The document ‘Church and Israel’ marks the first joint theological contribution of the Reformation churches in Europe to the relationship between Church and Israel. A draft document, whose genesis is outlined in its introduction stage by stage, was worked out between 1996 and 1999 by a Leuenberg working group pursuant to a resolution of the 4th General Assembly of the Leuenberg Church Fellowship (Vienna 1994). In 2000 it underwent a discernment procedure in the signatory churches of the Leuenberg Agreement and some other churches and church families.
It was submitted to the 5th Leuenberg General Assembly in Belfast for an in-depth discussion and was adopted unanimously on 24 June 2001 in the present form. Its consequence was elucidated by Wilhelm Hüffmeier – himself actively involved from the onset in the ‘Church and Israel’ working group as director of the Leuenberg Secretariat – in his introduction to the Leuenberg document ‘The Church of Jesus Christ’ as follows: ‘The General Assembly identifies itself with this text. The text formulates the consensus reached on this issue. Although this consensus does not possess the binding force like the Agreement accepted by each individual church, it does constitute a high degree of commitment for the theological work of the churches affiliated through the Leuenberg Fellowship’ (The Church of Jesus Christ. The Contribution of the Reformation towards Ecumenical Dialogue on Church Unity, Leuenberg Documents 1, Frankfurt/M. 1995, p.77). Accordingly, the 5th General Assembly requested the churches in its resolution to ‘receive the results of the doctrinal conversations and to take them into account in Christian/Jewish dialogue and in their own work on the issue »Church and Israel«.’