A LETTER TO AITZ CHAIM, GREAT FALLS
To the members of Aitz Chaim:
I write as the Bishop of the Lutherans in Montana, deeply grieving the massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue, and standing in solidarity with the Jewish community.
Christians in general and Lutherans in particular have had a poor track record when it comes to anti-semitism and its tragic consequences. Our tradition has been associated with the justification of the Holocaust, and we continue to repent that.
In 1994, our denomination joined the Lutheran World Federation in repudiating and repenting anti-semitism, saying: “We recognize in anti-Semitism a contradiction and affront to the Gospel, a violantion of our hope and calling, and we pledge this church to oppose the deadly working of such bigotry, both within our own circls and in the society around us.”
In 1995, our church in Montana, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, entered into an agreement with the Montana Association of Jewish Communities, pledging mutual support, education and work together for the good of all God’s people. In 2015, with representatives of MAJCO present, we Lutherans unanimously re-affirmed the agreement, pledging solidarity and prayer.
Lutheran congregations across Montana had the Jewish community in prayer during Sunday worship. We deeply regret the increased acts of anti-Semitism in our country, and pledge to work together for peace and harmony and justice for all people.
In Great Falls, where I live, Congregation Aitz Chaim has a special relationship with my congregation, Bethel Lutheran. Bethel serves as home for the Great Falls Jewish Community, even moving the youth group off site so as not to disturb the high holy days. It is a way that we can be in relationship with one another. We are so glad that you are part of our community.
As you grieve, please know that we grieve with you. And we stand ready to support you.
jessica Crist, Bishop