PROGRESS IS BEING MADE

A resolution passed by Vancouver South Presbytery (United Church of Canada) at its 19 March 1996 meeting. The resolution carried (with several dissenting votes) and now is sent on to the Annual General Meeting of BC Conference of the United Church of Canada for further deliberation.

Whereas the Holocaust, in which one third of the world's Jewish population was murdered, continues to haunt us as a vision of the dark side of Western Culture;
And whereas anti-Jewish feeling and teaching in the Church has contributed to and is in large measure responsible for anti-Jewish atrocities down through the ages;
And whereas we as Christians can no longer deny nor avoid our responsibility in this matter;
And whereas anti-Jewish feeling and teaching is represented in the Scripture readings and preaching of the Church in spite of clear evidence that anti-Jewish sentiment goes against the spirit of both the New Testament and the central message of Church doctrine;
And whereas there may well be residual and semi-conscious anti-Jewish sentiment present in United Church congregations;

Be it resolved that the British Columbia Conference affirm positive attitudes toward the Jewish community and that the congregations of Conference make use of the following and similar suggestions in order to enhance our relationship with Jews and to displace any anti-Jewish sentiments:

1) Both Jesus and the Apostle Paul were Jews, neither disclaimed their place as members of Israel, God's chosen people; consequently Gospel proclamation and teaching will adhere to and promote this fact;

2) When in Scripture readings the phrase "the Jews" is used in a pejorative sense, the phrase will be replaced by words such as "the Judeans" (southern Jews as opposed to "the Galileans"of the north) or the use of the term "the Jews" will be explained in terms of the polemic of the time in which the Gospel writers found themselves;

3) Phrases like "the new covenant" (rarely used in Scripture) or other expressions which appear to emphasize discontinuity between the Jewish people and the Church will be reinterpreted and the Church will proclaim itself to be the "wild olive shoot" grafted into the rich and holy root of Israel (Romans 11:17, 18) and we will remind ourselves that Israel is still God's covenant people. 'Old" and "New" Testaments could be replaced by "Hebrew" and "Greek"Testaments or the "First" and "Second" Testaments;

4) During Holy Week congregations might well be reminded that while some Jews handed Jesus over to the Roman authorities it was Gentiles who killed him, and that he died and rose again for Gentiles and Jews alike;

5) Local churches are encouraged to use the following prayer during Holy Week or during the next year; The prayer was written by Pope John XXIII shortly before he died. He expressed the hope that it would be read in all Catholic Churches:

We now recognize that for many centuries our eyes were covered with blindness, so that we no longer saw the beauty of Your chosen people and no longer recognized the features of our firstborn brother. We admit that the sign of Cain is on our forehead. For centuries, Abel was lying on the ground in blood and tears because we had forgotten Your love. Forgive the curse that we unjustly pronounced over the name of the Jews. Forgive that we crucified You again in their flesh.
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