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Monday, 13 May 2002

Christians and Jews discuss 'Zionism' and 'Evangelism'

The peak bodies of Australia's Jewish community and the Uniting Church met in Sydney last week for their 16th national dialogue.

The Uniting Church in Australia/Executive Council of Australian Jewry Dialogue brings together representatives of the major national policy> bodies of the Jewish community and the Uniting Church to share information, enhance communication and discuss matters of mutual concern.

This week's meeting, held at Shalom College at the University of NSW, included discussion on the way in which key concepts may have completely contrary meanings and resonances to Christians and Jews, with the Dialogue focusing on the terms "Zionism" and "Evangelism".

Members of the ECAJ group explained what they meant when they used the term "Zionist", from where a discussion developed on the relationship between the Australian Jewish community and Israel. The Jewish community representatives noted that identification within the Jewish community with Zionism is natural and positive but that they understood that there is a general misunderstanding of this within the Australian community.

The Uniting Church representatives explained what the term "Evangelism" meant to them, as the basis of a constructive exchange on matters such as the importance of social justice, conversion and spreading the message of God throughout the community.

The UCA acknowledged that the word is often heard negatively by many outside the Christian faith, and often also within the Christiancommunity, but the concept as outlined broadly is a central issue to their faith and continues to be partly informed by respectful and genuine dialogue with others.

Another session at the meeting dealt with the way in which the Jewish community and the Uniting Church formulate and articulate policies on public affairs matters.

The meeting was co-chaired by Wendie Wilkie of the Uniting Church and Jeremy Jones for the Executive Council of Australian Jewry. Other participants were Dr John Squires, Rev Michael Barnes, Rev Lorraine
Parkinson and Dr Howard Wallace from the Uniting Church and Peta Pellach and Josie Lacey , and Rabbis Raymond Apple, John Levi and Jacqueline Ninio, fromthe ECAJ.

Media Contacts:
Jeremy Jones - Ph: 9360-5415
Wendie Wilkie - Ph: 8267-4203