The Anglican Church of Canada’s General Synod celebrated a significant milestone on Friday, ratifying a motion to remove a prayer from the “Book of Common Prayer” calling for the conversion of Jews.
The resolution, which originally passed in 2019 with overwhelming support, sought to replace the text with a prayer focused on reconciliation with the Jewish community. At the 2023 General Synod, the resolution was officially ratified.
Rabbi Adam Stein of Congregation Beth Israel, speaking on behalf of the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus (CRC) and the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) on Tuesday, commended the decision and expressed gratitude for the collaborative efforts between the Anglican Church and Jewish organizations, stating that authentic interfaith dialogue necessitates respect and that attempts to convert one another contradict the principles of respect.
Stein further described the removal of the prayer as a significant development in Anglican-Jewish relations, inviting Anglicans to embrace a reconciliatory approach toward the Jewish community.
Jewish-Christian dialogue in Canada
The resolution, identified as A051, was proposed during the 2023 General Synod by The Rt. Rev. Bruce Myers and seconded by The Ven. Jane Humphrey. It called for the deletion of prayer number four from the “Prayers and Thanksgivings upon Several Occasions” section of the “Book of Common Prayer.”
The resolution proposed replacing the prayer with a new one titled “For Reconciliation with the Jews.” The newly approved prayer seeks forgiveness for acts of violence and prejudice committed against Jews by Christians and encourages a future of harmony and redemption. The resolution, which does not entail any financial implications, was submitted by the Governance Working Group.
The significance of this resolution can be traced back to 1992 when the General Synod decided to remove the third Good Friday prayer from the Book of Common Prayer. This prayer had asked for God’s mercy on Jews, but its language and tone hindered Jewish-Christian dialogue.
The removal of the prayer acknowledged the shared covenantal promises between Christians and Jews, especially in the wake of the Holocaust. However, a similar prayer called “For the Conversion of the Jews” remained in the Book of Common Prayer, reflecting the same attitudes that had been deemed problematic.
The new “reconciliation” prayer, was developed in consultation with the Prayer Book Society of Canada and the Canadian Rabbinic Caucus.
It strives to convey the message of reproach found in the meditation on the cross during the Good Friday liturgy but in a style consistent with the Prayer Book’s literary tradition.
To be enacted, the resolution must pass with a two-thirds majority in each Order voting at two successive sessions of the General Synod, as outlined in the Declaration of Principles. Additionally, the resolution will be shared with all diocesan and provincial synods for informational purposes.
The ratification is a significant step towards fostering mutual respect and understanding between the Anglican and Jewish communities.