These days, the Rev. Frank Page likens himself to "a Baptist Forrest Gump."
Like the movie character, he's a simple man who keeps finding himself in the right place at the right time, the Rev. Page said Thursday night at the 60th annual meeting of the Augusta Association of Baptist Churches
The former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, who once pastored Warren Baptist Church, recently accepted a post as vice president of evangelization for the North American Mission Board. He's moving to Atlanta to lead the implementation of a nationwide evangelistic strategy on behalf of Southern Baptists.
This Sunday is his last as pastor of Taylors First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C. He announced his resignation from the church, where he's been pastor since 2001, three weeks ago.
The Rev. Page used the meeting at Southside Baptist Church to encourage members of the association, a network of more than 60 congregations.
They celebrated the more than 1,000 baptisms recorded at member churches over the last year, while acknowledging that "in a place as large as the CSRA, that's not even a drop in the bucket," said the Rev. Billy Atkins, pastor of Fleming Baptist Church.
He and the leaders of local Baptist churches repented for being too inwardly focused, for being mere "keepers of the aquarium" rather than the fishers of men they were called to be, as the Rev. Atkins put it.
The United States, the Rev. Page said, is the third-largest nation of "lost people" in the world. "Only China, only India have more lost people than the United States of America."
In February, the Rev. Page was named to President Obama's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. He described it as a trying job.
"I'm considered the resident fundamentalist on that council. It's one of the most difficult assignments of my entire life," the Rev. Page said. But through it, "It's convinced me more and more this nation needs Jesus. We must not give up on the lost of this country."
Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or firstname.lastname@example.org.