In the wake of America's presidential election, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein has called for healing of the country's religious divisions. Our friends at Jewocity report on Rabbi Eckstein's recent historical address to the largest Pentecostal group in the United States:
After the most divisive presidential election in U.S. history, the largest Pentecostal church movement in America invited Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, president and founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship), to address its annual conference last night, where he called for President-elect Donald J. Trump to help heal religious division in America.
“We must call on President-elect Trump to be a force for interfaith reconciliation after this deeply divisive election, to bring together the leaders of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities and help us find ways to work together in building a more just society,” said Eckstein in the first-ever plenary address by a rabbi to the Church of God In Christ (COGIC) at their 109th Holy Convocation in St. Louis.
COGIC, which has 6.5 million members nationwide and another 6.5 million around the world, invited Eckstein to address its annual session well before Tuesday’s election, and the rabbi focused on creating new connections between the black-Christian and Jewish communities as well as with Muslims.
“We need to become bridge builders,” Eckstein said. “Regardless of this election’s outcome, the campaign surfaced the deepest pain between Americans of all faiths in recent memory. Leaders of the three great Abrahamic faiths must work together to build a better America and to ensure that we protect and promote the freedom of religion and expression our Constitution enshrines.”
The Fellowship has been building bridges with COGIC and other African-American churches for nearly two years around a shared love for Israel, working to rebuild the black-Jewish relationship forged in the Civil Rights era. The Fellowship has brought leaders of COGIC, the Progressive National Baptist Convention – the historic movement of Dr. Martin Luther King – theNational Baptist Convention of America, and the Global United Fellowship to Israel, in part to see The Fellowship’s extensive work supporting Ethiopian-Israeli immigrants. The Fellowship is also set to bring the National Baptist Convention USA to Israel later this year. These five denominations represent 90 percent of African Americans, some 25 million people across the U.S.
“During a moment of significant conflict and confusion in our country regarding leadership, Rabbi Eckstein’s appeal for reconciliation was not only timely but exuberantly received with great applause by the thousands of delegates present,” said Dr. Glenn R. Plummer, COGIC ambassador to Israel and director of missions. “There has never been a rabbi to address us at a Holy Convocation in over 100 years. His address was not only electrified, but historic. He is the one man uniquely qualified and gifted to bring friendship and fellowship between Christians and Jews.”
Eckstein, during his plenary, maintained it will be critical for members of all faith communities to build trust and work together in the coming days. “We must heal the bitterness and disunity that has grown among so many Americans, especially during these past months,” he said.
“We must continue to view our fellow citizens as our brothers and sisters, and ensure that our disagreements will be civil. We must intensify our dialogue and bridge building around shared values.” Quoting the Book of Psalms, Eckstein added, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!”