NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Executive Committee members, Southern
Baptist Convention (SBC) entity heads and other guests gathered in Nashville,
Tenn., Feb. 21 to inaugurate Frank Page as the SBC Executive Committee’s sixth
Page officially assumed the position Oct. 1 after serving 30 years as a pastor
and in various denominational roles, including SBC president. Guests were led
in worship in the Van Ness Auditorium at LifeWay Christian Resources by Travis
Cottrell, and several of Page’s colleagues spoke and prayed for him.
Roger Spradlin, chairman of the Executive Committee, presented Page and his
wife Dayle with a certificate of inauguration, listing his many accomplishments
within the Southern Baptist Convention through the years.
“Frank has a pastor’s heart,” said Spradlin, pastor of Valley Baptist Church in
Bakersfield, Calif. “He served as a pastor for many, many years. He loves
pastors. He understands pastors. He has a deep commitment to help pastors in
their tasks in the local church.”
Page delivered a statement of his vision for the office, saying he wants to
have priorities that would please the Lord.
“I really will be quite happy when tonight is over because I’m not real
comfortable with this kind of attention, to be quite honest with you,” Page
said. “I would be quite happy if you would forget me and remember our Lord.
“But God has called me to this position, and I am honored to be a part of this.
So I speak to you tonight about a simple, biblical vision that I think the Lord
brought to my heart,” Page said, pointing to Genesis 12, the passage where God
promises to make Abraham into a great nation and bless him so that he can be a
blessing to others.
“I think that God’s call upon Abraham’s life is precious, but is it not true of
all of us, that God called us to be saved and God called us to serve Him in
some capacity, shape, form or fashion?” Page said.
Page added he believes God is calling Southern Baptists to be a blessing to the
nations: “I believe God’s call for Southern Baptists is that we would never
rest until every man, woman, boy and girl on this continent hears the Good News
of Jesus, so that they can say, ‘That person was a blessing to me.’
“I don’t believe God is going to be happy until every man, woman, boy and girl
on the face of this earth hears the Good News of Jesus Christ,” Page said. “…
I want us to be able to say as Southern Baptists, ‘We were a blessing.’”
In addition to blessing Abraham, God made demands of him, Page noted.
“I believe God demands a commitment from us. We are to serve Him with passion,”
Page said. “We are to give Him first-rate loyalty for a first-rate cause. I
believe God’s calling for Southern Baptists is to be closer than we’ve ever
been before, to be purer than we’ve ever been before, to be more passionate
than we ever have been before about sharing the Good News with a lost and dying
Just as God’s demands upon Abraham’s life were lifelong, Page believes God is
not finished with Southern Baptists.
“I know these men who are getting ready to speak are going to say some profound
things to us, things we need to hear. But I just want you to remember with me
tonight God’s vision for us is that He will bless us, but He wants us to be a
blessing as well,” Page said.
Thomas Hammond, personal evangelism team leader for the
North American Mission Board, delivered the inauguration message. Preaching
from Mark 2, Hammond encouraged Page to model the qualities of the four friends
who took their paralyzed friend to Jesus for healing.
Those four men were willing to adapt their actions to meet the friend at his
point of need, to do whatever it took to help him, and worked together in
unity, Hammond noted.
Southern Baptists “are in desperate need of change,” with
many churches plateaued or declining and many leaders disagreeing about the
best way to bring renewal, but God is ready to do a new work and Southern
Baptists’ best days may be ahead, Hammond said.
“Every time I’ve heard Frank Page preach, this is what I’ve heard him say: ‘We
can win this world to Jesus, but we must do it together,’” Hammond said. “Frank,
may the hand of God be upon you. May the Spirit of God give you wisdom and
strength. May the mind of Christ be with you. God bless you as you lead us.”
Morris H. Chapman, president emeritus of the Executive Committee, presented the
Pages with a clock for their mantel to remind them of the value of time and the
lessons Jesus taught about it.
“A clock is a mechanism for measuring 24 hours of each day of our lives. Time
is the moment we have in the present,” Chapman said. “We do not live in the
future. In fact, to live in the future is to be counterproductive in our lives.
The past is gone and the future has not arrived. Jesus captured this when He
said, ‘Live one day at a time. Tomorrow has too many worries.’”
Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions,
delivered a charge on behalf of Page’s colleagues at the 42 Baptist state
conventions. He challenged Page to remember that being a follower of Christ is
a prerequisite to being a Christian leader.
“You will never catch up to Christ, but you must keep following Him,” Lance
said. “Continue to be faithful to your calling.”
Richard Land, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and
chairman of the Great Commission Council, delivered a charge on behalf of SBC
entity presidents. He told Page he will find joy working for the “great people
of God called Southern Baptists” because they are “people of the Book and
people of the Cross.”
Ed Stetzer, vice president of research and ministry development for LifeWay
Christian Resources, delivered a charge on behalf of Page’s colleagues at SBC
entities. Stetzer reflected on the “courage and conviction” Page demonstrated
when he was elected Southern Baptist Convention president at Greensboro, N.C.,
in 2006 and called on Page to help Southern Baptists move past their
differences toward common goals.
Stetzer delivered seven “exhortations” to the new Executive Committee
president: stand for God’s Word; stand for the gospel; stand for the Kingdom; stand
for a confessional consensus; stand for accountability in our denomination; stand
for a denomination that joins God on mission; stand to make it true that we are
all about missions.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Roach is an assistant editor of Baptist
Press and Kelly is an assistant editor and senior writer.)
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