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N.C. newspaper lists Paige Patterson among state’s 20th century visio

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Paige Patterson has been included in a list of 100 people credited with helping shape North Carolina in the 20th century, according to an article published Aug. 22 by The News and Observer, Raleigh, N.C.
Patterson, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., was one of four men recognized for their efforts in shaping the state’s religious landscape over the last 100 years.
The list, called “100 Strong,” includes “visionaries” from across the state who over the last century had “an ability to see what others could not — and enough drive, gumption and maybe just plain luck to turn their visions into reality,” the newspaper reported.
Those profiled are grouped in categories including creators, activists, educators, trailblazers, governors, politicians, tycoons, believers and philanthropists.
Some other prominent names on the list are international evangelist Billy Graham, former NBA great Michael Jordan, actor Andy Griffith, actress Ava Gardener, author Thomas Wolfe, NASCAR legend Richard Petty, retired University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith and U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms.
Editors of The News and Observer said the list, which “is not meant to be a roll of the most important people, or the most famous, or the most influential,” was compiled after poring through history books and consulting with about 150 historians. The newspaper described the list as a “mosaic of the forces of change that have swept the state over the decades and the people who were a part of them.”
Patterson has also been profiled in a book released this year by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Ore., titled “Praying for the World’s 365 Most Influential People.” The book includes profiles of entertainers, professional athletes, world leaders, journalists, authors, movie producers, Fortune 500 executives, and international religious leaders.
Among those included in book are: Bill and Hillary Clinton; Charles Stanley, pastor of Atlanta’s First Baptist Church; Focus on the Family founder James Dobson; CBN founder Pat Robertson; Ted Turner; Oprah Winfrey; Bill Gates; Elizabeth Dole; Steven Spielberg; Jerry Springer; Dalai Lama; Pope John Paul II; Yasser Arafat; and Saddam Hussein.
Patterson, 56, a Texan by birth, has served as president of Southeastern since 1992. He was elected in June to a second one-year term as president of the nearly 16-million-member SBC.
Described in the newspaper article as a “conservative revolutionary,” Patterson is identified as the “architect of the conservative resurgence,” which directed the nation’s largest Protestant denomination back to its founding beliefs that the Bible is “literally true and without error,” the article states.
Patterson is credited in the article with “reshaping what had been a moderate biblical seminary into one of the most conservative theological schools in the country.”
Under Patterson’s leadership, Southeastern Seminary’s annual non-duplicating enrollment has increased by more than 140 percent. During the 1998-99 academic year, 1,826 students enrolled at Southeastern.
Meanwhile the faculty at Southeastern has grown from about a dozen when Patterson arrived to more than 70, and nine new master’s-level programs and a doctor of philosophy program have been added. The seminary has also established six off-campus extension centers: in Charlotte, N.C., Anderson, S.C., Norfolk, Va., Richmond, Va., Tampa, Fla., and Woodstock, Ga.
A four-year college program established in 1995 now boasts a student enrollment of about 400.
The article describes Patterson further as “a tireless advocate for evangelism.” As SBC president, Patterson has set a goal for Southern Baptist churches and their overseas co-workers to baptize 1 million new Christians by the end of 2000.
Patterson’s wife, Dorothy, is also recognized in the article for her involvement in leading the SBC last year to adopt a revision of its Baptist statement of faith, called the Baptist Faith and Message, by calling on wives to “submit graciously to the servant leadership” of their husbands “even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ.”
Joining Patterson on the list under the “the believers” category are: Billy Graham, former televangelist Jim Bakker, and Pentecostal evangelist C.M. “Sweet Daddy” Grace.
In Praying for the World’s Most Influential People, Patterson is quoted on the June 25 entry: “That’s the only thing that wakes me up in the middle of the night and troubles me: ‘Am I doing enough to get the Gospel to all people?’”
Patterson’s entry includes prayer requests that his leadership would be marked by “integrity, wisdom and peacemaking,” as well as an offer of praise and thanksgiving for his “commitment to the reliability of Scripture.”

    About the Author

  • Lee Weeks