Dwight McKissic
The Rev. Dwight McKissic, pastor of Cornerstone Baptist Church, speaks during services in Arlington, Texas, on June 7, 2020. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Dwight McKissic Living at Seminary After Storm: ‘God is Making Sure our Needs are Met’

By Adelle Banks

Texas Pastor Dwight McKissic is known for challenging his fellow Southern Baptists about racial equity and, more recently, their denomination’s seminary leaders’ controversial statement on race. But in the last week, facing his own challenges from Mother Nature, McKissic has been the recipient of an offer of help from one of those seminary presidents.

The Arlington house McKissic shares with his wife, Vera, grew cold early Feb. 15 when the electricity shut off during the snowstorm and freezing temperatures that hit the middle of the U.S. in the past week. A longtime friend and church member helped the couple secure a hard-to-find room at a nearby hotel and paid for them to stay there through Friday.

While they waited for the lights to come back on, the McKissics, like others in the Dallas area, learned that pipes had burst in their home, rendering it uninhabitable.

Because they were temporarily homeless, McKissic initially canceled a meeting with former Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Ken Hemphill, a longtime friend. Hemphill, in turn, called the current president, Adam Greenway, about McKissic’s plight.

Riley Center Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
The Riley Center on the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary campus in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo courtesy of SWBTS)

Greenway “offered his prayers and support and offered housing on campus while we’re without a house as long as we needed at no expense,” said McKissic, who accepted the seminary’s hospitality, on Tuesday (Feb. 23). “I spent my fourth night there last night.”

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More than 40 families have relocated to the seminary’s Riley Center, which is both a hotel and a conference center.

James A. Smith, the seminary’s associate vice president for communications, said the Fort Worth, Texas, school has accommodated “mostly students, faculty and staff, but some related to the seminary in other ways, like the McKissics, and one family in need in the neighborhood immediately adjacent to the campus.”

McKissic said he’s not sure how long he may stay, but anticipates it could be two to three months. He estimates it will take two weeks alone to clear away the “horrible mess” created by the water damage to his home’s ceilings, carpets and floors.

The pastor initially hoped he and his wife could move to a guesthouse on their property that they often open to others in crisis.

But the two-story guesthouse, he said is in “worse shape than the main house.”

McKissic and his wife both graduated from Southwestern in December, earning their Master of Theological Studies degrees. She is the minister of education and of women’s ministries at their Cornerstone Baptist Church, which is affiliated with the National Baptist Convention, USA, a historically Black denomination, as well as with the Southern Baptist Convention.

Dwight McKissic
The Rev. Dwight McKissic, left, poses for a graduation photo with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Adam Greenway in December 2020. (Video screengrab courtesy of SWBTS)

Their church recently announced its departure from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention after that state group declared it “will advance biblical language and avoid promotion of Critical Race Theory and Intersectionality, and other secular ideologies,” echoing a similar statement from Greenway and five other SBC seminary presidents.

Critical race theory, or CRT, is an academic framework that examines how systemic racism operates. McKissic said he disagrees with the recent determination of the Council of Seminary Presidents that CRT is incompatible with the Southern Baptist faith statement.

But McKissic said any differences he may have with Greenway over CRT did not prompt him to refuse the offer of hospitality.

“Mature people don’t allow differences in secondary, tertiary issues to impact their love for the gospel, the kingdom and each other,” the pastor said. “So I never sensed that Dr. Greenway had any personal animus or angst or objections toward me nor have I had toward him.”

Besides taking classes for decades at the seminary, McKissic said he has supported the school in other ways, paying for students’ tuitions and donating thousands of dollars to the institution, including since Greenway’s arrival two years ago.

“Give and it shall be given unto you,” McKissic said, noting the blessing of being in walking distance of six of his 13 grandchildren while he and his wife are staying on the seminary campus.

“God is making sure our needs are met.”

Adelle Banks is production editor and a national correspondent at Religion News Service.

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6 thoughts on “Dwight McKissic Living at Seminary After Storm: ‘God is Making Sure our Needs are Met’”

  1. What I don’t understand here is why no one told anyone who had no heat to turn off their main water supply and drain the water in it? This would have resolved untold amount of damage. Doesn’t anyone in governance think?

  2. As far as I know, this is a first for the state of Texas. There are a lot of “unknowns” when dealing with a catastrophic issue of this magnitude for the first time.

  3. Critical Race Theory does not just examine “how systemic racism operates “. It promotes racism by dividing people by race and classifying one group as the villain while encouraging the rest to identify as victims. SBC is right to reject it.

    1. Suzanne, It’s unfortunate THAT was your takeaway from all this. NOT how they were able to overcome differences to focus on the unity and love of the gospel (which more of us need to do). But you HAVE to make sure that you jump in and are “right.” Ok, we heard you.

  4. There is no question that Critical Race Theory is incompatible with the Bible.

    There remains this confusion that to oppose Critical Race Theory and its close kin intersectionalism is to be racist. One can oppose racism and prejudice apart from CRT. Read about CRT. Martin Luther King and other heroes of the advance of Black civil rights are disowned as assimilationists. That’s why statues of King, Lincoln, and other early Black abolitionists were torn down. They weren’t pure enough for the CRT crowd.

    CRT is guilty of overgeneralization and reductionism. The difficulties of Blacks are more complicated than racism alone. The primary assumption of CRT that ALL political systems and laws exist only to secure power for some dominant group is a self-defeating argument. If so, then Black Live Matter and Critical Race Theory can’t stand outside the arena to criticize the others. It too would be part of the same ALL and in no position to critique anyone.. It’s own basic claim disproves the theory. All political systems exist for more than keeping power in the hands of one dominant racial group. It’s like saying “There is no absolute truth,” when you’ve just proposed an absolute truth.

    All White people are not guilty for slavery. My grandparents emigrated to America in the early 1900’s from a Slavic country. They settled in a northern state that never had slaves. My ancestors are called “Slavic” for slave. From the time of the Romans onward, my ancestors were enslaved by one group or another. Later, during the Middle Ages, they became serfs and were sold right with the land. Later they became basically share cropper peasants on large estates. Then they were slaves under Communist rule. I can trace 500 years of my ancestors as poor peasants. I say this only to say that the issue of equality is more complicated than CRT admits. CRT doesn’t begin to do justice to it. I’m the first college graduate in my family in 1,000 years. Pardon me if I don’t feel privileged by my race.

    I embrace individual liberty, not group identity rights. Identity groups are arbitrary. I favor free speech, not censored speech. Silence is not violence. Violence is violence. The Southern Baptist leadership is more courageous than my denomination in speaking out. A minority person can be just as prejudiced as a White person. Diversity is more than an broach distribution of melanin. Equity is not an equal government determined outcome by identity group. Equality is the equal opportunity to succeed based on one’s character and talent. It is about individual opportunity, not some group right to a certain income, etc.

    Critical Race Theory speaks about some important issues. But unfortunately, it’s understanding and proposed response to them is based on lies, on false assumptions.

    “One of the greatest advantages of the totalitarian elites of the twenties and thirties was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.”
    ― Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

    1. I agree that it is complicated – race is a social construct that has permeated the very fabric of our society legally, socioeconomically, relationally, and (unfortuantely) spiritually. What further complicates it is our natural tendency to be more defensive than empathetic. We spend more time “right fighting” and defending our position and than “walking in another’s shoes” and listening to others experiences. We want to focus all the attention on defending our intent, paying NO attention to the IMPACT of that intent on others (even if it is good intentions).
      In so doing, we have weaponized not only words but entire concepts around race. Like privilege. There are privileges to being white (like not being questioned by cops on “how I can afford to live in this area” – yes that happened and it was embarrassing, infuriating and alarming). Just like there are privileges to being Christian (I don’t have to take vacation days to celebrate Christmas, half my suburb decorates for the holiday, etc). A lot of that we had NOTHING to do with – these were woven into our society before any of us were born. Some privileges just come with being part of the majority culture or population. So no one is at fault. That doesn’t mean you ignore as if it doesn’t exist or belittle those who dare to call it out. It means speak up for those who don’t have it (thanks to my neighbors who wrote a letter to the police chief after I was asked for the FOURTH time in one year about how I can afford to live in my area; kudos to my job for allowing my Jewish and Hindu colleagues floating holidays for their holy days; etc).
      So much of this can be resolved by the Word of God. The Bible should sit ON TOP of any other theories, experiences, or beliefs we hold. YES our culture and society is flawed, tilting opportunities and attitudes in favor of certain groups. But when the Bible is on top, we look to how GOD calls us to treat one another – and that includes being empathetic (even when we don’t understand or agree) and caring for the needs of others – like the example in this blog. I’m elated to see the gospel unify in this dire situation, and I continue to say prayers for those in Texas.

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