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DURHAM, N.C. (RNS) — Last year, a few weeks before the congregation of Beth El Synagogue moved into Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church here, the Rev. Katie Crowe spoke at Shabbat services at Beth El.
She began by naming a concern at the heart of Christian-Jewish relations. “It is not lost on me that it was a Presbyterian who helped with your capital campaign,” she said, “a Presbyterian who is one of your general contractors and Presbyterians who are hosting you during the transition.
Note - Proselytizing - Initiative
“I think it is therefore worthy of note that we are not trying to make you Presbyterian!” she said, to laughter. “This is not some elaborate proselytizing initiative.”
But as she went on, Katie unexpectedly and poignantly addressed a difficult history.
Hospitality - Tradition - Times - Relation - Jewish
“We are extending hospitality because we know that we stand in a tradition that has, at times, gotten it horribly wrong in relation to the Jewish community,” she said. “But hate and division, persecution, prejudice, violence and injustice are antithetical to the person and teachings of Jesus.
“If we can enact any gesture, however small it may be, to stand as a counterpoint to the shameful narrative that people who share our faith have helped forge, and in cases still forge today, this is the work that we want to be about and that we must be about.”
Morning - Tears
Many of us there that morning were moved to tears.
Beth El Synagogue and Trinity Avenue Presbyterian Church were brought together for the past 15 months by a mundane need: Beth El was undergoing a renovation, and we needed a place to hold Shabbat services. Trinity Avenue enthusiastically offered to host us, thanks in part to a friendship that had sprung up between the two of us, both relatively young clergy, both new to Durham.
Beth - El - Stay
But what unfolded during Beth El’s stay was beyond what either...
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