FORT WORTH (June 9, 2018) — Scott Colter, chief-of-staff for embattled former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, June 9 said he learned June 8 his position with Southern Baptist’s largest seminary had been “eliminated.”
“It has been one great honor,” Colter tweeted, outlining his 11 year tenure at SWBTS which includes his rising through the ranks of nine positions while pursuing a PhD, and earning the bachelor’s and master of divinity degrees.
I have been @swbts for 11 yrs. Earned a BA, MDiv, & pursuing PhD. Live here, married here, had first child here. Was promoted through 9 positions – ultimately served as chief of staff to president. Learned yesterday my position is being eliminated. It has been one great honor.
— Scott Colter ✒️ (@ScottColter) June 9, 2018
The SWBTS Board of Trustees Executive Committee announced Wednesday, May 30:
During the May 30, 2018, Executive Committee meeting of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) Board of Trustees, new information confirmed this morning was presented regarding the handling of an allegation of sexual abuse against a student during Dr. Paige Patterson’s presidency at another institution and resulting issues connected with statements to the Board of Trustees that are inconsistent with SWBTS’s biblically informed core values.
Deeming the information demanded immediate action and could not be deferred to a regular meeting of the Board, based on the details presented, the Executive Committee unanimously resolved to terminate Dr. Paige Patterson, effective immediately, removing all the benefits, rights and privileges provided by the May 22-23 board meeting, including the title of President Emeritus, the invitation to reside at the Baptist Heritage Center as theologian-in-residence and ongoing compensation.
The Friday previously, May 22, the full board of trustees of the seminary had met in an emergency 13 hour session and announced the following, in part, May 23:
After much prayer and a more than 13-hour discussion regarding challenges facing the Institution, including those of enrollment, financial, leadership and institutional identity, the Board determined to move in the direction of new leadership for the benefit of the future mission of the Seminary.
The board passed a motion through a majority vote to appoint Dr. Patterson as President Emeritus with compensation, effective immediately, which he accepted. In addition, the board passed a motion to affirm the trustees’ September 2017 offer for Dr. and Mrs. Patterson to live on campus as the first theologians-in-residence at the Baptist Heritage Center, scheduled to be completed in July 2018.
May 31 Colter’s wife, Sharayah, who is a journalist, graphic designer and seminary student, released a letter in which she said was not prompted by anything but her friendship with the Patterson’s and a release of facts in light of further accusations.
Within days SWBTS chairman of the board Kevin Ueckert released a statement justifying Patterson’s termination. In the May 30 statement, he claimed the board had new information about an alleged sexual assault at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2003 (when Patterson served there as president) and allegations of sexual assault at SWBTS in 2015. In addition, Uekert cited a new dispute between Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and Paige Patterson over the ownership of certain documents.
The dispute over the documents apparently arose when, as Sharayah Colter indicated in her letter, Paige Patterson, and his wife Dorothy, were away from their residence to fulfill a preaching conference assignment in Germany. Uekert’s statement notes, “SWBTS located Southeastern documents on the SWBTS campus and began taking steps to preserve them.”
Presumably, the documents in question were “located” after the seizure of the Patterson’s personal papers and archives, according to the timing in Sharayah Colter’s letter:
Also at some point before the phone call, the locks were changed without notice to the room on Southwestern’s campus housing Patterson’s private and personal archives containing ministry materials and documents from Criswell College and the Conservative Resurgence. No notice was given, and the Pattersons had no knowledge that this was being done and had not given permission for such. Despite accusations that the archives were mishandled, the attached correspondence from 2004 from Patterson to Southeastern’s librarian and president indicate he believes all was handled properly.
Hours after Scott Colter tweeted his message, Sharayah Colter tweeted:
A great honor indeed! What a treasure it has been to serve the Lord at Southwestern under the leadership of Dr. & Mrs. Paige Patterson. Grateful for the lasting friendships, the myriad memories and the invaluable lessons. I’ll remember it with a full heart. https://t.co/liQYm9uE4C
— Sharayah Colter (@SharayahColter) June 9, 2018
In 2015 Scott Colter preached a sermon at SWBTS chapel on compassion.
In the sermon, he encouraged students and faculty to imitate God’s compassion towards people, as illustrated in the book of Jonah.
“Arise, Southwestern, and go. The word of the Lord came to us today. The question is this: Where is your Nineveh?”