Could Paige Patterson be the next president of Southwestern?

Discussion in 'Baptist Colleges / Seminaries' started by Sherrie, Apr 17, 2003.

  1. Sherrie

    Sherrie
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    A S S O C I A T E D B A P T I S T P R E S S


    Hemphill's departure could signal
    further shift at Southwestern

    By Mark Wingfield

    WAKE FOREST, N.C. (ABP) -- Could Paige Patterson be the next president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary?

    Since the abrupt "early retirement" announcement of seminary president Ken Hemphill April 8, speculation has run rampant in both Texas and North Carolina that Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, might return home to Texas to do for Southwestern, the Southern Baptist Convention's largest seminary, what he has done for Southeastern.

    Such speculation is so strong that one of Southeastern's trustees asked Patterson about it during the seminary's board meeting in Wake Forest, N.C., April 14.

    Patterson's cautious response won't quell many rumors: "I have not been approached by anyone on the [search] committee at all about it." He later added: "I would be the most surprised man in the world, from several aspects, if that should happen."

    Southwestern's presidential search committee had been appointed just one week earlier, when Hemphill announced he was moving to a newly created position in Nashville as national strategist for the SBC's Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative.

    Patterson, perhaps the SBC's highest-profile conservative, was considered by many to be too controversial to lead Southwestern after former president Russell Dilday was fired by conservatives in 1994. Hemphill was seen as a more palatable choice by trustees widely criticized for firing Dilday.

    But conservatives reportedly have been dissatisfied with the pace of changes at the seminary. By most insider accounts, Hemphill was pressured to leave Southwestern by a small group of SBC leaders. According to a story that will appear in the April 21 issue of the Baptist Standard of Texas, those leaders reportedly helped broker a deal to allow Hemphill to stay until he could find another position or one could be created for him.

    In announcing Hemphill's newly created Nashville job, Southwestern said April 8 he would be "jointly employed" by the SBC Executive Committee and LifeWay Christian Resources. However, seminary trustee chairman David Allen confirmed April 16 that Hemphill's salary will be paid by Southwestern for a year after he leaves the seminary.

    The most conservative segment of Southwestern's trustees has criticized Hemphill for not cleaning house at Southwestern and for allowing too much leeway for non-fundamentalist faculty members to stay on. Sources in both Fort Worth and North Carolina said Hemphill was called to a meeting a few years ago in North Carolina in which he was told either to resign or be fired.

    Those accounts correspond loosely with Patterson's comments to his trustees April 14. He said Hemphill shared with him about three years ago that he was considering a career change because, in Patterson's words, "he still had a heart for the pastorate." Patterson further explained that Hemphill contacted him and some other friends several weeks ago to let them know he could be available.

    Shortly afterward, SBC Executive Committee president Morris Chapman invited Hemphill to become the national strategist for Empowering Kingdom Growth, a new initiative intended to promote church health and growth.

    Lorin Cranford, a former professor at Southwestern who now lives in North Carolina, told the Baptist Standard about a half dozen sources closely related to the seminary have confirmed that Hemphill had been to a meeting a few years ago in which he was given ultimatums to find another post, fire David Crutchley as dean of the School of Theology and hire Craig Blaising as provost and executive vice president.

    Hemphill removed Crutchley as dean in December 2001. Blaising arrived shortly thereafter and was given sweeping powers by the trustees.

    Cranford's account was corroborated by several Fort Worth sources who cannot be named because of their current relation to the seminary and fears of reprisal.

    Allen, the seminary's new trustee chairman, flatly denied assertions that Hemphill's departure was coerced, however. "That's patently false," he said in an interview. "I was on the board when he was brought in . and I served on the board while he has been president. I can tell you unequivocally that he was not forced out."

    For his part, Hemphill has kept a low profile and downplayed talk of his departure being forced, even though those close to him report he and his wife, Paula, have been deeply hurt by the ordeal.

    The day he announced he was leaving, talk of "God's will" permeated the statements of both Hemphill and seminary trustees. "For several years, we have been praying about our gifts, about how we could best advance the kingdom of God," Hemphill tearfully told students, faculty and staff in a packed chapel service.

    He later told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the move to Nashville was "a simple call of God on my life" and that he has "no animosity toward anybody -- Dr. Blaising, the trustees or anybody."

    Blaising likewise told the Star-Telegram it is "simply not true" that he was brought in to get rid of unwanted faculty.

    However, that contradicts the published statements of former trustee chairman Miles Seaborn, a retired Fort Worth pastor and one of the most influential voices on the board in the last decade. In the December 2001 issue of the Southern Baptist Texan, a conservative newspaper, Seaborn predicted Blaising would help fill the faculty with his kind of conservatives.

    "We've been working toward this ever since the firing of Dr. Dilday," he said, referencing the 1994 trustee ouster of president Russell Dilday. "It was a very tragic, traumatic event for all of us that were involved in it, but it's also been a process," Seaborn said. "There have been folks deeply entrenched here at the seminary that are moderates. Some of them have gotten so uncomfortable that they've left and are irritated, but others have kind of hunkered down and gone underground."

    When asked April 8 his reaction to Hemphill's departure, Seaborn declined comment except to say, "This is God's will."

    Terms of Hemphill's financial compensation from the seminary were not disclosed. Trustees met in executive session April 8 to iron out those details.

    However, sources close to the seminary have said Hemphill was given a deal similar to that offered other faculty members who have quietly left the seminary in recent years. Under this precedent, Hemphill, 54, could remain on the seminary payroll as a faculty member on sabbatical for one more year. That would bring the total of his age and years of service to 65. According to the faculty handbook, that is the point at which a seminary employee may retire with full benefits. Those benefits include health insurance for life and a Christmas bonus.

    Trustee chairman Allen, a professor at Criswell College in Dallas and pastor of MacArthur Boulevard Baptist Church in Irving, confirmed Hemphill will be paid by the seminary through July 31, 2004, when his retirement goes into effect.

    Paige Patterson has topped the list of rumored successors to Hemphill for several years. The native Texan is considered one of two masterminds behind the fundamentalist movement to control the SBC. He is a former president of Criswell College in Dallas and has led Southeastern Seminary into an era of rebuilding and renewed influence.

    Another often-mentioned possibility for the Southwestern presidency is Richard Land, also a native Texan, who currently heads the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

    -30-
     
  2. Speedpass

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    To answer Sherrie's question: I hope not :eek: :confused:
     
  3. atestring

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    If Pope patterson wants the job he will appoint himself. After all isn't he in charge of the SBC.
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    Wouldn't that be a blessing? Wow! I am overjoyed at the resurgence of historic baptist fundamentalism at Southeastern . . and think of thousands MORE preachers being trained properly at Southwestern? :cool:

    Praise God. [​IMG]
     
  5. FearNot

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    He would be a blessing to that or any school as he has been here at Southeastern. I do hope he does not leave Southeastern, but if he does I know it would because he feels God call him elsewhere.

    By the way Dr. Patterson is not a pope, nor is he the leader of the SBC and has not been the ELECTED president of the denomination for several years. Your sarcasm is not welcomed.
    Dr. Patterson is a very good man, and a Biblical scholar. I wish I knew as much as he.
     
  6. KPBAP

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    Patterson would LOVE to come back to TEXAS in retaliation to his ouster at Criswell!
     
  7. JGrayhound

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    Yes....he will be the next Presisdent at SW.

    Who will be the next President at SE?
     
  8. Daniel David

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    There is only one way to address cancer before it destroys: surgery. Hemphill is no surgeon.

    Btw, the losers in the whole deal feel the need to call names at those who now lead the SBC. I wonder who will give Hemphill his spine when he leaves?
     
  9. TomVols

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    I personally believe Craig Blaising will be tapped to lead SWBTS. He is a SWBTS guy. Aside from him, I'd think Daniel Akin is on the list, along with Dr. Land, as might be David Dockery.

    The charge that Hemphill left SW because of political pressure is laughable. Hemphill has always been more of a practical, church-focused guy. Most people are shocked he stayed in academia as long as he did.

    While not impossible, I'd be shocked if Patterson did leave SEBTS to go to SWBTS. Still...they do funny things in Texas [​IMG]
     
  10. TomVols

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    Sherrie...beware of Assoc Bapt Press. Their motto is "We'll print all the news that fits"
    They're as objective as Rush Limbaugh or Bill Clinton and have a cumulative arsenal of axe grinders churning out the propoganda of the power-brokers on the left. They are puppets on very short strings.
     
  11. Daniel David

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    I wouldn't mind seeing him as the pres. I would really like Patterson there to straighten things up.

    I kind of always thought Blaising made the move from Southern to Southwestern to eventually be the pres. We shall see. One thing is for sure, it will be nice to have a theologically literate pres. there.
     
  12. TomVols

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    I believe Blaising made that move there, too, for that reason. Again, people who know Hemphill know he is more suited for church ministry and the like than he is for academic life. No big secret.
     
  13. NateT

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    I'm not sure if Dr. Akin would make a good president or not. If you listen to him, he'll tell you his gift is teaching (and he's right about that.) He once said if he can get a piece of paper off his desk and on to someone else's he would not because he's lazy, but because he prefers teaching. I would think that a lot of the president's work would be more administrative, less teaching. Of course, I'm hoping he doesn't leave SBTS for VERY VERY selfish reasons [​IMG]
     
  14. KPBAP

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    Straighten things up?? I doubt it!

    I would like to see things straightened up back like they were when Dilday was President, and not a puppet of the SBC. Hemphill "built" that multi-million dollar hotel on campus which was NOT needed and is now a brick monstrosity on campus. This "learning center" was proposed by certain people while Dilday was president and it was his insight NOT to build it but pursue off-campus centers for distance education.
     
  15. Daniel David

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    KPBAP, what you and your leftists friends apparently don't understand is that these men have unity in theological matters. I agree with what they do also. So do millions of SBC folk. We are not controlled by any man. We have come to the same conclusions on enough theological matters to have real unity.

    You libs have it backwards. It is unity at all costs and then worry about theology.

    Without common theology, there is no unity.

    Enough with the pouting. It has been almost 3 years since integrity of doctrine won the day.
     
  16. SaggyWoman

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    I was kind of surprised when they got Hemphill in the first place. I had just heard him at a church growth conference.
     
  17. KPBAP

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    HE was a "safe" choice at the time.
     
  18. TomVols

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    Dr. Hemphill was a choice that made sense on some levels. He was a pastor, scholar, and evangelist. He would restore integrity long lacking in the office. He was highly credentialed academically. But no one seriously thought he'd last long simply because he's not an academic type for the long haul. His heart eventually would lead him back to more church-centered opportunities, much like what happened at DTS with Chuck Swindoll.

    I believe SWBTS may go after a pastor again. Could they try Rick Warren again? What about James Merritt? Jack Graham? Paige does have the academic and practical experience, but is he really willing to leave SEBTS?
     
  19. All about Grace

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    Rick Warren is driven by the local church.
    Merritt is making a move at Snellville that has sealed his future.
    Graham is sitting on top of the world. Why would he leave it for a seminary presidency?

    IMO they will pursue an academic personality so that they do not have the same dilemna in 5 years.

    Paige has about 10 good years left. He is a Texonion through and through. SEBTS is grounded with a bright future. Why not?
     
  20. Baptist Believer

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    You're alleging that the previous presidents of Southwestern had no integrity?!?
     

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