SWBTS Interim Prez overhauls chapel

26758111_10155823178635661_474924841098991787_oJeffrey 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 . . .


10 thoughts on “SWBTS Interim Prez overhauls chapel

  1. Chapel has always beend the president’s classroom. Dr. Patterson had his thumb on every bit of it, even to stage layout that required there always be six high-backed chairs on the stage. Chapel attendance has always been low compared to the 3500 seat room of MacGorman. There’s not even enough students on campus to fill the room if it was a requirement. Wait, why was that huge room built again? Oh, that’s right. For the stained glass.

    1. The auditorium behind the rotunda was just fine for years – and our enrollment then was higher than it is now. I suppose they like to bring in big dogs from around the country to keep the seminary on their radar, but there are plenty of area pastors, missionaries (retired and furloughing), PROFESSORS (hey!), and other Christian workers who could speak. The students need to hear from some small church pastors who never turn up in the news or on LifeWay shelves.

      1. You are right. Truett Auditorium serves as the best venue for chapel. McGorman was built, as it says outside, as a “Performing Arts Center” Question: Why doesn’t the seminary choir and symphony ever perform their yearly Messiah in McGorman Performing Arts Center? Answer: Because Truett is much better. Everyone knows McGorman has the worst acoustics of any hall in Fort Worth. Maybe it was built because there was no room to put up new stained glass in Truett.

      2. The only good thing about the new auditorium is that it allows graduation to be held on campus with no seat limits. Prior to the new chapel, graduation had to be held off campus and seating was limited.

  2. No special speaker for the Homemaking Conference? What will the Duggars and/or the Church of Christ Minister from the Duck Dynasty clan do this year?

    1. Oh dear! I was there for the Duggar visit. At no point did any professor speak out against how backwards their theology was. It all happened right before the scandal with the oldest son. Frankly, they are misguided and evil people.

  3. This makes me nauseated. I feel sick watching all this.
    Maybe part of it is because I’m sitting watching this in Asia and I’m surrounded by poverty while this building is full of creche “reminders” of places like where I serve.
    Sad, sad, sad.

  4. Glad to hear the chapel services will continue, but be less frequent. Having chapel 3 days a week at 10 am meant that I could not work as frequently at my off campus job, making it so I had to get two other part time jobs to make ends meet (because I only had two days available at my other job). Having it on Tuesday/Thursday would make it easier on finances and logistics for many other students, while also allowing for great speakers and worship. Perhaps those semesters students could get only Tuesday/Thursday classes while working other days. This is a good sign of changes

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