Ground was officially broken for the construction of Mathena Hall on the campus of Southwestern Seminary, Oct. 21, under the excited eyes of trustees, faculty, staff, students and friends of Southwestern. The building, which will be located between Pecan Manor and the Recreation and Aerobics Center (RAC), will house the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions and the College at Southwestern and will feature smart classroom facilities and the Chinese home of missionary Lottie Moon. As Southwestern President Paige Patterson summarized during the groundbreaking ceremony, the building “is going to be one of the most unique buildings in all the education system in America.”

Mathena Hall is named for Harold and Patricia Mathena, who last year bestowed to the seminary a lead gift of $12 million. Now a full-time evangelist, Harold Mathena formerly owned a manufacturing company for the oil industry, which he sold for more than $200 million. He subsequently gave a check for $20 million to his church, Quail Springs Baptist Church in Oklahoma City, as his tithe. Since then, he has continued to invest in ministry efforts to further the Kingdom of God at multiple institutions, including Southwestern Seminary.

During the groundbreaking ceremony, Mathena explained that, by investing in this newest building on the Southwestern campus, he is merely supporting the vision of Paige and Dorothy Patterson. “If you see someone who has a vision,” Mathena said, “and you want to be a part of that vision, and God burdens you about that and equips you and enables you to be a part, it’s such an honor to be able to get in on what God is doing.”

Continuing, he noted that he is only one of many who have contributed to the work of the seminary. “A lot of great men and women of God have plowed the ground before us,” he said, “and we get to come along and be a part of the foundations that have already been laid and established. … I’m so honored and so privileged to be able to come along and support the vision of this dear man of God [Paige Patterson] and his precious wife [Dorothy Patterson].” Upon concluding his remarks, Mathena presented Patterson with a $2 million gift—adding to his initial $6 million gift—toward his $12 million pledge.

While casting his vision for the building, Patterson made an important clarification regarding its purpose. “I want you to pray that the result of the construction of this building will be that tens of thousands of people come to know Christ as Savior,” he said. “It’s nothing but another brick and mortar structure unless it results in people coming to Christ. And so I want us to begin today, at groundbreaking, to pray that God will bring many to Christ.”

Hance Dilbeck, pastor of Quail Springs Baptist Church, prayed the prayer of dedication, bearing in mind Patterson’s particular vision. He said, “Father, we pray this afternoon for the work to be done in this building. We pray that the students trained in this building would have hearts devoted to evangelism; that you would send out soul-winners from this campus who would carry the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ to small towns in this area, across our nation, to big cities, and to the nations.”

Twelve people participated in the official groundbreaking, including President Patterson; Harold and Patricia Mathena; Dean of the Fish School of Evangelism and Missions Keith Eitel; and Dean of the College at Southwestern Michael Wilkinson. Also involved was Jonathan Collins, representative of Manhattan Construction Company, the same company that built MacGorman Chapel and is now contracted to construct  Mathena Hall in the coming months, and Chris Huckabee of Huckabee Inc., the architectural company that designed the building.