Promise Keepers Founder Wants To Unite Evangelicals, Jews

DENVER — Former University of Colorado football coach and Promise Keepers founder Bill McCartney has reportedly been organizing a new group aimed at improving relations between evangelical Christians and Messianic Jews.

McCartney and the Rev. Raleigh Washington, an elder at a Denver church led by a Messianic Jew, have founded Road to Jerusalem to achieve that goal and plan to launch the effort Dec. 3 in Palm Springs, Calif., The Denver Post reported Wednesday.

McCartney could not be reached for comment. Washington, an elder at Church in the City, declined comment Tuesday.

Messianic Jews believe in Jesus, whom they call by his Hebrew name Yeshua, while retaining their Jewish identity. Jewish leaders, meanwhile, consider them to be Christians who are no longer Jews.

“I think (McCartney) is the first major Christian figure who is taking a stand with Jewish believers of Yeshua,” said Russ Resnick, executive director of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. “It’s a significant thing.”

While evangelical Christians have become strong supporters of Israel and Jews, Resnick said they usually don’t associate with Messianic Jews to avoid offending Jewish leaders.

Rabbi Howard Hirsch, of the Center for Christian-Jewish Dialogue in Colorado Springs, doubts evangelicals will harm their good relationship with the Jewish community.

“The evangelical community realizes one of the subtexts of the Messianic movement is evangelizing and conversion, and they know how sensitive that Jewish community is on that issue,” he said.

McCartney has had previous ties to Messianic Jews. Leaders of the movement participated in a large Promise Keepers rally in Washington in 1997.

McCartney founded the Christian men’s organization in 1990, the same year he coached the Buffaloes to a share of the national football championship.

He left CU in 1994 to run the ministry full time and resigned his post at Promise Keepers in September, saying he would devote more time to his family and his ill wife.

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