Protestant Denominations Launch ‘shalom Curriculum’ Project

Six major Protestant denominations have launched a joint Christian educational development project known as the “Shalom Curriculum,” which seeks to restore its learning and action programs to the traditional Biblical view of religion as a total way of life rather than simply as a private religious experience. The Protestant educators have sought the systematic collaboration of Jewish scholars to include Jewish thinking as a contribution to this program.

Dr. Edward A. Powers, general secretary of the Division of Christian Education of the United Church of Christ Board for Homeland Ministries, announced the project at a news conference held in conjunction with the 67th annual meeting of the American Jewish Committee. Dr. Powers, who is also chairman of the educational project, said the six Protestant denominations would sponsor a “Year of Shalom” in the 1973-74 school year, to begin at the congregational level in the United Church of Christ parishes and to be followed by similar program in the other denominations. The program in the local parishes will concentrate on education, worship, families, and congregational life-style.

He explained that the religious education program, undertaken through the initiative of the United Church of Christ, sought “to enable a congregation to recover its Biblical roots by combining learning and action in order to become more adequately a community of Shalom, and to facilitate church members’ becoming instruments of Shalom in the world at large.”

A DECISIVE TURNING POINT

The Shalom curriculum committee, composed of Christian educators from the six Protestant denominations, held a consultation two months ago, which was co-sponsored by the Interreligious Affairs Department of the AJ Committee.

Dr. Powers expressed the hope that further collaboration with the AJ Committee and Jewish scholars would continue to enrich the Shalom curriculum project by introducing other teachings about Shalom from Jewish writings and history; a deeper concern for the meaning of Jerusalem as “the city of Shalom”; and a more effective interpretation of the meaning of the Holocaust as the supreme paradigm of evil toward which a Shalom community should direct its concern and opposition.

Commenting on the significance of this program, Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, national Interreligious Affairs Director of the AJ Committee, said that “both symbolically and substantively, this religious education program, when implemented, may well mark a decisive turning point in the improvement of in-depth understanding and trust relationships between members of the Protestant and Jewish communities.”

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