Stained-glass windows at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary immortalizing leaders of the conservative resurgence within the Southern Baptist Convention have been removed.
The Fort Worth, Texas-based seminary confirmed that the stained-glass windows depicting the likes of former SWBTS President Paige Patterson and other controversial conservative Southern Baptist leaders have been taken down from the J.W. MacGorman Chapel and Performing Arts Center.
Colby Adams, the school’s vice president for strategic initiatives and chief of staff, told The Alabama Baptist that the school is “working with donors to finalize plans for relocating the windows.”
“After much prayerful consideration and discussion, we have concluded that it is in the best interest of the institution to remove and relocate the stained-glass windows installed in our J.W. MacGorman Chapel and Performing Arts Center,” SWBTS Board of Trustees Chairman Kevin Ueckert wrote in a letter dated April 3, according to the newspaper.
“Expenses to remove the windows are minimal and will be covered by the seminary. … The seminary will [safely] store the windows until we have a chance to discuss with you the next steps.”
Along with Patterson, who stepped down as SWBTS president last year after he was accused of mishandling rape allegations brought to him by students, two other controversial leaders featured in the windows are Paul Pressler and Frank S. Page.
Pressler is a former Texas judge who was accused in a lawsuit last year of sexual assault. Pressler denied the allegations and the case was later dropped because the statute of limitations had expired.
Page is the former CEO and president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee. But he resigned last year citing an inappropriate relationship.
Others depicted in the stained glass windows include California megachurch pastor and author Rick Warren, Liberty University founder Jerry Falwell, former SBC presidents W.A. Criswell, Adrian Rogers, Charles Stanley, Ed Young and Ronnie Floyd. Floyd was recently elected to serve as the new SBC executive committee president.
After Patterson’s firing from SWBTS, critics on social media called for his stained glass window to be removed.
Jimmy Draper, chair of the Southwestern Advisory Council, who is also depicted in one of the windows, told Baptist Press that there was a sense for the past year on the council that the windows needed to be removed.
"I have mixed feelings about that because I think the Conservative Resurgence was a very significant part of Southern Baptist life, but it was only … two decades, really, of the 111-year history of the school," Draper explained. "I do understand that."
The windows were created by Forth Worth-based artist Don Young. The first of the stained glass was installed in the building in 2013.
According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the stained glass windows are the “dream” of Patterson’s wife, Dorothy.
“My dream was to portray the 20-year history of the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Church,” Patterson was quoted as saying in 2013.
A press release from 2015 stated that the windows were created to pay tribute to “those who played a major role in turning the convention back to a high view of Scripture.”
In an October 2015 service, Patterson claimed that in 1978, there were only 16 professors at the SBC’s six theological seminaries that believed in the inerrancy of the Bible. But due to the conservative resurgence, Patterson said, there is not one professor today at an SBC seminary who does not believe in the infallibility of the Bible.
“That is a phenomenal act of God,” Patterson said at the time. “And we want future generations of students to know about the people who made that possible.”
The Christian Post reached out to SWBTS for comment on why the windows were removed. A response is pending. It remains unclear as to where the windows will be reinstalled.