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Patterson suggests widows could be SBC prayer force

DALLAS (BP)–Paige Patterson, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary at Wake Forest, N.C., and current president of the Southern Baptist Convention, spoke to trustees of the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention Nov. 3. The educator, who serves as a trustee by virtue of election to the convention presidency, spoke on three texts from Leviticus, Revelation and 1 Timothy.
Patterson thanked trustees for their service and for their selection of O. S. Hawkins as president in September 1997. Reading a passage from the Old Testament, Patterson said the Annuity Board fulfills the mandate, “You shall rise up before the grayheaded, and honor the aged, and you shall revere your God; I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:32).
Turning his attention to a passage in the last book of the Bible, Rev. 10:8-11, Patterson observed an aged Apostle John, who may have been as old as 100 years, was called back to unlikely service as writer of the revelation while exiled on the island of Patmos. “There is official and sociological validity in retirement,” Patterson said, “but there is no retirement from ministry until you hear a trumpet blow or God takes you home [in death].” Patterson encouraged the Annuity Board to help retired ministers gain a new vision of ministry in retirement years.
Patterson affirmed the Annuity Board staff as they aggressively promote the Church Annuity Plan so retired ministers can continue in ministry and missions without the necessity of income from their work. Such a “retooling” of ministers has been a declared dream of O. S. Hawkins since he was elected president of the Annuity Board last year.
“I believe in you and I believe in what you’re doing. I believe in the new ministries your president has envisioned,” Patterson declared. “I stand with you in it.”
He then said, “I want to suggest one other thing.” Speaking of a prayer group he started years ago while president of Criswell College in Dallas, Patterson suggested a similar convention-wide prayer effort to be called, “The Widows’ Might.” Patterson took a biblical basis of his suggestion from the Apostle Paul’s call to prayer and honoring of widows in 1 Timothy, chapters 2 and 5. The president observed nearly all retired ministers will leave a widow. The convention president said he envisioned this group of women could be organized to provide prayer support “for all we do as a Southern Baptist Convention.” They also could be enlisted to pray specifically for God’s intervention in times and for causes of special need.
Speaking of his own ministry, Patterson said the years ahead hold challenges for theological education, especially if Southern Baptists are to continue to supply the training of ministers at nominal personal expense. “I want us to keep the seminary cost low for pastors and missionaries,” Patterson said. He credited the low cost of Southern Baptist seminary education with provision of a steady supply of pastors for thousands of small churches and an international force nearing 5,000 career missionaries.
Patterson said a huge prayer effort is needed to ask God for the money to continue, and to enlarge, the educational ministry of the seminaries. “The widows’ might could be a magnificent prayer group to pray to God for answers from above,” he said.

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  • Thomas E. Miller Jr.