Noting the existence of previous Hebrew Christian brotherhoods and other groups of Jewish Christians that met in the 19th century, Hugh Schonfield observes:
But while these movements have interest as expressing the need of Jewish Christians for mutual dependence both in prayer and charity, they have no claim to be regarded as forerunners of a revived Jewish Christianity.
The first united stand of Jewish Christians, as such, was made in 1866 when Dr. C. Schwartz, minister of Trinity Chapel, Edgware Road, London, built by another Jewish Christian, Ridley Herschell, formed a Hebrew-Christian Union. The objects are stated to have been:
1 To promote a social and frequent personal intercourse among Christian Israelites by meeting together at stated periods.
2 To stir up and stimulate one another in the endeavor of uniting with, and caring for, our brethren.
3 To search the Scriptures together relating to Israel and Israel’s King.
The opening verse of Psalm 133 “Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity,” was taken as the motto of the Union.
Dr. Schwartz also commenced to edit in January 1866, the first Jewish Christian periodical, The Scattered Nation.
The great forward step was taken on April 25, 1866, when the following circular letter was issued to Jewish Christians.
It has occurred to us that it would be desirable and profitable that as many Israelites who believe in Jesus as can be brought together should meet in London on the 23rd of May.
Our object is to become acquainted with one another, and to be built up in our holy faith. There are special ties which bind us together as descendant of Abraham. and we believe that this conference for prayer and consultation might issue in a permanent union of Jewish Christian brethren in this land.
We do not come before you with any definite plan for action, but would simply say that, as there exists an Evangelical and a Jewish, an Hebrew-Christian Alliance also might be formed.
We trust that you feel with us the desirableness and importance of such a meeting, and that we may reckon your presence and on your prayers.
An early reply, sent to the address of Dr. Schwartz, would greatly oblige. With the prayer that the Lord may bless us all.
Dear brother, yours very sincerely,
A.D. Herschell H. Liebstein M. Margoliouth T.E. Neuman A. Pitowsky
- Steinhardt A. Saphir C. Schwartz
The Rev. A. M. Meyer, Dr. M. Schulhof, and other brethren, have promised to attend.
Eighty Jewish Christians met on the day appointed, and Dr. Schwartz afterwards wrote: “We may boldly say that such a gathering of convened Jews exclusively had not been witnessed since the early days of the Christian Church.”
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the vision and energy of the founders of the Hebrew Christian Alliance of Great Britain, and for their legacy which continues today in the International and National Messianic Jewish Alliances around the world. May their high ideals and firm faith in the relationship between Yeshua, Israel and the nations be lived out today by Jewish believers in Yeshua, in a way that points all to you. In your name we pray. Amen.