continues to speak out against any words and deeds that infringe on the dignity of people or offend them in any way.
Rev Nelis Janse van Rensburg, moderator of the General Synod, said in October that he was sorry that he had not done more to protect Van Wyk’s character.
Ernst said in his own response to the findings of the investigating body that there would be satisfaction “if the relationship with and the good name of Dr Chris van Wyk in church ranks and in public was restored by Dr Bartlett in honor”. Ernst’s full response was also published in Kerkbode.