Jeffrey Bingham has been making a series of deliberate, steady moves to prepare the seminary community for what will be a watershed semester. Today, he announced the Fall 2018 chapel schedule, which includes one major shift from the Patterson era that is sure to be welcomed by everyone except the former president’s most intractable loyalists.
(We’ve heard from several campus sources that these men — and at least one woman — are regularly referred to as “Patterphiles” by colleagues.)
Under Bingham, the seminary will now hold chapel services twice a week, down from the three-per-week demands of Paige and Dorothy Patterson. The overhaul means less money spent on travel and accommodations for out-of-area chapel speakers, in addition to cost-savings that will be realized throughout the seminary community. It also means fewer opportunities for campus visitors to cringe at the stained-glass windows that the Pattersons commissioned for themselves and their friends.
And of course, fewer fancy luncheons and expensive tea parties at Pecan Manor. (Which would certainly benefit from a name change. The Nut House is in great need of a new identity in addition to new tenants.)
Honest observers have long known that chapel ceased to be a draw for the seminary. A review of nearly every available chapel video or stock photo reveals row upon row of empty seats, and a completely vacant balcony. Bingham’s reforms could promise to fill more of those seats as chapel becomes a greater opportunity for campus worship than a platform for criticism of the International Mission Board or other SBC agencies and leaders.
We are also encouraged to see the list of chapel speakers, both those that are slated to speak and those who will not be invited into the pulpit. There are Calvinists and non-Calvinists, pastors and evangelists, and a healthy dose of professors whose commitment to the seminary was well-established long before the reign of terror.
Only one scheduled chapel speaker is depicted in the pantheon of Patterson’s stained glass superstars.
UPDATE (4:15 PM CT) — We are reliably informed the Interim President Bingham does NOT plan to play dress up for Christmas chapel this year. Neither will there be a Pecan Manor Christmas video produced. We are yet uncertain about what will happen to all the nativity scenes and Spode china.
And this one . . .