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The Session of the Brick Presbyterian Church
in the City of New York
The 216th General Assembly's Actions on
Israel and Jewish-Christian Relations

[This article could be viewed originally at the following link.]

This summer the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) passed, among many other resolutions, four resolutions originating from different committees pertaining to Israel and/or relations between Presbyterians and Jews. In brief, these resolutions could easily be misperceived as anti-Israeli and/or anti-semitic. They were so taken by many and caused a great deal of pain and confusion among Christians and Jews. Press coverage in the Wall Street Journal and other publications exacerbated the problem as did the timing of the resolutions shortly before the Jewish holiday commemorating the destruction of the two temples of Jerusalem on the 9th of the Hebrew month of Av. This is a time to commemorate the many wrongs done to the Jewish people and it was natural that the General Assembly's resolutions were mentioned or even the subject of sermons in synagogues in our own neighborhood. When The Session of the Brick Presbyterian Church met for the first time afterthe summer it was determined to appoint a committee to study the resolutions and, if appropriate, prepare a response to propose to The Session for adoption. The Committee believed that clarification and partial respectful dissent were appropriate and proposed the following statement which was approved by the Session on October 20, 2004.

Historically, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has called for the use of divestments against other nations only in extremis. In recent history, only the unambiguous cases of South Africa and the Sudan have received that censure. We believe that the complexity of the Middle East conflict distinguishes it from the prior cases.

The General Assembly's call for a new dialogue between Presbyterians and Jews gives us hope. The Brick Presbyterian Church participates in and supports interfaith dialogue. We pray that more dialogue between faith communities will improve Jewish-Christian understanding and hasten an end to a conflict that has caused so much pain for Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

Therefore, The Brick Presbyterian Church hereby respectfully dissents from the divestiture vote and calls upon the General Assembly and responsible committees to:

These are our specific reactions to the votes of the General Assembly:

The Brick Presbyterian Church has a current membership of over one thousand four hundred and has been serving New York City since 1767. Its involvement on the national level of the denomination has been strong and supportive over its 237-year history. Three of its pastors have served as Moderator of the General Assembly, including the first General Assembly in 1789. The Brick Presbyterian Church also is one of the largest mission giving congregations in the Presbytery of New York City.

For additional information on these important issues, please visit the website of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

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