Southern Baptist Seminaries in Transition

In the last three years, four Southern Baptist seminaries have addressed the reality of replacing presidents who have stepped down. In the last two years, two of them have officially installed new presidents, and at press time two are prayerfully looking for God's man to fill their vacancies.


On Jan. 8, 2001, the trustees of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced R. Phil Roberts as the fourth president of the SBC's youngest seminary. Roberts was formerly the vice president for the Strategic Cities Strategies Group at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board, where he had been on staff for seven years.

During Roberts' inaugural service Oct. 22, 2001, he quoted from Colossians 2:6-7, saying those were his life verses. "Not only does that verse speak of the initial experience with Jesus Christ, it also speaks to the growing and fellowshipping with the Lord Jesus Christ. The pledge we make as a seminary is that not only will we train students to bring others to faith in Jesus Christ, but we also will help them in rejoicing in Him, knowing Him, and walking in Him. So, as your president, I ask that you will pray for me to be a leader in all those areas."


Kenneth S. Hemphill announced his retirement as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary April 8, 2003, to take a new position as national strategist for the Southern Baptist Convention's Empowering Kingdom Growth movement after nine years as president of Southwestern.

Southwestern trustees unanimously elected Paige Patterson, who had been president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., for almost eleven years, as Southwestern's new president June 24.

During his inaugural remarks Oct. 21 at Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas, Patterson said, "We are headed to the reaffirmation of the centrality and of the incarnation of the atonement of Christ as the essential bedrock of Christianity.

"We shall, by the grace of God, teach the clear, unadulterated, exciting exposition of God's Word as the appropriate and desperately needed method of preaching in our day," he said.


During the Oct. 13-14 trustee board meetings, the presidential search committee communicated to the seminary's trustees the "core values" guiding them in their quest.

Trustee board and search committee chairman Timothy Lewis, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church in Troy, Ill., reported, "We are in the process of narrowing; we continue to pray, and we just don't know how long it might be. We're seeking the Lord's leadership because we know He has somebody for us."

Golden Gate

Trustees of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary elected President William O. Crews to the transition post of chancellor and charged the board's executive committee with task of recommending a new president for the fifty-nine-year-old institution.

Crews, 67, set the process for naming a new president in motion during the board's semiannual meeting in Mill Valley, Calif., Oct. 14 in an effort to provide leadership continuity for the future.

The longest-tenured of the six Southern Baptist Convention seminary presidents, Crews was elected to lead Golden Gate in 1986.

"This will allow a seamless transfer of responsibilities without the loss of a single step in our pursuit of the dream God has given us," Crews said.

Although officially vacating the office of the president after seventeen years of service and taking up the post of chancellor, Crews will maintain the duties of president and chief executive until a new leader is elected and in place, officials noted.

Please pray for all of our seminaries as they strive to fulfill their vital ministry assignments.

    About the Author

  • SBC Staff