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SBC messengers elect Frank Page new president
June 26, 2006
By Michael Foust

Frank Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., speaks to reporters after being elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention June 13, the first day of the convention's two-day meeting in Greensboro, N.C. BP Photo

In an annual meeting marked by repeated calls for cooperation in evangelism and missions, Southern Baptists June 13-14 in Greensboro, N.C., elected a new president and stressed increased giving through the Cooperative Program.

For the second straight year, more than 11,000 messengers attended the meeting. The unofficial total of 11,639 would be barely under last year's total of 11,641.

In what some considered a surprise, South Carolina pastor Frank Page was elected SBC president on the first ballot over two nominees. His election came amidst a movement in the denomination for a greater emphasis on Cooperative Program giving and in broadening involvement among conservatives in the appointment process.

Page's church, First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., gave 12.4 percent to the Cooperative Program during the most recent church year.

"The people have spoken a powerful message, and one of the things I think they're saying is that we can do together a lot more and a lot better than we can do separately," Page said. "I think there is a clear call from the people of the Southern Baptist Convention that we want to strengthen our work together through the Cooperative Program [and] we want to strengthen our work together as we expand involvement to reach out to godly, conservative men and women who perhaps have not been utilized in the past."

But he added, "I do not believe the convention elected me to somehow undo the conservative resurgence. That is not who I am, not what they've asked for, not what they want."

Page was elected with 4,546 votes, or 50.48 percent of the vote. Ronnie Floyd of First Baptist Church in Springdale, Ark., received 2,247 votes (24.95 percent) while Jerry Sutton of Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., got 2,168 votes (24.08 percent).

In making future appointments to SBC committees, Page said he would have four criteria: The person must have a "sweet spirit," a heart for evangelism, a commitment to biblical inerrancy and must be a "great" supporter of the Cooperative Program. At a press conference after his election, Page said he was "a little taken aback" by winning and believed this year's annual meeting could be a "defining moment" in the convention.

"I do think it is a turning point," said Page, who grew up in Greensboro, was saved in the city and whose parents still live there. "And I do think a different tone will come forth from this con-vention. And that tone will indeed echo some deep appreciation of the past in the sacrifices men and women have made. But I think it also will show, in the future [that] the landscape has changed that there is a deep need to involve a much larger constituency." (BP)

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