Please restrain your followers, Jews ask Jensen 31, 2003
By Kelly Burke

The precarious relationship between Sydney's Jewish community and evangelical Christians of the Anglican faith has reached a stalemate, with the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies calling on the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, to rein in his overzealous followers.

Stephen Rothman, the Board of Deputies' president, said the board had received "complaints in the hundreds" in the past few years about inappropriate and disrespectful proselytising by Anglicans in Sydney.

Speaking on the eve of the second International Interfaith Dialogue Conference, which took place at Parramatta over the weekend, Mr Rothman said that while those of Jewish faith understood and accepted that proselytising was integral to Islam and Christianity, a pattern of misrepresentation, misleading advertising and disrespect for individual choice among evangelicals in Sydney meant that the interfaith relationship between Jews and Anglicans had reached a stalemate. "The next step really has to be a meeting with the Archbishop of Sydney so we can try and clear the air," he said.

A formal complaint had been forwarded to Dr Jensen and the diocese of Sydney some months ago, and the matter had also been brought to the attention of the executive of the Anglican church's national synod.

"But the view we've received from Sydney officially is that they're entitled to proselytise - with which we don't disagree - but what we do disagree with is the methods they use. And they've not been willing to discuss this method because they don't see anything wrong with it."

The distribution of offensive flyers, unsolicited and disrespectful approaches in the street and the creation of a false impression that groups such as Jews for Jesus and Kehilat Mashiach were official Jewish organisations was tantamount to misleading conduct, Mr Rothman said. Jews for Jesus has no official relationship with the Anglican church.

The founder of Kehilat Mashiach is an Anglican minister, Martin Pakula, who teaches at Moore Theological College. But Mr Pakula says his organisation has been disbanded for personal reasons. The Kehilat Mashiach's Jewish Christian Bible Fellowship parent website remained on the internet because he saw no reason to close it down, he said.

"I'm happy to take questions by email. I'm still doing things personally," he said. "Peter Jensen is for sharing the gospel with Jews but even if he was against it [he] wouldn't be able to stop it."

Dr Jensen was unavailable for comment.

The Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, said that while delegates from the Catholic and Uniting Church attended the weekend's interfaith conference, an absence of any Anglican delegates did not mean that the diocese did not support freedom of religion and respect for other people's beliefs.

"[Interfaith conferences] are just not something we feel strongly about," he said.

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