The Chapel debacle…

By now, most of you know that Paige Patterson wants to construct a 3500 seat chapel to house his dwindling 2700 students, nearly 1000 of which are not considered full-time for funding purposes. In his description of the chapel’s construction, Patterson mentions a baptistry to teach students the “right way” to baptize, the pew arrangement to teach students the “right way” to install church seating, and a few rooms tucked here and there for various “teaching” purposes. And now, Baptist Blogger has uncovered how Paige Patterson intends to model for his students the “right way” to raise money for such a building project.

Allow us to elaborate.

You’ve probably learned that Patterson wants to sell the chapel seats at $2400 a piece for the floor and $1200 a piece for the balcony. If you’re a Southwestern alumnus, you’ve probably received a request for donations.

What you might not know is that the chapel has already been forced into structural revisions, downsizing the number of seats by approximately 700 seats to accomodate the enormous organ that Patterson wants.

Several weeks ago, Paige and Dorothy Patterson discovered that their chapel renditions lacked the space to install an organ, which of course we all know is necessary to do church “the right way.” So the president and first lady sent the plans back to the architect with instructions to make room for the organ.

First, you should know that the number of students majoring in organ has decreased dramatically in recent years, a fact easily verified by a simple call to the School of Church Music administrative offices. What organ students we have are granted the privilege of practicing and playing recitals on the behemoth Van Cliburn organ at neighboring Broadway Baptist Church. The Van Cliburn organ, incidentally, is the largest French-style organ of its kind in the United States. Broadway Baptist Church, on the other hand, is a partnering church in the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which surely miffs the seminary president to no end.

So he wants to build his own organ, but the ceilings in Patterson’s original chapel plan were too low and the choral risers too high to house the pipes that grace such an exquisite musical instrument. So they’ve got to cut back on the stage. Organs also require chambers, rooms to house the ranks of pipes that are unseen but which produce most of the instrument’s sound. So the architects are having to revise the floorplan by reducing the number of seats and cutting into existing areas to make room for the organ chambers.

Of course, Patterson is still raising money for 3500 seats, and the seminary fundraising literature continues to use the number 3500 even though only 2700 seats will be incorporated into the revised plan. The cost for this organ must be added to the total pricetag for the chapel, which could run upwards of a million dollars if the seminary expects to rival the Van Cliburn.

Somewhere, somehow Paige Patterson will need to raise a significantly larger sum of money than originally itemized in his request of the Executive Committee. (For those that don’t know it, every SBC institution must get Executive Committee authorization for any fundraising effort.)

If he can’t sell more seats, Patterson’s going to have to make direct appeals to wealthy donors for large gifts of real or personal property; and if I was a wealthy layman on my hospital deathbed, I think I’d be very suspicious if I saw Paige and Dorothy Patterson coming down the hall for a pastoral visit. I’d be twice as scared if the First Lady was carrying a typewriter.

Wonder what I’m talking about?

Read this 1982 lawsuit from Dallas County:

Farry v. Paige and Dorothy Patterson, 1

Farry v. Paige and Dorothy Patterson, 2

Farry v. Paige and Dorothy Patterson, 3

Farry v. Paige and Dorothy Patterson, 4

Farry v. Paige and Dorothy Patterson, 5

And now for the money quote:

Paige Patterson is the president, and Dorothy Patterson is the secretary of the Criswell Center. Beginning approximately three (3) weeks prior to [Nelson] Farry’s death, Paige Patterson and Dorothy Patterson began a series of visits to Mr. Farry and Velma Farry, who was attending him in the hospital. During these visits the Pattersons made strenuous efforts to persuade the Farrys to convey all their belongings immediately to the Criswell Center for Biblical Studies, on several occasions even bringing a typewriter and deed forms to the hospital for this purpose. Finally, by the use of threats, intimidation, and misrepresentations, the Pattersons induced Mr. Farry and Velma Farry to sign the deeds, copies of which are attached hereto . . . conveying to the Criswell Center all of the real property owned by the Farrys. They also induced Mr. Farry and Velma Farry to execute the document attached hereto . . . conveying to the Criswell Center all of the personal property owned by the Farrys.

25 thoughts on “The Chapel debacle…

  1. Ben,

    I received my alumni solicitation in the mail, reviewed it and threw it away. I wonder if I can revoke that scholarship I set up.


  2. I see the lawsuit above and skimmed it, but what was the outcome? Were these allegations proven in court or did the Patterson’s prevail?

  3. To all those people who put down Mr Cole for having a vendetta against good ol’ Paige (Ben does have a way of sticking it to the man): How can you deny these types of stories. How can Patterson continue to be a leader in the SBC life and have this type of history, one of repeated allegations of manipulation and greed. I ask you to look deeper than your, “I’m a Baptist because daddy was a Baptist” view and see there is corruption sitting at the helm of an education institution that has the potential and resources to be the best. Change is needed, it’s time others listened….

  4. And to think I heard grumbling about a statue of Rev. Billy Graham (and I’m not a fan of statues)! How much is THIS monument going to cost?

  5. Oh, I don’t know. I’ve always been rather partial to the church organ. I was rather against the idea of the new chapel up to now, but the finest organ in all of Christendom, well that WOULD be something to brag about. Just think, people would come from all over the world to SWBTS to get a gander at it. Maybe this new chapel thing isn’t a half bad idea after all. I mean, what else could we have done with all those potential funds raised anyway?

  6. Jack,

    I wish this was just gossip. I wish Ben Cole was a demented devil from Hell. I wish I had not been such a fool for so many years. I wish I had not refused to hear people going all the way back to the Reagan era.

    But, this is not just gossip. Ben is not a demented devil. He has stated the truth in all things. In truth, he has held back on many things. He did so out of a grace of which many deny he possesses. I know he has it because I have counted on it many times. The cost for telling the truth, to Ben personally, few will ever know.

    I have been a fool. Frankly, I am not the only one. Yet, I wish I did not know some things. I wish I had handled some things differently. Sleep would be much better and so would the reflection in the mirror.


  7. I am considering buying front row seats for Ben Cole, Marty Duren, Wade Burleson and CB Scott. I have never met any of these men but I have tracked their blogs for months. Their presence would be a welcome encouragement at many a SWBTS event and I am sure they could use the extra time in church!

  8. This is very interesting…as I can’t say that I am in favor of the extent of the chapel plans. I do think it is a “bit much.”

    However, as it comes to the allegations that Mr. Cole is making regarding his fundraising practices being outrageous and corrupt – while I do agree that the request for monetary donations in the stated amounts (if true) are crazy – I have to say that characterizing them in the same vein as the alleged “extortion” is not fair and very malignant – especially without any information on the outcome of the lawsuit. So, I have the same question as Tcarnes…what was the outcome of the lawsuit? Without that – all you have is spin.

    As to loganf216’s comment – as I am one who thinks Mr. Cole has an unhealthy vendetta against Patterson, I must say that what Mr. Cole does goes beyond a healthy concern for integrity in leadership. He has made unnecessary posts about Patterson, ridiculing him in all kinds of ways. Not only that, but, this information about the lawsuit without the outcome (the full picture) is only spin – and this is a usual tactic as well. Unfortunately – it is what it is.

    If Patterson is doing things that are illegal or has been negligent or is mismanaging – then he needs to be either be prosecuted, fired, reprimanded, or corrected. But, maligning a person with undue rhetoric, etc. doesn’t bring about the change that is necessary. What is necessary (if all that Mr. Cole alleges is true) is biblical change – repentance. I don’t think Mr. Cole’s overall tactics are biblical – nowhere does he appeal to Patterson as a brother (maybe he did in the past and I missed it…) or speak from a biblical standpoint about these issues. And so – conversely – how can you deny that Mr. Cole goes overboard?

    I can stand to be corrected – because I’m not out to malign Mr. Cole – only to prayerfully produce in him a more godly approach in his rhetoric to “fix” SWBTS and remove Paige Patterson from leadership. If I am convinced that I am wrong or if Mr. Cole repents – then I will cease to comment in this regard. (I must say – I do sincerely appreciate him posting my thoughts even though I have criticized him. Thanks Mr. Cole.)

    Respectfully submitted.


  9. brycechu-
    Please tell me that you didn’t just equate SWBTS Chapel with church. I’m telling Dr. Yarnell.

  10. CB,
    I don’t know you “from Adam” but you are so right! You are not the only one who has been a fool, for I have been a fool as well.
    I don’t know you either. I was in Arlington one day a few months ago and drop by your church to meet you and say thank you. You were out but I just want to say: Keep it up — continue to speak and write the truth as you have been doing — and you will land on your feet just fine. I truly believe that God has his hand on you.
    The “fat lady” is warming up at Southwestern — a school I dearly love. For the sake of the kingdom, she needs to start singing. Where is Jimmy Draper when you need him? He is one conservative that can be trusted – God could use him in this situation right now behind the scenes to help leaders understand that a change is needed for their sake and the work of the Convention.
    A trustworthy pastor who was very close to Herchel Hobbs when he was alive shared with me just the other day that some years before Dr. Hobbs died, he told this good pastor in a private conversation what he believe would happen over time in SBC life.
    Dr. Hobbs predicted that Southern Baptists would take a hard turn to the “right” in a violent reactionto what they perceived as a move toward liberalism in the convention. Obviously, this reaction has happened. But then Dr. Hobss said that . . . over time the convention would come back to a more centrist position where they have carried out much of their history since the SBC began(for wrong reasons primarily) in 1845 in Augusta.
    I truly believe that the “shift” that Dr. Hobbs spoke of is just around the corner and Blogtown, you have and are helping bring about this much-needed “shift” that Dr. Herschel Hobbs very wisely predicted would come to Southern Baptists at some point in the future.
    I comment very seldom but was compelled to do so this time. I especially want to thank you Ben . . . and Marty, Wade and Art as well.
    Thank you for being so transparent, honest, and forthright with your feelings. May God’s favor and blessing rest upon you at this very moment.

  11. You know, Ben, you should so your homework on the post-modern generation before you start rattling off stuff like this. Why, I was talking to a group of 20-30 somethings just the other day, and I found that they were deeply grieved that there are not more giant pipe organs in churches today. They said they would all become Christians today if every church became so equipped today. I think they, and about 3000 of their friends are planning to go to SWBTS next year, just on account of the organ in the chapel. You see, Paige must know something you don’t! :)

  12. I didn’t get a letter. I wonder if my Northworst Seminary connection got on the black list?

  13. Why is a one-sided presentation of a 1982 lawsuit relevant to Dr. Patterson’s desire to build a new chapel? It appears a great deal of perspective has been lost amongst the mutiny crowd.

  14. I got a letter recently. I get every letter. I guess I need to open it up and see what they’re asking for.

    That’s a lot of money to give for a seat that will, with the current enrollment trends continuing, sit empty most of the time. I guess having an organ that can blow you out the back wall is necessary to cover up the silence from the lack of voices singing the hymns.

  15. Let us hope Dr. Hobbs is correct. It does seem that many recovering fundamentalists are starting to realize the emperor has no clothes. It is amazing how a cabal of self-aggrandizing, self-serving politicians can hoodwink and entire denomination. What is even more amazing is that seemingly educated people can hear the people referenced in Ben’s post for more than five minutes and not realize each is a self-centered charlatan.

  16. EO–

    My observation from the preachers I’ve met with a “blank check” dedication to Dr. Patterson is that there are real benefits to that dedication. A preacher can end up as a trustee, an officer on the state level, academic rising stars, poster children for fundraising campaigns, and major players in denominational politics.

    Even if the guy is no more than a charlatan, being his follower can lead to lots of money and lots of power. Couple that with the truth that Dr. Patterson isn’t getting any younger and several of his proteges may be looking to take the reins when Dr. Patterson is called home.

    The thing that has always impressed me about Bro. Cole is that he has the pedigree to be just like the people I have observed. Yet he has sabotaged any chance of joining their ranks. I wonder what motivates a man to do that?

  17. Friends, this is not about conservative, moderate or liberal. It is about ‘ministry’ as a path to wealth, fame, power and the good life. Patterson is one of many who have turned ministry into a personal business propostion. You find them on both sides.

    But, have you noticed how much these celebrity pastors hate blogs? The days of hiding this stuff are over. I mean, you can’t even buy a nice tombstone for your dog without the world knowing! :o) But, I do not see blogs changing their ‘spots’. I only see them becoming more clever in their conquests.

    Please tell me the name of this chapel is not going be The Patterson Chapel.

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