Baptists aim for new image

Published June 17, 2006

GREENSBORO, N.C. - The surprise pick for president of the Southern Baptist Convention says he will stand up for the denomination's conservative beliefs - but he will do it with a smile.

"I believe in the word of God," said the Rev. Frank Page. "I'm just not mad about it."

The pastor from South Carolina was quick to proclaim his credentials as a conservative but also was blunt about his determination to present a different face of the SBC.

Asked how he would determine who would have a voice in Southern Baptist leadership, Page cited "a sweet spirit" as the first requirement.

SBC leaders have been painted as being filled with righteous fury in recent years. But many within the SBC see Page's victory as a new start.

Wade Burleson, a 44-year-old pastor from Enid, Okla., who supported Page, said he hoped the rest of the nation "can say of Southern Baptists, 'Man, those folks love people.' That's what I hope they hear, loud and clear."

Frank Page
AGE: 53
OCCUPATION: Pastor, First Baptist Church, Taylors, S.C.
FAMILY: Wife, Dale; daughters, Melissa, Laura and Allison
QUOTE: "I will speak the truth and I will speak clearly that truth. I hope you will pray for me that I do it in love."