Should the celestial trumpets tarry . . .

March 1, 2018

Rev. Paige Patterson
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
2001 W. Seminary Dr.
Fort Worth, TX 76115

Rev. Patterson:

According to news reports growing out of your “wide-ranging interview” with the Southern Baptist Texan, a group of donors have emerged to fund the construction of a “one bedroom apartment” within the forthcoming Baptist Heritage Center on the campus of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to serve as the penultimate terrestrial habitation for you and your wife, Dorothy.

The personal sacrifice you make to confine your post-retirement quarters to a single-bedroom apartment – down from the 8,500 square feet of living space you presently occupy on the seminary campus – doubtlessly serves as yet another example of characteristic Pattersonian thriftiness, frugality, and selflessness to the Southwestern faculty, staff and students.  At least, to those who remain after recent layoffs and enrollment shortfalls.

Indeed, reading of Southwestern trustees’ provision for you and your wife’s retirement home reminded me of another home, also now located on the campus of Southwestern Seminary. In 2009, you may recall, Southwestern took possession of the remnants of the small home in the Chinese city of P’ingtu, where famed Southern Baptist missionary Lottie Moon spent her final years serving among the poor. The mud bricks, shingles, modest chairs and personal effects of Lottie Moon’s P’ingtu residence now constitute a permanent exhibit in Mathena Hall, which doubtlessly serves as an epicenter of missiological education for the seminary community and beyond.

In her determination – much like your own – to spend her last days in modest service to the gospel, Lottie Moon gave every last scrap of food she had to anyone in need. When she died on Christmas Eve in 1912 in the harbor of Kobe, Japan, she weighed a mere 50 pounds. Her tiny body was cremated and her ashes returned to her final resting place in a country cemetery outside Crewe, Virginia. Etched into the face of her tombstone are these words: “Faithful Unto Death.”

The juxtaposition on the seminary campus of Lottie Moon’s reconstructed dwelling and your soon-to-be-completed retirement home serve as a fitting legacy for you and Dorothy. I am concerned, however, that you – like Moon – will not have sufficient resources for your own interment should the celestial trumpets tarry.  Therefore, if you will allow me, I would like to make an offer similar to that of the generous benefactors who have paid for your retirement home and the trustees who designated the necessary land use.

I will personally pay to design, construct, and if necessary, consecrate an appropriate burial plot for you, Dorothy, and whatever domestic pets you wish to have co-interred with you on whatever land the Southwestern trustees will allocate for such purposes. Alternately, I am willing to retain the services of your favorite taxidermist to ensure that both of you may in death – as in life – be surrounded by the things you cherish most.

In fact, a check is being sent under separate cover to the seminary development office to begin funding a designated account.

Until then,


Benjamin S. Cole

CC:   Kevin Ueckert, SWBTS Trustee Chairman