Monday, June 14, 2010

Back Room, Closed Door Hard Ball Religion Alive and Well in the SBC

Executive Committee treats new boss shoddily - (Monday, June 14, 2010) by Norman Jameson, Biblical Recorder Editor.

"Frank Page was elected president-elect of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee during a bizarre and shoddy exercise June 14 in Orlando.

Page is currently vice president for evangelism of the North American Mission Board and is a former SBC president. He is a man of integrity, achievement, vision and leadership and is an excellent choice for the position that Adrian Rogers once called the “most important in all of Christendom.”

Although falling short of the rhetorical heights scaled by Rogers, the role of Executive Committee president is very significant in Southern Baptist life, even though it is not well known. The Executive Committee functions as the Southern Baptist Convention between annual sessions of the SBC. Its role in recommending the Cooperative Program budget and allocations makes it both significant and a target for any who seek to influence those important duties.

During the past couple weeks a concerted effort was made to derail Page’s election for a variety of reasons. Emails zipped among Executive Committee members and votes were tallied as if the meeting was held in a legislative building in Washington D.C.

Page was brought to the Executive Committee as the recommendation of its own search committee. He was on the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force, a fact which did not endear him to those who oppose the GCR Task Force recommendations. More significantly, those who favor the task force resented Page’s outspokenness on the task force and firmly held position that the final recommendations must give the trustee boards of SBC entities responsibility for whatever they decide to implement.

Page was opposed for his audacity to hold the GCR task force to observe Southern Baptist polity and respect the process. He is even said to have threatened to present a minority report if such polity was not respected. That irked SBC elected leadership and task force leadership.

Other issues burned beneath smokescreens, such as the feeling that Page had not invested enough of himself in the “conservative resurgence,” that he had not paid the price that others had during the theo/political turmoil of the 1980s and 1990s, yet was getting the reward of the top SBC position.

Of course all of that is off the record, behind the scenes, non-attributable information gleaned from conversations with those who know, because the 90-plus minute grilling of Frank Page took place in executive session, with no press or visitors allowed.

Executive Committee member Stephen Wilson from Kentucky pled passionately to leave the meeting open, honoring Southern Baptists and following the lead of retiring Executive Committee President Morris Chapman. Ironically, Wilson had just returned from vacation in Ireland and did not even know Page’s election was about to be challenged.

He moved for an open meeting just on principle. Imagine that.

After about 90 minutes Page emerged from the meeting room into the lobby where press and friends waited, sweat glistening over his face. He answered a few questions while waiting for the Executive Committee to vote on his professional fate on the other side of the door behind him.

After about 10 minutes those doors opened, indicating the committee members had voted and the meeting was now open to others. Page walked in with his family, closely followed by press and friends.

Here’s where bizarre bloomed.

There was no reaction in the room. Executive Committee members had taken a break when the door opened. They were milling about, talking amongst each other. Only two people came to Page to shake his hand. I heard one say, “Welcome to Nashville.” That was the first indication that Page had, in fact, been elected.

Page’s family took seats while he wandered among the Executive Committee members, shaking a few hands. Then he returned to his family and took his own seat. Still there was no announcement, no applause, no acknowledgement that he was even in the room.

After another few minutes Chairman Randall James said he would give committee members another three minutes to gather. When they finally returned to their seats, he announced that they had elected Frank Page their new president and chief executive officer.

Only then did Page and his wife Dale walk forward in the midst of their applause. He promised to love them with all his heart, and work with all his might.

James did not announce a vote, although the unofficial tally was 44-30.

I trust Page’s tenure at the top administrative spot in Southern Baptist life will be more auspicious than was his election to it. And I trust that those who opposed Page over his adamant position that SBC polity be observed, will observe their own recommendations in the GCR report for "shared values" of unity and trust."


Anonymous said...

Wade I have been sbc pastor for over 45 yrs. and counting. I can hardly believe in incivility that nis displayed amoung our brethren. Things seem to be so politicised that we seem to act as Christians in name only. One of the bad things that has happened to our convention is the fact we have some celebrity pastors. Our convention as well as our country are in perilous times. Keep up the good work. I purchased and read hardball religion and it just confirmed what i had come to believe. I think of you and your dad as real servants of our Lord Jack

Steve said...

Dr Wilson was one of my profs at Mid Continent. He is a man of iintegity. Good call on that one.

FBC Jax Watchdog said...

Wade - if they didn't care for Page, who did the 30 dissenters want to see in that position?

Gene S said...

Now class---Are there any questions as to why the SBC is in a failure mode???

The CR boys cast out the "liberals" whom W.A. Criswell called "skunks." They are all packing bags for the CBF national meeting in Charlotte, NC, next week. So they can't be the target of wrath!

I think this is clear-cut proof we have a "Crucifixion Complex." If you take a proven middle-of-the-ultra-conservative road person and treat him like this---you have a major problem finding the next candidate for the Cross!

"If you have love for one another, if you forgive one another, they will know that you know me"--I think Jesus would say in our current vernacular!!!

Michael Ruffin said...

Wade, I have two questions for you.

First, should Dr. Page consider turning down the job based on the close vote? He sure is going to have a lot of opposition from the get-go, it appears.

Second, do you know enough about the people who are going off the Exec Comm and those who are coming on to know if that will lessen Dr. Page's support even more?

Bob Cleveland said...


And the beat goes on.......

Anonymous said...

I wish I could feel sorry for Page but I cannot when I read his view on sexusl abuse in the church victims. He called them opportunists:

Anonymous said...

Dr. Page did NOT get 40% of the vote. Matters.

Anonymous said...

Same game different players...A few years back when Ronnie Floyd was voted down as Sbc Pres. mainly because his Churches CP giving was not up to grade..Johnny Hunt was first running in Floyd's spot but pulled out because Morris Chapman
brought to light Woodstock'S CP giving was also not up to enters Floyd to save the day....But No CP = no vote....This was the seed that started the GCTF move to change the way CP dollars where to be counted.....Then after Johnny Hunt became Pres. he put Dr. Floyd on a committe that cut Morris Chapmans budget in half....(Hard nose old school SBC payback!)
These games have been played for hearts breaking for the SBC.