BJC and Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church
A Unique Partnership
BJC has developed a wonderful relationship with Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church. We believe that this arrangement, 47 years old, is the longest-lived such relationship, between a Jewish congregation and a church, in existence in the United States. Our relationship has allowed us to truly practice the ideal of people dwelling together in harmony.
Bethesda Jewish Congregation is a liberal Jewish congregation. We are not affiliated with any particular movement within Judaism but gain insight from each of them. Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church is a member of the Presbyterian Church, USA. We are two distinct congregations that share space and friendship. There is no blending of faiths and Bethesda Jewish Congregation has no Christian affiliation.
Ten years ago, the two congregations signed a covenant, which reads in part, "We wish to acknowledge and celebrate commonalities and differences. We see this relationship as a living example of understanding and respect among people of different heritage.
In 2003, the synagogue and the church created a new covenant, to reflect the growing partnership, which has included the creation of a new jointly-used worship space, Covenant Hall, as well as new offices for BJC, and renovations to other spaces in the building. Read the full text of this covenant.
In addition to our traditional joint Thanksgiving Service, which, starting in 2006 also included the Jaferia Islamic Center, the congregations have held other joint services and programs, one, notably, in the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy. The synagogue and church have jointly conducted educational sessions, supported social justice projects in the community, embraced pulpit exchanges, and traveled together to the Holocaust Memorial Museum.
This synagogue-church partnership has served both congregations well, allowing them to gain insight and understanding into the faiths of others, and, at the same time, serving to deepen their respective faiths.
Covenant Between Bethesda Jewish Congregation and Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church
We, the members of Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church and the Bethesda Jewish Congregation, form together this covenant to honor the Intimate and Infinite God of Creation, the One God we both worship. Taking to heart the biblical charge to be a light to the nations, we seek to offer a prophetic vision of interfaith partnership in a pluralistic world. Continuing a relationship begun in 1967, as spiritual siblings sharing sacred space, we commit ourselves to:
Acknowledge and celebrate our commonalities and differences; Foster appreciation for the richness of our respective traditions; Encourage curiosity and dialogues between our two communities of faith; Bear witness to our faith in cooperative activity in the world; Create with each other what we cannot create separately.
Recognizing the word of our great teachers, we commit ourselves to fulfill the Great Commandment: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your might. With deepest gratitude, we pledge to continue to celebrate the light bestowed upon us. May this union of spirit and space spark a flame of respect and understanding throughout the world.
November 23, 2003
- Reverend Susan R. Andrews, Pastor and Head of Staff, Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church
- Clarence Hickey, Clerk of Session President, Board of Trustees Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church
- Hazzan Sunny Schnitzer, Spiritual Leader and Kol Bo Bethesda Jewish Congregation
- Harri j. Kramer, President, Board of Trustees, Bethesda Jewish Congregation