SBC may be 'better off,' Patterson says
November 13 2000 by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor

SBC may be 'better off,' Patterson says | Monday, Nov 13, 2000

Monday, Nov 13, 2000

SBC may be 'better off,' Patterson says

By Jimmy Allen BR Assistant Editor

The potential cut in funding by Texas Baptists to the six Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminaries shouldn't hurt the SBC, according to Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest. "Very possibly, the Southern Baptist Convention may be better off," Patterson told Southeastern trustees at their Oct. 9 meeting. "I firmly believe the people most hurt will be those in the BGCT (Baptist General Convention of Texas) itself."

Patterson's remarks came during his semi-annual report to the trustees and after he had a few minutes earlier described SEBTS's expected loss of $875,000 annually from the BGCT as a "terrible hit" and "tragic."

The BGCT executive committee is recommending that funding to the seminaries, as well as the SBC Executive Committee and Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, be reduced by $5.3 million. A final decision will be made Oct. 30-31 during the BGCT's annual convention in Corpus Cristi, Texas.

Funding to individual seminaries would be determined by the number of Texas students attending, if the proposal is approved. Thirty-five students from Texas attend SEBTS, but not all of them are from churches that support the BGCT.

Patterson introduced the topic to trustees by talking about the committee of Texas Baptists that visited the campus. During a 3.5-hour meeting that Patterson and trustee chairman Dwight Smith both described as intense, the committee members used 80 percent of the time to complain about what they disliked about the SBC, according to Patterson. "Most of that was me," he said.

Of the reported 20 percent of discussion about Southeastern, most of what they said was wrong, Patterson said. For example, one professor's Baptist background was questioned, but the committee was told the professor had come to the seminary from a Southern Baptist church.

"Essentially, they lost every issue they put on the table," Patterson said.

In a telephone interview, Bob Campbell, who chaired the seminary study committee for Texas Baptists, disagreed with Patterson's assessment.

"It was a very cordial meeting," Campbell said. "We did not agree. We agreed on how polite it was. ... We did ask hard questions."

The purpose of the meeting was informational, he said. "We didn't feel triumphant. We came there for information. ... It wasn't a win-loss kind of thing."

One of the questions was about $8,000 given to every student in the college program as detailed in the school's catalogue, according to Campbell. At first, Southeastern's officials denied that information was in the catalogue until they saw it for themselves, he said. "They said, 'That's a mistake.' Does that sound like a lot of backing down?"

As far as the professors without Baptist educations, Patterson replied that some had married Baptists, some had joined Baptist churches and some had been raised participating in Royal Ambassador programs, according to Campbell. "They did not say that about every professor," Campbell said.

Campbell disagreed with Patterson's time allotment to the issue of Southeastern. Instead of 20 percent of the discussion, the seminary was the focus of 60-70 percent of the dialogue, according to Campbell. About 30 percent was about the Baptist Faith and Message, the board of trustees not representing the broad spectrum of Baptists and trustees' interference with school operations.

After Patterson described the amount of funding Southeastern would lose, he said the process with Texas had been healthy because it made the seminary officials examine themselves one more time to make sure their aim is to please God. Patterson then noted $875,000 isn't enough to buy him, and said he would stand with Jesus and the Bible even if it costs all.

"All we need to do is please God," he said. "I'm determined to please God."

He then informed the trustees of a letter notifying him of Cooperative Program receipts totaling $18.7 million more than budgeted. The result for Southeastern is a windfall of $691,338, an announcement generating applause by the 26 trustees attending.

Patterson said many Texas churches are writing and saying not to worry about the BGCT because some are going to join the relatively new Southern Baptist of Texas Convention and others will send money directly to the SBC.
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11/13/2000 12:00:00 AM by Jimmy Allen , BR Assistant Editor | with 0 comments
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