Our Unique Relationship
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, 49 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.
In 2003, 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. Read the full text of this covenant below.
In addition to our traditional joint Thanksgiving Service, which, starting in 2006 also included the Idara e Jaferia Islamic Center, the congregations annually enjoy other joint services and programs, one, notably, in the aftermath of the September 11th tragedy. The synagogue and church together conduct educational sessions, support social justice projects in the community, embrace pulpit exchanges, and more. 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
- Rabbi Sunny Schnitzer, Spiritual Leader Bethesda Jewish Congregation
- Harri j. Kramer, President, Board of Trustees, Bethesda Jewish Congregation
Inter-congregational Partnership Committee
Members of Bethesda Jewish Congregation and Bradley Hills Presbyterian Church nurture connections between the two congregations throughout the year through joint service projects and interfaith activities.
The Inter-congregational Partnership Committee, or IPC, formed in 2002 on completion of Covenant Hall, in the building some call church and some call synagogue (to keep things simple, some on the committee call the building our “prayer place”). Like the larger “prayer place,” Covenant Hall is a shared space where BJC holds religious services Friday night and Saturday morning and both congregations hold meetings at various times.
The IPC’s standing annual events:
- Thanksgiving service led by the clergy of BJC and BHPC and by clergy or lay leaders of an area Muslim community (these have included Idara-e-Jaferia Islamic Center of Burtonsville, the International Cultural Center of Montgomery Village, the Islamic Community Center of Potomac)—for adults and children, including a children’s service and fundraising for a charitable organization, followed by lunch
- Pulpit exchange BHPC’s Reverend Gray or Reverend Phillips gives a sermon on the bimah at a Friday night service at BJC, and Rabbi Schnitzer speaks from BHPC’s altar during a Sunday church service
- Speaker and discussion programs on subjects of national, international, and interreligious interest, such as the program New Story Leadership
- Joint service projects such as house building and renovation projects with Habitat for Humanity of Metro Maryland, grounds cleaning and planting at the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda
- Awareness-raising programs in support of the people of Darfur
- Grounds cleaning and planting at 6601 Bradley Boulevard where BJC and BHPC share a place of worship and learning
The IPC welcomes you to join in conceiving, planning and executing events that nurture connections between BJC and BHPC and advance our shared interests. To learn more or find out about our next meeting, please contact Bruce Busman, firstname.lastname@example.org.