Dr. W. Morgan Patterson, former president (1980-81) and long-time member of the Baptist History & Heritage Society, died November 19 at his home in Novato, California, at age 85. He had been treated for pancreatic cancer.
He was assistant professor of church history at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (1956-1959) and the director of graduate studies in the School of Theology and the David T. Porter Professor of Church History at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (1959-1976). He also served as dean of academic affairs at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (1976-1984). From 1984 to 1991 he was the 22nd president of Georgetown College. More recently, he was Scholar in Residence at Campbellsville University.
Dr. Patterson was the recipient of the 1992 Distinguished Alumnus Award from Stetson University, and of the 1993 Distinguished Service Award for contributions to Baptist history by the Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. In 1969 he wrote Baptist Successionism: A Critical Review, challenging a nineteenth century popular view of Baptists as the bearers of true faith since the New Testament. He was a contributor to the Baptist World Alliance Centennial volume published in 2005 and to Pilgrim Pathways published by Mercer University Press in 1999, as well as the author of numerous journal articles on Baptist history.
In addition to serving as president of the BH&HS, Dr. Patterson was a member of the American Society of Church History and the Conference on Faith and History.
Morgan Patterson was born in October, 1925 in New Orleans, Louisiana. A graduate of Stetson University, he received master of divinity and doctor of theology degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and completed two years of post-doctoral study at Oxford University.
A memorial service will be held at the Tiburon Baptist Church in Tiburon, California on November 28 with burial at a nearby cemetery the next day. Dr. Morgan Patterson is survived by his wife, Ernestine, and two adult sons, Morgan and Jay.
by Bruce Gourley