Tentative plans have been quashed for a meeting between Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) President Paige Patterson and six Jewish leaders who charged the SBC with "deception" in evangelistic outreach to Jews.
Patterson, in a December 7 letter to Gedale B. Horowitz, president of the New York-based Jewish Community Relations Council, wrote:
"You have now made it crystal clear that our people cannot sit down with the very people who signed the letter of complaint and look them in the eyes and talk with them as friends. With regret, I accept your refusal of our offer, and there the matter ends."
Patterson said he is left to conclude what he had "feared is true. You are not interested in discussing the matter as friends and coming to a credible understanding. You apparently simply wanted to have the opportunity to bash Southern Baptists in the newspaper.
"I, for the life of me, can fathom no other possibility in the light of the willingness of six of you to sign a letter, which you send first to the press, and then refuse to accept our invitation to meet with you for discussion."
Horowitz, in a December 3 letter to Patterson, had reiterated a counterproposal for a "one-on-one" meeting "in a private setting." He had proposed the meeting after a correspondence between Patterson and six Jewish leaders, including Horowitz and the top administrators of four Orthodox and non-Orthodox Jewish rabbinical schools.
A private meeting "would be most conducive" to discussing their concerns, Horowitz wrote, further stating, "I am confident that we can arrive at a mutually agreed upon and amicable resolution of our conflict."
Patterson's original proposal was for a daylong conference at a neutral site that would involve "eight Jewish leaders, the ...1
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