By Bob Allen
A Baptist college in Georgia fighting the possible loss of accreditation turned to mourning July 30 with news that President Ergun Caner’s 15-year-old son had died unexpectedly.
Braxton Paige Caner, a rising sophomore at Aledo High School near Fort Worth, Texas, died Tuesday, July 29, according to a notice in the Aledo Community News. His funeral service is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 2, at the New River Fellowship Church in Hudson Oaks, Texas.
Born in Aurora, Colo., on March 8, 1999, Caner was a member of Willow Park Baptist Church in Aledo, Texas, and starting guard for his high school football team. Special seating for his teammates will be reserved at his funeral, according to a posting mourning his loss on the Aledo Class of 2017 Facebook page.
News of the tragedy came on the heels of a Tuesday night rally on the campus of Brewton-Parker to show support for the Georgia Baptist Convention school’s efforts to remain accredited. The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges recently voted to remove Brewton-Parker’s accreditation, pending an appeal in August.
On Wednesday the college posted a statement on its website expressing grief alongside President Caner; his wife, Jill; and their youngest son, 10-year-old Drake. “The Caner family and Brewton-Parker College community covet your prayers as we walk through this painful time together,” the statement said.
Ergun Caner is best known in Southern Baptist life for his testimony of converting from Islam to Christianity as a teenager popularized in a book he co-authored with his brother, Emir, in 2002 titled Unveiling Islam: An Insider’s Look at Muslim Life and Beliefs. Over the years he was accused of embellishing the story in sermons in high-profile pulpits in ways that critics argue go beyond the limits of acceptable rhetorical hyperbole.
Caner posted on Twitter that he had “no answers” about his son’s death — reported unofficially on social media as by suicide — and “no note,” but rather “nothing but excruciating pain and the assurance that I’ll see him in Glory.”
Expressions of sympathy may be addressed to the Caner family in care of Brewton-Parker College, P.O. Box 197, Mount Vernon, GA 30445, or by email to TheCanerFamily@bpc.edu.