The Baptist Blogger has received initial reports that Paige and Dorothy Patterson are leaving the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), a splinter group founded in 1998 by Texas Baptists who had become increasingly frustrated with their inability to win elections in the Baptist General of Texas (BGCT).
The Pattersons quiet departure comes as they end church membership with the SBTC-affiliated Birchman Baptist Church in Ft. Worth and join an exclusively BGCT-affiliated church in nearby Plano. In June 2018, Birchman cancelled Patterson’s scheduled appearance at the church before the annual convention meeting. Instead, Patterson preached two services at the Hunter’s Glen Baptist Church.
The termination of Pattersons membership at Birchman is a loss for Birchman’s pastor, the Rev. Robert Pearle, who has been a staunch defender of the erstwhile seminary president. A former trustee of the International Mission Board who supported the now-defunct policies on prayer and baptism, Pearle now serves as a trustee of Lifeway Christian Resources where he will have an opportunity to help choose the organization’s next CEO. Pearle’s wife, Deborah, was one of Steve Gaines’s appointees to the SBC Committee on Committees in 2017.
Hunters Glen pastor, Rev. Mark Howell, has served in the following convention leadership roles: member of the 2011 SBC Committee on Resolutions; the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention; and the 2000 SBC Committee on Nominations; He previously served on the SBTC Executive Committee; he has been an adjunctive professor at three SBC seminaries, and an elected faculty member at one.
Howell also preached the sermon at Patterson’s inauguration as president of Southwestern Seminary in 2004. (UPDATE: Link corrected)
At the time of SBTC’s founding, Paige Patterson was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. By 2000, the SBC had revised its confessional document – the Baptist Faith & Message (BFM2k) — to include new language on the nature of Scripture and limiting the roles of women. Two years prior, Patterson’s wife, Dorothy, served on the committee that recommended a statement on the submission of wives for incorporation into the BFM.
The SBTC requires its member churches to “affirm” the BFM2K. The BGCT, on the other hand, has adopted the 1963 statement of faith and does not require its member churches to affirm the BFM2K. There is presently no affirmation of the BFM2K on the Hunters Glen website, and no doctrinal statement regarding the family is offered on the church’s published statement of beliefs.
In 2004, conflict between Patterson and the BGCT came to a head. In a statement released to Baptist Press, Patterson warned of “a clear signal to Southern Baptists in BGCT churches that the present leadership of the BGCT fully intends to sever all relationships with the Southern Baptist Convention and its [entities]. They apparently have decided to cut the dog’s tail off one joint at a time.”
The Pattersons’ departure from the SBTC and return to exclusive affiliation with the Baptist General Convention of Texas is a homecoming, of sorts. Paige Patterson’s father, T.A. Patterson, served as executive director of the state organization until his retirement in 1973.
It is not yet known if the Pattersons will be elected messengers to the BGCT’s annual meeting next year. We await additional reporting on this development by the Ledbetters.