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Chief Rabbi Thanks Church as Christian-Jewish Glossary Launched

Wednesday May 24 2023

Praise for military chaplains

Picture: Andy O'Brien/Church of Scotland

The Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, this morning thanked the Church of Scotland for the ‘openness, sincerity, honesty and humility’ shown in conversations with the Jewish community in Scotland.

He was speaking as the Assembly welcomed a new Jewish-Christian Glossary, produced jointly by the two faith groups as an aid to interfaith discussions. The Glossary grew out of work to repair relationships between the Church and the Jewish community, which were damaged by the Inheritance of Abraham? report into the Holy Land in 2013.

Chief Rabbi Mirvis said: “Relationships are so difficult to build, create and sustain, particularly when there are lots of people involved. The relationship between the Church of Scotland and the Jewish community suffered a setback. There was a difficulty, a crisis, a challenge. But what did we do about it? We were determined to engage in a process of healing and we achieved that.

“We have been on a journey, and it’s been a wonderful journey. We thank almighty God for bringing us to this precious moment… and we offer a prayer of supplication: may almighty God continue to bless us with success in all of our joint endeavours.”

The Chief Rabbi was given a standing ovation following the speech, and the Moderator told him: “I have rarely if ever heard such powerful, inspiring words in this General Assembly.”

Introducing the Glossary, the Very Rev Dr Susan Brown said that the idea behind it was not to provide definitive answers on difficult questions, but to deepen understanding between the two faith groups. “The words with which we have begun our explorations are but a tiny drop in the ocean of all the words and ideas it would be good for us to explore together,” she said. “But it is a start. A significant start.”


The General Assembly offered its customary warm welcome to the military chaplains, as it heard the Report of the Committee of Chaplains to HM Forces.

Convener, the Rev Scott Brown, said: ”The bond between the Chaplain and your flock, including the Command at every level, is enduring, it is built upon decades of being seen as trustworthy, of being approachable, of being confidential, of being where your people are – in a ship, in a trench, in an armoured personnel carrier, or in an aircraft hanger – wherever our people are, it is the ministry of Christ’s church, and in our name, that our Ministers take up that call, with the personal sacrifices that come with any ministry, for the Chaplain and their family.”

The Assembly was also addressed by Admiral Sir Ben Key, First Sea Lord. He said that the moral component of a fighting force was the most important and that the chaplaincy ‘is fundamental to our ability to have it, to own it and be confident in it’.

“That moral component, our purpose, our belief in ourselves and what we do matters so much and I am very grateful for church, the support you give through the chaplains, your prayers and the support in our communities.”

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