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Image: Southwestern Seminary

An $11k espresso maker part of dispute between seminary and former president

An $11,000 espresso machine is part of a feud between Southwestern Baptist Seminary in Fort Worth and its former president, Adam Greenway.

Lawyers for Greenway, who resigned in September 2022, alleged in a complaint filed last week that the school and the chair of its trustee board defamed him, violated the terms of a non-disparagement agreement and made him “unemployable.” “The actions of defendants have exposed plaintiff to public hatred, contempt and ridicule,” the complaint, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, alleges.


Greenway’s attorney previously had sent the school a demand letter for $5 million to settle the dispute. The school denies any wrongdoing.

“We categorically deny the allegations contained in the lawsuit, will defend vigorously the institution and are confident the outcome will demonstrate that these claims are entirely baseless,” the school said in a statement.

The complaint alleges that leaders at Southwestern, one of six Southern Baptist seminaries, released incomplete and misleading details about the school’s finances that painted Greenway in a negative light. Among those details were the alleged purchase of an $11,000 espresso machine and more than $1.5 million in renovations to Pecan Manor, the school’s on-campus presidential residence, including $60,000 in Christmas decorations.

According to Baptist Press, “The highly-publicized purchase of an espresso machine was part of a “commercial grade coffee bar” costing $11,123.49 that included a water filtration system, accessories and installation, the suit said. It was among items used during events such as graduation weekend, where approximately 1,000 graduates and families could flow through the home in a single day. Reception events during the Christmas season routinely saw the same sized crowds.”

Those details were released in a report on Southwestern’s finances, which detailed $140 million in overspending across 20 years, much of it under the leadership of Greenway’s predecessor, Paige Patterson. That report, released by the school’s trustees, gave no details of why trustees allowed the overspending to go on for so long.

However, outrage over the espresso machine and the repairs to the presidential home went viral on social media and overshadowed the school’s larger financial issues. Those expenses even became a joke at the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting last summer in New Orleans. “I own my own home, have a Keurig and go to Hobby Lobby for my Christmas decorations,” Kevin Ezell, head of the SBC’s North American Mission Board, said in a question-and-answer session about the agency he leads.

A spokesman for the seminary said the school has not yet been served with the complaint.

“It is regrettable that Adam Greenway is suing the seminary he has previously claimed to love in response to Southwestern’s refusal to agree to his demand of $5 million last fall,” its statement said. “It is also disappointing that his lawyer turned down multiple invitations to inspect the evidence supporting the public statements previously made by the seminary.”

–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice


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