Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore — an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump — and another top-ranking denominational leader discussed strengthening ties across the Protestant network of churches in a Monday meeting that occurred amid buzz that Moore’s job was at risk.
A joint statement issued Monday evening by Moore, who leads the Southern Baptist Convention‘s public policy arm, and Frank Page, the president of the denomination’s Executive Committee, said Monday afternoon’s two-hour meeting deepened their friendship and understanding on how to move the denomination forward.
“We fully support one another and look forward to working together on behalf of Southern Baptists in the years to come. We will collaborate on developing future steps to deepen connections with all Southern Baptists as we work together to advance the great commission of our lord Jesus Christ,” the statement read.
The pair “met as colleagues committed to the same priorities of proclaiming the gospel” to everyone, the statement said. They also talked about addressing biblical and gospel issues, including religious liberty, racial reconciliation and the sanctity of human life.
News of the expected meeting between the two men was first reported Monday morning by the Washington Post. The newspaper reported that Page said he hoped for reconciliation between Moore and those who oppose him, but had not ruled out asking for Moore’s resignation if the meeting did not go well. Moore’s employment status is not up to Page.
In the aftermath of Trump’s victory, backlash from prominent Southern Baptist leaders raised questions about whether Moore’s job was at risk. Moore, the face of the Nashville-based denomination, became a consistent critic of Trump and his supporters during the divisive 2016 election cycle.
Monday’s meeting did not focus on Moore’s resignation nor the future of his job as the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Roger “Sing” Oldham, the spokesman for the Executive Committee, said in an email. The commission has offices in Nashville and Washington, D.C.
“The goal of the meeting from the get-go was to find bridge-building strategies to effect reconciliation and build unity within the Southern Baptist network of churches,” Oldham said. “The Executive Committee has no authority over any of the SBC entity leaders; oversight of each SBC entity president rests with the respective board of trustees.”
Several Southern Baptist churches across the country have pulled or threatened to withhold their contributions to the denomination’s Cooperative Program, the Southern Baptist Convention’s funding mechanism for state and national initiatives. Recently, the Executive Committee decided to study how many churches are escrowing their gifts to the fund and why they’re doing it, Oldham said.
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