The Rev'd Susan Auchincloss
Now retired, I am an Episcopal priest who has been rector of a church and headmistress of an Episcopal school. Currently I serve on the Ecumenical and Interfaith Commission of the Diocese of New York and as a Sunday supply priest in the Hudson Valley. I am also a member of the Founders’ Cooperation Circle of the United Religions Initiative, working with Bishop William E. Swing on interfaith initiatives for peace. A collection of my recent sermons can be found at “Skeins of Faith – Preaching that Leads to Prayer” (http://skeinsoffaith.wordpress.com).
I believe passionately that what is heard in church reverberates in the larger world, giving rise to and supporting anti-Semitism. I am dedicating myself to pursuing one ameliorating action, knowing it will affect the whole. I want us Christians to stop allowing texts from the New Testament, insofar as they denigrate Jews and Judaism, to be read aloud in church services.
The Rev’d Margaret Yoder Weiner
As an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Iowa, I have served as Vicar in two Episcopal Congregations in Iowa, as an Education for Ministry (EFM) mentor and as a Ministry Development Team coach before I retired in 2003. My awareness of anti-Judaism in Christianity was first awakened at an Iowa clergy conference in the late 1980’s by hearing The Rev. Dr. Paul van Buren (1924-1998), an Episcopal priest and Professor of Religion at Temple University. He reminded us, as one eulogist put it, “that the ethical character of the Christian life—not only how Christians treat one another but how they engage the Jewish people—will reveal the adequacy of the churches’ theological answers.”
I had no idea then that twenty-some years later I would marry a Jewish man and occasionally attend services with him at his Temple, as well as sit with him sometimes in services at my church.
As I walked up to the Temple doors for the first time I felt welcomed even by the words engraved on the stone wall above, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” My congregation has been welcoming to my husband as well. However, it soon became clear that my ears were now hearing as his did; and words criticizing or blaming Jews would leap out at me from a New Testament reading -- a reading endorsed at the end by “The Word of the Lord,” or “The Gospel of our Lord.”
In 2012 I was encouraged to learn that a resolution at the 2006 Episcopal General Convention had directed the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music to “collect and develop materials to assist members of the Church to address anti-Jewish prejudice expressed in and stirred by portions of Christian scriptures and liturgical texts, with suggestions for preaching, congregational education, and lectionary use.” But what to do in the meantime?
Discovering the Faith not Fault website with its “Liturgy Alerts,” empowered me to ask the priest at my church if it would be possible to read edited NT texts in the liturgies. The request was shared with the Bishop and permission was granted. My weekly work began in the summer of 2013 and is continuing. In the summer of 2014, I accepted Susan Auchincloss’ invitation to provide edited texts for “Liturgy Alerts” on this website.
I long for the time when no one attending a Christian worship service will have anti-Judaism suggested, implanted, or reinforced by hearing it in the texts we read as “The Word of the Lord.”