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Paige Patterson elected president of Southwestern Seminary
June 30, 2003
By Gregory Tomlin

Paige Patterson will serve as the eighth president of Southwestern. BP photo

Former Southern Baptist Convention President Paige Patterson was elected the eighth president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, June 24.

Trustees voted unanimously in public session to extend a call to Patterson, who recently completed 10 years of service as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. He becomes the second Southern Baptist statesman to serve as president of two SBC seminaries.

A native Texan, Patterson, 60, is a third generation Southern Baptist preacher. His father, T.A. Patterson, once served as the executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas.

R. Albert Mohler Jr., chairman of the Council of Seminary Presidents, praised the selection.

“The election of Paige Patterson as president of Southwestern Seminary is one of the great moments in the history of the Southern Baptist Convention,” said Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “Dr. Patterson is one of our greatest leaders, and the Martin Luther in the reformation of our convention and the recovery of biblical inerrancy and authority.”

Patterson is the “obvious man” to take Southwestern Seminary into “its next golden era of theological education,” Mohler said. “He is Texan to the bone, courage in every inch, passion in every breath, vision in every thought, and driven by the Gospel in every dimension.”

In a press release issued by Southeastern Seminary, Patterson said it was the “clear call of God” that was taking him to Southwestern Seminary, a place that he added he loves “profoundly.”

“Our departure comes not as result of dissatisfaction of any kind,” he said. “To the contrary, a president has never enjoyed such support and counsel from a governing board, such camaraderie and stimulation from a faculty and staff, such encouragement from a board of visitors, or such love from students.”

Patterson himself was ordained at First Baptist Church Beaumont, Texas, at age 16. He received a B.A. degree from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, and a Th.M. and Th.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. After serving as pastor to churches in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas, Patterson became president of the Criswell Center for Biblical Studies, now Criswell College in Dallas. Under his leadership, the center grew from an unaccredited Bible institute into an accredited college offering both undergraduate and graduate degrees. He left Criswell College for Southeastern Seminary in October 1992.

Patterson was president of the SBC from 1. Texas Monthly magazine described him as a “modern prophet” who would soon become “one of the most important theologians in American Protestantism.” The Raleigh News and Observer included Patterson in its list of the top 100 people who helped shape North Carolina in 1999.

The article said that Patterson was a “conservative revolutionary” and “a tireless advocate of evangelism” who reshaped “what had been a moderate biblical seminary into one of the most conservative theological schools in the country.” The article also said that Patterson was committed to “the reliability of Scripture.”

Retiring Southwestern Seminary President Kenneth S. Hemphill said that he supported the decision of trustees concerning the future of the seminary.

“Dr. Patterson has been used by God to build a great seminary at Southeastern,” Hemphill said.

Southern Seminary’s Mohler said that Patterson “will take Texas by storm” and “win the hearts of Texas Baptists to the great cause of Gospel and truth as represented by their beloved Southwestern Seminary.”

Mohler said that Southern Baptists “will greet this news with great excitement and joy.” He added that “we will be praying for Southeastern Seminary as they await their new leader. This we know: God will provide a leader to build on Dr. Patterson’s legacy at that great school.”

Hemphill announced his retirement from Southwestern April 8 to serve as national strategist for the SBC’s Empowering Kingdom Growth initiative. (BP)

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