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GREENSBORO, N.C. - The Southern Baptist Convention elected Frank Page, a former Augusta pastor, as its new president Tuesday on the first ballot.
Calling it a "very positive day for the Southern Baptist Convention," the Rev. Page said, "It signals that God's people are in charge and that no one group holds sway anymore."
Dr. Page, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Taylors, S.C., and the former head pastor of Warren Baptist Church of Augusta, spoke during a phone interview from Greensboro.
He was the choice of a group of pastors, many from a younger generation than the current Southern Baptist leadership, who have complained that the denomination suppresses disagreements over styles of worship and doctrinal details.
Taking just more than 50 percent of the vote on the first ballot, Dr. Page beat the Rev. Ronnie Floyd, a megachurch pastor from Springdale, Ark., and the Rev. Jerry Sutton, pastor at Two Rivers Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn., and currently the Southern Baptist's first vice president.
On Monday, the Rev. William Harrell, the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, was elected chairman of the convention's executive committee by acclamation.
"Dr. Page and I have been friends for a number of years, and I am confident that he will serve Southern Baptists well," Dr. Harrell said from Greensboro.
Dr. Page said his election says to him that the convention wants conservative leadership that supports doing missions together through funding the Baptists' Cooperative Program - a focus of his campaign, he said.
It also wants a broader group of people involved from small, medium and large churches, "rather than a few select persons," said Dr. Page, who as president, becomes the face of the 16 million-member denomination.
"I want to paint a picture to the nation that Southern Baptists have a relevant gospel to share, that it's not about a denomination that promotes a bunch of don'ts, but it promotes a wonderful, positive story about who Jesus Christ is," he said.
Staff writer Virginia Norton contributed to this article.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science degree from Gardner Webb University in psychology; Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Christian ethics
FAMILY: Wife, Dayle; three daughters, Melissa, Laura and Allison
Source: Taylors First Baptist Church Web site
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