Dialogue between U.S. Christian, Jewish leaders resumes

3/27/2014 12:00:00 AM

            CHICAGO (ELCA) -- Christian and Jewish leaders from the United States have committed to "developing an effective and ongoing national dialogue" during a March 27 summit in New York City. Among the Christian leaders were the Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, former ELCA presiding bishop who co-convened the summit along with Rabbi Steve Gutow, president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
            In a mutually agreed-upon statement, leaders at the summit discussed strategies to strengthen and maintain relationships "even in the face of significant disagreements."
            "We affirm a strong commitment to continue working together on domestic and international issues of common concern. We will aspire to genuine and ongoing dialogue related to Israeli-Palestinian issues, seeking to identify and discuss, in respect and humility, areas of real or potential disagreement and of real and potential cooperation.
            "As people of faith we enter the holy season of Easter and Passover to celebrate the gift of our renewed relationship and look to the future to enhance our closeness and our commitment to serve the common good."
            The Jewish and Christian leaders who met today committed to meeting at least annually and to "reconstituting the traditional Jewish-Christian roundtables" suspended in October 2012, after an Oct. 5, 2012 letter by Christin groups calling on Congress to investigate Israel's use of U.S. military aid.
            Other Jewish leaders in attendance were:
+ Abraham Foxman, national director, Anti-Defamation League
+ David Harris, executive director, American Jewish Committee
+ Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president, Union of Reform Judaism
+ Daniel S. Mariaschin, executive vice president, B'nai B'rith International
+ Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president, Rabbinical Assembly
+ Rabbi Steven C. Wernick, chief executive officer, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
+ Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
            Other Christian leaders were:
+ The Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, general minister and president, United Church of Christ
+ The Rev. Gradye Parsons, stated clerk, General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
+ Bishop Mary Ann Swenson, ecumenical office, Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church
+ Rev. Dr. Sharon E. Watkins, general minister and president, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada
+ James E. Winkler, general secretary/president, National Council of Churches.
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About the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America:
The ELCA is one of the largest Christian denominations in the United States, with about 4  million members in nearly 10,000 congregations across the 50 states and in the Caribbean region. Known as the church of "God's work. Our hands," the ELCA emphasizes the saving grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, unity among Christians and service in the world. The ELCA's roots are in the writings of the German church reformer, Martin Luther.

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