Document dump


Anyone who’s been around Washington, D.C. very long knows the value and frustration of a Friday document dump. During that season wherein we served as a congressional investigator and policy advisor to the Republican chairman of the powerful House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, we spent many long hours and endless weekends going through tens of thousands of pages of documents provided by the Obama administration and various private and public corporations.

The hostile purpose of a document dump is to deluge a constitutionally-authorized congressional check on administrative abuse with so much information that it makes it difficult — if not impossible — to find evidence of wrongdoing. The strategy was doubtlessly more effective before the advent of electronic communications and data transparency.

Still, any administration has tremendous power to keep from the public information which may prove embarrassing in the best scenarios, and incriminating in the worst.

The same is true in the Southern Baptist Convention. It is far too easy to keep the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention and their messengers to the annual meeting in the dark about an entities’ fiscal condition, administrative activities, and presidential discretionary expenditures. At times, it is far too easy for entity administrators to keep the same information concealed from the “prying eyes” of the entity trustees who may have questions.

For years, Paige Patterson and his famously submissive wife, Dorothy, have kept files on everything and nearly everyone. We know this because we were shown his archival space on the second floor of Appleby Hall on the campus of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary nearly 20 years ago. Sense that time, conflicts between the Pattersons and the institutions they served over proper ownership of seminary records have emerged. Some have been resolved. Others have not.

At the present time, Southwestern Seminary is a party to a federal civil matter involving the alleged administrative abuses of its former president. This matter, should it proceed to trial at the court-approved pace, will stretch well into the year 2021. At this rate, The Baptist Blogger has neither the time nor the interest to serve as an ongoing resource for public disclosure of our collection of materials related to the mismanagement of Southwestern Seminary and sundry abuses and fraud schemes that occurred during the Patterson era.

Today, we have sent to SWBTS President Adam Greenway an offer to provide to the seminary copies of certain documents in our possession that may assist in efforts to better understand his predecessor’s actions, assess their relevance to pending litigation, and push back against false narratives about the Patterson era and the reason(s) for his termination.

Upon the transmission and posting of this letter, The Baptist Blogger is suspending future public disclosures of many records related to the Patterson era at Southwestern. We make this decision both as a matter of stewardship of our time and as an expression of confidence in the integrity and courage of Dr. Adam Greenway to do the one thing that Patterson never quite seemed able to do.

Tell the truth. All of it. Until He Comes.

The damnedest Patterscandal


“Therefore, because you trample on the poor and exact a grain tax from him, you will never live in the houses of cut stone you have built; you will never drink the wine from the lush vineyards you have planted.” — Amos 5:11 

In November 2017, we received a phone call from Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson.

“You’re not going to believe this,” he said. “Paige and Dorothy are building themselves a $3 million retirement house.”

“Where?” we asked.

“On campus,” he responded.

Burleson already had external photographs of the building under construction, and he he’d obtained copies of building permits from the City of Fort Worth that showed the seminary had proposed the new facility as a single family residence despite Paige and Dorothy Patterson’s assurances to trustees and donors that the building would be a library with a small “one-bedroom apartment” for the soon-to-retire couple.

Within a few hours, we’d pulled the same permits and looked back over trustee reports to find any information about the governing board’s decision to provide a permanent on-campus residence to the Pattersons and their dog.

And yes, the “one-bedroom” apartment had special space for a dog.

It wasn’t long before we booked a ticket to DFW, rented a car at the airport, and made our way to the campus on seminary hill, stopping only briefly at a Home Depot to purchase a plastic hard hat.

(Note: we’ve discovered that for less than $10 anyone can procure a construction hard hat. Wearing this hat at literally ANY construction site — however secure — allows an interested person to gain unimpeded access to such sites.)

Once on campus, we donned the construction hat, opened our iPhone 8, and began filming a walk-thru of the cavernous building, which was designed with one elevator, a gargantuan soaking tub and glass-walled couples’ shower, his and her commodes, and sufficient space for 30,000 books and hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxidermy.

By the time we left campus that day, our anger had reached thermonuclear levels. How, in the name of all that is Cooperative Program, had the trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary allowed this dumpster fire to burn year-after-year? Why was Paige Patterson and his famously submissive ezer kenegdo being rewarded for the worst enrollment declines in the school’s history, the complete financial disarray, and the cultural rot that had turned the crown jewel of Southern Baptist theological education into a trinket shop for shrinky-dink chapel windows and bogus antiquities?

Russell Dilday and Ken Hemphill had not enjoyed such perquisites, and neither of them had brought the school to such ruin. In fact, the former had built it to its highest enrollment ever, and the latter had been a stabilizing influence popular with both students and donors.

We determined to do something about it. At the time, however, we had only a hunch about the worst Patterscandal of his 15-year reign of vulgarity and vanity and excess benefit transactions.

To be sure, finding a “worst” scandal is difficult between allegations of “breaking down” rape victims, redesignating donor gifts, funneling millions to their Palestinian fraudster friends, double-dipping for travel reimbursements, utilizing campus security to harass students, lying to trustees, enrolling Muslim students, granting “presidential scholarships” to the academically-challenged children of wealthy megachurch pastors, a $6 million spending spree at Steinway, bypassing federal immigration laws, depleting the seminary’s endowment by more than $20 million, nurturing a campus culture of violence and chauvinism, and so forth.

Above all those abuses, the greatest scandal was the Patterson’s Bourbonesque propensity to fatten and feather their own livelihoods at the expense of the underpaid faculty and staff without whom Southern Baptists would have no seminary in Fort Worth.

While they paid no mortgage or utilities, the seminary’s employees struggled to make ends meet. While they and their canine dined on sumptuous meals made by personal chefs, professors and their children clipped coupons. While they drove Cadillacs and flew first class, some of the common people who make a Kingdom difference kept their cars together with bailing wire, Bondo, and duct tape.

Not since C.S. Carnes have denominational “servants” lived so well off the widows mite while everyone else was barely getting by.

Back in March 2018, not long after our construction site visit to the presidential retirement home, we wrote about the decisions to cancel faculty retirement benefits made by Paige Patterson and promulgated by now-Midwestern provost Jason Duesing (whose righteous soul was doubtlessly vexed for the 13 years he assisted the Pattersons).

Indeed, beginning in January 2009, seminary employees lost all retirement benefits, including both standard annuity contributions and matching benefits. For more than 10 years, these convention servants (many of whom are among the lowest paid denominational employees) have been robbed of their futures to pay for Paige Patterson’s houses and hotels and sundry emoluments and Dorothy’s insatiable thirst for first class refinements and bogus antiquities.

So just how significant were the Pattersons abuses? How bad have they hurt the faculty and staff of Southwestern Seminary who — until this coming January 2020 at the direction of President Adam Greenway — have been denied their promised retirement benefits for more than 10 years?

We asked our financial advisor to run the numbers.

Assume that a starting professor was hired by the trustees to begin work in January 2008, and upon her election to the faculty, she rolled into the Guidestone MyDestination 2045 Fund a starting balance of $1000.00 from another IRA account.

For that first year, assuming a starting salary of $45,000 per annum, she would have received the promised 10 percent seminary contribution to the fund, plus a match of 5 percent of her voluntary contribution. Then, according to the directive promulgated by Jason Duesing, her retirement benefit would have suspended in January 2009 (at the lowest point in the market and around the same time Dorothy was executing non-written, verbal contracts with junk-shop owners in Bethlehem for bogus Dead Sea Scrolls at a cost approaching $5 million).

Between 2009 and 2011, she received NO retirement benefit from Southwestern (around the same time the Pattersons were commissioning stained glass windows to honor themselves and their friends and Paige was admitting in confidential emails to trustees that he had no clue how to manage money). After 2011, the benefits started back slowly. First 3 percent, then 5 percent, and then 7 percent.

But never was any matching contribution made, and never did the benefit return to its pre-2009 levels that the professor was promised when she agreed to move her family to Fort Worth and accept a reduced salary with the understanding that the benefits offered by the seminary were more important for her long-term financial security.

Bottom line: The value of the professor’s retirement account on Oct. 31, 2019, including market growth, standard cost-of-living increases, and a sustained 5 percent voluntary contribution would be $115,880.00.

Now, assume that she left Southwestern on Oct. 31, 2019 and never made another contribution to her Guidestone account.

By Dec. 31, 2044, assuming a baseline annual growth rate of 6 percent, the value would be $497,341.98.

Now, let’s assume that rather than spend $5 million on bogus Dead Sea Scrolls and build their own $3 million retirement home or waste tens of other countless other millions on various vanity projects and perquisites, the Pattersons had honored a trustee promise to Southwestern employees and held the line on retirement benefits.

On Oct. 31, 2019, that same fund balance would have been $211,415.00; by the target date, the value would have been $907,365.85 (assuming no additional contributions after Oct. 31, 2019 at a six percent return rate).

Which is to say, Paige and Dorothy Patterson (with the consent of seminary trustees, of course) have cost the average faculty member $95,535.00 in asset value over a ten year period. Over the life cycle of the target fund, Patterson’s decision has robbed them of $410,023.87 in retirement.

That’s for EACH faculty member at the LOWEST end of the seminary pay scale.

So the next time somebody tells you how badly the Pattersons have been treated, why not break it down and show them the numbers?

“The heart and soul of a seminary is its faculty. Nearly everyone who joins an SBC seminary faculty has to take a cut in pay to do so. Not many Southern Baptists realize that the total Cooperative Program allocation our seminary receives is less than the annual cost of our payroll. This is the major reason why seminary salaries are below national averages for professors and pastors” — Dr. Chuck Kelley, 2003

Check our math below:

With cuts:
Without cuts:


Everything decently and in order…


The Southern Baptist Convention has no employees or staff. In fact, only those persons who have been elected by the convention — i.e. the officers — may be considered to hold permanent position until a term expiration or they resign.

The Executive Committee, acting on behalf of the convention, is authorized to execute a contract with a certified parliamentarian. Bylaw 11 of the Southern Baptist Convention states:

Parliamentary Authority and Parliamentarians: The parliamentary authority of the Southern Baptist Convention shall be Robert’s Rules of Order (latest revised edition). The Convention president, in conference with the vice presidents, shall select a chief parliamentarian and assistant parliamentarians, as necessary, to advise the presiding officers of the Convention on matters of parliamentary procedure. The chief parliamentarian shall be a person of experience and knowledge, sufficient to qualify him or her to serve as parliamentarian to the Southern Baptist Convention, and he or she shall be certified by the American Institute of Parliamentarians and/or the National Association of Parliamentarians. It shall be the responsibility of the president and treasurer of the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention to sign, on behalf of the Executive Committee, any contracts or letters of agreement related to the services of the chief parliamentarian.”

In February 2019, the Interim President of the Executive Committee, Augie Boto — acting on behalf of the Executive Committee at the request of the convention president — contracted with Southwestern Seminary professor, C. Barry McCarty, to serve as convention parliamentarian for the 2019 annual meeting in Birmingham.

The terms of the parliamentarian’s contract are as follows:

  • He/she shall be on-site in Birmingham, Ala. to render consultation advice from June 9, 2019, until the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention adjourns; and by phone or email to render such pre- or post-annual meeting consultation and advice as may be requested by the President of the Convention or by the Chief Executive Officer or appropriate vice president of the Executive Committee.
  • Under the terms of the current contract, the ONLY persons whom the convention parliamentarian may counsel or advise are current SBC President J.D. Greear, current SBC Executive Committee CEO Ronnie Floyd, and possibly Jonathan Howe, Sing Oldham (until his retirement later this year), and Ken Weathersby (until his retirement this year).
  • The convention parliamentarian is NOT authorized to advise entity leaders, the various boards of trustees, the standing committees of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Committee on Committees, the Committee on Registration, the Committee on Nominations, the Committee on Resolutions, nor any individual or group of messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention.
  • The convention parliamentarian is explicitly barred from issuing any “verbal or written advice or opinions to anyone other than the officers of the Southern Baptist Convention or appropriate staff of the Executive Committee.”
  • The parliamentarian is compensated $10,500 for services under the contract, paid in two installments of $5,250.00. This amount has held relatively steady for the past decade.
  • The parliamentarian’s documented expenses are reimbursed, including meals, lodging, round-trip transportation, postage, and any other out-of-pocket expenses.
  • The convention parliamentarian is barred form offering legal advice or legal opinions.
  • The parliamentarians is an independent contractor, and is not to be represented as an agent or employee of the Convention, any of its members, or organizations.
  • The parliamentarian’s services are purely advisory and all rulings on questions of order are made by the presiding officer of the Convention, who may or may not follow the parliamentarian’s advice.

To read the entire contract, click here.

The 2019 annual meeting was the 34th consecutive year that Dr. Barry McCarty has served as convention parliamentarian. This is the longest tenure of any non-elected individual receiving consecutive year-to-year contracts. Doubtlessly, the perennial renewal of this annual contract owes to the confidence Southern Baptist presidents have had in the parliamentary consultation provided by Dr. McCarty.

In 1986, then-SBC President Charles Stanley retained the services of Dr. McCarty, who was at the time a non-SBC minister and professor of public speaking and debate at Roanoke Bible College in Elizabeth City, N.C. He was formerly a N.C. members on the national Republican Party Committee on Permanent Organization, and his biographical information at the time of Stanley’s selection included his service as a “spokesman and lobbyist for state and national Right-to-Life groups.”

He was also a member and minister at a Church of Christ in Jarvisburg, N.C. That church is now a part of the “Restoration Movement.” He became a Southern Baptist in 2015.

During the 1986 annual meeting, a messenger requested that the Southern Baptist Convention “hire” a parliamentarian to serve at every annual convention. During a rather confusing floor debate, former SBC Executive Committee President Harold Bennett spoke against the motion, pointing out to the messengers that the convention does not have employees. Rather, Roberts Rules of Order provides that the presiding officer of the convention may appoint parliamentarians for the annual meeting as he/she deems necessary. This point was made by Dr. John Sullivan, who at the time was the chairman of the SBC Executive Committee Bylaws Workgroup.

To watch the 1986 floor debate over the issue of “hiring” a permanent convention parliamentarian, click here.

(Note: The Baptist Blogger is reviewing every parliamentary ruling and floor debate of the Southern Baptist Convention in an effort to assist Southern Baptists in their better understanding both of the Rules of Order and of the precedent(s) that have been set for the ordering of convention business. To view our first installment in a series entitled “SBC Parliamentary Fails,” click here.)