HOUSTON (BP) -- If Southern Baptists and the Jewish nation are to become one, the church must focus on the Kingdom of God and realize Gentiles were grafted into the church, Messianic rabbi Jay Fielding told Messianic believers at their annual meeting in Houston.

The Bible shows God's progression of building the church from the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden through a return to the Tree of Life in Revelation, Fielding said, rejecting a replacement theology.

"Instead of looking at it as God rejected Israel when they sinned and they were exiled," Fielding said, "understand that it's just the progressive cycle of relationship between God and humanity and that He promised redemption."

Fielding, founder of Beth Chaim Messianic Community Network, was among the featured speakers at the 2013 Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowship Encampment Meeting, hosted by Beth Yeshua HaMashiach Messianic Jewish Synagogue on the campus of Sharpstown Baptist Church in Houston. Messianics gathered for worship, edification and a business session June 7-8 in advance of the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

"There's been a dissolution between the roots of understanding that the church is just a progression" Fielding told Baptist Press after his message. "I'm not here to come down on folks. I came down just as much on the Messianics in there. It's about the Kingdom and I'm suggesting that they start focusing on the Kingdom."

Fielding said the land of Israel was given as a blessing to the Jewish people and Gentiles.

"The church needs to make changes in their understanding of their relationship to Israel and the Jewish people. We have the Holy Spirit in us and we have the power to change first," Fielding said. "Basically, it's understanding that through Israel God loved . Just like He didn't reject humanity when He kicked them out of the garden, He didn't reject Israel. But He promised a new covenant and that the new covenant we live in is that the non-Jewish people of our world who accept Him, that come into the church are grafted into the covenant promises of Israel."

Fielding said the church could better represent Christ by understanding and embracing the various feasts God taught in Scripture.

"It's so easy to have a teaching on the feasts to remember them. It's not like you have to do sacrifice anymore; we don't do that. Passover could be a festival that those that want to, do it; it's not legalism," Fielding said, promoting both Passover and Pentecost celebrations, even in addition to Easter.

"There's nothing wrong with Easter, but it would be better called Resurrection Day," Fielding said. "Our church does that; we call it Resurrection Day, but you don't do that versus the Passover where Jesus actually died and was resurrected."

Fielding did not promote celebrating the feasts so much as focusing on the Kingdom of God.

"I wasn't in there basically telling everybody to do the feasts or do the law; that was not what I was talking about. I was showing that there's an attitude in the church that God has replaced Israel and that the things that He gave them are no longer there. That's not what the Bible says," Fielding said. "It shows it as a progression. Just like He didn't reject Adam and Eve . He says we're going back toward the opportunity to eat of the tree of life in Revelation so we can live forever in the Kingdom of God."

Amy Downey, director and missionary of Tezdakah Ministries and a professor of Arlington Baptist College in Arlington, Texas, also spoke at the meeting, as did the fellowship's president, Messianic rabbi Ric Worshill; Bob Burton, North American Mission Board Midwest Region mobilizer and Send City coordinator; senior rabbi Jim Pratt of the host synagogue; and Boaz Michael, founder of First Fruits of Zion Ministries in Marshfield, Mo.

In the Messianic fellowship's business meeting, the group elected executive officers and managers, choosing Worshill as president and executive director; Fielding as director of Region 1, encompassing the Northeast Region and islands, and Fielding and Downing as members of the nominating committee.

Other officers are Bruce Stokes, vice president and director of missions; Mike Herts, missions development manager; Randall Clark, ministry development manager; Mike Saffle, ministry training manager; and Connie Saffle, secretary. A treasurer will be appointed, Worshill said.

Other regional directors are Jay Isbell, Region 2 for the South and East; Hal Garrett, Region 2 for the South and West; John Denson, Region 3 for the Midwest; and Robin Rose and Trevor Embry, both representing Region 4 for the West. An additional Region 3 directorship and a Region 5 directorship (Canada) remained vacant after elections, Worshill said.

Diana Chandler is Baptist Press' staff writer. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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