ROCKVILLE, Md. — Robert D.
Crowley, a former trustee of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS)
who was instrumental in Paige Patterson’s election as SEBTS president in 1992,
died Feb. 14 after more than 44 years of ministry. He was 80.
Crowley, who served on Southeastern’s trustee board from 1985-95 and chairman
from 1987-90, “was an instrumental figure in the Conservative Resurgence and
the re-commitment to biblical inerrancy at the institution,” according to a SEBTS
Crowley was pastor emeritus of Montrose Baptist Church in Rockville, Md., where
he served from 1956 until his retirement in 1995.
“He was at SEBTS during those tumultuous years when it was making the
transition from a decidedly liberal institution to a conservative one that
proclaimed the authority of the Bible,” said Kenneth Keathley, senior vice
president of academic administration and dean of the faculty. “The school went
through a tumultuous time when its theological future and very existence was
unsure. There were a lot of things the board of trustees did, sacrifices they
made, that had they not done them, Southeastern would not be what it is today.”
Southeastern’s current president, Daniel Akin, said he and Patterson, who led
the seminary from 1992-2003, have said “on many occasions that neither one of us
would have served at Southeastern were it not for Bob Crowley. He is as
responsible as any person for the miraculous theological turnaround of
“I am grateful to God for all He did through this wonderful pastor, husband and
father,” Akin said.
Crowley is survived by his wife of more than 60 years, Elizabeth “Libby”
Crowley; two daughters, Kathleen Coley and Christine Elizabeth Crowley; and
several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. His son-in-law, Ken Coley, is
professor of education and leadership at SEBTS.
A news release from Montrose Baptist Church reported that Crowley — “in the
mid-1970s at a time when few churches were considering Christian education and
building schools” — led the church to establish a fully accredited K-12 school,
Montrose Christian School, and a daycare, Montrose Christian Child Development
Upon retirement, Crowley and his wife focused their energies on Summit Lake
Camp and Middle Creek Bible Conference, ministries they founded in 1969 and
1983, respectively. Summit Lake Camp was among the first integrated. “In a time
when Washington, D.C., and the nation were struggling through racial issues and
riots in the streets, Pastor Crowley had the vision and the wisdom to bring the
gospel of God’s peace to children and families of many different races,” a
In addition to Montrose, Crowley led Upper Seneca Baptist Church in Cedar
Grove, Md., from 1951-56. He led Montrose Baptist Church to do missions work in
Brazil and Romania.
Crowley, the son of the first radio preacher in the Washington, D.C., area,
died at home after an extended illness.
In SBC life, Crowley also
served as a trustee of the former Annuity Board (now GuideStone Financial
Resources) in the 1970s.
Crowley’s funeral was held Feb. 17 at Montrose Baptist Church.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston, with
reporting by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s communications office.)
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