Southwestern calls a meeting to address trustee concerns


Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary will hold a special meeting on May 30 via Zoom to address concerns raised by trustees regarding non-disclosure.

The meeting called was apparently in response to a formal request sent to President Danny Roberts, executive pastor of Cross Church, formerly North Richland Hills Baptist Church in suburban Fort Worth, and members of the board of directors.

In that letter, leaked to various media from an unidentified email account, the writer, whose name was censored, stated: “We have reached a point of awareness that for us to remain silent would, in our opinion, fail. in our fiduciary and legal responsibility to the sole member, SBC, and leaving both of us open to potential questions of personal ethical failure if we do not register immediately in a good faith attempt to divulge what we know to the rest of the Board of Directors.”

The letter claims that trustee Aaron Sligar, pastor of Living River Chapel in Sutton, W. Va., produced “a detailed written report to the Board of Trustees” about an investigation into the financial management of the seminary under the previous administration.

He claims that officials on the board’s executive committee asked Sligar not to submit the full written report to the board. Instead, they asked him to present an oral summary of his findings to the board at its April 17-18 meeting.

He baptist banner received an unsolicited document purporting to be the “floor report” that Sligar submitted to the board. The document noted $12 million spent on renovation projects, concerns about credit card policies and possible changes in donor designation.

Asked to verify the claims in the letter to Roberts and to indicate whether the “floor report” document accurately represented what he told the board, Sligar responded via email: “The report was leaked by an anonymous source on matter, which is a working document within the Board of Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.While our review is ongoing, this document was never intended for the press or the public and as such does not represent an official statement of the board”.

Sligar directed any other questions to Roberts.

The letter to Roberts also raised concerns about the formation of Future Fort Worth, a nonprofit organization whose registered agent is a trustee of Southwestern Seminary. The other two directors of the corporation are two Fort Worth businessmen involved in real estate development.

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He Standard He called Roberts’ office, but the call was not returned. Subsequently, both Roberts and James Smith, vice president of communications, received an email from the Standard with a series of questions.

Rather than answer specific questions, Roberts issued a statement through Smith’s office on behalf of himself and the executive committee.

“Southwestern Seminary has inherited and endured a challenging period for more than eight months following the resignation of the former president. Out of a desire to balance charity to the former president with the need to address the actions and decisions that have led to the current state of the seminary, the board of directors has disclosed limited information to the Southern Baptist public while fulfilling its fiduciary duty to carefully evaluate certain financial matters,” the statement read.

“Unfortunately, some people have questioned the integrity of the board’s processes and actions. While it would be unwise at this time to respond to every claim that is now circulating on various platforms, we affirm that the claims of inappropriate activity by board officers, the executive committee, and/or designated personnel are without merit, and the board will release everyone relevant and appropriate information after an extraordinary meeting of the board of trustees to be held on May 30 to discuss these matters.

“In addition, as previously reported, the Department of Justice is investigating the Southern Baptist Convention in connection with sexual abuse. The seminary is cooperating fully in this matter.”