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W. Randall Lolley Papers

Finding Aid & Inventory

W. (William) Randall Lolley was a Baptist preacher, scholar, and one of the pivotal figures in the late-20th-century schism within the Southern Baptist Convention. He served as president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., from 1974-1987, when he resigned in protest. This collection documents the work of Lolley, particularly roles as president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and as pastor at First Baptist Church (Greensboro, N.C.).

Biographical and Historical Note

W. (William) Randall Lolley was a Baptist preacher, scholar, and one of the pivotal figures in the late-20th-century schism within the Southern Baptist Convention. Lolley was born June 2, 1931, in Troy, Alabama, to Roscoe Lee and Mary Nunnelee Lolley. He was a graduate of Samson High School and in 1952 from Howard College, now Samford University, in Birmingham. He then received Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees from Southeastern Baptist Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C, and a Doctor of Theology degree from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. While in college, Lolley was pastor of his home church, Good Hope Baptist Church, in Troy, and Reece and Piney Grove Baptist churches in Samson, Alabama. While in seminary, he pastored at Pine Ridge and Poplar Springs Baptist churches in Zebulon, N.C. And he was associate pastor at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth while earning his doctorate. Following his doctoral degree, Lolley moved back to North Carolina where he served as pastor of First Baptist Church, Winston-Salem from 1962 to 1974.

Lolley was appointed as the third president of his alma mater SEBTS in 1974. He worked to grow the school in faculty and student size as well as academically. During his fourteen-year presidency, Lolley oversaw the development of the Associate of Divinity degree program, the establishment of the Adams and Page Lecture Series, and the accreditation of the school by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). By the early 1980s, Lolley, SEBTS, and the Southern Baptist Convention came under intense attack by leaders of a fundamentalist movement, called by its leaders a "conservative resurgence" and its opponents a "fundamentalist takeover." Per the Baptist Global News, SEBTS "was deemed as the most 'liberal' of all the Southern Baptist Convention seminaries and thus a target for immediate reform." This change in Baptist politics led Lolley to resign as president in 1987, joined in resignation by Dean Morris Ashcraft, who later went on to lead the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond affiliated with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

According to biographer Steve Pressley, Lolley referred to "an alien vision" taking over SEBTS. In speaking about his differences with the school's Board of Trustees in 1987, he said they "range[d] from matters of governance, through theology and ecclesiology, to management and leadership styles." The school's Board of Trustees president, Robert Crowley, stated the Trustees would hire a proponent of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy. This persists at SEBTS; the 2000 Baptist Faith and Message, which SEBTS faculty publicly sign and affirm when they are hired, states that "all Scripture is totally true and trustworthy," a stance that is not shared across all members of the Baptist faith.

Having left SEBTS over these differences, Lolley was granted the Alexander Meiklejohn Award for Academic Freedom by the American Association of University Professors in 1988, "in recognition for his attempt to defend academic freedom and the faculty at Southeastern." Lolley went on to serve as pastor of First Baptist Church in Raleigh (1989-1990) and First Baptist Church in Greensboro (1990-1996). He also served as a trustee of a number of Baptist institutions: Campbell University, Garner-Webb University, Meredith College, N.C. Baptist Retirement Homes, and the Baptist House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. He preached, taught, and lectured in churches and schools across the United States and received honorary degrees from Samford University, Wake Forest University, University of Richmond, Mercer University, and Campbell University. Both the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of N.C. and the WFU Divinity School have scholarship funds in his name.

Lolley was married to Clara Lou Jacobs Lolley in 1952. Together they had two daughters, Charlotte and Pamela. He passed away March 21, 2022, in Raleigh, N.C.

Sources:

Collection Overview

This collection documents the work of W. Randall Lolley, particularly his presidency of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C. A very small amount of materials pertain to his work at First Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.; there are also files from his time as pastor at First Baptist Church in Greensboro, N.C. Some of the files pertaining to SEBTS contain materials created by the two previous presidents of the Seminary, Olin T. Binkley and Sydnor L. Stealey. Southern Baptist Convention and Seminary materials are also often present together. Files from SEBTS are labeled and identified for the most part; files from First Baptist Church (Greensboro) are less clearly identified but generally remain in original order. A limited number of photographs are present in the collection, but the bulk is textual documents.

The collection has no boxes with the following numbers: 5, 13, 19, 31, and 52. However, all materials in the collection are present and accounted for. This collection has been minimally processed.

The collection is arranged into three series: Series 1. Pastor materials; Series 2. Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) and Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) materials; and Series 3. Subject files.

Collection Inventory

  • Pastor materials
    • BSCNC correspondence  (1962-1973) box 90
    • BSCNC materials  (1990-1991) box 82
    • Cooperative Baptist Fellowship materials (circa 1990s) box 23
    • Correspondence  (1994-1996) box 77
    • FBC files: A-B, S-V  (1988-1996) box 86
    • FBC files: C-S  (1988-1996) box 85
    • FBC Greensboro: correspondence  (1990-1990) box 67
    • FBC Greensboro: correspondence  (1990-1993) box 78
    • FBC Greensboro: publications and related subject files (circa 1990s) box 83
    • FBC Greensboro: Wednesday Post newsletter  (1990-1991) box 67
    • FBC Greensboro files  (1990-1992) box 25
    • FBC Greensboro files  (1990-1994) box 26
    • FBC Greensboro files  (1990-1996) box 29
    • FBC Greensboro files  (1990-1996) box 30
    • FBC Greensboro files  (1990-1996) box 44
    • FBC Greensboro files  (1992-1996) box 27
    • FBC Greensboro files  (1993-1996) box 41
    • FBC Greensboro files  (1993-1996) box 23
    • FBC Greensboro files: A-B **Restricted**  (1990-1993) box 45
    • FBC Greensboro files: A-B, Miscellaneous, Notes, Staff evaluations **Restricted**  (1991-1996) box 82
    • FBC Greensboro files: C-M (circa 1994-1996) box 80
    • FBC Greensboro files: C-R  (1991-1996) box 79
    • FBC Greensboro files: M-S, B  (1991-1996) box 18
    • FBC Greensboro files: S-Z and working files  (1991-1996) box 84
    • FBC Raleigh files: administrative (circa 1990s) box 87
    • FBC Raleigh files: correspondence (circa 1989-1996) box 88
    • Hospital visitation lists (circa 1990s) box 67
  • SEBTS and SBC materials
    • Accreditation, workshop, and other presidential materials (circa 1980s) box 81
    • Administrative correspondence  (1977-1977) box 62
    • Administrative Council and Executive Council materials  (1974-1974) box 7
    • Administrative Council materials (circa 1977-1978) box 51
    • Administrative files (circa 1975-1985) box 37
    • Administrative letters (circa 1970s) box 63
    • Association of Theological Schools bulletin and other publications (circa 1980s) box 81
    • Association of Theological Schools correspondence (circa 1980s) box 81
    • Baptist and higher education publications (circa 1975-1985) box 68
    • Baptist clippings and publications (circa 1980s) box 15
    • Baptist-related publications (circa 1980s) box 50
    • Baptist-related publications (circa 1980s) box 49
    • Baptist-related publications (circa 1980s) box 55
    • Baptist-related publications  (1985-1986) box 21
    • Baptist-related publications (circa late 1980s) box 32
    • Benefits materials (circa 1980s) box 66
    • Binkley Chapel organ materials  (1986-1986) box 59
    • Boy Scout materials  (1985-1986) box 54
    • Budget details  (1986-1987) box 66
    • Budgets, detailed  (1985-1986) box 62
    • Buildings and grounds materials (circa 1980s) box 16
    • Clippings  (1985-1985) box 9
    • Clippings  (1987-1988) box 40
    • Clippings  (1987-1988) box 35
    • Clippings  (1988-1988) box 34
    • Clippings about Lolley, SEBTS (circa 1970s-1980s) box 70
    • Clippings about Lolley, SEBTS (circa 1980s) box 10
    • Clippings and correspondence (circa late 1980s) box 66
    • Clippings and press releases (circa 1980s) box 16
    • Committee files (circa 1950-1970s) box 94
    • Committee files: Buildings and Grounds, Finance, Long Range Planning, Student Development, etc  (1975-1984) box 73
    • Committee materials and correspondence  (1974-1982) box 22
    • Conference and administrative materials (circa 1970s-1980s) box 14
    • Conference on Biblical Inerrancy materials  (1987-1987) box 60
    • Consultation of Women in Ministry  (1978-1978) box 51
    • Convocation of the Laity  (1984-1984) box 50
    • Correspondence (date missing) box 10
    • Correspondence  (1961-1984) box 73
    • Correspondence (circa 1970s-1980s) box 40
    • Correspondence  (1977-1982) box 51
    • Correspondence  (1981-1983) box 61
    • Correspondence  (1981-1982) box 59
    • Correspondence  (1982-1983) box 60
    • Correspondence  (1982-1985) box 48
    • Correspondence  (1987-1987) box 35
    • Correspondence  (1987-1987) box 36
    • Correspondence: A-Z, Wills  (1981-1983) box 76
    • Correspondence: G  (1978-1980) box 94
    • Correspondence: seminaries (circa 1950s-1980s) box 73
    • Correspondence: library (circa 1950s-1970s) box 91
    • Correspondence: support  (1987-1988) box 36
    • Correspondence, clippings: general (circa 1985-1988) box 69
    • Curriculum review materials  (1982-1983) box 74
    • Dean task force  (1981-1982) box 37
    • Department annual reports  (1981-1981) box 67
    • Department reports  (1974-1975) box 9
    • Department reports and handbooks  (1980-1984) box 59
    • Donor lists  (1986-1986) box 65
    • Faculty and administrator biographical sketches (circa 1989) box 17
    • Faculty and Presidents workshops materials (late 1970s) box 63
    • Faculty meeting materials  (1975-1976) box 9
    • Faculty meeting materials  (1980-1981) box 76
    • Faculty meeting materials  (1983-1984) box 49
    • Faculty meeting materials (circa 1985-1986) box 54
    • Faculty meeting materials  (1987-1987) box 8
    • Faculty minutes and faculty and staff materials  (1980-1986) box 53
    • Faculty-related subject files (circa 1988) box 36
    • Faculty-related subject files (circa 1980s) box 76
    • Financial files (circa 1953-1974) box 62
    • Financial files (circa 1950-1969) box 63
    • Financial materials  (1978-1980) box 48
    • Foundation materials (circa 1980s) box 97
    • Gift letters  (1976-1978) box 88
    • Gift letters  (1978-1979) box 89
    • Gift records  (1988-1988) box 12
    • Gift transmittal report (circa 1970s) box 94
    • Gift transmittal reports, donations reports  (1982-1985) box 39
    • Gifts files (circa 1960s-1970s) box 53
    • Historical documents (circa 1950s) box 9
    • Historical documents (circa 1950s) box 12
    • Inauguration correspondence  (1976-1976) box 82
    • Inerrancy Conference materials  (1987-1987) box 23
    • Inter-Agency Council materials  (1964-1974) box 90
    • Inter-Agency Council materials  (1977-1977) box 44
    • Inter-Seminary Council (circa 1960s-1970s) box 90
    • Land surveys and plans (circa 1980s) box 56
    • Legal correspondence  (1986-1987) box 46
    • Legal correspondence  (1983-1987) box 47
    • Lilly Library Conference and related materials (circa 1978) box 73
    • Long-range planning, budget, and Trustees reports  (1976-1978) box 93
    • Mackie Hall Committee and other building materials (circa 1980s) box 15
    • Manuals and administrative materials  (1984-1988) box 97
    • Meiklejohn award materials  (1988-1988) box 68
    • Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary alumni survey and curriculum evaluation (circa 1970) box 83
    • Mullinax, Bob, correspondence and photographs  (1988-1988) box 34
    • Other seminaries news publications  (1975-1978) box 73
    • Pastor and church files  (1988-1989) box 87
    • Peace Committee materials  (1986-1988) box 6
    • Peace Committee materials  (1987-1987) box 8
    • Personnel and faculty memorandums (circa 1970s-1980s) box 48
    • Personnel manual  (1987-1987) box 12
    • Personnel/policy manual materials (circa 1980s) box 6
    • President and subject files (circa 1970s) box 53
    • President calendar  (1981-1986) box 36
    • President correspondence  (1979-1980) box 57
    • President correspondence (circa 1980s) box 55
    • President correspondence  (1987-1988) box 36
    • President correspondence, A-D  (1976-1980) box 97
    • President correspondence, A-Z (circa 1960s-1970s) box 92
    • President correspondence, A-Z  (1985-1985) box 93
    • President correspondence, B-Z  (1975-1980) box 91
    • President correspondence, C-G  (1975-1981) box 2
    • President correspondence, E-K  (1976-1980) box 38
    • President correspondence, H-O  (1977-1980) box 95
    • President correspondence, P-W  (1974-1980) box 96
    • President correspondence, pre-dating Lolley (circa 1960s-1970s) box 90
    • President materials  (1982-1983) box 37
    • President materials  (1983-1984) box 20
    • President materials  (1983-1984) box 21
    • President subject files (circa 1970s-1980s) box 47
    • President subject files (circa 1970s-1980s) box 41
    • President subject files  (1974-1980) box 42
    • President subject files (circa late 1970s) box 66
    • President subject files  (1974-1980) box 54
    • President subject files  (1976-1980) box 43
    • President subject files (circa 1980s) box 33
    • President subject files (circa 1980s) box 11
    • President subject files  (1988-1990) box 23
    • President subject files, A-C  (1974-1988) box 1
    • President subject files, assorted and P-S (circa 1980s) box 65
    • President subject files, C (circa 1970s) box 92
    • President subject files, correspondence and faculty  (1975-1986) box 58
    • President subject files, H-R  (1981-1987) box 3
    • President subject files, L-M  (1975-1982) box 22
    • President subject files, R-S (circa 1980s) box 4
    • Press conference, Kantzler, Packer, Pinnock, Inerrancy Conference (1987 May 6) box 36
    • Reports and administrative materials (circa 1980s) box 20
    • Reports and statements  (1970-1988) box 7
    • SBC and Executive Committee materials (circa 1980s) box 38
    • SBC and SEBTS publications (circa 1970s-1980s) box 11
    • SBC and SEBTS publications (circa 1970s) box 39
    • SBC and SEBTS publications (circa 1980s) box 56
    • SBC and Seminary Extension Department materials  (1975-1980) box 42
    • SBC budgeting consultation  (1976-1976) box 21
    • SBC capital needs  (1977-1977) box 50
    • SBC Cooperative Program Study workshop  (1981-1981) box 68
    • SBC Cooperative Program Study  (1981-1983) box 37
    • SBC Executive Committee materials  (1975-1986) box 32
    • SBC Executive Committee materials  (1980-1988) box 8
    • SBC Executive Committee materials  (1984-1985) box 20
    • SBC Executive Committee materials (circa 1985-1988) box 21
    • SBC Executive Committee materials  (1987-1987) box 8
    • SBC Executive Committee materials  (1987-1987) box 17
    • SBC Executive Committee and Inter-Aency materials  (1985-1986) box 6
    • SBC financial data and budgets  (1974-1978) box 48
    • SBC financial data and budgets  (1974-1975) box 75
    • SBC financial data and budgets  (1978-1982) box 22
    • SBC financial data and budgets  (1982-1988) box 21
    • SBC financial data and budgets  (1986-1988) box 17
    • SBC materials (circa 1980s) box 59
    • SBC materials (circa 1980s) box 66
    • SBC organizational manual  (1985-1985) box 49
    • SBC organizational manual  (1985-1985) box 50
    • SBC Passage materials  (1980-1983) box 37
    • SBC Proceedings of Futuristic Conference by Sunday School Board  (1977-1977) box 48
    • SBC Proceedings of Futuristic Conference by Sunday School Board  (1977-1977) box 59
    • SBC Study Committee of 15  (1974-1974) box 48
    • SBC Study of the Cooperative Proram  (1976-1976) box 48
    • SEBTS accreditation materials  (1988-1988) box 82
    • SEBTS and SBC files, in no detectable order (circa 1950s-1980s) box 64
    • SEBTS annual reports (late 1970s) box 63
    • SEBTS budgets  (1975-1976) box 75
    • SEBTS correspondence files (circa 1970-1980s) box 77
    • SEBTS correspondence files (circa late 1970s) box 70
    • SEBTS Executive Council materials  (1975-1987) box 9
    • SEBTS Executive Council materials  (1981-1982) box 51
    • SEBTS Executive Council materials  (1982-1983) box 37
    • SEBTS Executive Council materials  (1982-1984) box 49
    • SEBTS Executive Council materials  (1983-1984) box 50
    • SEBTS Executive Council materials (circa 1980s) box 74
    • SEBTS license plate, Virginia  (1986-1986) box 15
    • SEBTS materials (circa late 1980s) box 87
    • SEBTS materials  (1991-1992) box 67
    • SEBTS out of town file: seminaries materials (circa 1970s) box 67
    • SEBTS publications and related materials  (1983-1985) box 53
    • SEBTS reports (circa 1970-1980s) box 48
    • SEBTS reports and publications (circa 1970-1980s) box 51
    • SEBTS resolutions list  (1987-1987) box 36
    • SEBTS subject files, A-F (circa 1975-1980) box 71
    • Seminary Council  (1974-1978) box 53
    • Seminary Extension Department, Southern Baptist Seminaries correspondence (circa 1950-1969) box 94
    • Seminary Presidents group agendas  (1987-1988) box 67
    • Seminary Presidents group materials  (1984-1985) box 50
    • Seminary Presidents group materials  (1978-1980) box 34
    • Seminary Presidents group minutes  (1974-1978) box 82
    • Seminary Presidents group workshop materials  (1987-1987) box 8
    • Seminary Presidents group workshops and meeting materials  (1987-1987) box 8
    • Seminary presidents letters  (1986-1988) box 6
    • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools files  (1975-1980) box 70
    • Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Executive Committee materials  (1981-1983) box 74
    • Special Campaign materials (circa 1980s) box 57
    • Special Campaign (Theological Education?) materials  (1976-1977) box 44
    • Student Center Project materials (circa 1980s) box 16
    • Student lists  (1978-1978) box 63
    • Study of the Seminary Student's Perception of Practitioner Roles to be Performed by the Minister by David Charles Ruesink  (1967-1967) box 48
    • Teaching materials (circa 1990s) box 88
    • Telethon manual (late 1980s) box 66
    • Transition materials (circa 1988) box 69
    • Trustee, faculty, and administrator retreat materials  (1980-1980) box 50
    • Trustees and related committee materials: Long-Range Planning, Executive, Buildings and Grounds, Finance  (1974-1975) box 53
    • Trustees materials  (1983-1985) box 49
    • Trustees materials (1980, 1983) box 68
    • Trustees materials  (1978-1980) box 90
    • Trustees meeting materials (circa 1970s-1980s) box 9
    • Trustees meeting materials (circa 1974-1980) box 20
    • Trustees meeting materials  (1975-1983) box 12
    • Trustees meeting materials  (1978-1980) box 57
    • Trustees meeting materials  (1981-1983) box 51
    • Trustees meeting materials  (1981-1983) box 61
    • Trustees meeting materials (circa 1985) box 10
    • Trustees meeting materials  (1985-1985) box 50
    • Trustees meeting materials  (1987-1987) box 8
    • Trustees meeting minutes and related materials  (1980-1986) box 89
    • Trustees meetings and related materials  (1977-1984) box 72
    • Urban Studies Project  (1976-1982) box 51
    • Veterans Administration and EEOC files (circa 1977) box 51
    • Wake Forest victory message and bell ringing from old campus, WFDD reel (1975 September 18) box 36
    • Women's Missionary Union materials (circa 1980s) box 67
  • Subject files
    • Children's drawings (circa 1990s) box 82
    • Community involvement materials: WFU School of Divinity, Greensboro (circa 1990s) box 82
    • Fact Book on Theological Education   (1974-1988) box 17
    • Family counseling pamphlets (circa 1990s) box 87
    • Quote journal  (1949-1951) box 15
    • Sermons (circa 1990s) box 82
    • Subject files (circa 1970s-1980s) box 40
    • Subject files (circa 1975-1985) box 62
    • Subject files **Restricted** (circa 1980s) box 38
    • Subject files  (1981-1981) box 8
    • Subject files  (1992-1996) box 46
    • Subject files, A-C  (1988-1990) box 23
    • Subject files, C-Z  (1988-1990) box 24
    • Thesis, "An Exploratory Study of Southern Baptist Ministers in NC and Their Realtionship to and Involvement in Continuing Education" by Richard Traylor (circa 1980s) box 50
    • Thesis, "At two crossroads: the conservative response of southern baptists to womens rights in the 1890s and 1980s," by Calvin Wood  (1989-1989) box 15
    • Theological Education journal (circa 1970s-1980s) box 15

Summary Information

Repository
Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives
Creator
Lolley, W. Randall
Title
W. Randall Lolley Papers
ID
MS505
Date
circa 1949-1999
Quantity
92 record cartons
Extent
119.6  Linear Feet

Administrative Information

Publication Information
Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives, 2017 July
Revision Description
Revised by Stephanie Bennett and Nancy Sullivan, 2022
Access Restrictions
Collection is open for researchers, with the exception of a limited amount of materials. In Box 38 some subject file materials are restricted due to condition, and in Boxes 45 and 82 materials are restricted due to content. Please contact Special Collections and Archives (archives@wfu.edu) for more information. 
Copyright Notice
The nature of the WFU Z. Smith Reynolds Library Special Collections and Archives means that copyright or other information about restrictions may be difficult or even impossible to determine despite reasonable efforts. The Archives and Special Collections of ZSR Library claims only physical ownership of most materials. The materials from our collections are made available for use in research, teaching, and private study, pursuant to the U.S. Copyright Law. The user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, infringement of copyright and publication rights of reproduced materials. Any materials used for academic research or otherwise should be fully credited with the source. 

Other collections related to Lolley include: W. Randall Lolley Presidential Records, Archives and Special Collections, Library at Southeastern, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, NC.

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