PERSONAL NOTE: A lot of criticism has been issued since the release of this letter. Much of that criticism has to do with the “threat to withhold funds”. The writers do have a responsibility to share their concerns when there is reason to do so. Sadly, that is the case here. Their concerns are not with the actions of the trustee board but with the actions of the executive committee that met 7 days after the 13 hour meeting of the full board that did not deliver a decision that suited them.
Dr. Bart Barber defended the actions he and the other members of the executive committee took in vacating the decision of the full board on the floor of the SBC in Dallas. Here is an excerpt of his statement:
“I am an old-time Baptist congregationalist. My church has business meetings every month because I want us to have business meetings every month. I believe in our polity. And it is a part of our polity that our entity heads do not get to remove trustees when they become an inconvenience to them, that entity heads have to answer to their boards both when they want to do so and when they don’t want to do so, that seminary employees have to abide by board decisions.”
While it is true that the entity heads do not get to remove trustees when they become an inconvenience to them, why does that same polity not apply to a group 10 trustees who decided that the decision of the 40 trustees was an inconvenience to them? That is the problem. This is a travesty and it is a shame that there are those who are unwilling to acknowledge it.
Finally, Dr.Barber concluded his statement on the floor of the convention with the following: “But I cannot vote for him to occupy any monarchy. We are Baptists. We have no popes. We are all accountable to someone. Whatever divides us, I hope that we are all in agreement about that.”
I am in agreement with his statement of being accountable to someone: the executive committee is accountable to the full trustee board, to the convention and to God as well as those who support the institution financially. My prayer is that the full trustee board will take the actions of the executive committee and deal with that responsibly so that something like this never happens again.
Here is a summary of the letter sent to Chairman Ueckert and the members of the executive committee of the trustee board.
A letter was sent today to Mr. Kevin Ueckert, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the members of the Executive Committee expressing serious concerns related to the actions of the Executive Committee on May 30 in vacating the decision of the full board of trustees in a previous meeting held on May 22-23.
The letter points to the legal implications of their actions with respect to the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and their oversight of academic accreditation of the seminary as well as the Office of the Texas Attorney General.
The letter specifically highlights the deliberate misrepresentation of an email sent to the chief of security related to a rape allegation at SWBTS in 2015 by Ueckert in a June 1 statement. The email in question makes reference to a single statement that was intentionally released in direct reference to the rape allegation itself when in fact, the email was sent 5 weeks after the incident was initially handled. This issue was discussed in the May 22nd meeting and Dr. Patterson’s explanation was heard and should have ended that issue. Mr. Ueckert deliberately released the statement knowing that its reception would be damaging to Dr. Patterson. The letter points out that the statement was “patently false” and that “Mr. Ueckert knew it was false at the time he made it.”
This group of 26 individuals have been ardent financial supporters of the seminary and have asked for an investigative committee consisting of 10 individuals, 5 from the trustee board and 5 from the group of 26 named signers of this letter to look at the decision of the executive committee to substantiate the allegations made and to evaluate the actions taken against Dr. Patterson. They have indicated that their continued support to the seminary estimated to be in excess of “tens of millions of dollars” is in serious jeopardy.
Here is a link to the full letter.