Germany's Lutheran church is rejecting any efforts to convert Jews, a move that is being welcomed by the country's Jewish community.

The synod of the Evangelical Church in Germany approved the declaration on Wednesday. Synod president Irmgard Schwaetzer said it is "a further step on the path of contemplation and reorientation in our relationship with Jews."

The move to distance the church from the mission to Jews comes ahead of next year's 500th anniversary of the Reformation and follows a declaration last year distancing it from Martin Luther's statements against Jews. The Vatican has also declared it doesn't support official efforts to convert Jews.

Germany's Central Council of Jews welcomed what it called a long-awaited declaration, saying it recognizes the suffering caused by forced conversions over centuries.