Stained-glass windows memorializing religious leaders who helped shift the Southern Baptist Convention to a more conservative stance were unveiled with great fanfare several years ago at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Last month, those colorful images depicting religious leaders ranging from televangelist Jerry Falwell to former Seminary President Paige Patterson quietly came down.
This came nearly a year after Patterson, one of the leaders of the so-called “conservative resurgence,” was fired for how he handled sexual assault allegations.
Two of those windows depicting Falwell and Jerry Vines, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, were displayed last week at a graduation ceremony for Liberty University, a private Christian university Falwell founded in Lynchburg, Virginia.
Falwell’s son, Jerry Falwell Jr., criticized the Fort Worth seminary’s decision to remove the windows from the MacGorman Chapel, saying the windows have now been “removed by the new regime,” according to the Baptist News Global. “Unfortunately, a new generation has taken the convention away from those values in many ways.”
Falwell clarified his remarks in a recent tweet. “My good friend @jerryvines just told me Dr. Adam Greenway is a wonderful man and not part of the @drmoore SBC deep state regime trying to subvert the will of the church members! So glad to hear this news!”
The windows were the brainchild of Dorothy Patterson, wife of Paige Patterson, who asked Fort Worth’s Don and Debra Young to create them.
“My dream was to portray the 20-year history of the conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Church,” Dorothy Patterson told the Star-Telegram in 2013.
Don Young said “it was a bit of a letdown” when the windows recently were removed.
Neither he nor his wife, he said, had any attachment to the people in the windows.
But the couple, owners of Don Young Glass Studio, spent around seven years creating 32 stained glass images — some as large as 6 by 11 1/2 feet — featuring Baptist leaders for the seminary’s 3,500-seat chapel and performance center.
And they were prepared to create more, Don Young said.
“We were supposed to do the entire building, 70 windows,” he said. “We got up to 32 when all hell broke loose. ... After Mr. Patterson left, the entire project came to an abrupt halt.”
Asked about the window removal, a seminary spokesman referred to a letter by Kevin Ueckert, who heads the Seminary’s board of trustees. Ueckert sent a letter earlier this year to those pictured in the windows, letting them know that the windows were going to be removed. Since the people pictured helped cover the cost of their windows, they were given the chance to have them as theirs.
Falwell sent a plane to Fort Worth to retrieve the windows depicting his father and Vines.
He said Liberty University will continue “to honor the conservative leaders who reformed the Southern Baptist Convention.” These two windows will be displayed at the Jerry Falwell Museum.