FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – A demand letter sent by former president Adam Greenway threatening a $5 million lawsuit is “incredibly disappointing” in light of efforts to work toward “an amicable resolution” following his dismissal a year ago from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, the school’s trustee board chair said.
According to The Tennessean, a Sept. 25 letter to Southwestern sent by Greenway attorney Andrew Jones claims that financial disclosures issued from SWBTS humiliated the former president and harmed his job prospects.
The letter, said board chair Jonathan Richard, was disappointing “especially given [Greenway’s] professed love for this institution.”
“Over the past year, we have continued to pray for Dr. Greenway’s spiritual, mental and emotional well-being as we have worked towards an amicable resolution, which we had every reason to believe had been achieved with the agreement signed in February of this year,” he said in a statement shared with BP. “As stewards of precious institutional resources, we cannot in good conscience capitulate to his absurd demand for $5 million. Our focus remains on confronting the financial challenges facing Southwestern, which would only be compounded by agreeing to his demand.”
Southwestern announced Greenway’s resignation on Sept. 23, 2022, a day after the board’s executive committee and the seminary administration held an all-day meeting. The seminary ultimately created a task force to investigate the financial position of the entity and Greenway’s impact.
A member of that task force brought forward concerns related to Southwestern’s financial standing, resulting in a May 30 special-called board meeting that included an extended response days later. On June 7, the board released a “summary of findings” over Greenway’s spending while in office.
Efforts by BP to contact Greenway and his attorney for further comment were unsuccessful.
Greenway became president at Southwestern in 2019. He and the seminary reached a confidential settlement agreement in February that included a stipulation of neither party disparaging the other. A statement regarding the agreement was emailed to Baptist Press at the time but not published.
“Baptist Press received a statement from the seminary concerning Dr. Greenway on Feb. 28, 2023,” said Brandon Porter, associate vice president for convention news at the SBC Executive Committee. “We reached out to both sides to get context and comment. Both sides declined to provide either. BP editors chose not to publish the statement or a story about it without context or comments.”
The seminary’s publication of its summary of findings cast Greenway in a negative light and essentially broke that agreement, said the former president’s attorney in the Tennessean article.
“The framing of these expenditures as unauthorized and lavish personal gain undertaken by Dr. Greenway is an assertion of financial impropriety on par with embezzlement,” said Jones.
Expenditures were “grossly inflated and false,” he added. That included reports of an espresso machine valued at more than $11,000, which became the subject of online jokes. That actual cost of the machine, Jones said, is $5,952.67.
“SWBTS has fully complied with its obligations under the Settlement Agreement and will continue to do so,” said the seminary’s attorney, Michael D. Anderson, in a response letter to Jones dated Oct. 11. “The matters raised in your letter do not constitute a breach of the Settlement Agreement, regardless of how you characterize them.”
Anderson cited Greenway’s request in April for the seminary to fulfill [its promise of transparency to Southern Baptists by releasing the full trustee investigative report including all related findings, without edit or redaction.” Greenway’s statement was released on X, formerly Twitter.
“The fact that Dr. Greenway does not like the results of that financial review and the public disclosure of it (which he demanded) does not make the results of the financial review false or in any way defamatory,” said Anderson.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Scott Barkley is national correspondent for Baptist Press.)