The board of trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, will meet today with President Paige Patterson in a specially called meeting.
Patterson requested the meeting following calls for his resignation and for the board to take action after old recordings surfaced of the seminary leader espousing what some interpret as controversial views about domestic abuse and divorce. Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES) in North Carolina and former head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote a letter to the seminary's board of trustees as a concerned life-long Southern Baptist.
In that letter, Land admits he doesn't "have one objective cell in my body when it comes to Paige Patterson," as they are very close friends.
"[But] I also said there's no one that Bible-believing Southern Baptists owe more to for his sacrifices and his leadership over the last third of the 20th and the first part of the 21st century than Dr. Paige Patterson," Land tells OneNewsNow. (See related story)
The SES president concluded the letter with this warning to trustees: "If there is any disrespect or dishonor that is turned toward Paige Patterson by the Southwestern Seminary board, it will cause a deep, grievous wound in the Southern Baptist body that I'm fearful will take a long time, if ever, to heal."
Patterson is scheduled to deliver a sermon at the denomination's annual meeting next month in Dallas.
Will focus be on the gospel ... or on gossip?
Meanwhile, a church planter in Michigan is concerned about the possible harm that could be caused by gossip as the nation's largest Protestant denomination prepares to gather in Dallas – and that's why he's calling on the Southern Baptist Convention to focus on the gospel instead of gossip.
There's the potential for things to get heated at the SBC meeting as "messengers" (delegates) will be voting on a new president, which will undoubtedly impact the future direction of the denomination. Concerned that things could get out of hand, Pastor Kevin Hester of The Shore Church in St. Joseph, Michigan, is calling Southern Baptists to set an example to the world by abstaining from gossip during the convention.
"I believe this convention is an important convention – and whether it's with our words or whether it's with social media, we can speak life or death into the future of our Convention," he tells OneNewsNow. "So hopefully we'll consider that and just consider where God is leading."
Knowing that gossip can creep in when debates heat up, Hester is hopeful unity will prevail. "[I'm praying] that we can come together and ... focus on God's Word and actually focus on the gospel instead of gossip," he shares, "and hopefully we can be known for that instead of any type of gossiping that may take place."
The Michigan pastor has proposed a resolution calling for a gossip-free convention and hopes it will go before messengers for approval. "This is something we just don't allow to take place anytime during our convention," he concludes.
Hester declined to say for whom he would vote for SBC president.