He clarified. He defended. He apologized. And now, after weeks of controversy, Southern Baptist icon Paige Patterson is no longer president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS).
School trustees announced early Wednesday morning that Patterson, one of the most powerful and influential figures in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), had become the seminary’s president emeritus overnight, appointing theology dean Jeffrey Bingham as interim president.
After deliberation that went on past 3 a.m., the board voted him into paid retirement, complete with an on-campus home where he and his wife can live as theologians-in-residence.
“After much prayer and a more than 13-hour discussion regarding challenges facing the Institution, including those of enrollment, financial, leadership and institutional identity, the Board determined to move in the direction of new leadership for the benefit of the future mission of the seminary,” they said in a statement.
Patterson becomes the second president in SWBTS history to be forced out of the role. The only other was Russell H. Dilday, who was dismissed in 1994 as part of the Conservative Resurgence, the wave of denominational leadership changes orchestrated by Patterson himself.
Decades after his rise within the SBC, the 75-year-old recently ended up in the center of #MeToo-era criticism targeting his approach to abuse, divorce, and women, which led to bigger questions over his efficacy at the helm of its second-largest seminary.
The board affirmed that Patterson had ultimately complied with reporting laws on assault and abuse. The outgoing president spent a few hours meeting with the trustees and with his own leadership cabinet during the long, contentious session at the school’s Fort Worth, Texas, campus. His wife, Dorothy, was also in attendance.
SOURCE: KATE SHELLNUTT