Fired Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Paige Patterson, who was accused of mishandling knowledge of sexual abuse cases at two Southern Baptist Convention seminaries, is back on the speaking circuit. Next month, he’ll join a senior vice president of the SBC’s North American Mission Board at a Bible conference program in North Carolina.
Patterson and Johnny Hunt, senior vice president of evangelism and leadership for NAMB, are listed as keynote preachers for the “March Like a Champion” Bible conference at First Baptist Church of Indian Trail, N.C., which is located in suburban Charlotte. The church’s pastor is Mike Whitson, who himself has appeared on several NAMB programs.
Also on the upcoming Bible conference platform will be former SBC President Jerry Vines, who was the longtime pastor of First Baptist Church of Jacksonville, Fla., until his 2006 retirement.
As recently as 2020, then-SBC President J.D. Greear urged SBC churches not to invite people like Patterson to preach because their leadership failures on caring for sexual abuse victims have been “antithetical to the core values of our faith.”
Vines and Patterson were accused of promoting a charismatic young preacher named Darrell Gilyard in the 1980s and 1990s and beyond while knowing he was a sexual predator. Gilyard resigned from five churches amid such allegations but kept getting hired and being promoted on Baptist conference programs. He eventually served three years in prison on child molestation charges.
Gilyard’s story — and the role Patterson and Vines played in it — was featured in the 2019 Houston Chronicle expose about sexual abuse in the SBC.
The appearance of two figures closely associated with the sexual abuse crisis in the SBC and the appearance of a high-level current denominational employee on the program with them happens as the SBC Executive Committee undergoes a massive independent investigation into allegations of mishandling sexual abuse claims for decades.
Patterson was accused of mishandling knowledge of sexual abuse cases at both Southwestern and at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served as president before Southwestern.
Even today, Patterson remains the subject of a long-delayed lawsuit filed against him and Southwestern by a former student who was raped on campus. Further, Patterson recently was embroiled in other legal action that alleged he and others conspired to take control of a private foundation and divert its assets to his own foundation.
Patterson and his wife, Dorothy, remain persona non grata at Southwestern and in large parts of the SBC — except among the Conservative Baptist Network, a group he helped found that is trying to move the SBC further to the right. Also, according to the Sandy Creek Foundation newsletter, Paige Patterson teaches the President’s Bible Class at First Baptist Church of Dallas every Sunday.
Other preachers on the upcoming program in North Carolina include Mark Hoover of NewSpring Church in Wichita, Kan.; Jeff LaBorg of Fairview Knox Church in Corryton, Tenn.; Herb Reavis Jr. of North Jacksonville Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla.; evangelist Bob Pitman; David Allen, a professor at Southwestern Seminary; evangelist Ron Lynch; and David Gallamore of Rock Springs Baptist Church in Easley, S.C.
Allen, who is distinguished professor of preaching and director of the Southwestern Center for Expository Preaching, gained national notoriety in 2017 for posting to social media a photo of himself and four other white male faculty members dressed as Black gang members in what they believed was humor but was quickly called out as racist. Before joining the seminary faculty, Allen was a Southwestern trustee for 12 years, including terms as vice chair and chair of the board. He served on the trustee board when former President Russell Dilday was fired and was vice chairman of the board when Patterson was hired.