SWBTS trustees address mental health motion, vote on tenure, celebrate Patterson's 10 years

Baptist Press
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Posted: Oct 23, 2013 4:52 PM
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees responded to a motion on mental health ministries referred from the SBC’s annual meeting, concluded a process to end faculty tenure and recognized President Paige Patterson for 10 years of service during their fall meeting Oct. 16.

During the SBC sessions in Houston, Ronnie Floyd, senior pastor of Cross Church in northwest Arkansas, presented a motion requesting SBC entities to report on past, present and future efforts to assist churches in ministry to people with mental health challenges. Southwestern’s trustees adopted a response to the motion from last June, noting the seminary's graduate and post-graduate coursework in biblical counseling and pastoral ministry.

In addition to coursework, trustees said the seminary "provides for the churches counseling workshops in which the laity come to be trained in how to respond to the difficult problems that people face. So in this way Southwestern not only trains its students but also reaches out to provide help for the churches. Further, our faculty in counseling spends a great portion of its time counseling the counselors from the churches who frequently call on us for help with various kinds of problems."

Trustees unanimously approved changes to the seminary's bylaws and policies to eliminate the future extension of tenure to faculty. Elected faculty who already have tenure are unaffected and will retain the rights and privileges of tenured faculty.

The decision comes after ongoing dialogue among the board. At their spring meeting in April, trustees passed a motion requesting their policies & bylaws subcommittee to bring recommended revisions to the fall meeting.

Trustees elected two new faculty members, both of whom were serving under presidential appointment. Scott Aniol was elected as assistant professor of church music in the School of Church Music, with Dean Sieberhagen elected as assistant professor of missions and Islamic studies in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions, both effective Jan. 1.

During a chapel service, trustees recognized Paige and Dorothy Patterson for 10 years of service at Southwestern Seminary.

Steven James, chairman of Southwestern’s trustees, told the audience, "As a young pastor during the early '80s, I had the opportunity to watch Dr. Patterson from afar, to watch him move about in our convention with integrity, tenacity and theological insight. I saw a man that was bigger than life, robust and fearless.”

James recalled hearing Patterson preach in 2010 during the dedication of the seminary's MacGorman Chapel. He told Patterson he was impressed during the sermon with "the mercy, humility and compassion that you have in your heart, especially for those who are lost."

"That's when my spirit -- even with all we went through in the '80s -- really connected with your spirit."

James read an official proclamation from Texas Gov. Rick Perry and another proclamation from the city of Fort Worth declaring Oct. 16, 2013, as Paige Patterson Day.

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Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews). Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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