“Frank S. Page, a prominent Southern Baptist leader, has resigned from his top role in the largest Protestant denomination in America because of a “morally inappropriate” relationship.
Page, the president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Convention’s executive committee, stepped down Tuesday from the leadership role and retired from active ministry, according to the Baptist Press, an official publication of the Nashville-based denomination.
Earlier in the day, Page, 65, had announced he was retiring, but acknowledged later that he needed to be more forthright on why he was leaving the post.
“As a result of a personal failing, I have embarrassed my family, my Lord, myself, and the Kingdom,” Page said in a statement released through the Baptist Press.
“Out of a desire to protect my family and those I have hurt, I initially announced my retirement earlier today without a complete explanation,” Page said. “However, after further wrestling with my personal indiscretion, it became apparent to me that this situation must be acknowledged in a more forthright manner. It is my most earnest desire in the days to come to rebuild the fabric of trust with my wife and daughters, those who know me best and love me most.”
It is unclear the exact nature of the inappropriate relationship.
Page spoke with executive committee members via a phone conference Monday night and shared his plans to retire, said Florida pastor Stephen Rummage, the committee chairman, in a statement released through the Baptist Press.
Rummage said Page revealed the relationship in a follow-up conversation with him on Tuesday.
“Today, I spoke with Dr. Page and learned that his retirement announcement was precipitated by a morally inappropriate relationship in the recent past,” said Rummage, the senior pastor of Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon, Fla.
Rummage shared the update with the rest of the executive committee. It oversees the day-to-day operations of the denomination, serving on behalf of the Southern Baptist Convention, which meets annually.
Page has served since 2010 as president of the executive committee. In that role, he has coordinated the convention’s national ministries, including six seminaries. He also oversaw the Cooperative Program’s annual budget of nearly $200 million. That program is the funding mechanism for the convention’s state and national initiatives.
In his statement, Rummage also urged Southern Baptists to pray for everyone involved and said his “heart is broken” for Page, his family and all affected.
“I believe I speak for the entire Executive Committee in saying that we are committed to provide them the spiritual and emotional support they need in the coming days,” Rummage said. “We also recognize the stewardship we owe Southern Baptists and the watching world to communicate with truth and candor and to honor the Lord in our actions and decisions.”
The executive committee, in keeping with its bylaws, will be working on an interim transition plan and will conduct a search for Page’s replacement, Rummage said.
“As officers, we are committed to provide leadership that the Southern Baptist Convention will recognize and trust,” Rummage said. “I am personally counting on the prayers of Southern Baptists, as I know are all who serve on our SBC Executive Committee.”
According to the Baptist Press, Page had initially said he decided to retire at the urging of his daughters, who wanted him and his wife to move to South Carolina to be closer to family.
On Tuesday morning, Page had posted on his social media accounts that he was retiring. The initial news had drawn well wishes and thanks from Southern Baptist leaders and pastors.
“Prayers appreciated as I have announced my retirement,” Page said in a tweet. “God bless you all for your precious friendship and prayers support over these years.”
Page did not immediately update his social media accounts following the news that an inappropriate relationship had led to his resignation.
During his tenure as president of the executive committee, Page focused on personal evangelism and the inclusion of women, young leaders and numerous ethnic groups in Baptist life, the Baptist Press said.
Page also served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention from 2006-08. He was pastor of Taylors First Baptist Church in South Carolina at the time. He also served from 2009-10 as vice president of evangelization for the North American Mission Board. “