During a brief greeting to Executive Committee members in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 21, Frank Page, then president-elect of the Executive Committee, emphasized the importance of partnerships in the Gospel ministry.
"The Bible tells us in Philippians chapter 1 that there is a partnership in the Gospel. The New King James Version calls it a fellowship, but most versions call it a partnership in the Gospel," said Page, who assumed the role of president October 1.
"I want to pledge to you my partnership with you. I pledge that to you, and when I say I am a partner with you, that means a great deal to me because partners work alongside one another. They take care of one another."
Page said the Greek term paraclete, though often translated "comforter" or "encourager," comes from classical Greek literature in which two Greek soldiers were paired together.
"When the fighting got intense and even became hand-to-hand combat, one's paraclete backed up to your back and you fought to the front and to the side, knowing that someone was behind you protecting that which you could not protect yourself," Page, who was elected in June, told EC members. "To me, that's a partnership. That's where I want us to be, that we care for each other in that way, that we stand with each other in that way."
While he is excited about the days ahead, Page said he realizes that the role of president of the Executive Committee is "way beyond" his ability.
"There are forces swirling about us in our Convention, in our society, that do not bode well for partnership ministry. There are forces that pull us apart, that pull us into more individual directions," he said.
"… But I pledge to you to do all that I can to be your partner and to work together to see the Gospel spread and the Great Commission accomplished."
At subsequent Executive Committee meetings, Page said, he will present a ten-year vision and strategy, which will include a goal of seeing the International Mission Board reach every unreached people group with the Gospel message.
"I'm going to be the CEO. Do you know what that means? Chief Encouragement Officer," Page said. "I want to encourage the North American Mission Board by the year 2020 to be able to share the Gospel with every man, woman, boy, and girl on this continent."
Page also intends to support the Convention's other entities, including the seminaries.
"Some say this whole ship is sinking," he said. "Some say fast, some say slow. But I will tell you this: Without partnerships, it is a lost cause.
"I am still naïve enough to believe there is power in the Gospel and there is power in working together. There is a self-centeredness that will do us in, but there is a partnership that will strengthen us together," Page said.
"So I take these few moments to say I want to be the chief encouraging officer of this Convention. I want to encourage you, and above all that, I love churches, and I want to see churches become mission centers in their own environments."
Page expressed a love for all people, no matter their race or status, and he said he has begun a strategy to build relationships.
"Even prior to this meeting I have been with three of our seminary presidents," he said. "I have had personal, private meetings with four of our state execs. I have met with pastors, usually one to two a day in my brief month and a half here.
"I am doing everything I can to travel across this nation, and yes, across the globe to establish relationships, to say, 'Would you partner together with me in the Gospel ministry? Here's how we're going to do it, and here's how we're going to do it together.' I am going to be doing everything I can to build relationships because without it we're sunk. With it, I believe there is power in partnerships."