Anglican Church of Canada to abandon prayer for the conversion of the Jews

The General Synod of the Church approved a resolution to replace the prayer with a text devoted to the “Reconciliation with the Jews.”

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August 5, 2019 01:02
2 minute read.
Vancouver City Hall in Canada.

Vancouver City Hall in Canada.. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Anglican Church of Canada will remove a prayer for the conversion of the Jews from its liturgy, the Canadian Jewish News has reported.

According to the report, the current Book of Common Prayer features an invocation to “open their hearts that they may see and confess the Lord Jesus to be thy Son and their true Messiah,” among its optional prayers.

The General Synod of the Church, which met in Vancouver on July 16, approved a resolution to replace the prayer with a text devoted to “Reconciliation with the Jews.”

Anglican bishop of Quebec Bruce Myers said in a statement that the move is meant to encourage the community to “acknowledge and repent of the church’s participation in antisemitism, to stop singling out Jews as a target for our evangelistic efforts, and to assume a humble and reconciliatory stance with our Jewish elders in the faith.”
He added that, “it also invites Anglicans to be ever mindful of Christianity’s deep Jewish roots.”

In 2016, an attempt to introduce a similar resolution at a meeting of the Church’s governing body failed.

There are about 2,800 Anglican churches in Canada. The Book of Common Prayer is used by only a minority of them, while the majority use the Book of Alternative Services, introduced in 1985.

According to the Canadian Jewish News (CJN), the text of the new prayer “For reconciliation with the Jews” was composed with the cooperation of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus.

“O God, who didst choose Israel to be thine inheritance: Have mercy upon us and forgive us for violence and wickedness against our brother Jacob; the arrogance of our hearts and minds hath deceived us, and shame hath covered our face. Take away all pride and prejudice in us, and grant that we, together with the people whom thou didst first make thine own, may attain to the fullness of redemption which thou hast promised; to the honor and glory of thy most holy Name,” the text reads.

The decision will need to be ratified by the next Synod in 2022. However, Anglican leaders told CJN that the further requirement would be a formality since the resolution was approved unanimously by the clergy, and by 99% of lay leaders.

The prayer for the conversion of the Jews is among the most sensitive issues in the relations between Judaism and Christianity.

For centuries, Christian liturgies were heavily informed by the idea that Jews were guilty of deicide. In 1965, the Nostra Aetate (“In our times”) Declaration by the Catholic Church marked a turning point in the rejection of the notion.

However, some of the main Christian denominations, including Eastern Orthodoxy, have not followed suit, and their liturgy still reflects deep anti-Jewish prejudice.


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