Baptist seminary renames Paige Patterson building after pioneering black professor

Flowers grow in the gardens at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina.
Flowers grow in the gardens at the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. | Getty Images

A seminary affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention has changed the name of a building originally honoring Paige Patterson to now honor the academic institution's first full-time African American professor.

Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary of Wake Forest, North Carolina, held a rededication ceremony on Tuesday for the building on the west quad formerly known as Paige and Dorothy Patterson Hall.

The building was given a new name to honor Ralph Logan Carson, a blind African American preacher who was hired by Patterson and was a theology professor at SEBTS for 15 years. He died in 2018 at the age of 86.

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In addition to being a SEBTS professor, Carson also pastored several churches, served as a missionary in Nigeria and taught at Gardner-Webb College in North Carolina and Montclair State College in New Jersey. 

SEBTS President Danny Akin said in a statement that Carson "faithfully embodied the spirit and Great Commission mission of our institution."

"He was unwaveringly committed to the authority, infallibility, inerrancy, and sufficiency of God's Word. Because he loved God and His Word, he loved God's mission," said Akin.

"Carson was a Great Commission pastor, professor, and disciple maker, serving Southeastern with integrity, pastoring several churches with a shepherd's heart, and even serving on the mission field in Nigeria for three years. It is our joy to honor this legacy."

Carson's daughter, Tricia, was present for the rededication ceremony. She was presented with a framed portrait of her father and an official resolution from the seminary's trustees in appreciation of Carson's work.

"Perhaps no one from this community has overcome more than Dr. Carson," said SEBTS Provost Keith Whitfield.

"Yet, he did not just overcome. He excelled, and he did so for the love of Jesus Christ, his Lord and Savior. He did so for the love of the truth. He did so for the love of the Church."

Patterson, 80, had been a key leader in the SBC's "Conservative Resurgence," a theological movement with the SBC that successfully curbed theological liberalism in the denomination's institutions.

Patterson was a former SBC president and former head of SEBTS. He also served as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He was fired in 2018 amid allegations he lied about how he handled sexual assault allegations by a student.

Patterson, while serving as president of the seminary, was instrumental in bringing Carson as the first African-American employee onto the faculty. 

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