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New Southern Baptist President Has Faith in the Future

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WAKE FOREST — One man who's putting his stamp on the teachings of Southern Baptists is their new president. Dr. Paige Patterson, is already making waves, but there's more to this man who has preached around the world.

Patterson now calls Wake Forest home and recently spent some time talking with WRAL'sDavid Crabtree.

He's a friend of Jewish leaders, a guest of Yasser Arafat. Was it intimidating to visit with the leader of the PLO in Baghdad?

"It wasn't intimidating," says Patterson. "It was interesting because Menachem Begin was a close friend, as is Benjamin Netanyahu."

Patterson is also the new leader of this country's 16 million Southern Baptists.

Paige Patterson has preached since he was 14 and understands tension. At the Southern Baptist Convention in May, he stirred the coals of an old fire when his conservative faction took control and reinstated submission by wives into the denomination's statement of faith.

"I see it as an effort very positively to state what Southern Baptists have always believed."

All Southern Baptists may not agree, but his wife of 35 years does.

"Submission is not an offensive thing to me," says Dorothy Patterson. "I found it works quite well in our marriage. It is completely voluntary in the biblical usage."

That's some of what we already knew about the Pattersons. But you may not know both hold Ph.D.s. And while Mrs. Patterson spends some of her time in the kitchen, she also spends time counseling some of the seminary's 1,300 students.

She also strongly urges more spiritual leadership from husbands.

'. "Now that's surprising on a seminary campus and in a sense why would we air our dirty laundry with the world," says Mrs. Patterson. "But on the other hand, I hope that some of our preachers watching would take that very seriously."

For the past six years, Paige Patterson has served as president of Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest. Over the years he's preached in dozens of countries around the world.

A print hanging in his home is from a painting by a close friend. The painting hangs in the Vatican.

"When John Paul saw this he went bonkers and loved it. Pope's been our best salesman and the proceeds from it go to a scholarship fund to educate Baptist preachers."

He's met with the Pope three times and the prints are sold in Rome.

This native Texan has an extensive archeological collection. He owns two small fragments from the Dead Sea scrolls discovered in Qumram 50 years ago.

"What you see here is from the time of Abraham. That's about 4,000 years old. That's from Qumram 14. [This was written on a man's skull?] These two are actually real. These are the oldest tablets I have."

Dr. Patterson loves his work, his wife of 35 years and his calling to preach. he told me he's also ready to guide Southern Baptists through the challenges of the next century.

"Above all else to get our arms around the world and reach people for Jesus Christ in an unparalleled scale beyond anything we've thought or prayed for in the past."


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