Reform Jewish Movement Welcomes Presbyterian Decision To Cut Off Funding For Messianic "Jewish" Church
April 1, 2005 Reform Jewish leaders said the decision to cut funding for a messianic church that targets Jews for proselytization is a vital step toward improved relations between the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the Jewish community.
Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, learned of the decision taken by the Philadelphia Presbytery to cut funding to Avodat Yisrael in a letter from PCUSA Stated Clerk Clifton Kirkpatrick, who attended a summit meeting between the Jewish community and the Church at the Unions headquarters last September.
Yoffie said the decision is a vital step toward better understanding and mutual respect between our community and the Presbyterian Church. We are encouraged by the Philadelphia Presbyterys decision not to continue to fund, and to remove from the PCUSA community, a church that uses deception to draw Jews into Christianity.
Tuesdays decision to cut funding to Avodat Yisrael followed an 18-month study by an administrative commission of the Philadelphia Presbytery and dissolves Avodat Yisrael as a congregation of the Presbyterian Church (USA) effective July 1, 2005. The church will no longer receive funding from the Philadelphia Presbytery, the Pennsylvania Synod, or the General Assembly of the PCUSA.
Mark Pelavin, Director of the Commission on Interreligious Affairs of Reform Judaism, said, Over a period of years, we have worked, together with many others in the Jewish community, to convey to the Presbyterian leadership our objection to Avodat Yisrael, a church masquerading as a synagogue. The process which led to this weeks decision, in which Jewish and Presbyterians leaders at many levels engaged in extensive conversations, shows that better understanding can arise from such serious and honest engagement.
Rabbi Yoffie noted that there remain serious disagreements between our community and the Presbyterian Church, just as there are so many areas of common concern. The decision to cease funding Avodat Yisrael, and Rev. Kirkpatricks warm letter to me with that news, bodes well for future cooperation.
The Union for Reform Judaism (formerly the Union of American Hebrew Congregations) is the central body of Reform Judaism in North America, uniting 1.5 million Reform Jews in more than 900 synagogues. Union services include camps, music and book publishing, outreach to unaffiliated and intermarried Jews, educational programs, and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, DC.