Messengers and guests attending the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting in Dallas are in for an exciting experience—Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is providing an open house of its 200-acre campus on June 13-14. “Southern Baptists of all ages will enjoy the Baptist history that makes up the Southwestern Seminary campus,” says Charles Patrick, vice president for strategic initiatives and communications. “Guests experience a Baptist heritage course as they walk through and explore the campus. The entire campus teaches as guests interact with the campus.”

The Baptist history guest experience will include:

  • Lottie Moon exhibit: Come see why the SBC Christmas offering bears the name of this Southern Baptist missionary who spent nearly 40 years teaching and evangelizing in China. The exhibit contains her house from P’ingtu, China, as well as some of Moon’s belongings.
  • Martyrs’ Walk: Take sobering steps along arched walkways that commemorate SBC martyrs who made the ultimate sacrifice to spread the Gospel. Afterward, perhaps have a moment with God in one of the many prayer gardens that adorn the campus.
  • Dead Sea Scroll collection: Dead Sea Scrolls found in the Judean desert are claimed to be the greatest archaeological find in the 20th century. Southwestern Seminary possesses the largest collection of scroll fragments of an institution of higher education in the United States. The collection includes a rare first-century stylus from Qumran, precious facsimiles of some of the first scrolls found, and eight original fragments. Dating back to the time of Christ, these documents pre-date the Masoretic Text of Hebrew Scriptures by 1,000 years.
  • Baxley Archaeological Park: Come harness your inner Indiana Jones. Young and young-at-heart may excavate pottery from a simulated Qumran archaeology dig site.
  • Tandy Archaeological Museum: Self-teaching displays highlight the various cultures that existed throughout the Near East in antiquity. The museum has 19 collections with over 4,000 objects. The collections also include epigraphic materials from Qumran, coins from the Hellenistic to the Crusader Periods, seals and amulets from Egypt and Mesopotamia, clay tablets from Ur of the Chaldeans, rare Coptic textiles, and much more. The museum was recently voted “Best of Fort Worth.”
  • Conversation with Living Legends: Past SBC presidents during the Conservative Resurgence (1979-2000) discuss the “Battle for the Bible.”
  • History in art: If you enjoy creativity, you will appreciate the Baptist history taught through friezes, cornerstones, sculptures, a kugel fountain, and stained-glass windows.
  • Buildings that tell stories: Ever wish the walls could talk? They do at Southwestern, as the buildings themselves engage history, such as Fleming and Scarborough Halls in the Memorial Building, the timeline wall in the Welcome Center, or the classrooms in Mathena Hall that tell the story of missionaries, evangelists, and preachers.
  • Much, much more … even the Fort Worth street signs around Southwestern Seminary are named after notable Baptist leaders.

The newest Baptist history addition to campus is the Baptist Heritage Center, which will officially open in December 2018 but will be far enough along by June for guests to visit the building. Trustees approved construction of the building in February 2017. The center is a two-story facility to house and curate the libraries of Adrian Rogers, Jerry Vines, Paige Patterson and others, as well as extensive archives from the SBC Conservative Resurgence. In addition to the collections, the Baptist Heritage Center houses offices and work rooms for archiving, maintaining and utilizing the collections for research, as well as a student apartment for the librarian who will provide on-site security and oversight of the multiple collections. Finally, the Baptist Heritage Center provides housing for a short-term theologian-in-residence to conduct Baptist studies research, adding to the campus’ current portfolio of 16 guest houses and the 50-room Riley Center hotel for scholars to reside and use Southwestern’s numerous research resources.

“Ten gracious donors funded the vision for this center. A fundraising campaign was not required, and the donors supplied the full construction costs as well as an endowment for its maintenance and operations,” says Patrick. “Because this building is largely a collection of libraries with a residence directly apposed and the fact that no classroom instruction will take place within, the building did not require permitting as a commercial building, thus mitigating some construction expenses. The Baptist Heritage Center will be a premier resource for scholars to come and conduct research.”

In September 2017, the trustees graciously offered for President Paige Patterson and his wife to reside as the first theologians-in-residence so they can use the library resources to complete writing projects for the benefit of Southwestern Seminary and the SBC. Thereafter, the president of Southwestern Seminary approves who resides in the short-term theologian-in-residence apartment. Although he does not have any immediate plans to retire, Patterson accepted the offer with the caveat that the next president invites him and his wife to reside there while working on writing assignments.

“Messengers and guests are invited to come see why 82,000 students have enrolled at Southwestern Seminary over the past 110 years,” says Patrick. “I think they will find a campus making Baptist history by reaching the lost for Christ, embodied in our motto ‘Preach the Word, Reach the World.’”

View the entire schedule of events and register for a complimentary BBQ meal and complimentary round-trip transportation between the convention center and the Southwestern Seminary campus for the first 3,000 guests on Wednesday evening, June 13, at swbts.edu/sbc2018.