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Pastor Don Kretzer's church hopes to narrow gap between Christians and Jews

December 06, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

BOONSBORO ? Banners representing the 12 tribes of Israel adorn the walls.

There is a Star of David on the front door.

And, now, center stage at The Tribe of Judah is a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.

For those who can't quite visualize the structure, the ark was vividly portrayed in the movies "David and Bathsheba" and more recently, "Raiders of the Lost Ark," said Don Kretzer, pastor of the small country church on San Mar Road whose goal is to narrow the gap between Christians and Jews.

The idea to build the ark first came from Diane Colley, worship dance leader at the church.

Built by church members and local artisans over the summer, the ark was completed in time for the fall feast of the tabernacles at the Tribe of Judah, according to Kretzer.

"We thought it fitting to bring it up to the church," Kretzer said, noting it was put together in church member Warren Baker's basement.

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It will stay at the church as long as it continues to spark dialogue and the interest of Kretzer's congregation and other congregations far and wide.

Kretzer said he and Baker used the measurements spelled out in Exodus 25.

"You shall make an ark two and a half cubits (45 to 55 inches) long, one and a half cubits (27 to 33 inches each) wide, and one and a half cubits high," the Bible passage says.

Kretzer said the wooden ark was painted gold along with moldings and poles used to carry the ark. Local artist Roberta Wivell carved the distinctive seraphims (angels) on the top of the ark ? also as the scriptures directed, Kretzer said.

According to the Bible, God commanded the ark to be built to hold the tablets bearing the 10 commandments, as well as a jar of manna and the rod of Aaron, Moses' brother.

For Kretzer, the ark is much more than just a wooden box painted gold. It is yet another symbol that convinces him of the bond he feels must be re-established between Christians and Jews.

In a 35-year career studying the word of God, Kretzer has concentrated the last 10 of those years teaching about Christian/Jewish roots stressing they've been the most exciting.

"We celebrate all the Jewish festivals. I preached about Hanukkah on Dec. 2," Kretzer said.

Kretzer, 60, works part time in the printing department of the Washington County Health Department. Before he began his ministry, he was a printer by trade.

Kretzer said some believe that his zeal and determination about reuniting Christians and Jews is over the line. But he points to the 1991 discovery of a religious symbol depicting a Hebrew menorah and a Christian fish symbol.

Those two symbols were connected in the middle by the Star of David, which is formed by the intersection of the base of the candlestick and the tail of the fish.

Kretzer has traveled as far as Africa to preach on the Jewish roots of the Christian faith.

"To me, it's like a drink of water on a hot day," he said.

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