Mainstream meets with Charles Page
June 22 2001 by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor

Mainstream meets with Charles Page | Friday, June 22, 2001

Friday, June 22, 2001

Mainstream meets with Charles Page

By Steve DeVane BR Managing Editor Representatives of Mainstream Baptists of North Carolina (MBNC) had a "very productive and helpful" meeting with Baptist State Convention (BSC) presidential candidate Charles Page, but stopped short of endorsing him. The MBNC steering committee met with Page on June 15 at Caraway Conference Center near Asheboro.

Carolina Conservative Baptists (CCB) has endorsed Page, pastor of First Baptist Church in Charlotte. Page's candidacy was announced April 26 at a meeting of "loyal Southern Baptists" sponsored by CCB.

Page said at that meeting that he believes the Bible is "God's inerrant, infallible word." Inerrancy was the battle cry of conservatives while they gained control of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

Some moderates fear that conservatives want to take over the BSC. MBNC formed last year with the intent of "preserving" the BSC. The group is made up mostly of moderates, but includes some conservatives.

Page's candidacy put MBNC in a delicate position. Page is widely seen as a strong candidate.

An endorsement of Page could be seen as evidence of MBNC's commitment to shared leadership, but also could alienate moderates who worry about a conservative takeover.

The MBNC steering committee did not immediately decide whether to support Page, according to a four-page statement released by the committee. Page confirmed the major points of the statement through a church spokesperson.

MBNC told Page that details of the meeting would be made public.

At the meeting, Page said he supported all four of the BSC's budget plans. Three of the plans divide Cooperative Program gifts from churches between the BSC and SBC. The other divides the money between the BSC and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a ministry and missions alternative to the SBC.

Page told MBNC that he would not block the appointment of an ordained woman to a state committee, nor would he block the appointment of someone from a church that has broken ties with the SBC. He said he strongly believes in the autonomy of the local church.

"If they are contributing to the state convention, that should determine their eligibility for participation," he said.

Page said such issues on the "periphery" cause problems among Baptists. He said he would hope to lead the BSC back to the main issues, and "to do what we tried to do with shared leadership."

Roy J. Smith, retired BSC executive director-treasurer and a member of the MBNC steering committee, told Page that his name had been mentioned as a possible centrist candidate, but Smith said he felt that opportunity had been lost with the CCB's April endorsement.

Page said he is not a member of the CCB and is not a regular attendee of its meetings. "Much of what they believe, I agree with, but I have lots of friends outside that group," he said. "I am not a political animal."

When asked if he had a debt to the CCB, he said, "Absolutely not."

Page said he had no idea why his candidacy was announced at the CCB meeting. "It was not part of my plan," he said, but added that he is not na�ve enough to think that others were not making plans.

Page was asked how he would work with the two vice presidents to nominate the 15 members to serve on the Committee on Committees. Page said he would recommend that they collaborate on selecting the nominees.

"Whether we end up with 7 conservative and 8 moderates, or 8 conservatives and 7 moderates, is of no concern to me at all," he said.

Page said two key events led to his candidacy - the extension of life he feels he has been granted following a bout with cancer and his sense that the Lord could use him to help the state convention to come together. He said N.C. Baptists share a common emphasis - the lordship of Christ and doing missions and evangelism.

Don Gordon, pastor of First Baptist Church in Mount Olive and chairman of the steering committee, asked Page a number of questions during the meeting. "He answered some key questions in a way that revealed that he values diversity," Gordon said in a telephone interview.

Page and the committee met for about an hour and a half. Committee members said it was a "very productive and helpful session." They said Page was open, frank and cordial.

Committee members said they desire to meet with future candidates as they are announced.

"Therefore, the Steering Committee is not taking a position to endorse any candidate at this time," the committee's statement said.

After meeting with Page, committee members discussed whether Mainstream should endorse candidates.

Gordon said that while the committee didn't endorse Page, such support was still possible.

"We just haven't made a decision yet on what we're going to do about him or any other candidate," Gordon said. "I'd say we're in a state of prayer, seeking God's will."

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6/22/2001 12:00:00 AM by Steve DeVane , BR Managing Editor | with 0 comments
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