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Leaders: Patterson’s leadership to advance seminary’s legacy

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–His successful track record and dedication to the faith means great things are in store for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, friends and colleagues of Paige Patterson said during his inauguration as the eighth president of the Texas seminary Oct. 21.

Jack Graham, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church, recalled the first time he met Patterson’s father, T.A. Patterson. Graham said the elder Patterson’s faith, warmth of heart and commanding presence left a deep impression on him, and when he met the younger Patterson he recognized the spiritual resemblance.

“Some people leave a legacy and others live a legacy,” Graham said. “Paige Patterson is living a legacy.”

Graham also said that while attending chapel at the seminary earlier in the day, he realized that after students are around Patterson as the seminary’s president for three or four years, his passion for expository preaching and the inerrancy of God’s Word would get into their “ministerial DNA.”

Keith Bruce, director of institutional ministries for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, said Patterson’s passionate commitment to missions and evangelism reflect both the historic emphases and the current concerns of Texas Baptists.

“Dr. Patterson, as you assume leadership of this great institution, we want you to know that the Baptist General Convention of Texas family prays for you, that you might lead Southwestern to an even greater and renewed passion for missions and evangelism, while building upon the academic breadth and excellence that also marks this institution,” Bruce said.

Bruce then presented Patterson with commemorative copies of two books about Texas Baptist history.

Jim Richards, executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, said the SBTC’s connection with Southwestern would only be strengthened through Patterson’s presidency.

“Our shared core values make us spiritual partners,” Richards said.

Claude Thomas, pastor of First Baptist Church in Euless, Texas, and president of the Southwestern Alumni Association, said he was grateful to God when he heard that the search committee had called Patterson to the presidency and he had accepted.

Thomas said his mentor in the ministry, Cree McCoy, left his ministry position in east Tennessee to go to Southwestern after hearing the seminary’s second president, L.R. Scarborough, talk about the importance of having a “hot heart and a trained mind.”

“Dr. Patterson, I believe you bring that to the presidency of Southwestern Seminary,” Thomas said. “We’re encouraged because minds will be sharpened and passions will be fueled. We look forward to the days ahead.”

Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and chairman of the SBC Council of Seminary Presidents and the convention’s Great Commission Council — as well as Patterson’s brother-in-law — said Patterson’s experience in the denominational battle over biblical inerrancy had prepared him for the real battle: to reach lost people for Christ.

“The conservative resurgence and the transformation that took place as the firm root of the Word of God took hold in the curricula of every one of our six seminaries is something that no one ever thought would happen on the scale that it has happened,” Kelley said.

Kelley likened Patterson’s efforts to re-establish biblical inerrancy to the D-Day invasion: It was necessary in order to continue the fight, but it was not the final goal.

“The real battle is to take Jesus Christ to the world, Who alone is the hope of the world and the source of salvation and Who alone can transform lives,” Kelley said.

Kelley lightheartedly noted that Patterson developed his legendary prowess in practical jokes by playing them on him all of his life. He recalled his first witnessing opportunity. While riding in a taxi when Kelley was 10 years old, Patterson asked the driver if he knew anything about being saved, and the driver said he did not.

“Patterson said, ‘Well, I’ve got great news for you, sir. My young friend is just bursting with excitement to tell you about how to be saved,'” Kelley said. “That was my very first experience in witnessing to people.”

O.S. Hawkins described a Southwestern president whose name was synonymous with courage, conviction, consistency and cooperation in a world that seemed ready to abandon the authority of Scripture, moral absolutes, confessional statements and denominational loyalty. Those traits, Hawkins said, belonged not only to B.H. Carroll, the seminary’s founder, but to Patterson as well.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: GREETINGS FROM THE CONVENTION.

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  • Samuel Smith