(RNS) — The president of one of the Southern Baptist Convention’s largest seminaries resigned on Friday (Sept. 23), less than four years after taking office.
Adam Greenway was elected president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2019, in hopes that he would help the school recover from the controversial tenure of former President Paige Patterson, who was fired in 2018 for mishandling abuse allegations.
Greenway resigned during a meeting of the seminary’s executive committee. He will take a new role at the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, according to an announcement from the seminary.
“In receiving President Greenway’s resignation, we express our deepest appreciation for his more than three and one-half years of service to his alma mater,” said Danny Roberts, chair of the Southwestern board. “He came to Southwestern Seminary during a difficult time of transition and has worked tirelessly to lead the institution to serve well the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.”
Longtime SBC leader O.S. Hawkins, a Southwestern alum who recently retired as president of GuideStone Financial Services — the insurance and retirement arm of the SBC — was named acting president.
In a statement, Greenway said he was unprepared for the enormous “reputational, legal and financial realities” facing the seminary, which were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greenway said that he and his wife, Carla, were ready to embrace his new role at the IMB.
“We have done our best to serve Southern Baptists by helping position our seminary for the future, but much, much work remains to be done,” he said. “Nevertheless, in the Providence of God we sense a release from our duties here.”
“We will continue to serve Southern Baptists as we have throughout the course of our lives and ministry,” Greenway said in a statement. “We believe our next assignment is not a departure from but a continuation along the journey God has always had us walk.”
Located in Fort Worth, Texas, Southwestern reported having 2,331 students in the 2021–22 academic year, according to the Association of Theological Schools. Many of those students were part-time, as the school reported a full-time equivalent enrollment of 1,105 in 2021–22, down from 1,414 in 2019–2020.
According to SBC’s 2022 book of reports, the school’s projected operating budget for the current fiscal year is $37,367,884, at a time when its tuition revenue is in decline, requiring Southwestern to rely more heavily on its endowment and donations.
In 2021, Southwestern and Baylor University sued allies of former Southwestern President Patterson over control of a foundation that had been set up to benefit the two schools. That foundation’s trustees had changed their internal rules in order to send funds to a charity run by Patterson. The school also accused Patterson of stealing seminary property and confidential donor information in its 2021 report to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting.
A Southwestern graduate, Greenway was dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary before being elected Southwestern’s president.
He is one of a series of SBC entity heads to leave office in recent years, often in the midst of controversy. Others include former SBC Executive Committee Presidents Ronnie Floyd and Paige Patterson; David Platt, former president of the SBC’s International Mission Board, who resigned after a troubled tenure that included the loss of nearly 1,000 missionaries due to budget cuts; and Russell Moore, former president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, a critic of former President Donald Trump.
“These days are incredibly challenging in the life of our denomination,” said Greenway in his resignation statement.