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Paul Pressler (Texas)

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Title: Paul Pressler (Texas)  
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Subject: Southern Baptist Convention conservative resurgence, List of Southern Baptist Convention affiliated people, Joe Waggonner, Rick Santorum presidential campaign, 2012, List of United States presidential electors, 2008
Collection: 1930 Births, American Christian Religious Leaders, American Evangelicals, American Non-Fiction Writers, American Philanthropists, Baptists from the United States, Living People, Members of the Texas House of Representatives, People from Houston, Texas, People from Washington County, Texas, Princeton University Alumni, Ranchers from Texas, Texas Democrats, Texas Lawyers, Texas Republicans, Texas State Court Judges, University of Texas School of Law Alumni
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Paul Pressler (Texas)

Herman Paul Pressler, III
Texas State Representative from Harris County
In office
January 8, 1957 – January 13, 1959
Preceded by James Watson Yancy, Jr.
Succeeded by Roger Daily
Judge of the 133rd Judicial District in Harris County
In office
Judge of the 14th Texas Court of Appeals
In office
Personal details
Born (1930-06-04) June 4, 1930
Houston, Texas, USA
Political party Democrat-turned-Republican
Spouse(s) Nancy Avery Pressler (married 1959)

Jean Pressler Visy
Anne Pressler Csorba

H. Paul Pressler, IV

Houston, Texas

Hidden Hills Ranch in Washington County, Texas
Alma mater

Princeton University
University of Texas School of Law

National College of State Trial Judges

Lawyer; retired judge

Leader of Southern Baptist Convention Conservative resurgence

Southern Baptist:

First Baptist Church of Houston

Herman Paul Pressler, III (born June 4, 1930), is a former state representative and retired state district and appellate court judge in his native Houston, Texas, who was a key figure in the Conservative resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention, which began in Houston in 1979.


  • Background 1
  • Political career 2
  • SBC Conservative resurgence 3
  • References 4


Pressler is descended from a line of lawyers. His maternal great-grandfather was Judge C. C. Garrett, the first Chief Justice of the Texas 1st Court of Civil Appeals. The Garrett-Townes auditorium at the South Texas College of Law in Houston is named of his two great-grandfathers.[1]

Pressler's father, Paul Pressler, II (1902-1995), a native of Austin, Texas,[2] relocated to Houston in 1925. He was a University of Texas School of Law graduate who also did graduate work at Harvard University. He was a vice-president and director of Exxon until 1967. He was a trustee of Texas Children's Hospital, the Houston chapter of the American Red Cross, and a trustee of the Baylor College of Medicine. He was a recipient of the Leon Jaworski Award for Houston community service.[3]

Pressler's mother, the former Elsie Townes (1905-2008), was the daughter of Edgar E. Townes, who practiced law in Beaumont at the time of Spindletop but moved his family to Houston in 1917, where he became counsel to and a founder of Humble Oil and Refining Company. Elsie and Herman Pressler married in 1928. In 1949, Herman and Elsie Pressler were among the founding members of the large River Oaks Baptist Church in Houston. She was active in such civic causes as the Houston Municipal Arts Committee, the Harris County Heritage Society, the River Oaks Garden Club, and the National Society of Colonial Dames. Pressler's younger brother is Townes Garrett Pressler, Sr.[1] Herman and Elsie Pressler are interred at Forest Park Cemetery in Houston.[2]

Pressler was educated at Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey, where as a student he confronted theological liberalism head-on, having never wavered in the faith acquired in his youth.[4] Pressler was involved with Princeton Evangelical Fellowship during his undergraduate days at Princeton University. Like his father, he received his law degree from the University of Texas. He also attended the National College of State Trial Judges, now known as the National Judicial College, a creation of the American Bar Association.[5]

Pressler's current law firm is Woodfill & Pressler in Houston, with his senior partner Jared Woodfill, who was the chairman of the Harris County Republican Party from 2002 to 2014.[6]

Pressler is married to the former Nancy Avery, originally from Illinois, the daughter of the attorney William H. Avery and the former Eugenie "Jean" Petrequin (1910-2013), a native of Shaker Heights, Ohio, a graduate of Smith College, and an active Presbyterian, who spent much of her adulthood in Winnetka in Cook County north of Chicago.[7] The Presslers have two daughters, Jean I. Pressler Visy and husband, Joe, of Silver Spring, Maryland, and Anne L. Pressler Csorba and her husband, Les, and a son, Paul Pressler, IV, all of Houston.[1] The Presslers are active members of the First Baptist Church of Houston.

Political career

Pressler served in the Texas House from Harris County as a Democrat for one two-year term from 1957 to 1959,[8] having been elected in 1956, when Price Daniel left the United States Senate to win the first of his three terms as governor of Texas.

He worked for the law firm of U.S. President.[5] He was initially a supporter of U.S. Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.[9] After Thompson left the race, Pressler served as an elector for U.S. Senator John S. McCain of Arizona.[10]

In 1989, the first President Bush proposed to nominate Judge Pressler as the director of the Office of Government Ethics, but opposition from theologically liberal opponents in the Southern Baptist Convention persuaded Pressler not to pursue the appointment. Since 2000, Pressler has been a senior partner with the Houston firm Woodfill and Pressler, where he is engaged in the practice of mediation law and has international clients. He has served as a director for the National Association of Religious Broadcasters, the Southern Baptist International Mission Board, the Free Market Foundation,[5] and the Philosophical Society of Texas.[11] He is a past president of the Council for National Policy, which in 2009 presented him with its Ronald Reagan Award for Lifetime Achievement.[12] In 2011 he received the William Wilberforce Award for Lifetime Achievement from the National Federation of Republican Assemblies, which also named him to its Board of Advisors in 2014.[13]

In January 2012, Pressler called a meeting of national conservative figures held at his Hidden Hills Ranch north of Houston near

Texas House of Representatives
Preceded by
James Watson Yancy, Jr.
Texas State Representative from former District 22-6 (Harris County)

Herman Paul Pressler, III

Succeeded by
Roger Daily
  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b c
  5. ^ a b c d e
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^ a b c d e f g
  17. ^ Rob B. James, The Fundamentalist Takeover in the Southern Baptist Convention, 4th ed., Wilkes Publishing Co., Inc., Georgia. Available at August 19, 2009.
  18. ^ Albert Mohler, "The Southern Baptist Reformation—A First-Hand Account
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ "Judge Paul Pressler School of Law", Columns: The Magazine for Louisiana College Alumni and Friends, Winter 2010, p. 16
  22. ^
  23. ^


Baptist-affiliated Louisiana College in Pineville, Louisiana, under former president Joe W. Aguillard, named its forthcoming law school to be constructed in the former Joe D. Waggonner Federal building in Shreveport in Judge Pressler's honor.[5][21] However, in November 2014, Aguillard's interim successor as president, Argile Smith, disclosed that the college has a $1 million shortfall for the 2014-2015 academic year. The 2014 enrollment of 1,265 is 141 fewer than in the fall of 2013. A decrease of 141 students, according to Smith, represents a loss of $2.1 million in revenues from tuition and fees paid by students, double the overall budgetary shortfall. Smith said that the institution will attempt to control expenditures but not cut jobs or contracts. Major projects under former President Aguillard will be suspended, including a school in Tanzania, Africa and the Pressler school, on which nearly $5.5 million has already been disbursed without the enrollment of a single student.[22] Among those involved in developing the law school is the constitutional attorney Mike Johnson, who in 2015 became a member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, but the project remains on hold.[23]

The Nancy and Paul Pressler Foundation, a charitable organization, has assets of under $1 million.[20]

In 2002, Pressler was nominated without opposition to the position of the SBC first vice-president. He served alongside president Jack Graham of the large Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano in North Texas. Pressler was nominated by his friend Richard Land, then director of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, who first met the retired judge when Land was a teenager.[19]

In 1999, Pressler authored a book with his version of the resurgence, A Hill on Which to Die: One Southern Baptist’s Journey.[4][16]

To come here [today] and to see this room filled, there is no way I can express my gratitude fully. ... We have 15,000 students in our seminaries. Every single one of our seminary presidents is a godly man who believes the Word and has a burden for souls. I literally weep for joy at what God has done and the future we have as Southern Baptists because of the victory that has been won.[16]

At the Louisville symposium, Pressler expressed satisfaction and gratitude at what Southern Seminary became in the more than two decades since the Conservative resurgence began:

Mohler said that without the Conservative resurgence, the SBC would have become as liberal as the Episcopal or the Methodist churches. Because members of local churches are the ultimate decision makers, concerned laypeople were able to reverse the trend of the denomination, Mohler explained.[16]

I remember one family from South Bend, Indiana. They had five children and drove non-stop to Los Angeles to the Southern Baptist Convention in 1981. They voted and [then] drove non-stop back [home] eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They didn’t spend a night in a motel because they didn’t have the money. That's the type of sacrifice that won back the convention from liberalism. ...
The heroes of the conservative movement are not those whose names were in the press. They were the grassroots people who loved the Lord and loved the convention and loved God's Word and wanted to make sure that Southern Baptists returned to what [the Bible] teaches.[16]

As Pressler recalls:

On March 23, 2004, at a symposium to mark the 25th anniversary of the Conservative resurgence held at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Pressler said in an interview with Albert Mohler, the SBTS president since 1993 and Gregory A. Wills, an associate professor of church history, that he, Patterson, Rogers, and other leaders covered by the media had much less to do with the conservative resurgence than did the SBC laypersons who attended the convention in record numbers.[16]

[18] Pressler and Patterson were accused by their SBC opponents, who usually called themselves "moderate/conservatives," of having directed the affairs of the 1979 convention held in Houston from sky boxes high above the hall at

In 1978, Pressler met at the Café Dumond in New Orleans, Louisiana, with Paige Patterson,[5] then president of Criswell College of Dallas, to outline the political strategy to elect like-minded "conservative/fundamentalist" convention presidents, who in turn appointed conservatives to Southern Baptist Convention boards.[17]

As a Baptist layman, Pressler in the early 1960s surveyed his denomination and its commitment to Bible teachings. He particularly objected to a commentary on the Book of Genesis by Ralph Elliott, a then professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Missouri, who in the 1961 book, The Message of Genesis published by the SBC's Broadman Press (now LifeWay Christian Resources) challenged the historic Christian teaching on Genesis, particularly the first eleven chapters.[16] Pressler was contacted by conservative students at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, who questioned the textbooks being used in their classes. "The books were just liberal garbage. We worked it through with these young people ... to try [to] keep them from going down the tubes," Pressler recalled years later.[16]

SBC Conservative resurgence

were still declared candidates. Ron Paul U.S. Representative By the time the Texas primary was held on May 29, Santorum had withdrawn, and only Romney and then [15]

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