FORT WORTH—Miles Seaborn Jr., a longtime Texas pastor, former missionary and one of the leading figures in the formation of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, died Jan. 22 at his home in Fort Worth. He was 81.
Seaborn retired from Birchman Baptist Church in Fort Worth in 1997 after 29 years as pastor there. Prior to that, he and his wife Jeanne served 10 years with the Southern Baptist Foreign Mission Board in the Philippines. He was pastor of Seventh Street Baptist Church in Wewoka, Okla., from 1953-1957 following his graduation from Oklahoma Baptist University.
A Drumright, Okla., native, he attended Oklahoma Baptist University on a track scholarship. Seaborn earned a bachelor of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary before heading to the international mission field in 1958.
He was instrumental in the 1998 formation of the SBTC, serving as president of the convention’s predecessor organization, the Southern Baptists of Texas Inc. Seaborn also served in many denominational and associational roles, including SBC first vice president (1997) and chairman of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustee board (1998-2000).
“Miles Seaborn was a man of great courage and conviction,” remarked SBTC Executive Director Jim Richards. “His many contributions to Christ’s Kingdom will only be fully revealed in heaven. One of his many ministries that impacted me personally was that he served as a catalyst for the founding of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. I will miss his prayers and strong support.”
Seaborn was instrumental in devising the convention’s constitutional structure, particularly insisting on a provision that it incur no debt, said Fort Worth attorney J. Shelby Sharpe, who served as legal counsel during the SBTC’s formation.
Bob Pearle, who followed Seaborn as pastor at Birchman and served alongside him on the SBTC Executive Board, said Seaborn’s contributions to ministry would be missed.
“He relocated this church and was way ahead of his time when they had one church in two locations. Later, they unified the church back into a single location. Miles had a great missionary heart. He touched thousands of lives.”
In addition to his time in the Philippines, Seaborn preached in numerous other places such as Indonesia, Argentina, Uruguay, Hong Kong, Japan and throughout southern Africa.
In presenting the H. Paul Pressler Distinguished Service Award to Seaborn at the SBTC annual meeting in 2006, the Houston judge said he initially “threw cold water” on the idea of a new state convention in Texas as Seaborn and others laid the groundwork for it.
“The fact that we’re here today … is due to the vision of Miles Seaborn,” Pressler said at the time. “And Miles, I’m grateful for you. You saw it; you understood it. I didn’t. And thank you for leading. I’m very grateful to you.”
Seaborn is survived by his wife, Jeanne, of the home; children: Miles L. Seaborn III and wife, Sherril; Ina Allmand and husband, David; Neal Seaborn and wife, Jana; and Gay Nystrom and husband, Brian; grandchildren: Michael Allmand and wife, Jill; Melissa Gose and husband, Jimmie; Michelle Tombrella and husband, Joey; Miles Seaborn IV and wife, Adrean; Luella Bullock and husband, Jarob; Lynne Seaborn, Micah Seaborn, Edward Seaborn, Samuel Seaborn, Janae Seaborn, Luke Seaborn, Gaelen Nystrom, Anne Nystrom and Timothy Nystrom; and sister, Connie Snyder. He also leaves 12 great-grandchildren.
Funeral services were Jan. 28 at Birchman Baptist Church. In lieu of flowers, donations are requested to the Miles and Jeanne Seaborn Scholarship fund at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary or the Missionary Residence Fund at Birchman Baptist Church.