Resigned president is suing Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for defamation

James Hartley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram on

Published in Religious News

“You continue to burn bridges with such things as tweets that are total straw men and sadly it does nothing for the growth and health of our seminary of which you are a steward,” the lawsuit says Hawkins wrote in the text.

Hawkins also posted on social media on Sept. 12 a verse from Proverbs, saying “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall,” according to Greenway. “Why is it that some people never learn the value of losing a little battle in order to win a bigger war? You don’t. always have to push back insisting you are right… b/c you are not always right!”

Seven days later, Graham, Hawkins and Roberts, the trustee member, met with Greenway and demanded his resignation, according to the lawsuit. Paul Chitwood, president of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, was on the phone as a witness when the three men offered Greenway six months’ salary, benefits and housing, along with a non-disparagement agreement, if he would resign, the suit states.

Greenway didn’t accept the offer until Sept. 23, 2022, when he verbally agreed to the terms, he says in the suit. But on Oct. 18, 2022, Roberts said in a news release from the seminary that Greenway was responsible for mismanaging the budget and overspending that resulted in a monthly deficits of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and that Greenway tried to pass the blame to chief financial officers who were removed.

Greenway disagrees with this.

He alleges in the lawsuit that the budget deficits were actually the fault of a vice president of business administration, who was also the treasurer, who took out a line of credit for the university worth about $1.6 million without Greenway’s knowledge or approval.


Following the statement, Greenway hired an attorney and came to a settlement with the seminary on the terms of his resignation, the lawsuit reads. The terms included the requirement that Greenway and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary would issue a joint statement on Feb. 28, 2023, characterizing his departure from the seminary as “amicable.” The statement would also say Greenway and the leaders of the seminary were both praying for blessings for Greenway’s family and the seminary.

The settlement also included a non-disparagement agreement, according to the suit.

That statement was not issued, though, Greenway alleges, and when he asked the seminary to release that joint statement its leaders refused.

Over the next several months, multiple news releases from the seminary accused Greenway of overspending, mismanaging the budget and resisting attempts from the seminary’s trustees, along with different boards and committees, to implement financial safeguards.


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