Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Near Historical St. Louis Divide, Local Christian and Jewish Congregations Forge a Bond

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Messenger: Near Historical St. Louis Divide, Local Christian and Jewish Congregations Forge a Bond

Article excerpt

For more than 60 years, the building at the northwest corner of North Hanley Road and Amherst Avenue in University City has been a house of prayer.

First it was Shaare Zedek synagogue. Then, in 2014, the Jewish congregation merged with Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue to create Kol Rinah.

All along, every day, somewhere in the building, somebody has prayed.

That's what inspired Rusty Maple after he moved in.

Maple is lead pastor of the Hanley Road location of The Journey, a Christian church with six outposts in St. Louis. For nearly a year now, Maple's church, and Kol Rinah, have shared the same building.

"We have learned from a people more devoted to prayer than we are," Maple says.

The unique arrangement was born of practicality.

Rabbis Noah Arnow and Scott Shafrin were looking for a new location for Kol Rinah.

Maple's church, then situated a few blocks south, at Hanley Road and Maryland Avenue, was growing, and wanted to find a location north of Delmar Boulevard, which once separated Jews in St. Louis by class, and in the 20th century became a dividing line between black and white.

The two congregations -- one Jewish, one Christian -- found each other and made a deal.

They'd switch buildings.

But the Maryland Avenue location was going to need quite a bit of work before Kol Rinah could move in, and that created a dilemma. The men of the cloth forged a plan.

They would worship under the same roof.

The opportunities for conflict were enormous.

To prepare Kol Rinah for its new birth as home of a Christian congregation, volunteers from The Journey wanted to work on Saturday, the Jewish sabbath. There would be crosses representing the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in a building where Jews were still worshiping, celebrating holidays and traditions, and praying, every day, praying.

For Jews, having dealt with anti-Semitism in one shape or another for generations, the cross can represent a real "historical trauma," Arnow says. …

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