Christian, Jewish Leaders Prepare to Share Common Hopes, Problems

Emerging Christian and Jewish leaders from across the United States will meet to exchange ideas and debate the meaning and practice of community in their respective faiths.

Synagogue 3000 (S3K) and Emergent will host a forum on Jan. 16-17 at the Brandeis-Bardin Institute in Simi Valley, Calif. The conference draws religious leaders from both faiths from large cities across America including Washington D.C., New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.

"We have so much common ground on so many levels," said Brian McLaren, a prominent Emergent Christian theologian who has met with S3K three times in the past. "We face similar problems in the present, we have common hopes for the future, and we draw from shared resources in our heritage. I'm thrilled with the possibility of developing friendship and collaboration in ways that help God's dreams come true for our synagogues, churches, and world."

Leading clergies in mainstream synagogues will explore the relationship between the established congregation and emerging groups, with a particular focus on unaffiliated Christians and Jews who are not attracted to conventional congregations.

S3K Senior Fellow Lawrence A. Hoffman emphasized the importance of building strong religious identities through conversation across faith lines.

"We inhabit an epic moment," he said, "nothing short of a genuine spiritual awakening. It offers us an opportunity unique to all of human history: a chance for Jews and Christians to do God's work together, not just locally, but nationally, community by community, in shared witness to our two respective faiths."

The meeting has historic possibilities, observed Emergent-U.S. National Coordinator Tony Jones.

"As emerging Christian leaders have been pushing through the polarities of left and right in an effort to find a new, third way, we've been desperate to find partners for that quest," he said. "It's with great joy and promise that we partner with the leaders of S3K to talk about the future and God's Kingdom."

S3K Director of Research Shawn Landres concurred.

"We hope to learn from their experiences and also to build bridges by engaging and challenging one another,” he said.

Speakers include: Dr. Ryan Bolger, Fuller Theological Seminary; Dr. Steven M. Cohen, Hebrew Union College; and Dr. Clark Roof, University of California.