ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Frank Page was elected as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee June 14 in Orlando, Fla. A former SBC president, Page will succeed Morris H. Chapman, who is retiring after 18 years in the position.
Page, 57, most recently served as vice president of evangelization for the North American Mission Board and was pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., for nine years and SBC president from 2006-08.
Executive Committee members deliberated for nearly two hours in a closed session Monday afternoon before announcing a decision to call Page as president, and he accepted the role with “a great sense of destiny and awareness that God has a great future for Southern Baptists.”
Page told the Executive Committee his goal is that the group will be unified in its passion to see the world won to Jesus Christ, and he pledged to love the committee members and to work with all his might.
In comments to Baptist Press after the vote, Page said he is following the call of God and is excited about the future.
“I’m somewhat nervous because the task before me is one that’s bigger than any one person, and I am very cognizant of that. So there’s a level of nervousness, and I’m not a nervous person, but I realize the task ahead is great,” Page said. “There’s great division amongst the brethren and to pull us together is going to be a God-ordained task that I shall deal with as best I can.
“One of my goals is to be a unifier. We’ve got to, based on John 17:21,” he said. “It is imperative for our evangelistic efforts that we be unified, and that is extremely important to me.”
Page, who will work alongside Chapman as president-elect until Oct. 1, hinted at an emphasis he’ll unveil in the fall to support international missions, North American missions, the seminaries and the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
“The EC is not a missions-sending agency, but I want to be the greatest supporter our agencies have ever seen,” Page said.
After Page emerged from the closed-door session with the Executive Committee members and while they were praying and taking the vote, he told reporters he answered some members’ questions regarding the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force report.
As a member of the task force, Page said he voiced deep concerns about some of the recommendations both to the task force and to the Executive Committee.
“But I do want to join our president in a call for a Great Commission Resurgence,” Page said. “I believe that. I love Dr. [Johnny] Hunt and love his heart and want to see us do more to reach the nations for Christ.
“Everyone knows I’m a strong Cooperative Program supporter. I’ve said many times, not just in there but everywhere, ‘Just look at the record,'” Page told reporters. “While a lot of people talk about the Cooperative Program, I’ve been raising millions through it because I do believe in it. I believe in what it does in the states. I believe in what it does in supporting missions.”
Page said the Cooperative Program plays a unique role that must never be overlooked.
“It alone pulls us together. It alone provides for the work of our state conventions that helps support so many hurting churches. I love that,” he said.
Having only been in the North American Mission Board role since October 2009, Page said he is puzzled somewhat by God moving him so quickly to the Executive Committee.
“I have asked the Lord how it could be because I’ve never been to a short ministry in my whole life,” he said, adding that he has identified three possible reasons for the short tenure at NAMB.
“Number one, I think God gave me that time to see the inside of a denomination better than I would have as a pastor,” Page said. “I think He let me go to NAMB to let me see some of the inside, which I like some of it, some of it I don’t as I’ve looked on the inside of the denomination.
“Secondly, I think being a part of the GCR at the same time helped me provide a perspective to say NAMB has a unique missiological need, and I think that was an encouragement to some on the committee to see that NAMB does have a place separately than IMB,” Page said.
“Third, I would have to say the biggest reason I think God brought me to NAMB was to help legitimize and motivate and encourage people in the GPS strategy,” Page said, referring to the national God’s Plan for Sharing evangelistic initiative.
Page received the idea for GPS when he was president of the convention, and he was part of the official kickoff earlier this year when NAMB helped facilitate more than 15,000 Southern Baptist churches sharing the Gospel with nearly 38 million people by leaving literature on doorknobs of homes.
As Page accepted the Executive Committee’s call Monday afternoon, he expressed gratefulness for his wife Dayle and his daughters Laura and Allison, who were with him in Orlando.
“My family is dear and precious to me — my girls. As many people may know, I lost my oldest daughter just six months ago. It’s a very sensitive thing, but they are very precious to me, and I can always count on their support,” he told BP.
A native of Robbins, N.C., Page holds a Ph.D. in Christian ethics focusing on moral, social and ethical issues from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, along with a master of divinity degree from Southwestern. He earned a bachelor of science degree with honors from Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina, majoring in psychology with minors in sociology and Greek.
Page is the author of several books, including “Trouble with the Tulip,” an examination of the five points of Calvinism, and commentaries on the biblical books of Jonah and Mark. He also contributed as lead writer for the Advanced Continuing Witness Training material. Page was named to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships in February 2009.
Erin Roach is a staff writer for Baptist Press.