For three decades the Rev. Frank Page has been a pastor - a role that found him preaching to a local congregation before heading up the national organization that represents the largest Protestant denomination in the country.
Now, a year after stepping down from the national stage back to Taylors First Baptist Church, Page is forging a path that will once again have him taking his message to millions.
With the departure to Atlanta, however, comes a melancholy in leaving the place he has called home and the people he has come to love, Page said this week.
"I and my entire family are going through a grief process as we anticipate the leaving of the Upstate, a place which we have loved and a people that have been extremely kind to us," Page said.
"We're very saddened and do believe that God is calling us to a wider, broader ministry - but not a better ministry, because the ministry here has been precious."
The former president of the 16-million-member Southern Baptist Convention and adviser to President Barack Obama announced that he will be leaving the church to assume a leadership role in the convention's national evangelism initiative.
Page said the change to the new position as Vice President of Evangelization on the convention's North American Mission Board will give him "an opportunity to truly touch the lostness of this continent."
"To say 'yes' would involve a change unlike any I have ever made," he said in announcing to his church his departure from a congregation he has led for the past eight years. "Nonetheless, after much prayer, I realize that I must say yes to this assignment."
In February, Page accepted a role on the president's advisory council for the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, an organization formed by President George W. Bush.
Page said his move won't affect his service on the president's council.
The original decision to sit at the table with representatives of non-Christian religions and advise a president with whom he disagrees on many social issues met with criticism from some who felt he was selling out his conservative values.
At the time, Page said he was moved partly by the president's stated intention to reduce the number of abortions in America.
When he was elected as president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006, Page was seen as an outsider and consensus-builder in a denomination that had performed fewer Baptisms and seen its membership decrease by 40,000.
Page announced his move to his congregation Wednesday. Page said he will stay with the church for three more Sundays. The church is in the process of finding a temporary replacement.
"The church is strong, and we're very excited that its greatest days are ahead," he said.
After his election to lead the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006, Page said he made a challenge for the convention to develop a nationwide evangelistic strategy that is "flexible, multi-faceted, and effective."
Page said he was asked by the organization to assume the leadership role, in which he will be "responsible for working with state partners, associational partners and churches in strategy to evangelize the North American continent."
Last year, after stepping down from his national role, Page said that the goal of the evangelistic organization is to complete a "gospel sweep" of North America over the course of 12 years.
The program will range from TV and radio commercials, to neighborhood block parties, to training for personal evangelism.