“If you stand up to sexual abuse, you must remain standing,” Susan Codone recently told me. She’d said the same thing on Twitter in response to news that Paige Patterson, former president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was slated to preach at the “Great Commission Weekend” at a church in Immokalee, Fla. Patterson was fired from SWBTS in 2018 after trustees learned that he planned to meet privately with a rape survivor because, “I have to break her down and I may need no official types there.

Susan Codone, a professor at Mercer University, is a sexual abuse survivor and Southern Baptist. Despite being abused in a Southern Baptist church, she has remained steadfast in her commitment to the denomination and has become a much-needed voice calling for reform. She recently called on Timothy Pigg, the pastor of Fellowship Church Immokalee, to disinvite Patterson because of Patterson’s history of allegedly covering up abuse. Pigg earned his bachelor’s degree, master of divinity degree, and is a current doctoral student, at SWBTS.

Codone said that Pigg, who could not be reached for this article, refused to speak with her privately about Patterson’s presence at his event — as did every other Southern Baptist in Florida that she contacted except for Tommy Green, the state’s executive director–treasurer, who withdrew from the event soon after talking with Codone.

Russ Meek

Associate Professor of Old Testament at William Tennent School of Theology