Members of the Baptist Center for Ethics’ board of directors on Monday previewed a soon-to-be released DVD aimed at improving relations between Baptists and Jews.
“Good Will for the Common Good: A Resource for Nurturing Baptists’ Relationship With Jews” gives an overview of Southern Baptists’ often-rocky relationship with the Jewish faith, summarized famously in Bailey Smith’s 1980 remark that God does not hear the prayers of a Jew.
It contrasts that history with examples of moderate Baptist individuals and congregations who model overcoming theological differences to unite Jewish people and Baptist Christians on themes like civility, respect and the separation of church and state.
Cliff Vaughn, culture editor for EthicsDaily.com, shot eight interviews in three states for the 30-minute video. It can be used either for a one-time viewing or in a four-week Sunday school or Wednesday night study with chapters exploring the four cardinal virtues–wisdom, balance, courage and justice–applied to how Baptists ought to relate to their Jewish neighbors.
Jan Turrentine, managing editor of Acacia Resources, the BCE’s publishing arm, is editing on-line leader and student guides for use with the DVD component.
“Historically the conversation between the Baptist and Jewish communities has always broken down at the point of issues related to conversion,” BCE Executive Director Robert Parham told board members meeting in Nashville, Tenn. “There is another way,” Parham said. “The way forward is to focus on areas of common good. We think that’s a more productive way of working with our neighbors.”
Among those featured in the DVD are Immanuel Baptist Church in Nashville, which each Thanksgiving sponsors a fun run called the Boulevard Bolt with a nearby Episcopal church and Jewish temple. Proceeds from the run go toward helping the homeless.
Rabbi Jonathan Miller of Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham, Ala., and Steve Jones, pastor of Southside Baptist Church, describe how Southside’s opening its doors to the temple during a major building renovation bound the two congregations together.
Mike Smith of First Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Rabbi Rami Shapiro, head of the One River Foundation, reflect on their experience of co-writing a groundbreaking book yet controversial 2005 book, Let Us Break Bread Together: A Passover Haggadah for Christians, aimed at engaging Christians and Jews around a common venue of the Passover.
Other interviews include Suzii Paynter, director of citizenship for the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, and Carol Ann Vaughn of the Christian Women’s Leadership Center at Samford University.
Directors offered feedback for the DVD, still in final editing stage. Board chairman David Hughes, pastor of First Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, N.C., said the resource couldn’t be more timely for his congregation, which recently became involved in an ongoing interfaith dialogue.
“I think there’s a tremendous hunger around this area,” Hughes said. “I think you’re on to a great idea, and it’s really needed.”
Other video-based resources are in the works. Footage is being collected for a DVD and online study guide on global poverty. “This is an attempt to tell the story about what moderate Baptists and their partners are doing to address global poverty,” Parham said
Sponsors of the poverty study include the Baptist General Convention of Texas, Baptist General Association of Virginia, Baptist General Convention of Missouri, Baptist World Aid and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.
Bob Allen is managing editor of EthicsDaily.com.