Patterson highlights Southwestern's worldwide outreach, urges pastors to 'call out the called'
During the Alumni and Friends Breakfast at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC), Nov. 14, president of Southwestern Paige Patterson shared updates about the Fort Worth seminary. His early morning report to those gathered from around the state of Texas emphasized the evangelistic spirit on campus, exciting developments in the Global Theological Innovation (GTI) program, and the far-reaching effects of theological education on the world.
“Some of the most exciting things happening at Southwestern Seminary have to do with our worldwide outreach,” Patterson said. “That was exactly what B.H. Carroll had in mind when he founded the school--you remember he said, ‘I want to put a seminary out here on the great Texas plains that will look to the West and to the world with the propagation of the Gospel.’”
Patterson reminded those gathered in Horner Hall at Criswell College of B.H. Carroll’s convictions regarding the priority of evangelism that ultimately led him to establish the Chair of Fire, first occupied by L.R. Scarborough. This academic chair was the first-ever chair of evangelism established in a theological institution. Patterson noted that the original vision Carroll had for the school included “the mixing of theological education with evangelistic fervor and zeal to the end of the earth. And so, in ways that we have not even counted on, God brought about exactly that in our own day.”
The current occupant of the Chair of Fire, Matt Queen, was one of the men Patterson credited with transforming the campus into a place for “sold-out witnesses for Christ.” These witnesses, comprising faculty, staff and students at Southwestern, have taken to the streets of Fort Worth for more than 1,600 consecutive days in order to share the Gospel with everyone they come across. And not a week has passed in those days without at least one person coming to faith in Jesus Christ.
Patterson also mentioned the GTI program that has expanded to include 146 seminaries and Bible schools around the world with which Southwestern has partnered to bring theological education to areas where it is most needed. “We have seen the rebirth of seminaries that had gone out of existence, we've actually established some new ones where we've had opportunity, and there are new coalitions that have grown out of these,” Patterson said.
Following his report, Patterson fielded questions about Southwestern’s open house after the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention next summer, the growth of online classes, and challenges facing the seminary in days ahead. He noted a critical problem in churches today is that pastors are no longer “calling out the called.” He reminded pastors in the room that their impact on a young man called to the ministry is “everything.” He closed with the prompt that “the most crucial thing that can happen is for pastors to start accepting the responsibility that they have of walking with the young preachers they have in their churches and sending them to the seminary to get that education. I urge all of you to do that; it is the most crucial place where the breakdown has occurred.”
Great Hills Baptist Church lead pastor Danny Forshee was recognized for his service as the alumni president for the past year, and he oversaw the election of new officers at the breakfast. North Garland Baptist Fellowship senior pastor Tony Mathews was elected by acclamation as alumni president for the 2017-2018 year along with Birchman Baptist Church Minister of Music Daniel Salls as vice president. First Baptist Church Odessa senior pastor Byron McWilliams was elected as secretary.