As the eighth president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paige Patterson has four decades of experience in educating pastors and missionaries. After almost 18 years as president of The Criswell College in Dallas, he served for 11 years as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, before his decade at Southwestern. Even as a pastor he offered instruction in Greek and biblical studies to his parishioners. The focus of Dr. Patterson's leadership is an intense commitment to evangelism and the task of global missions with a foundational component of demanding research and rigorous academic preparation.
After graduating from Hardin-Simmons University, Patterson completed the Master of Theology (Th.M.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Southern Baptists elected him as president of the Southern Baptist Convention for two terms, 1998–2000. During those years he appointed a committee to revise the Baptist Faith & Message, the confession most widely employed by Southern Baptists, and presided over the historic session of the convention in which this revised confession was adopted.
While studying at New Orleans Seminary, Patterson was pastor of a church and operated, with street evangelist Leo Humphrey, a coffeehouse in the famous French Quarter. There he shared the good news of salvation in Christ with biker gangs, underworld figures, homosexuals, prostitutes, and runaway teenagers from all over the United States.
The President and Mrs. Patterson have traveled to and ministered in more than 125 countries of the world. He has shared the gospel of Jesus Christ with heads of state in various countries, including Yasser Arafat and Menachem Begin. He has led church planting movements in New Hampshire and other states in America and served as pastor of churches in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.
For the past few years, Dr. Patterson has spoken at Christian sportsman banquets throughout the United States. Using PowerPoint presentations about hunting dangerous game and emphasizing the critical importance of fathers in the role of building their sons from “the mischievous raw material of boys” into manhood, he rejoices that more than 2,000 men have come to Christ through these banquets. These sportsman events develop naturally out of Dr. Patterson’s love for the "outback." He is a scuba diver and an avid hunter – he has taken three of the African "big five" (lion, leopards, and buffalo). Despite their busy schedules, Dr. and Mrs. Patterson have both found time to pen numerous books and articles. Dr. Patterson’s publications include commentaries on Song of Solomon, 1 Corinthians, Titus, 1 Peter, and most recently on Revelation for The New American Commentary Series.
The beginning of his tenure as President in August 2003 marked Paige Patterson's return to Fort Worth. He was born in Fort Worth in 1942 while his father, T.A. Patterson, was completing his Th.D. degree at Southwestern Seminary under the tutelage of W.T. Conner. President Patterson’s wife, Dorothy, is professor of theology in women's studies at Southwestern, but she sees her most critically important role as that of wife, mother, and grandmother. Their son Armour is a writer and, together with his wife Rachel, lives in Arizona's Sonora Desert. Their daughter Carmen is married to Mark Howell, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Daytona Beach, Florida. The Howells have presented the Pattersons with two granddaughters, Abigail and Rebekah. Chayil, the president's young, black Labrador retriever, completes the family circle.