The Church of Scotland has said that it needs “internal conversations” about antisemitism within its ranks, as it revealed that dialogue with the Jewish community was now being “professionally facilitated”.
It follows the publication of the Church’s Blue Book, which states that “it is important that we deal with this issue [antisemitism] within the Church”.
It said the facilitated dialogue came about “as a result of a commitment made by the Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and our Principal Clerk at the time Very Rev Dr John Chalmers”.
The Blue Book states that “one of the outcomes of this is to put energy into internal facing conversations about the meaning of antisemitism within the Christian tradition”.
Church officials would not be drawn when asked whether “facilitation” meant “mediation,” whether the Church had recognised a problem of antisemitism, or whether the new approach had come about as a result of complaints.
However, a spokeswoman said the Church “has been in formal dialogue with the Jewish community since September 2017… The goals are to ensure and promote positive relationships between the Church and Jewish communities and to provide a space for earnest and engaging dialogue.”
She said facilitation “hands authority to a third party in order to maintain a meaningful exchange, with all voices heard and to safeguard opportunities for reflection within the dialogue space”.
On the dialogue, which is being led by family lawyer Hugh Donald and Place of Hope director Ruth Harvey, she said: “The process has made a significant amount of progress. We have been building and deepening relationships and a great deal of mutual learning has taken place.”
On the issue of antisemitism, she said: “The Church has consistently condemned antisemitism and… recognises, and is concerned, that there has been an increase in antisemitic activity within Scotland.
“The internal conversations are an opportunity to ensure that as a denomination these issues are fully understood and that we are able to respond accordingly.”