First Lady Dorothy Kelley Patterson serves as professor of theology in women’s studies at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. The wife of President Paige Patterson, the mother of Armour and Carmen, and the doting grandmother of Abigail and Rebekah, she finds her duties as the First Lady of Southwestern to be challenging and fulfilling. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hardin-Simmons University, a Masters of Theology (Th.M.) from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) from Luther Rice Seminary, and a Doctor of Theology (D.Theol.) from the University of South Africa. She and her husband have traveled in ministry to more than 125 countries. Despite the successful completion of these degrees, Dr. Patterson’s theological education was not her idea: “My husband is responsible for my studies in theology. I did not have the inclination to do it. My health challenges and responsibilities in our home as wife and mother just pulled me away from an interest in the pursuit of graduate and post-graduate studies. I owe my graduate education to my husband’s encouragement and determination to put me through these programs in order that I could be a better helper to him, especially in the area of woman-to-woman teaching.”
Patterson has authored a number of books and articles, including: Touched by Greatness: Women in the Life of Moses, The Handbook for Ministers’ Wives, The Family: Unchanging Principles for Changing Times, BeAttitudes for Women, and A Woman Seeking God: Discover God in the Places of Your Life. She has also co-edited The Study Bible for Women, the Women’s Evangelical Commentary series with both Old and New Testament volumes, as well as The Christian Homemaker’s Handbook. Patterson was a member of the founding group of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and served as president of the SBC Ministers’ Wives Luncheon in 2006.
For over four decades, Patterson has focused her teaching ministry on the practical question, “What is God saying to me as a woman?” One of her greatest challenges came early in life. “I had been married only about a year when I became pregnant unexpectedly.” In the middle of a challenging academic program, the pregnancy seemed inconvenient. But when complications required that she go on bed rest, suddenly saving her baby was the most important thing in her life: “I was unsuccessful and lost the baby at home and alone in a very painful way. My life was changed forever at that point. I realized clearly that my own selfishness and personal goals had tainted my attitude toward the blessing of a child. The Lord used that experience not only to draw me to Himself for comfort in a very difficult time but also to establish once and for all in my own life and heart the value of a child and the sanctity of life.”
Despite a demanding teaching and administrative schedule, Patterson finds great joy in hospitality ministries. She loves serving people in special ways and opening her home to guests. She also loves to cook and is known for her family’s famous “Kelley biscuits.” Dorothy Patterson hopes she will be remembered most as, “a faithful wife who helped her husband, a mother who nurtured her children and grandchildren, and a homemaker who has taken special joy in ministering through her home.”