Assn. seeks sale to resolve seminary controversy
Samuel Smith, Baptist Press
January 24, 2011

Assn. seeks sale to resolve seminary controversy

Assn. seeks sale to resolve seminary controversy
Samuel Smith, Baptist Press
January 24, 2011

FORT WORTH, Texas — The Tarrant Baptist Association’s (TBA) executive

board voted unanimously Jan. 24 to offer to sell a building that has been a

point of contention with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

If the seminary is unwilling to buy the building on its campus in Fort Worth,

Texas, for fair market value, the TBA executive board asked that the matter be

referred to a three-member arbitration panel as stipulated in a 1982

affiliation agreement, according to TBA moderator Al Meredith. The executive

board also resolved to pray for seminary leaders in the matter.

The seminary sent a letter on Dec. 10, 2010, informing the association that it

had six months to vacate the building located at 4520 James Ave. in Fort Worth.

According to Meredith, while the building is located on the seminary’s campus,

Southwestern transferred the deed to the association in 1997. Meredith added

that three or four years ago representatives of the seminary inquired about the

availability of the property, but that nothing had been said on the matter

between then and last December. A second letter from the seminary dated Jan. 18

reaffirmed the seminary’s position, but allowed for some leeway in when the

association would have to move, Meredith said.

“I don’t have another step if these measures don’t resolve the issue,”

Meredith, pastor of Wedgwood Baptist Church in Fort Worth, told Baptist Press

after the meeting, voicing hope that the issue can be resolved through a

negotiated settlement. Otherwise, “If the TBA wins, the Kingdom loses. If

Southwestern wins, the Kingdom loses. No one wants to see the Kingdom lose

because of this.”

Representatives of Southwestern have declined comment until the matter is


Published reports indicate that the seminary holds that the affiliation

agreement between the entities has been breached and is no longer in force.

The seminary’s letter raised two issues: the TBA’s inclusion of churches that

are not in “friendly cooperation” with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)

and a lack of help with finding preaching assignments and ministry

opportunities for seminary students and faculty.

TBA member Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth no longer is affiliated with

the SBC and the Baptist General Convention of Texas (BGCT) over differences in

how to deal with homosexuality among church members. The Southern Baptist

Convention stipulates that any church that affirms homosexuality is “not in

friendly cooperation.” The SBC voted in 2009 to cease relationship with the

church, and in 2010 the church voted to leave the BGCT.

“What the SBC does is not binding on state or local

institutions or the local churches,” Meredith said. “It is different for

Southwestern, since it is a denominational entity. As an association, we’re

trying to work with people who are archconservatives and moderates and

everything in between.”

As to the association’s lack of help in placing students and faculty, Meredith

said, “The great majority of the pastors on staff in the Tarrant Baptist

Association attended Southwestern. At my church, I am the only person on staff

who did not attend Southwestern. That does not even take into account the

myriad of seminary students who volunteer in TBA churches.”

Meredith added, “I pray for Paige Patterson and Southwestern Seminary every

day, as I know many of our members do.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Smith is a writer in Fort Worth, Texas.)

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