We continue to hear of the positive effects of the recent Fellowship-hosted trip to Israel by a group of African-American church leaders. The Advocate's George Morris writes about the relationships that were fostered by the pilgrimage to the Holy Land:
For much of his life, the Rev. S.C. Dixon, of Greater Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church, hasn’t thought badly of Israel. It simply wasn’t in his thoughts.
“Growing up, when we thought of Israel and heard about Israel, very seldom did you discuss where people of color had any relations with Israel, with the Holy Land at all,” Dixon said.
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, noticed that disconnect. So, he has invited black Christians to see for themselves.
In late May, four Baton Rouge-area members of National Baptist Convention of America churches took a trip to Israel sponsored by the fellowship. Dixon, the organization’s general secretary, was joined by Brandon Dumas, a Greater Mount Olive member and a historian for the fellowship; the Rev. Leroy Taylor, pastor of Little Zion Baptist Church in Kenner; Johnny Anderson, a member of Greater King David Baptist Church; and about 20 fellowship members from other parts of the country.
Since 1983, the fellowship has raised more than $1.3 billion for projects that include helping Jews immigrate to Israel, integrating Ethiopian-Israelis and aiding Holocaust survivors.
“We’re not trying to make them into political advocates and lobbyists for Israel,” Eckstein said by phone. “What we’re trying to do is deepen their bonds with Israel and the Jewish people and have a better understanding of what’s going on there so they could identify more and stand in solidarity with Israel and the Jewish people..."