Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore — an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump — and another top-ranking denominational leader discussed strengthening ties within the church during a Monday afternoon meeting amidst 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.
News of the expected meeting between the two 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.
In the aftermath of Trump’s victory, backlash from prominent Southern Baptist leaders raised questions about whether Moore’s job as the head of the Nashville-based Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission was at risk. Moore, the face of the Southern Baptist denomination, became a consistent critic of President Donald Trump and his supporters during the divisive 2016 election cycle.
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.
Last month, the Executive Committee decided to study why churches are escrowing their gifts to the fund, the Baptist Press reported. A Texas church and a Tennessee church are two examples.
Moore called out Trump’ s moral fitness and questioned his conservative Christian supporters in a number of editorials and interviews, and even sparred with Trump on Twitter. Moore took on parts of Trump’s platform, including immigration policies and his campaign rhetoric against Muslims.
In late December, Moore addressed the denominational division in his “Election Year Thoughts at Christmastime” blog post, and apologized to anyone who thought his critiques of Trump meant he was criticizing anyone who voted for Trump.
Last month, Pastor Jack Graham, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, told the Baptist Message in Louisiana that his church was escrowing $1 million in Cooperative Program funds out of concerns for the direction of the denomination.
In Tennessee, Dean Haun, the pastor of First Baptist Church, Morristown, told the Baptist and Reflector the church was withholding the money due to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission’s decision to sign an amicus brief in support of a mosque built in New Jersey.
Haun also resigned from the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board after it signed onto the amicus brief, too. David Platt, president of the mission board, later apologized.
Source: The Tennessean | Holly Meyer