Paul Powell: Texas Baptist giant and Baylor legend
Three days after Christmas, Baylor lost one of its greats. Dr. Paul W. Powell, BA ’56, the Texas Baptist legend and former dean of Baylor’s Truett Seminary, passed away Dec. 28 at the age of 83. The level of impact Powell had on Truett Seminary, Baylor University, and Baptist churches across Texas cannot be overstated.
In 2001, Powell — who had already retired as president and CEO of both the Robert M. Rogers Foundation in Tyler and the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention (now GuideStone Financial Resources) — was appointed dean of Truett Seminary. During his six years as dean, the seminary’s enrollment more than doubled to 381 students, its endowment increased to more than $38 million, and Truett moved into its current Baugh-Reynolds campus.
Before he was named dean, Powell served on Baylor’s Board of Regents for seven years, from 1994-2001, including a stint as Board chair. Powell was also a highly sought-after speaker at churches throughout Texas. He pastored at Texas Baptist churches in Belfalls, San Marcos, Taylor, Troy and Tyler, where he spent his final days after serving for 17 years at Green Acres Baptist Church.
“No one since George W. Truett has better borne the title ‘Mr. Texas Baptist’ than Paul Powell,” says Dr. Joel Gregory, a Truett professor and notable Texas pastor. “His influence and legacy were already legendary during his life and will only grow in stature and significance now that he has entered the life beyond.”
(Truett, for those who don’t know, was a giant among Texas Baptists and Baylor folks a century ago. After graduating from Baylor, Truett, AB 1897, served as the pastor of the largest Baptist church in the world for 50 years. Three years before Baylor’s seminary plans had even fully developed, the Board of Trustees officially reserved the name “George W. Truett Theological Seminary,” already knowing to whom they’d dedicate it. To be compared to this Baylor legend is quite an honor.)
“Paul Powell was a wonderful, dedicated servant of God whose contributions to Baylor and Baylor’s Truett Seminary were immeasurable,” adds Baylor Interim President David Garland, who succeeded Powell as dean in 2007. “It was an incredible honor to serve with and learn from him when he was dean of the seminary.”
Sic ’em, Dr. Powell!
[In remembrance of Powell, his family asked the university to create a fund for those wishing to honor his legacy of service and Christian witness. If you feel so inclined, click here to give to the Paul W. Powell Memorial Fund.]