Stained-glass windows immortalizing individuals who helped move the Southern Baptist Convention to a more theologically and socially conservative position in the late 20th century have been quietly removed from the chapel of one of the convention’s six seminaries.
Officials at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, confirmed blog reports that stained-glass representations of heroes of the so-called conservative resurgence have been removed from MacGorman Chapel – a $30 million building opened in 2011 – in an e-mail quoted by the Alabama Baptist.
Colby Adams, newly named vice president for strategic initiatives at Southwestern Seminary, told the state Baptist newspaper that officials are working with donors on plans to relocate the windows, taken down without comment April 6.
Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the seminary’s board of trustees, communicated to ministry partners April 3 that “after much prayerful consideration and discussion,” trustees “concluded that it is in the best interest of the institution to remove and relocate” the windows, originally conceived as a 12-year project to pass along memories of a legendary era of SBC politics to future generations.
“That is a phenomenal act of God,” former president Paige Patterson said of the denomination’s embrace of biblical inerrancy in 2015. “And we want future generations of students to know about the people who made that possible.”
His wife, Dorothy Patterson, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 2013 that her dream “was to portray the 20-year history of the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Church.”
“I really hope the public will have an interest and want to come and see,” she said of the gallery. “I’m proud of this for Fort Worth. I think it’s pretty unique for Paige’s hometown.”
Officials aren’t saying why the memorial windows are being moved, but speculation about their future arose months ago when the two masterminds of the campaign to rescue the nation’s second-largest faith group behind Roman Catholics from a supposed drift away from orthodoxy fell from grace.
The public image of conservative resurgence co-founder Paige Patterson took a hit last summer when we was fired as president of Southwestern Seminary for various offenses of alleged misogyny. Allegations of sexual assault against co-founder Paul Pressler went public last year in a lawsuit reported by media.
Patterson claims his firing was unfair, and Pressler categorically denies all allegations in the lawsuit. Most of the lawsuit’s claims have been dismissed under statute of limitations.
Images of both men were included in the pantheon, along with former SBC presidents Charles Stanley, W.A. Criswell, Adrian Rogers, Bailey Smith, Jerry Vines and Ed Young and many others.
Patterson was replaced in February as Southwestern’s president by Adam Greenway, a former dean at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. On Wednesday Greenway announced $3 million in budget cuts described as “a recalibration and reset” of the school’s priorities.
Greenway said the cuts “involve some tough choices” and “some transitions.” He did not say how many jobs will be eliminated or when.
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Baptist conservatives should celebrate their heroes quickly