Patterson remains committed to Southeastern
April 17 2003 by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor

Patterson remains committed to Southeastern | Thursday, April 17, 2003

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Patterson remains committed to Southeastern

By Tony W. Cartledge BR Editor

WAKE FOREST - Trustees of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) heard welcome news from president Paige Patterson, elected four professors and approved the establishment of two new chairs during the annual spring meeting April 14-15.

Speculation has abounded that Patterson, now in his 11th year at Southeastern, could be a candidate for the newly vacated president's position at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) in Fort Worth, Texas. Patterson was president of The Criswell College and associate pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas from 1975-92, during the years when he helped engineer a strongly conservative shift in the leadership of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Many observers have assumed that the presidency of SWBTS, billed as the world's largest seminary, would appeal to Patterson.

During a question and answer period following his address to the trustees, Patterson was asked to comment. "The healthiest thing in the Southern Baptist Convention is the rumor mill," Patterson said. "It's not always accurate, but it's always healthy."

Patterson said he has not been contacted by anyone on the search committee, and has given no consideration to the matter. Patterson said Hemphill had shared about three years ago that he was considering a career change because "he still had a heart for the pastorate."

Hemphill contacted him and some other friends several weeks ago to let them know he could be available, Patterson said. Shortly afterward, SBC Executive Committee president Morris Chapman invited Hemphill to become the national spokesperson for the SBC's new "Empowering Kingdom Growth" emphasis.

Concerning the vacancy, Patterson said "I have not been approached by anyone on the committee at all about it." Patterson said the committee has many good choices available to it. That is good news, Patterson said, because "that was not always true in the past."

Patterson said he was worried more about his vice-presidents being contacted.

"With me, it's unlikely they would take a divorced man," he quipped, noting his wife Dorothy's deep affection for and strong commitment to Southeastern Seminary. Dorothy Patterson is Professor of Women's Studies at SEBTS.

"I make it a practice not to dignify anything with prayer or effort unless there is some good reason," Patterson said, "and I have had no contact."

Board chair Timothy Lewis said he believed God had called Patterson to SEBTS "for such a time as this."

"We don't want you to go back to Egypt, but stay here and help us," he said, adding "We are most grateful for Mrs. Patterson's perspective."

Patterson replied, "I would be the most surprised man in the world, from several aspects, if that should happen [moving to SWBTS]."

President's address

Earlier, Patterson reported to trustees that the school continues to grow, though at a slower rate than in recent years. School officials declined to provide current enrollment figures to the Recorder, a departure from recent practice. Public relations officer Jerry Higgins said he could release only a "non-duplicating head count" of 1,711 for seminary programs and 561 for the college. Those numbers include all students enrolled in any of the seminary's on-campus and off-campus programs during the academic year, and are therefore higher than actual enrollment at any given time.

Southeastern has lost about $150,000 in income from vacancies in school housing because local apartment complexes have overbuilt and are offering special student discounts, Patterson told the trustees.

Patterson said SEBTS has successfully completed its scheduled accreditation procedures with SACS and ATS, including full clearance for the seminary's doctor of philosophy program.

One year into the $16.5 million first phase of a capital funding campaign, the school is more than halfway to the goal, Patterson said. The economic downturn has caused some pledges to come in more slowly than anticipated, he said, which could delay construction on the "desperately needed" new student center. Patterson said he is hoping for a large gift to cover the cost of the center's food service area, which he said will be designed to look like a large Bedouin tent.

Patterson told trustees "the Lord has given me a new evangelistic outlet." Patterson, an avid hunter, said he has been speaking across the country at about three sportsmen's banquets per month. The banquets, which often feature wild game on the menu, attract large numbers of sportsmen. Many of the participants do not go to church, and some have never heard the gospel, Patterson said.

More than 2700 attended a recent event near Birmingham, Ala., he said, and 101 made professions of faith. A smaller banquet in Virginia had 65 present, with eight professing faith in Christ.

New faculty

Trustees elected three new faculty members for Southeastern College and one for the seminary.

David Hogg was elected as Assistant Professor of Church History for the seminary. Hogg, a Canadian, specializes in the medieval period.

Michael Travers, a student of the works of John Milton and C. S. Lewis, was elected Professor of English for Southeastern College.

Phyllis McCraw, who Patterson said has taught grammar in the college for some time, was elected as Assistant Professor of English and Composition.

George Chok was elected Assistant Professor of Theology. A native of Hong Kong, Chok is fluent in Mandarin, Cantonese, and Shanghaiese, which Patterson described as a valuable asset for the school. Chok will also teach in the college.

New chairs

The trustees voted to open accounts for three student aid funds and for two named chairs at the seminary, the "Charles Page Chair of Biblical Theology" and the "Dorothy Kelly Patterson Chair of Women's Studies." Sufficient pledges have been made to open both accounts, Patterson said, but neither has been fully funded. A minimum of $200,000 in pledges is needed to open an account, which must accumulate a corpus of $1 million before it can become active.

In other matters, trustees voted to move $1.2 million in endowment funds from the Southern Baptist Foundation to SEI, the company that manages Southeastern's other endowment funds. They also approved new student fees, adopted revisions to degree programs for both the college and seminary, and voted to reactivate a non-profit foundation begun in 1982 for the purpose of receiving donations as a charitable remainder trust. Trustees updated the foundation's charter with several bylaw changes, reducing its board from 12 to five members, all to come from the SEBTS trustee board.

Acknowledging that they had mistakenly failed to elect officers at their January meeting, trustees voted to retain the same officers until January 2004. Timothy Lewis of Troy, Ill. is chair, Jimmy Jacumin of Connally Springs is vice-chair, Jim Goldston of Raleigh is secretary, and Philip Mercer of Columbia, Md., is treasurer.

Page honored

Charles Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte, was honored during chapel services on April 15 with an announcement of the plan for an endowed "Charles Page Chair of Biblical Theology." Page and his wife, Sandra, a former SEBTS trustee, were given an engraved plaque.

Patterson said Page's consistent excellence in the pulpit was born of a great love for God, of time with God, and of a love for people. "No one who knows him would ever doubt that he is a true prophet of God, a true man of God," Patterson said.

Page, who has been battling multiple myeloma for the past seven years, said he attributes his continued survival to prayer. "Multiple myeloma is an incurable disease according to medical science," he said, "but because of your prayers, God has given me extension of life."

Page currently travels twice weekly to a research medical center in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he continues to undergo treatment for the disease.

In his chapel message, Page talked about the importance of God's call, using Isaiah 6:1-8 as a text.

Isaiah's call emerged from a time of confrontation and crisis, Page said, as the death of King Uzziah "drove Isaiah to the temple to seek the face of God."

As God's glory was revealed, Isaiah was led to confession, recognizing what kind of man he was and what kind of world he inhabited.

A time of crisis leads us to examine ourselves, Page said. "I don't have any fear of dying, of illness, of disease," Page said. "I have a fear of cold-heartedness. I pray 'may I have a warm heart always. Don't let me lose the glow of joy of your presence day by day.'"

Page said he has had every medical scan known to man, some of which are capable of peering into the human body. Just so, the eyes of God can look beneath the surface and see who we are, he said.

Through confrontation and confession, Isaiah heard God's call, Page said, becoming one of the greatest prophets in history. Answering God's call not only changed Isaiah's life, but the life of the nation, Page said.

Page recalled his own sense of calling from God, and challenged the audience to remember their calling in trying times. "It will keep you from getting a cold heart," he said.

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4/17/2003 12:00:00 AM by Tony W. Cartledge , BR Editor | with 0 comments
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