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Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Names David Dockery as New President

The past few years have been troubled for prominent SBC seminary, beginning with 2018 firing of controversial president Paige Patterson.

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(RNS)— Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced Wednesday (April 19) that longtime Christian educator David Dockery had been named the school’s president, seven months after the former president resigned unexpectedly.

David Dockery was elected the 10th president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas / Photo courtesy of SWBTS

Dockery has been serving as interim president of Southwestern since September 2022, after the departure of Adam Greenway, who had been installed in February 2019.

“Dr. David Dockery is God’s man for Southwestern Seminary in this hour,” said Danny Roberts, chairman of the board of the seminary, which is in Fort Worth, Texas. “Our seminary’s at a critical juncture in this 115-year history, and in God’s providence, He has already provided the man to lead our seminary during this time.”

Before coming to Southwestern, Dockery had been the longtime president of Union University, a Baptist school in Tennessee, and later served for several years as president of Trinity International University outside of Chicago.

Longtime Southern Baptist leader O.S. Hawkins, who had been serving as an adviser to Dockery, was named the school’s chancellor. According to Southwestern, Hawkins will serve in a volunteer capacity. He is the former president of Guidestone, an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention that provides financial services and insurance for churches.

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Southwestern has about 2,400 full- and part-time students, according to data from the Association of Theological Schools. One of six seminaries affiliated with the SBC, the school has experienced difficulties in recent years.

In 2018, longtime President Paige Patterson was fired after a series of controversies that drew national attention. His successor, Greenway, left after three years, saying he had not been prepared for the enormity of the “legal and financial realities” facing the seminary.

According to the announcement Wednesday, the Southwestern board did not form a presidential search committee to fill the school’s spot. The board chair said that the school’s current challenges needed “clarity in the Office of the President as soon as possible and for the future.”

“I am truly thankful for the overwhelming support from the board of trustees as well as for the faithful encouragement and prayerful support from the faculty, staff, colleagues, and students,” Dockery said in a statement. “What an honor it will be to continue to serve side-by-side with O.S. Hawkins, a dear friend and person that I greatly admire and from whom I have learned much in recent months.”

At their board meeting, the trustees also approved a decision to sell an off-campus apartment complex, which had been announced earlier this year. They also authorized a board committee to lease some of the seminary’s property to a nearby megachurch for a pregnancy care center.

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Bob Smietana

Bob has served as a senior writer for Facts & Trends, senior editor of Christianity Today, religion writer at The Tennessean, correspondent for RNS and contributor to OnFaith, USA Today and The Washington Post.