Presbyterian Clerk Gives Statement Concerning Messianic Churches and Interfaith Relations

July 21, 2004

Source: Presbyterian News Service

On July 21, 2004 Presbyterian News Service reported that, "responding to widespread public criticism from a number of Jewish groups, the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA), has issued a statement to 'clarify the actions of (the recent 216th) General Assembly' on Israel and on the PC(USA)’s commitment to dialogue with people of other faiths." In this statement Kirkpatrick was reported saying, "Presbyterians’ concerns about appropriate forms of Christian witness to Jewish people in general and to the new church development project, Avodat Yisrael, in Philadelphia in particular led to a two-part action. First, in response to overtures from four of our presbyteries — regional governing bodies — the General Assembly mandated a study to 'examine and strengthen the relationship between Christians and Jews and the implications of this relationship for our evangelism and new church development'... Second, the Assembly did not adopt a proposal to suspend the availability of national funding for any other such projects. Here it is important to note that primary decisions regarding the funding of new church developments are made at the presbytery (regional) level of our denomination." Lastley Kirpatrick was reported saying, "the Assembly declared that Christian Zionism is not consistent with the basic values of Reformed theology because it makes use of idiosyncratic interpretations of scripture to undergird a certain reading of current events, and to generate support for specific political goals that do not bolster work toward peace and potentially endanger Palestinian and Israeli people."