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SCARBOROUGH, LEE RUTLAND

SCARBOROUGH, LEE RUTLAND (1870–1945). Lee Rutland Scarborough, Baptist leader, was born in Colfax, Louisiana, on July 4, 1870, the son of George Washington and Martha Elizabeth (Rutland) Scarborough. He grew up on a ranch in West Texas and attended Baylor University, where he graduated with an A.B. degree in 1892. He spent the next three years selling books and teaching school in order to earn money to study law at Yale University, where he took a second A.B. degree in 1896. He became interested in the ministry at Yale and returned to Texas. He was subsequently pastor of the First Baptist Church of Cameron (1896–1901) and the First Baptist Church of Abilene (1901–08). He married Neppie Warren of Abilene in 1900, and they had six children. Scarborough attended Southern Baptist Seminary (1899–1900) but returned to Abilene before taking a degree. He received honorary doctorates from Baylor (1908) and Union University (1927). Benajah H. Carroll, Jr., brought Scarborough to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary to begin the first department of evangelism ever started in a theological seminary. From 1908 until his retirement in 1942, Scarborough occupied the "Chair of Fire" and shared his zeal and commitment with more than 8,000 students. When Carroll died in 1914, Scarborough became president of the seminary, a position he held until 1942. During his twenty-eight-year tenure he established a strong financial base for the school he once called "Poverty Knob." His interest lay in evangelism, and he conducted hundreds of evangelistic meetings, firmly convinced of the efficacy of mass meetings for spreading the gospel. Through his approachability, humor, and optimism he guided thousands of young men and women into ministry.

Scarborough was known as the "denominational statesman" because of his personal integrity in conducting Baptist business connected with the many positions of leadership that he filled during his years of service. From 1919 to 1924 he directed the $75 Million Campaign for Southern Baptists and led them to pledge more than $90 million. While a pastor in Abilene, he directed a fund-raising drive for Simmons College (now Hardin-Simmons University) that resulted in enough money for the construction of two buildings. In addition to his presidency of Southwestern Seminary, he was president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas (1929–32) and the Southern Baptist Convention (1938–40) and vice president of the Baptist World Alliance (1940–45). He wrote fourteen books, nine of them on evangelism, and numerous newspaper and magazine articles. Scarborough maintained a strong interest in mission work throughout his career and developed the program "Calling the Called" to appeal for missionary volunteers. He supported the Women's Missionary Training School at Southwestern Seminary and actively sought to enroll women committed to mission work. In the 1920s J. Franklyn Norris campaigned against the seminary and the $75 Million Campaign and cut into the finances going to mission work. Scarborough took part in a radio broadcast called "The Fruit of Norrisism," which tried to counteract Norris's attacks. Scarborough's paramount concern was the effective proclamation of the Gospel, and he was against anything that blocked this message. He died in Amarillo on April 10, 1945, and was eulogized as a "militant and powerful leader."

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Harvey Eugene Dana, Lee Rutland Scarborough: A Life of Service (Nashville: Broadman, 1942). Joseph Martin Dawson, Oral Memoirs, Texas Collection, Baylor University.

Rosalie Beck

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Rosalie Beck, "SCARBOROUGH, LEE RUTLAND," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/fsc03), accessed October 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.