As the eighth president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Paige Patterson carries more than four decades of experience in educating pastors and missionaries. After almost 18 years as president of the Criswell College in Dallas, Patterson served for 11 years as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, before coming to Southwestern. Even as a pastor he offered instruction in biblical studies and languages to his congregants. The focus of Patterson’s leadership is an intense commitment to evangelism and to the task of global missions with a foundational component of demanding research and rigorous academic preparation.
After graduating from Hardin-Simmons University, Patterson completed the Master of Theology (Th.M.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Southern Baptists elected him to serve as president of the Southern Baptist Convention for two terms (1998–2000). During those years, he appointed a committee to revise the Baptist Faith & Message, the confession most widely employed by Southern Baptists; and he presided over the historic session of the Southern Baptist Convention in which this revised confession was adopted.
While studying at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Patterson was pastor of a church and operated, with street evangelist Leo Humphrey, a coffeehouse in the famous French Quarter. There he shared the saving gospel of Christ with biker gangs, underworld figures, homosexuals, prostitutes, and runaway teenagers from across the United States.
The President and Mrs. Patterson have traveled to and ministered in more than 135 countries of the world. He has shared Christ with heads of state in various countries, including Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Authority and Menachem Begin of Israel. He has led church planting movements in several states and served as pastor of churches in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas.
For several decades, Patterson has led an international ministry through Christian sportsman banquets. Using digital presentations about hunting the world’s most dangerous game and emphasizing the critical importance of fathers in the role of building their sons from “the mischievous, raw material of boys” into manhood, he rejoices that more than 5,000 men have come to Christ through these banquets. These sportsman events developed naturally out of Patterson’s love for the outdoors. He is a scuba diver and an avid hunter, having taken three of the African “big five” (lion, leopards, and cape buffalo). Despite his full schedule, the President has found time to pen numerous books and articles. These publications include commentaries on Song of Solomon, 1 Corinthians, Titus, 1 Peter, and most recently on Revelation in The New American Commentary series. Mrs. Patterson has also written extensive commentaries and monographs.
The beginning of his tenure as president of Southwestern in August 2003 marked Patterson’s return to Fort Worth. The President was born in Fort Worth in 1942 while his father, T.A. Patterson, was completing his Th.D. degree under W.T. Conner at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Southwestern’s First Lady, Dorothy Patterson, currently serves as professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern, but she sees her most critically important role as that of wife, mother, and grandmother. Their son Armour is a writer and, together with his wife Rachel, lives in Melissa, Texas. Their daughter Carmen is married to Mark Howell, pastor of Hunters Glen Baptist Church, Plano, Texas. The Howells have presented the Pattersons with two granddaughters, Abigail and Rebekah. Chayil, the president’s ever-present black Labrador Retriever, completes the family circle.