Ken Hemphill is a nominee for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2018, the fact of which most who will read this are already aware. This highest of offices in the SBC will be decided on Tuesday June 12, 2018, in Dallas by a vote scheduled for about 1:50 P.M. Here are twelve indisputable strengths many have observed in Ken’s life and ministry which advise that he would be an outstanding President.
He Is a Man of Integrity
Honesty, transparency, truthfulness, and faithfulness seem to be in short supply in America, even in the church of the Lord Jesus, and, sadly, even within our own Southern Baptist denomination. Paul admonished Timothy to entrust his apostolic teachings “to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:1 NASB). Ken is a man who is above reproach, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach… (cf. 1 Tim. 3:2). He is a man of his word; and his word is plain and dependable. His “yes” means “yes” and his “no” means “no” (cf. James 5:12). Yet, nobody is claiming that Ken Hemphill is sinless, or even faultless. But what we are saying is that the trajectory of his life has been characterized by honesty, transparency, truthfulness, and faithfulness. He is a man of integrity.
He Is a Man of Authentic Christian Character
Few would argue that authentic Christian character is more aptly sketched than in Paul’s words found in Gal. 5:22-23. Yielding ourselves moment by moment to the work of the indwelling Holy Spirit is the only way any of us can consistently walk in the Spirit; and walking in the Spirit is the only way we can routinely, as a habit of life, manifest the fruit of the Spirit, which fruit is exemplified as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This fruit is evident in Ken’s life and has been for many years. He is a man who strives to walk in the power of the Spirit, undergirding all that he says and does with prayer, especially prayer for wisdom and knowledge (cf. 2 Chron. 1:10). Ken is a man who reveres the holiness of God and deeply yearns for it to be actual in him. He is a man of authentic Christian character.
He Has Impeccable Academic Credentials
Ken is a North Carolina preacher’s son who went to Wake Forest University to get an education to prepare for Christian ministry and to play linebacker. He graduated from Wake Forest with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Religion. He went on to earn both his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Further, he earned his Doctor of Philosophy degree in New Testament from Cambridge University, where he studied under C.F.D. Moule. He has impeccable academic credentials.
He Is a Seasoned Theologian Who Is Both Biblical and Southern Baptist to the Core
Ken believes that the Bible, comprised of sixty-six canonical books, is the inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God. He believes it from “Genesis to maps”! His theology has had time to solidify and it is doctrinally sound in every respect, not half-baked, ill-conceived, or carelessly expressed. He knows what he believes and why he believes it, and he enthusiastically embraces The 2000 Baptist Faith and Message without dancing around any wording. He is a mature theologian who is both biblical and Southern Baptist to the core.
He Is an Insightful Church Growth Strategist and Author
Ken has spent many years studying and writing about spiritual and numerical advancement. He has written approximately forty-five books, many of which explore the nuances of church and kingdom growth which have been read by thousands, and he continues to write and publish today through Auxano Press https://auxanopress.com/collections/books. One of his newest (2018) books is entitled Unlimited: God’s Love, Atonement, and Mission, which is already proving to be a blessing to many. He is an insightful church growth strategist and author.
He Is an Experienced and Much Beloved Pastor and Educator
Ken served as Pastor of Wolf Creek Baptist Church in Wolf Creek/Battletown, Kentucky, and as a Youth and Education Minister at Meadow Hill Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, while in seminary. He later began his teaching career at Wingate College in Wingate, North Carolina. He then became the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Galax, Virginia, and then on to the pastorate at the First Baptist Church of Norfolk, Virginia, where the church experienced phenomenal growth during his tenure. He has served as a guest lecturer in the United States and Scotland, including the School of Evangelism in Scotland; Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Beeson Divinity School of Samford University; Oklahoma Baptist University; New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary; and, of course, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served as President from 1994-2003; and presently at North Greenville University, a comprehensive university in Tigerville, South Carolina, which is affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist Convention. He is an experienced and much beloved pastor and educator.
He Understands That the Need of the Southern Baptist Convention Is Deeper Than Structural Changes
Ken believes that the key issue within the Southern Baptist Convention is “the restoration of passion for the King and His kingdom in the hearts of individuals and churches that would, in turn, lead to increased evangelistic activity and a deeper level of personal stewardship.” Ken cautions that “the legitimate concern being expressed about declining baptisms will not be resolved by structural changes, but by personal spiritual awakening that results in a mission passion like that of Isaiah, who cried out, ‘Here am I. Send me!’” (Isa. 6:8). He also warns that, “We cannot be satisfied to redistribute old resources. What we desperately need is ‘new and abundant resources.’ We need a stewardship revival!” He substantiates this claim of the need for a stewardship revival by asserting, “In the average American church, 25 percent of the people give 85 percent of the resources. Even more troubling is the finding that those who give regularly give only 2.5 percent of their income.” He further laments the fact that Cooperative Program missions giving by churches “has dropped steadily until it now averages only 6.2 percent,” and that was in 2010. Sadly, the trend has continued and is likely below 6 percent today. Hemphill lamented in this 2010 Viewpoint, “This reduction in percentage giving by the local church has, in turn, caused state conventions to cut back services or to retain a larger percentage of the CP monies that are given by the churches in their states…The issue is not to redistribute the small amount of water that makes its way to the SBC entities; the answer is to increase the volume at every level.” He understands that the need of the Southern Baptist Convention is deeper than structural changes.
He Values the Work of State Conventions
In another 2010 Viewpoint article, Ken shared his concerns that one of the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force reports “seemed to suggest that accountability was lacking for monies received from NAMB for agreed-upon ministry initiatives.” He also expressed concern “that the lack of NAMB financial agreements would greatly penalize those states that face the greatest need and greatest opportunity when it comes to planting churches.” He wrote of his alarm, stating, “The potential impact upon state convention work was recently in the news when a potential presidential candidate indicated the state convention should keep no more than 25 percent of CP monies collected for state-wide ministries,” calling this an “arbitrary” and “unrealistic number.” Thankfully, such has not happened yet, and Ken can be counted on to stand against such nonsense. He values the work of state conventions.
He Esteems the Work of Baptist Associations
Ken has long been both a supporter and a participant in the work of the Baptist associations. He knows that, other than the local church, there is no greater asset to on-site cooperative ministry than the Baptist associations. They need to remain intact and experience revitalization from both directions: from the local churches and their ministerial staff as well as from the state and national conventions. He esteems the work of Baptist associations.
He Believes in the Inestimable Worth of the Cooperative Program
Ken has worked and written diligently for decades to promote and protect giving through the Cooperative Program. He has opposed, and will continue to oppose, any giving strategy that “has the potential to degenerate into a ‘make-your-own-budget’ mentality.” In another 2010 Viewpoint regarding the “make-your-own-budget” mentality, he wrote, “The end result of such a strategy would be to erode the essential partnership between state and national convention and create the possibility that a state would actually find it necessary to keep a larger percentage of Cooperative Program monies in-state to make up for those monies designated through a ‘Great Commission Giving’ category that bypasses the state convention.” He has grave concerns about any giving strategy which might “become a ready means for designating the churches’ mission giving,” fearing that any such plan “will spell the end of the Cooperative Program as we know it and will make it virtually impossible to design and fund a national mission strategy.” He has never wavered from this posture, and never will. He has even been so bold as to suggest that a good starting point to be considered by each church for its Cooperative Program giving is 10 percent and has called for “a more sacrificial level of giving at every level,” meaning the individual and the local church. He believes in the inestimable worth of the Cooperative Program.
He Is an Experienced Denominational Ambassador with a Plan for the Future
We all know that Ken has been in denominational ministry for many years, leading by example and not heavy-handedly. He served as Director of the Southern Baptist Center for Church Growth in Atlanta, Georgia, a joint venture of the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) and the Sunday School Board (now LifeWay) of the Southern Baptist Convention. From there, he became President of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Then, as the Empowering Kingdom Growth National Strategist for the Executive Committee, he traveled extensively promoting the kingdom of Christ. No opportunity was too small or too large. From coast to coast and from border to border he preached, taught, and witnessed for the cause of Christ, maintaining his morality, integrity, and stellar Christian character all the while as an ambassador for the Lord Jesus first and for Southern Baptists second. He is a statesman par excellence, and he has a “vision” for the future revitalization of the Southern Baptist Convention, the details of which can be found at his website, http://kenhemphill2018.com/. He is an experienced denominational ambassador with a plan for the future.
He Is Available to Implement His Vision of Revitalization
This is the twelfth and final strength I am listing, although I could register many more. Twelve seems “biblical” enough for everyone to get the picture. Not to diminish the absolute importance of the previous eleven, but, lacking this one, our Convention’s need of revitalization may not get the necessary traction without a gifted encourager ready, willing, and able to engage in the demanding itinerant ministry requisite to invigorating and unifying it. This is a volunteer position. Just to spell it out – there is no pay! But to Ken, the office of President of the Southern Baptist Convention is far more than an honorary, “face of the Convention” position. It is a calling; a summons to build on the prayer emphasis of President Steve Gaines and a directive to commit the next two years to being available to instruct, teach, preach, advise, and encourage across our denomination, with a view toward individual, church, association, state convention, and Southern Baptist Convention spiritual revitalization which results in renewed commitment to biblical doctrine, biblical morality, biblical evangelism, biblical stewardship, biblical worship, biblical discipleship, and much more. Wonderful, hard-working men of God have served as President, but their full-time ministry necessarily limits their availability in many cases. While Ken is a popular preacher and professor, currently serving as Interim Pastor at Second Baptist Church in Springfield, Missouri, and was the founding Director of the Center for Church Planting and Revitalization at North Greenville University, he now serves as Special Assistant to the President for Denominational Relations at North Greenville. Therefore, he is not tied to any single pulpit, has a flexible university schedule, and is race-horse ready to go to work. He is available to implement his vision of revitalization.
Southern Baptists need as President a man who has the heart of a pastor, the mind of an erudite theologian and exegete, the humility of Moses, the moral fiber of Joseph, and the experience of years. Assessing these twelve strengths listed above should lead one to conclude that Ken Hemphill is uniquely seasoned, gifted, qualified, and senses God’s call to be the next President of the Southern Baptist Convention “for such a time as this” (cf. Esther 4:14).
Rick Patrick, Pastor
FBC Sylacauga, Alabama
Executive Director, Connect 316
Publisher, SBC Today
In the midst of today’s #MeToo society, Paige Patterson is not being charged with committing any type of abuse at all. Take a moment to let that sink in. He did not touch someone inappropriately. He has not been unfaithful to his wife. He is not being charged with the same kind of offenses that dozens of other well-known men have been charged with over the past year. Instead, over a lifetime of ministry, he has been charged with making a few careless statements, for which he has offered his clarification and expressed [his sincere regret].
Because one must always consider the source, it is worth mentioning that in the case currently before the SBC, those calling for action based on inaccurate information have been stirred up by Ed Stetzer, a former SBC employee with a history of criticizing Patterson, and Jonathan Merritt, a former associate minister who was [outed as a homosexual by his former lover Azariah Southworth in 2012]. Primarily, these are the two people behind the attacks on the Father of the Conservative Resurgence. In light of their personal histories, one could be forgiven for suspecting a hidden agenda is at work here.
For the most part, Patterson’s critics have offered two major accusations, both of which are manifestly false, despite the “success” of Twitter in rapidly spreading this misinformation, and the willingness of the mainstream media to promote the story in a manner consistent with its usual liberal bias. (I am referring to the Washington Post, with its close ties to Russell Moore, and to Christianity Today, with its close ties to Ed Stetzer.)
False Charge One: Did Patterson Knowingly Advise an Abused Woman to Return to Her Abuser?
Evidence exists of Patterson in a 2000 interview inaccurately recounting that he once told a woman being abused to go back into the home and simply pray by her bedside for her husband, at which point she suffered the abuse of two black eyes. The climax of the story was that the husband came to church, trusting in Jesus for salvation, and restoring their marriage, such that there was never again any abuse. Of course, the concern is that in Patterson’s original yet false recounting of the story, he supposedly advised a woman he knew was being abused to go back into the home of her abuser rather than separate from her husband and contact the authorities. We now know Patterson did no such thing. Yes, he advised a woman to pray for her husband, but he had no idea at the time that she was being physically abused.
All of this was clarified in an [April 30 article by Baptist Press]. Patterson admitted that he had previously misstated the facts, thus revealing the false nature of the narrative now being spread far and wide on social media:
According to [an article by David Allen], this counseling situation took place 54 years ago. Patterson would have been only 21 or 22. Frankly, this helps explain his difficulty in accurately recounting the story after all these years. Despite such fuzzy details, Patterson’s clarification really should settle the matter. He has admitted that he botched the story when he told it back in 2000, that he had not suspected any physical abuse when asking the woman to pray by her bedside, and that knowingly sending a woman back to her abuser’s bedroom in no way reflects his belief regarding the proper handling of spousal abuse.
This event from 1964 recounted poorly by Patterson in 2000 simply did not happen the way it is being reported on social media and picked up by the mainstream press. As one who has on many occasions recounted events poorly, I do not believe this is the unpardonable sin. Patterson’s clarification on April 30 is a correction of his own false statement in the 2000 interview. When he gave this woman the advice to pray by her bedside, he did not know or suspect she had suffered any physical abuse. This changes the entire narrative. According to Patterson’s clarification, he never knowingly sent an abused woman back to her abuser’s bedroom.
False Charge Two: Did Patterson “Objectify” a Teenage Girl or Illustrate the Creation of Woman?
Evidence also exists of Patterson sharing a story in a 2014 sermon in which he was explaining the difference between two Hebrew words in the creation account. Adam was “formed” like basic pottery, while Eve was “fashioned” like a palace or a work of art. Eve was crafted beautifully and artistically for Adam. She was “made” for him. She was “built” for him. However, Adam was not made for Eve in the same way at all.
In the course of sharing this word study in his sermon, Patterson told the story of a mother speaking to him in the presence of her teenage son. An attractive sixteen year-old girl passed by. As Patterson recounted the story for the congregation, he told them that the girl who had passed by that day was “nice.” He meant it in the sense that she was pretty and not simply that she was pleasant in her disposition. As he continued the story, Patterson said the teenage boy remarked that the girl was “built.” His mother scolded her son for saying so, while Patterson joked that actually the young man was making an accurate biblical observation. God “fashioned” women to be beautiful in form so that teenage boys would notice and desire them. God’s plan was always for humans to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth. Thus, He “designed” or “built” women in a way that is visually and aesthetically pleasing to men.
Granted, in today’s world, it can be hard to distinguish between the creepy “objectifying” of women and girls and the healthy “noticing” that someone is attractive. Some have objected to Patterson’s use of the word “nice.” Would I prefer an expression like “cute” or “pretty” or “beautiful inside and out?” Sure. But Patterson is not the only minister who has spoken of female beauty at times in awkward ways. Young Pastors in skinny jeans serving contemporary churches will sometimes introduce their wives as “smoking hot.” Even though this expression only draws attention to the physical beauty of their wives, these ministers are never terminated or forced out of pulpits for such objectifying remarks.
If anyone in this story was “objectifying” it was the teenage boy who looked at the girl and called her “built.” We can certainly wish that he had spoken of her godliness, intelligence, talent, and sense of humor, but instead, he chose to act like most teenage boys and focus on her outward beauty. For that matter, teenage girls have been known to express occasional crushes on guys as well, sometimes even making reference to the male physique. Frankly, I’m not really sure there is any scandal here at all. What we have is a boy noticing a pretty girl and a preacher telling a story about it to illustrate that God fashioned women to be aesthetically pleasing to men. In the words of Robert A. Gagnon, “I don’t think I’m revealing a state secret when I say that teenage boys throughout history have found some teenage girls to be physically attractive and in conversation with other males have noted that fact.” This is not exactly Watergate.
Support Paige Patterson
Without Paige Patterson, the Southern Baptist Convention would have embraced abortion and homosexuality years ago. We would have trended more liberal theologically, socially, and politically, and would almost certainly have homosexual clergy today, as is common among many mainline denominations. We would question the inerrancy and truthfulness of God’s Word. The supernatural accounts of miracles would be doubted or explained away. In short, we would not be a Bible believing people.
In order to fight the Battle for the Bible and uphold the inerrancy of Scripture, Paige Patterson suffered himself to be called every name in the book. But there is one name he cannot, in all honesty, be called. Paige Patterson is not abusive toward women, nor does he condone the abuse of women by others. This is a false narrative, spun by savvy wordsmiths with an axe to grind. They are admittedly armed with access to extremely powerful media outlets. But they are in the wrong, and the reason is obvious.
The story here is that, just like Moses, Nehemiah, Paul, and even Jesus, Paige Patterson has managed, over the course of his long ministry, to accumulate a few enemies clearly out to get him. Trustees, please consider the well-being of our entire convention and the historic significance of your actions. Do not succumb to this crafty campaign of injustice in which fifty-four year old stories retold poorly eighteen years ago have been dredged up by opponents of Dr. Patterson to tear a great man down as he nears his retirement. Here, at the twilight of his stellar ministry, the Father of the Conservative Resurgence has simply and undeniably earned the benefit of the doubt. Dr. Paige Patterson should not be tarred and feathered and ridden out of town on a rail. Rather, he and his faithful wife Dorothy should be allowed to ride off into the sunset to the applause of a grateful denomination.
Please contact the current Board of Trustees at Southwestern Seminary before May 22nd and voice your support for Dr. Paige Patterson. Their names and addresses are listed below. Also, if you want to join over 500 people who have already signed this [PETITION IN SUPPORT OF DR. PATTERSON], please click on the link, fill in the information box, complete the “I am not a robot” task, and press “SIGN THE PETITION.” You should then receive the message that you have successfully signed the petition.
Mark S. Mucklow, 10250 N. 59th Avenue, Glendale, Arizona, 85302
Calvin R. Wittman, 11200 W. 32nd Avenue, Wheat Ridge, Colorado, 80033
Herb M. Reavis, Jr., 8531 North Main Street, Jacksonville, Florida, 32218
David F. Maron, 213 Kingsbridge Road, Madison, Mississippi, 39110
Ronny L. Cooksey, 2709 NE McDonald Lane, McMinnville, Oregon, 97128
Michael W. Mings, P.O. Box 82, Valiant, Oklahoma, 74764
Guy G. Grimes, 2181 Whitestone Drive, Riverside, California, 92506
Ron Pracht, 3440 W. 13th, Wichita, Kansas, 67203
Jonathan D. Leeman, 6215 Kilmer Street, Cheverly, Maryland, 20785
George R. Tynes, 4666-68 N. 15th Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19140
Wayne D. Dickard, 1107 Kensington Lake Drive, Easley, South Carolina, 29642
Timothy M. (Mark) Hindman, 2404 Wyncove Way, Prattville, Alabama, 36067
Denise B. Ewing, 6014 93rd Street, Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, 53158
Herschel D. Smith, 285 Taylor Road, Gwinn, Michigan, 49841
JoAnne Ruble, 1209 Ashford Street, Pleasant Hill, Missouri, 64080
Paul Kim, 254 Concord Avenue, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 02138
Andre M. Palmer, 455 Evergreen Avenue, Brooklyn, New York, 11221
Tim McPherson, 6505 Hammer Road, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37924
Danny L. Johnson, 6147 Remington Drive, Bryant, Arkansas, 72022
Thomas R. (Tom) James, 500 Eastwood Street, Bowling Green, Kentucky, 42103
Charles E. (Eddie) Miller, 4210 Farm District Road, Fernley, Nevada, 89408
Jonathan D. Richard, P.O. Box 713, Estancia, New Mexico, 87016
Matthew A. Kirkland, 4904 South Valley Parkway, Rockingham, Virginia, 22801
Johnny A. Kelly, 180 Wishbone Circle, Hedgesville, West Virginia, 25427
Jeff W. Crook, 3428 Atlanta Highway, Flowery Branch, Georgia, 30542
John C. Horn, 2130 Cassia Drive, Plainfield, Indiana, 46168
Leon A. Stamm, 406 Quail Lane, Ruston, Louisiana, 71270
N. Todd Houston, 4457 Flagship Avenue, Southport, North Carolina, 28461
Cornelious C. (Connie) Hancock, 150 Myers Creek Lane, Springboro, Ohio, 45066
J. Kie Bowman, 3901 Speedway, Austin, Texas 78751
Thomas H. Pulley, 2004 Reynolds Drive, Colleyville, Texas, 76034
Jamie R. Green, 22003 Lapis Creek Lane, Katy, Texas, 77450
John M. Rayburn, P.O. Box 523, Keller, Texas, 76244
Christopher B. (Bart) Barber, P.O. Box 681, Farmersville, Texas, 75442
Philip Levant, 1336 Cavendar Drive, Hurst, Texas, 76053
Charles R. (Randy) Martin, 3 Spring Creek Place, Longview, Texas, 75604
Kevin M. Ueckert, 1333 West University Avenue, Georgetown, Texas, 78628
Danny Roberts, 6955 Blvd. 26, North Richland Hills, Texas, 76180
Charles W. Hott, 17788 West FM 922, Forestburg, Texas, 76239
Don Whorton, 6903 Preston Glen Drive, Dallas, Texas, 75230
Having known Paige Patterson for forty-three years as mentor and friend, and serving under his leadership at SWBTS since 2004, first as the Dean of the School of Theology and currently as the founding Dean of the School of Preaching, I am compelled to speak.
As a student (1978-1981), later as a trustee (1992-2004 and chairman of the board 2003-2004), and then faculty member/administrator (2004-2018), I have invested thirty years at SWBTS. My tenure on the Board of Trustees overlapped three presidents: Drs. Dilday, Hemphill and Patterson. The SWBTS Board of Trustees elected Dr. Patterson as the Seminary’s eighth president in 2003. Continue reading