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A General Survey of the British Messianic Scene
by RG

The modern Messianic movement has its roots in nineteenth century Britain. The first British Messianic alliance came into being in 1866. This alliance, the oldest Messianic alliance in the world, is now called the British Messianic Jewish Alliance.
The British Jewish community numbers about 267,000. A 1995 estimate put the number of Jewish believers in Britain at three to five thousand. In 2003, the BMJA had 284 Jewish members and 170 non-Jewish members, and it appears that Jews have been coming to faith at an encouraging pace over the last ten years.

In a survey of BMJAF's Messianic fellowships, the thirteen groups that responded had a total of 190 Messianic Jews. Some of the groups meet weekly, some fortnightly, others monthly. The Union of British Messianic Jewish Congregations, also surveyed, only commented that: "The UBMJC congregations do have a healthy and growing number of Jewish believers in them, as well as non-Jews."

By far, the largest percentage of Jewish believers in Britain attends a wide variety of non-Messianic churches, and does not attend a Messianic congregation. The number of Jewish believers that attend a Messianic group exclusively is very small. A larger number attend a Messianic fellowship in addition to a non-Messianic church. A number of "Messianic" groups contain no Jewish believers. In addition, confusion is caused by some groups like the Congregation of Yahweh and the Hebrew Roots movement, who refer to themselves as "Messianic."

The British Messianic Jewish Alliance - BMJA
The former Hebrew Christian Alliance of Great Britain is now the BMJA, an umbrella organization for Jewish believers whose members attend all sorts of Protestant and Evangelical churches, primarily. Some attend Messianic congregations. As stated in its Constitution,
Applicants for Membership, or Associate Membership, must belong to a worshiping Fellowship, Church or Congregation, [and must]
(a) Believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit;
(b) Have accepted Messiah Yeshua as their personal Saviour, and Him alone;
(c) Believe in the Atonement which He wrought at Calvary;
(d) Believe in His Deity and Resurrection;
(e) Have made public confession of their faith; this shall involve baptism, except in the case of members in good standing with the Society of Friends or the Salvation Army;
(f) Declare their adherence to the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments (Tanach and Brit Hadashah);
(g) Seek to lead a life to the glory of God.
Associate members, who are not Jewish are highly valued and are welcome to fully participate. More information may be obtained online at:

The British Messianic Jewish Alliance of Fellowships - BMJAF
Whereas the BMJA is an umbrella organization for Jewish believers resident in Britain, the BMJAF is an umbrella organization of Messianic fellowships in Britain, and was established to provide leaders of authentic independent Messianic fellowships with a mutual self-governing accountability structure. The BMJAF is comprised of nineteen fellowships. Each is independent, has its own mode of expression and its own theological distinctives. Leaders do not use the title "rabbi". Most groups incorporate some Hebrew liturgy in their services. In some, kippot and talesim are worn. The attendance of a Jewish believer in a BMJAF fellowship is generally supplementary to his attendance in a non-Messianic church.

The Union of British Messianic Jewish Congregations - UBMJC
The UBMJC, which was founded about a year after the BMJAF was, is close to the American-based International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues and the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, and has seven Messianic synagogues affiliated to it. It has an ordination program and calls its leaders "rabbi"; the wearing of kippot and talesim are normative in their meetings.
Their statement of faith, as viewed on its web site, is an orthodox Christian document, but also includes, "We believe that as Jews and non-Jews together in Messiah, we follow the Torah (instruction) of Moshe as taught by and lived out, and having fruition in Messiah."

Where Are We Now?
Most Jewish believers in Britain remain exclusively in non-Messianic churches, and are unknown to the British Messianic movement. Sadly, they are also often unknown to the church they melt into and to the Jewish community that needs a credible witness from them. Sadly, as well, there is division, and the differences appear irreconcilable. The BMJAF seeks to allow an authentic British model to naturally develop, whereas the UBMJC follows the American MJAA model. The UBMJC leaders that contacted me did not consider the BMJA and BMJAF to be truly Messianic, but believe that only those who attend a Messianic synagogue exclusively and live according to the UBMJC's requirements are truly Messianic. They encourage Gentiles to leave their churches and become "Messianic Gerim" (Gentile converts to Messianic Judaism), and believe that God's end-times purpose does not lie with "the church," but with "Messianic Judaism exclusively.

On a positive note, there is growing cooperation between the well established historic British-based missions and ministries working in this field, such as Christian Witness to Israel, Church's Ministry Among the Jewish People, and The Messianic Testimony, and the newly arrived American-based missions and ministries, such as The Christian Jew Foundation, Jews for Jesus, and Chosen People Ministries. In addition, the British Messianic movement stands as a potential bastion against the rising tide of anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism sweeping British society.

RG, 2005

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