The 2018 annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention takes place next week in Dallas, Texas. During the weeks preceding the convention, you may have heard or read some troubling news that has rocked the SBC family. I will mention one.
The most recent “bombshell” came from the trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth announcing that Dr. Paige Patterson was being terminated from his position as president of the seminary, one he has held since 2003. The reasons given mainly focused on a student seeking his counsel on what she should do in the wake of being raped by her boyfriend (also a seminary student) during his tenure as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. The official announcement of the trustees included the following statement concerning “…the handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a student during Dr. Paige Patterson’s presidency at another institution…”
Interestingly, Dr. Patterson was on seminary business in Germany with his chief-of-staff when the trustees’ decision, dated May 30, 2018, was made public. As a result, he was not given the chance to defend himself before the board. Shortly after Dr. Patterson’s full termination had been made public, contrary evidence concerning the allegations was published by the wife of his chief-of-staff, laying out point-by-point explanations and details.
This was either an unfortunate, but necessary decision that had to be made; or it was the result of heavy-handed trustees hastily grasping for reasons to terminate Dr. Patterson, possibly in the wake of years of declining enrollment. I am withholding final comments and judgment until more evidence from both sides is presented; hopefully, it will be clarified during next week’s annual convention meeting. I encourage you to do the same.
My pastoral advice to you would be to…
- Pray for Dr. and Mrs. Patterson, the SWBTS Trustees, and the entire seminary family.
- Don’t draw your conclusions by only reading bloggers; consider the evidence both for and against
- Dr. Patterson; then draw your own conclusion.
- Pray for the SBC Annual meeting in Dallas on June 12-13.
- Pray that the convention sessions and subsequent months that follow will give evidence of Christ-honoring responses.
- Pray for the messengers from FBC who will be attending the convention (Mike, JK, and Grant Tignor; Charles and Benna Sharp).