FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – Forty years after the birth of the Southern Baptist Conservative Resurgence, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is relocating from the J.W. MacGorman Chapel more than 40 stained glass windows commemorating the era.
Two Missouri Baptist leaders were depicted in the windows, including: Missouri Baptist Convention Executive Director John Yeats, who also serves as the Southern Baptist Convention Recording Secretary; and the late Jim Wells, a former Missouri Baptist Convention staff member, who served as SBC registration secretary for 15 years after being elected in 2002. A longtime Missouri pastor, Wells died in 2017 after a battle with cancer.
“We are working with donors on future plans for the windows,” Colby Adams, SWBTS vice president for strategic initiatives, told Baptist Press April 15.
The seminary has stated no official reason for the relocation, neither did an April 4 letter to donors signed by then SWBTS trustee chairman Kevin Ueckert.
Jimmy Draper, chairman of the Southwestern Advisory Council, is one of dozens of leaders the windows depict. He told Baptist Press today (April 15) that their removal and planned relocation are likely aimed at appropriately honoring a portion of SWBTS history.
“There has been such a sense that we needed to change the windows, that has existed for at least a year,” Draper, SBC Executive Committee presidential ambassador and president emeritus of LifeWay Christian Resources, told BP.
The J.W. MacGorman Chapel and Performing Arts Center has become a campus centerpiece, he said, and is probably not the best place to spotlight a small segment of the school’s history.
“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 said. “I do understand that. I’m not upset about” the windows’ relocation.
The Conservative Resurgence “was a unique period of time that we don’t want people to forget, but it needs to be remembered in an appropriate way,” Draper said, “and I feel that certainly the people involved will find a way to do that and we’ll move forward. I don’t think it’s something we need to get sidetracked on or distressed over.”
But David Brumbelow, whose family donated money for one of the windows, expressed concern about the school’s decision in an April 16th blogpost (Visit http://gulfcoastpastor.blogspot.com/2019/04/swbts-stained-glass-windows.html). The donation from the Brumbelow family went to a window honoring his father, Joe E. Brumbelow, who supported the Conservative Resurgence. He wrote that his family viewed it as “a way to represent the many, many small church pastors involved in the Conservative Resurgence.”
Brumbelow noted that, without the leaders of the Conservative Resurgence, Southern Baptists “would now be debating same-sex marriage, ordaining gays, abortion for any reason, and whether Jesus is the only way of salvation.”
He also noted that all of the windows were located, not in the chapel’s “sanctuary,” but rather “around the outside of the outer halls” of the building.
Brumbelow added that “numerous Baptists” have questioned Southwestern’s decision to remove the windows. They “have wondered if it is a disregard of the Conservative Resurgence, as well as an attempt to erase all traces of the falsely accused and much maligned Pattersons,” he said. “Many are disappointed the new administration and trustees have made no attempts at reconciliation.”
Brumbelow serves as pastor of Northside Baptist Church, Highlands, Texas.
The letter from SWBTS announcing the windows’ relocation to donors noted: “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,” reads a copy of the letter BP obtained. “The seminary will safely store the windows until we have a chance to discuss with you the next steps.”
Depicted on the windows are various deceased and living leaders and supporters of the period in the Southern Baptist Convention that promoted biblical inerrancy and truth.
BP is identifying the windows by the window titles on the website of Don Young Glass Studio, the windows’ creator and installer. Many windows honor more than one person each.
The windows are titled, in the order listed at dyglassstudio.com, Dr. Huber L. Drumwright, Jr.; Dr. Rick Warren; Dottie Riley; O.S. & Susie Cavness Hawkins; Judge Paul & Nancy Avery Pressler; Dr. W.A. Criswell & Jack Pogue; Andy & Joan Horner; Charles F. Stanley; Bailey Smith & Adrian Rogers; H. Edwin Young; J. Gerald Harris & Dana Walter Collett; Jimmy & Carol Ann Draper; T.C. “Tommy” French, Jr. & James W. “Jim” Richards; and Robert G. “Bobby” Lambeth & Phoebe McAuley Lambeth.
Titles continue as Harold (Preacher) O’Chester & Barbara O’Chester; Dr. Jerry Vines; Brumbelow Family; Robert Tenery & Jerry Sutton; Fred Powell & Thomas C. Pinckney; Lollie Cogswell & Lou Brooks; Bill Harrell & Rev. Danny E. Watters; Paige & Dorothy Kelley Patterson; Rev. Dr. Richard Land & Dr. Barry McCarty; Joe W. Atchison & Pastor Simon Hon-leung Tsoi; Morris Chapman & Dr. Frank S. Page; Dr. Homer G. Lindsey, Jr. & Dr. Johnny M. Hunt; Jerry Falwell & Ronnie Floyd; Ken Whitten & Jimmy E. Jackson; Charles S. (Chuck) Kelley; Gary & Tammi Ledbetter; Dr. John L. Yeats & Dr. Jim Wells; and Pastor Ron E. Wilson & Dr. Jay Strack.
(This article, written by Baptist Press’s Diana Chandler, includes additional reporting from Pathway staff.)