Distinct religious groups come together for celebration in Victoria

50th anniversary of reunification of Jerusalem marked with gala at Fairmont Empress

Greater Victoria-based Rev. Sharon Hayton is the national director for Church Ministry Amongst Jewish People (CMJ). Photo contributed

Historically, Christians and Jews have seldom seen eye to eye.

In Victoria, the extent of co-operation and communication between the two groups has slowly improved over the years, and an event happening Thursday (June 8) at the Fairmont Empress Hotel aims to further that connection.

Church Ministry Amongst Jewish People, known better locally and internationally as CMJ, is hosting a golden jubilee gala to mark the 50th anniversary of the reunification of the city of Jerusalem.

“This is an opportune time to celebrate an event in history that Jewish people call the liberation of Jerusalem,” said Rev. Sandra Hayton, the retired pastor of St. Mary’s Anglican Church in Metchosin who now serves as national director for CMJ Canada.

CMJ is one of 10 official mission agencies of the Church of England and had its origins in 1809, when a group of Anglicans determined there was a need to promote Christianity among Jewish people. It continues to view itself as a pro-Israel advocate.

“From our perspective as Christians, we feel that the Jewish people need support, we know anti-Semitism is rising, we see it around the world,” Hayton said. “What my goal is and (our organization) is to strengthen friendships … so that when things spring up such as anti-Semitism, we can stand together.”

Locally, Jewish synagogues and clergy have invited Christian church representatives to their events over the years, and this is an opportunity to return the favour, Hayton said.

“I think we are in a time when some of those walls are coming down, but there needs to be more, we need to have opportunities to get together,” she said. “I think there’s more of an openness now than there used to be.”

The gala gets underway at 6:30 p.m. and includes a gourmet dinner, keynote addresses by members of CMJ-Canada and the Jewish community, and performances by Victoria-trained singer/songwriter Ken Lavigne and noted Symphony Splash violinist Philip Manning.

Tickets can be purchased at cmjcanada.ca, at Christian Book and Music, 3090 Nanaimo St. or directly by calling Shari at 250-575-0767 or Kelcy at 778-533-0637.

editor@vicnews.com

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