Presented by the Canadian Friends of Sabeel, Seeking the Peace of Jerusalem: Overcoming Christian Zionism in the Quest for Justice is set to take place from April 23–25 at St. Mary’s Kerrisdale Church in Vancouver. The Anglican Church of Canada is co-sponsoring the conference, along with the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the United Church in Canada and Friends of Sabeel North America.
A movement rooted in conservative evangelical Protestantism that emerged in the mid-20th century, Christian Zionism holds that the contemporary State of Israel represents the culmination of biblical prophecy and thus merits strong—and often uncritical—moral, financial and political support.
Anglican participation in the three-day conference, which builds upon previous meetings held last year in Abbotsford and Vancouver, follows the spirit of Resolution A172 passed at General Synod 2013. The resolution committed the church to “explore and challenge theologies and beliefs, such as Christian Zionism, which support the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.”
The conference’s main focus will be to introduce and discuss Christian Zionism—its influence on understandings of Judaism and Israel, and its impact on Christian-Jewish relations throughout history and today—while drawing connections between Christian Zionism, anti-Semitism and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.
A combination of keynote speakers and workshops will help educate people on specific topics and network with others interested in promoting peace and justice in the region.
“We have academics, church workers, activists, people new to Christian Zionism, all gathering to discuss this topic,” said Global Relations Director Andrea Mann, the senior staff person on the Partners in Mission committee that brought the resolution to General Synod.
She added, “It’s an effort to learn and build bridges between members of Christian and Jewish communities who are interested in what Christian Zionism is and who take exception to it.”
Keynote speakers include:
- The Rev. Dr. Naim Ateek, founder of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre, Jerusalem;
- Rabbi Alissa Wise, Jewish Voices for Peace, Oakland;
- Gary Burge, professor of New Testament Studies, Wheaton College, Chicago; and
- The Rev. Carmen Lansdowne, doctoral research in decolonizing indigenous histories, Heiltsuk First Nation, B.C.
“We’re hoping the conference provides a range of opportunity for Anglicans to listen, ask deeper questions, discuss these issues in small groups, and if interested, connect…with other people who are engaged in advocacy and activism on issues pertaining to peace with justice in Palestine and Israel,” Mann said.
Registrations for the event can be made online at necefsabeel.ca. The deadline for early registration is Tuesday, March 31. Early registration fees are $125 (or $25 for students) until March 31 and $160 (or $60 for students) after April 1.
As part of its commitment to providing opportunities for Anglicans to learn about Christian Zionism and other obstacles to peace, the church is offering bursaries to cover registration fees for those who require financial assistance. Anyone seeking information about bursaries should contact Mann at [email protected].
Anglican Church of Canada, News from General Synod, March 20, 2015