As you may be aware, the 225th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) met earlier this month. One of the actions they took was to approve an overture declaring Israel an apartheid state. This action, unsurprisingly, has garnered much attention in both secular and religious news outlets. This action has also caused pain to our Jewish siblings near and far. We are blessed to have close ties with the leaders and congregation of Temple Emanuel here in Greensboro. Rabbi Andy Koren and I met to discuss the action of the 225th General Assembly and to affirm our commitment to walking alongside one another through this and much more.
I acknowledged that the incendiary language of “apartheid” does not help foster dialogue. It fractures rather than heals relationships. I confessed my frustration with a statement from our national church that fails to reflect this reality. It also needs to be said that our Christian history is riddled with antisemitism and even now acts of antisemitism are committed in the name of Jesus. Words and context matter and I pray we will be mindful as individual Christians, as a congregation, and as a denomination of the impact of both as we seek to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.
Jews and Christians alike are committed to the healing of the world and the flourishing of all people. It is my fervent prayer that together we will say and do things that further God’s vision of a peaceable kingdom, a place where no one is hurt, destruction is over and all dwell in unity. Clearly, we are not there yet and there is much work to be done. I know that Rabbi Andy and I are personally committed to doing everything we can to build bridges between Palestinians and Israelis, between Jews, Christians, Muslims and, indeed, with all nations and peoples.
May we all be in prayer to know and do the will of God.