Peace to you in hard days.  I want to thank you for a powerful witness in a time of trial, and tell you what I hope we can do to bring more healing, justice and peace together going forward.

 

At the end of 2019, as anti-Semitic violence was threatening the safety of our Jewish neighbors and kin across the nation, the Massachusetts Council of Churches partnered with Boston-area pastors to release a “Letter from Christian Leaders decrying violence against Jews.”  When I posted the letter on December 31, 2019, I thought maybe a few hundred pastors might co-sign. These have been wearying days. I know how tired I am and I know how hard you have been working through Christmas to care for your people and celebrate God’s in-breaking love in Jesus Christ.

 

But instead, over 1,055 pastors and church leaders signed on (as of this writing).  This swift and broad witness has been balm to our Jewish siblings. Our colleagues at Jewish Community Relations Council told me of watching their computers with tears in their eyes as the names of pastors and church leaders fill the spreadsheet in solidarity. Church, you need to know I have received cards and letters from rabbis and Jewish leaders thanking us for seeing their pain. Hear my gratitude: Thank you for signing on and speaking out.

 

And, it is very clear that one sign-on letter will not roll back the waves of anti-Semitic violence in this country. There is much work to be done. And we Christians have a particular responsibility to clean up our own house. I welcome your feedback. I want to suggest the following plan for those of us in Massachusetts:

 

1.     Read, share, and audit: I have co-authored with Rev. Dr. Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski a new essay on our particular Christian obligation to “audit” our own words, worship and practices for the ways we may inadvertently use Judaism to bolster a case for Christianity. Please consider reading this essay, sharing it in your church, and undertaking a review of how we speak about Jews, Israelites, Judaism, the Hebrew Scriptures, and God’s covenant with Israel

https://religionnews.com/2020/01/27/why-christians-should-audit-their-words-worship-and-practices-for-anti-semitism/

 

2.     Raise money for continuing education: Candidly, this work around anti-Semitism was neither in our staff work plan or budget for 2020. And so, if we are to do this work, we need to raise money. If you care about a broad range of Christians engaging in self-reflection on our own role in anti-Semitism, if you care about the safety of our Jewish neighbors and if you think the Massachusetts Council of Churches is well positioned to do this work, I ask you to please give money. We cannot bring in an educator or staff this work without additional funding.  https://www.masscouncilofchurches.org/donate/

 

3.     Read:  Three books to begin: First, Professor Amy-Jill Levine’s “The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus.” For thinking more about worship, consider Mary Salmon’s “Preaching without Contempt: Overcoming Unintended Anti-Judaism.”  Finally, for a broadly accessible and quick read that could make for a good resource in your congregation, look to “Jesus Was Not Killed By the Jews: reflections for Christians in Lent” edited by Jon Sweeney.  Orbis Books has an online discussion guide for congregational use.

 

4.     Continuing Education:  If we can raise enough funds, I’d like to bring Rev. Dr. Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski to Massachusetts for a series of workshops on Christian anti-Semitism. A professor of Christian history at the Seminary of the Southwest in Texas with a focus area on Christian-Jewish relationships and an Episcopal priest, Rev. Dr. Joslyn-Siemiatkoski was raised near Springfield, MA, did his undergrad at Gordon College and his PhD at Boston College. He knows Massachusetts well! Dan and I also studied together at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.   We’re hoping for a series of workshops for pastors and Christian leaders in March, learning some of the history of Christian anti-Semitism and then work shopping the practicalities of worship, preaching, and curricula. Again, if this is compelling to you, and something that would enrich your ministry and better equip your church, please give: https://www.masscouncilofchurches.org/donate/

 

Church, I think we can do this work together, in a way that increases the integrity of our Christian witness and the safety of our Jewish neighbors. After you all signed the letter, Rabbi Marc Baker of Combined Jewish Philanthropies wrote movingly about what it meant to him to hear Christian kin speak of “our Jewish siblings.”  Kin in the Body of Christ, our witness matters. Let us strengthen it together, Church. 

 

With hope,

 

Rev. Laura

 

PS- I want to especially thank those of you who have already become monthly individual supporters of the Massachusetts Council of Churches. It’s the pre-existing, steady relationships that sustain allow for wise and skilled work in a time of crisis. If you are proud of this witness, if you have been shaped by multiple Christian traditions, if you long for reconciliation and justice rather than division, join. ​​​​​​​


Why am I receiving this email? Hello! You are receiving this email because either you’ve signed up for the Massachusetts Council of Churches newsletter or you signed the December 31, 2019 “Letter from Christian Leaders decrying violence against Jews.  We invite you to “opt-out” from the Massachusetts Council of Churches email newsletter here

 
 
 
 
 
In This Issue



Submit your church's electricity bills as we work to build a purchasing cooperative

 
 
 
 
 

There really is no Massachusetts Council of Churches without the churches, church members and church leaders of Massachusetts.  We need your support in order to continue our work in areas that matter to you.  Will you join us today with a financial contribution?

Give one time or set up a monthly donation from our website by clicking on the "donate" button below!  Thank you for your faithful  support.
 
 
 
 
 

Black Massachusetts History:

Church, as we begin Black History Month, we want to remind you of the resource we created from our commemoration of 1619 and our celebration of 400 years of Black Resiliency: a "Litany of Celebration of Black Resiliency." You can use this for prayer in worship, giving thanks for the witness of Black Massachusetts residents across the Commonwealth in ever generation. You can use this as a study guide, working through each region over successive weeks and reading the linked articles. You can use this as inspiration to learn more about the Black history of your own part of the Commonwealth. There's a painful and beautiful history of Black Resiliency in our state that testifies to a deep faithfulness and strength. We look forward to hearing how you use this in your church and community. 
 
 
 
 

We’re excited to introduce our newest partner, Community Purchasing Alliance, a purchasing cooperative that organizes missional institutions to save money and promote community building!

Our webinar on December 5th revealed that many of us are encountering similar administrative challenges and harbor a collective desire to grow this coop in MA, starting with a collective third party electricity purchase. If you missed the call and want to learn more, reach out to CPA’s Carrie Watkins and, together, we can begin to cast a vision for how we can all be saving money and moving our dollars towards the economy we want to build. 
Carrie Watkins: carrie@cpa.coop, 310.753.0442
Submit your electricity bills: bit.ly/CPA-ENERGY

 
 
 
 

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