The Alabama Cooperative Baptist Fellowship is host for the first public screening of the new Baptist Center for Ethics DVD “Good Will for the Common Good,” aimed at improving relations between Baptists and Jews.
The event, scheduled Jan. 14 at the Homewood Library in Birmingham, Ala., begins with refreshments at 7 p.m., followed by a screening of the 31-minute video and a panel discussion.
Confirmed panelists include Steve Jones, pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Birmingham, and Rabbi Jonathan Miller of Temple Emanu-El. Both appear in the DVD telling the story of how the Baptist church opened its doors for its Jewish neighbors to worship during a Temple renovation in 2001 and 2002.
Miller recalls on the DVD the day his congregation removed the Torah scrolls from the Temple and carried them to Southside Baptist Church. Even knowing it was for a great purpose, Miller said, it “felt a little bit like going into exile.”
“When we got here the welcome we received when we arrived here absolutely made us–the word that comes to mind is shudder,” the rabbi said.
“We were startled by the welcome, in ways that were so positive and so healing,” Miller said. “And Steve stood up in his pulpit and said to the Jewish people: ‘I know that there are times when you come into a community with Baptist people that you are not safe, and they have designs on you. But I promise you that when you are here at Southside Baptist Church, you are safe here.’ Those words echo with me, obviously, even these many years later, and with every member of our congregation.”
Jones says the relationship was a two-way street. “We found in working with Temple Emanu-El that Southside was enriched and enhanced in our Bible studies and our mission projects and different things, because we were in community with our neighbor,” he says in the DVD.
Jones and Miller will be joined on the panel by George Thompson, faith and community coordinator of Greater Birmingham Ministries. Thompson was raised as a Baptist and later converted to Judaism, said Brent McDougal, coordinator of Alabama CBF.
Another Alabamian appearing in the DVD, Carol Ann Vaughn of the Christian Women’s Leadership Center at Samford University, says fostering better relationships between Baptist Christians and Jews will benefit everyone from individuals to local communities to society as a whole.
“I think it’s very important for Christians in general and Baptist Christians in particular to be concerned about our relationships with other people, because that is the model that Jesus left for us,” Vaughn says in the DVD. “And be willing to listen, to hear someone else, with humility and be willing to accept or admit ignorance in some areas.”
“An important point of interfaith dialogue among Baptists and Jews involves grace, both the extending of it and the receiving of it,” she says. Learning how to receive grace, she says, can be “powerful and transcending.”
Miller says he found it remarkable that Southside Baptist Church and Temple Emanu-El think so much alike.
“We have different theological views,” Miller says. “There’s no way he [Jones] is going to become Jewish, and there’s no way I am going to become a Christian. But the theology doesn’t separate us from our common values.”
Miller said it’s a good model for both Baptists and Jews. “I think so many of our leaders get so wrapped up in being theologically correct that they lose the sense of values of justice, of mercy, of love, of consideration, that we want God to provide for us and we are commanded to provide for others,” he says.
Between an introduction and conclusion offering ways forward, the video delivers four chapters: wisdom, balance, courage and justice. The DVD says those four cardinal virtues are essential for building good will between Baptist and Jewish neighbors.
For more information about the screening, contact the Alabama CBF office at 888-245-4223.
“Good Will for the Common Good” is the fourth educational DVD produced by the Baptist Center for Ethics since 2006. The DVD sells for $40 to individuals and churches, and $150 to libraries and academic institutions. The purchase price comes with a license for public viewings. Each DVD comes with a pass code to unlock an online study guide.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.
Baptist Center for Ethics DVD Promotes Good Will Between Baptists and Jews
Click here to view trailer and order “Good Will for the Common Good: Nurturing Baptists’ Relationships with Jews.”
Other DVDs from the Baptist Center for Ethics:
“Golden Rule Politics: Reclaiming the Rightful Role of Faith and Politics”
“The Nazareth Manifesto”
“Always … Therefore: The Church’s Challenge of Global Poverty”
Fostering Good Will for the Common Good