Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Messianic Britain

[Adapted from Richard Gibson's recent article in the Messianic Times]

Messianic Britain

There has been a Messianic Jewish community in Britain for a very long time. In 1813, forty-one Jewish believers founded an association called Bnei Abraham and in 1866 the British Messianic Jewish Alliance was formed as the Hebrew Christian Alliance of Great Britain , well before the establishment of the International Alliance in 1925. The International Hebrew Christian Alliance – now the International Messianic Jewish Alliance – was also started in Britain and for most of its history had its offices in Ramsgate, Kent before moving to America in 1999.

The British Messianic Jewish Alliance (BMJA) is not only the largest Messianic organisation in Britain but is also the oldest national Messianic alliance anywhere in the world. As such, it represents by far most of the Messianic Jews in Britain. The BMJA has its own magazine called Chai and runs an annual residential conference for its members as well as a day conference in London. The management committee is democratically elected tri-annually by its Jewish members, while associate members, though not Jewish, are highly valued and welcome to participate fully in the life and testimony of the Alliance.

The BMJA is an umbrella organisation for all Messianic Jews living in Britain who are in agreement with the doctrinal basis of the Alliance. There are currently between twenty five to thirty active Messianic Jewish congregations in Britain. The British Messianic Jewish Alliance of Fellowships (BMJAF), an alliance of seventeen independent Messianic Fellowships and Congregations that have sprung up all over Britain, is associated to the BMJA. The Alliance of Fellowships is the largest affiliation of Messianic congregations and fellowships in Britain and the BMJA web site ( carries a list of associated fellowships as well as articles that have appeared in Chai. A major initiative of the BMJA and Christian Witness to Israel has been the establishment of Yahad, a national network of young British Messianic Jews.

There are currently 300, 000 Jewish people living in Britain and consequently things are on a much smaller scale than in the States and Israel. In 1995 an estimate put the numbers of Jewish believers in Yeshua in Britain at around three to five thousand. There are no official figures on the current number of Jewish believers in Yeshua in Britain. Taking into consideration all the anecdotal evidence from various ministries at work in Britain and the statistics I've gathered from the BMJA and BMJAF, It would be safe to say that there are more Jewish believers in Yeshua in Britain in 2007 than there were in 1995. There has been no serious research undertaken to find out the real figure so some estimate around five to seven thousand. However it must be noted that the majority of Jewish believers in Yeshua in Britain attend churches of all types without attending a Messianic Fellowship. A small percentage attends a Messianic Fellowship, congregation or Synagogue in addition to their local church. Those British Messianic Jews that only attend a Messianic Fellowship, congregation or Synagogue is so small it is not even a percentage! The relatively new, Union of British Messianic Jewish Congregations consisting of seven congregations, is closely linked to the American-based International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues and the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America. There are also a number of unaffiliated Messianic Fellowships but it is more often the case that when they are in a town with no Jewish population then there are no Messianic Jews in them.

The British Messianic movement stands as one of the potential bastions for the defence of the wider Jewish community against the rising tide of anti-Semitism, often dressed up as anti-Zionism. This new Anti-Semitism is manifested by a boycott-Israel fever that is currently sweeping British society including sad to say, many churches. The BMJA has been active in trying to combat anti-Semitism in churches.

The British Messianic movement also functions as a reminder that God has not finished with the Jewish people. However, the fact still remains that an estimated ninety percent of Jewish believers in Yeshua in Britain remain exclusively in churches and are unknown to the Messianic movement. Sadly, they also remain unknown both in the churches into which they melt and in the Jewish community that needs to hear a credible witness from Jewish believers in Yeshua.

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