Paige Patterson, the former seminary president and Southern Baptist Convention leader who was fired after making inappropriate comments about women and being accused of mishandling rape allegations by two female students, has released a statement, explaining that he will no longer preach at the SBC’s upcoming annual meeting. He was scheduled to preach the headlining “convention sermon” on June 13.

In a statement, he said:

In a few days, for the first time in 66 years I will not attend the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention—having begun attending when I was nine. As many of you know, I was elected in 2017 to deliver the 2018 annual convention sermon, but I have now respectfully requested to be released from this high privilege because I do not want my role as a preacher to detract in any way from the important business of our convention and because my desire is to work toward biblical harmony at our annual meeting. Many messengers have implored me to carry out this assignment, but this convention is not about me, and I have every confidence that this decision is best and right.

As Christianity Today notes, if he didn’t voluntarily request “to be released from this high privilege,” the denominations delegates could have voted him out next week.

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