The Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ) is asking churches around the UK to join in prayer ahead of Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD).
On 27 January 2020 HMD will mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau. Around the UK tens of thousands of people will take part in commemorations. As the leading forum for Jewish-Christian relations, CCJ is encouraging churches to mark HMD through a special prayer of remembrance and recommitment.
The prayer (the text of which can be found below) has been written by the heads of the UK’s Christian denominations who serve as Presidents of CCJ: The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Moderator of the Free Churches, and the Archbishop of Thyatira and Great Britain. In a statement accompanying the prayer, the church leaders said: ‘As Presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), and in respect of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we ask our churches to join in the use of this prayer on the Sunday closest to Holocaust Memorial Day 2020.’
The prayer will be launched on Monday 20 January at a special reception in the House of Lords. Speakers at the event will include the Rt Revd Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland; Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg, Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism; and the Rt Revd Sarah Mullally DBE, Bishop of London.
The Chair of CCJ, the Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE, Bishop of Lichfield, said: ‘Two thousand years of anti-Jewish thought, much of it generated by Christians, led to the antisemitism which fuelled the Holocaust. In the 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz and other camps, much has been done to repair relations between Christians and Jews. But in this anniversary year antisemitism is at record levels. Through prayer we ask Christians to remember the pain of the past and recommit to a better future for all people.’
The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury and President of CCJ, said: ‘On this 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the need for Christians to remember the appalling history of antisemitism and its culmination in the Nazi death camps is as pressing as ever. At this sobering anniversary, may our prayers contribute to shaping a humble remembrance that spurs us into a loving relationship with our Jewish neighbours.’
A prayer for use by Christians on Holocaust Memorial Day 2020
God of the past, present, and future,
We remember today, 75 years since the liberation of Auschwitz, the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, the millions of other victims of Nazi persecution, and all those who have been targeted and killed in subsequent genocides.
We remember those who, having survived genocide, share their stories with us:
We give thanks to You for the lessons of human stories, both in their suffering and in their joy.
We remember those who stood up against injustice and saved lives:
We give thanks to You for their example.
Together we acknowledge the sacrifice of those that stood together with those who suffered during the Holocaust and other genocides.
And we affirm that every life is loved by You and sacred.
Yet, during the Holocaust too many failed to stand together with their neighbours. Oppression stains Your world and contradicts Your love.
So we pray that You will inspire us now as we stand together on this day in the love that we know of God in Christ Jesus.
Let us commit to remembering:
And glorify God in our words and actions.
We make these prayers in the name of Christ Jesus who through His life, death, and resurrection, journeys with us into the eternal hope of Your truth and light.
As Presidents of the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ), and in respect of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we ask our churches to join in the use of this prayer on the Sunday closest to Holocaust Memorial Day 2020.
The Rt Hon and Most Revd Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster
His Eminence Nikitas Loulias, Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain
The Rt Revd Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the Church of Scotland
The Revd Dr Hugh Osgood, Moderator of the Free Churches