News reported this afternoon. 16 individuals or couples have signed a letter to Kevin Ueckert and the SWBTS trustees threanening to withhold “tens of millions” in future donations to the school. In seven pages they express “utter disdain for your actions on May 30,” the day Patterson was terminated. They demand for an investigative committee to be appointed, half of which would be signers of the letter (sounds like it would be objective…).
Nugget: Bigtime Southwestern Seminary donors have sent a letter to the executive committee of the board of trustees saying that unless “serious wrongs” against fired president Paige Patterson are “righted,” they will not be donating any more #sbc #swbts https://t.co/wGL1vPOpJa
— Sarah Smith (@sarahesmith23) June 29, 2018
You can read the full letter here.
A few thoughts here.
- This list of donors together has given millions of dollars to SWBTS in the past (we know because the letter says so). Southern Baptists are rightly grateful for that past investment in theological education.
- The landslide vote of the convention was not to fire the board but to allow the full board of trustees to review the actions of the executive committee. If it wasn’t clear before (I’d argue yes), it certainly was after Bart Barber’s speech that the Executive Committee was justified, cautious, and unanimous about the decision they made. Very few, if any, think the full board will reverse that decision. (My guess is these donors don’t either, which is why they demand to make up half of a committee instead of leaving it to the trustees.)
- Southern Baptists are ready to move past this. The SWBTS report was handled exceptionally well by Dr. Bingham. The seminary needs to heal. Many people who were involved do too. The Pattersons do as well, and not turn this in to a drawn-out battle. Dr. Patterson missed his first convention in many years, and things went on without him. There wasn’t a widespread outcry. If anything, there was a sense of relief that the drama had settled.
- The donor letter is a distasteful power move. Threats of withholding money don’t go well in SBC life, and that’s something we should be thankful for. The response on social media to this letter has, rightly, been universally negative, as far as I’ve seen.
- We pray these donors, who will not get their way, will reconsider their actions and realize that theological education is still a worthwhile investment. And specifically future investment in Southwestern Seminary. This is bigger than one man, at least we hope it was for them.
- I believe God will provide for Southwestern Seminary and continue to use that institution for his purposes. Let this be a reminder for us to continue to pray for SWBTS.