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Southeastern Seminary begins removing name associations with Hunt, Patterson

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) – In a letter issued May 25, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Danny Akin informed students that a process has begun to disassociate the campus from Johnny Hunt and Paige Patterson regarding buildings, programs, facilities “and other items.”

Hunt, an SEBTS graduate and longtime pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Ga., has his name associated with an academic chair, the school’s BA/M.Div. program “and a variety of other things” Akin wrote in a May 23 letter addressing the “SEBTS Family,” presented one day after an extensive report by Guidepost Solutions outlined a 20-year pattern of SBC leaders downplaying or ignoring concerns from sexual abuse advocates.

Hunt, described in Akin’s letter as “a close friend,” resigned from his vice president position with the North American Mission Board May 13, nine days before the report presented an account of his sexually assaulting a pastor’s wife.

Southeastern’s president said in the May 23 letter that he was “immediately initiating serious discussions” with advisors in regards to how to proceed. Last night he said those processes have begun.

Akin announced he also intends to present a recommendation before the seminary’s board at its October meeting to change the name of Patterson Hall, which honors Southeastern’s former president and his wife, Dorothy. The honor was bestowed by SEBTS trustees and finalized in October 2008. Baptist Press reached out to Akin for a clarification on the timeline difference between removing associations for the two names.

“Dr. Patterson’s name was placed on a building by trustee action, and it takes their action to remove it,” Akin said.

According to Guidepost investigators, Patterson mishandled rape accusations during his tenure as president at Southeastern as well as later in the same role at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The report’s findings, Akin said, “led me to the conclusion that I had already been weighing for some time. I do not believe it is proper to leave the Patterson name associated with that building.

“I have counted both of these men as friends and mentors in ministry,” he said. “But most of all I want to honor King Jesus, promote holiness in all aspects of one’s walk, and care for hurting brothers and sisters in Christ.”

If you are/have been a victim of sexual abuse or suspect sexual abuse by a pastor, staff member or member of a Southern Baptist church or entity, please reach out for help at 202-864-5578 or [email protected]. All calls are confidential.