Southern Baptists elect first black president

Tuesday, June 19, 2012 4:58 PM
Last updated 6:58 PM
  • Follow Latest News

NEW ORLEANS — The Southern Baptist Convention voted Tuesday to elect its first African-American president in one of its biggest steps yet to reconcile the 167-year-old denomination's racial past and appeal to a more diverse group of believers.

Rev. Fred Luter, pastor of the Franklin Ave. Baptist Church, delivers a sermon during on a recent Sunday Services at the Church in New Orleans.  Luter was unopposed in being elected president Tuesday at the annual meeting of the nation's largest Protestant denomination in his hometown.  GERALD HERBERT/ASSOCIATED PRESS
GERALD HERBERT/ASSOCIATED PRESS
Rev. Fred Luter, pastor of the Franklin Ave. Baptist Church, delivers a sermon during on a recent Sunday Services at the Church in New Orleans. Luter was unopposed in being elected president Tuesday at the annual meeting of the nation's largest Protestant denomination in his hometown.

The Rev. Fred Luter Jr. was unopposed in being elected by thousands of enthusiastic delegates on Tuesday at the annual meeting of the nation's largest Protestant denomination in his hometown of New Orleans.

Pastor David Crosby of First Baptist New Orleans nominated Luter, calling him a "fire-breathing, miracle-working pastor" who "would likely be a candidate for sainthood if he were Catholic."

Crosby recalled how Luter built the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church from a tiny congregation to a megachurch of nearly 8,000 before the buildings were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Members of Luter's mostly black church came to worship at Crosby's mostly white church, and the pastors worked together for 2 ½ years as Luter rebuilt Franklin Avenue. Today, with a Sunday attendance of 5,000, Luter's church is once again the largest Southern Baptist church for attendance in the state.

"Fred Luter is the only megachurch pastor I know who had to do it twice," Crosby said.

The historic election comes as the denomination tries to expand its appeal beyond its traditional white Southern base. Membership and baptisms have been generally declining in recent years.

The Nashville, Tenn.-based denomination was formed before the Civil War in a split with northern Baptists over slavery and had reputation over much of the last century for supporting segregation.

Seventeen years ago, Luter was one of the authors of an SBC resolution that apologized to African-Americans for its past support of racism and resolved to strive for racial reconciliation.

Since that gesture, the denomination has grown its non-white congregations from only 5 percent in 1990 to 20 percent in 2010. But its leadership has not diversified as rapidly as membership.

Also on Tuesday, delegates planned to vote on whether to adopt an optional alternative name, Great Commission Baptists.

The "Great Commission" refers to Matthew 28:16-20, in which Jesus instructs his disciples at Galilee to go forth and make disciples of all nations.

Fearing the Southern Baptist name carried negative associations for many outsiders, current SBC President Bryant Wright formed a study committee last year to consider a change. While the committee deemed a full and official name change to be too difficult and expensive, it suggested the alternative name as an option.

While Southern Baptists have been publicly united in their support for Luter, the alternative name faces opposition from some members who are proud of the denomination's association with conservative theology and politics.

The notion of changing the Southern Baptist name is not new: It was first proposed in 1903 and has been unsuccessfully brought up more than a dozen times since. Even if the compromise alternative is approved, it is unlikely to put the issue to rest for good.

Comments (10) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
scgator
1042
Points
scgator 06/19/12 - 06:14 pm
3
2
Geez, talk about playing both

Geez, talk about playing both ends against the middle.................organized denominations have done more to hinder the Gospel than Judas himself.............PREACH THE GOSPEL AS IT IS, IF THEY WANT TO COME, THEY WILL AND IF THEY DON'T WANT TO COME.......IT'S ON THEM. Even the Bible said of Paul's preaching, "some believed and some did not........." DENOMINATIONS NEED TO QUIT BUILDING ORGANIZATIONS AND BUILD CHRISTIANS INSTEAD.........

PKRichmond
68
Points
PKRichmond 06/20/12 - 04:39 pm
3
3
This most segregated church

This most segregated church in the US. .

PKRichmond
68
Points
PKRichmond 06/19/12 - 06:52 pm
4
1
and more

http://www.bpnews.net/BPnews.asp?ID=37620

so Richard Land makes racist remarks and later apologizes because of the public opinion. Then Luter is the one who accepts apology (c'mon who made him the representative this case ? ) and soon after he is made the president .. Arn't these the guys who preaches everyday about holy spirit etc , and sends missionaries to Africa to save them.. then when their own neighbor is black , where is that love ? where is that holy spirit ?

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 06/19/12 - 10:10 pm
3
0
How can we ever move forward

How can we ever move forward when we have a bishop calling someone of their own race a house n----? Is it just ignorance or jealousy ? I just don't understand the mindset of some individuals.

KSL
126141
Points
KSL 06/19/12 - 11:52 pm
6
1
Seems like some people just

Seems like some people just don't want to see the ending of racial divide. And I am not referring to white people.

allhans
23523
Points
allhans 06/20/12 - 04:35 pm
1
1
Since he had no opposition, I

Since he had no opposition, I would say to give him a chance. It sure can't hurt.

allhans
23523
Points
allhans 06/20/12 - 09:40 am
2
1
PKRichmond. I heard that

PKRichmond. I heard that same thing said on MSNBC yesterday (The RNC thingy).

allhans
23523
Points
allhans 06/20/12 - 04:40 pm
1
1
I like John Hagee. (Sun 10

I like John Hagee. (Sun 10 -am) He has fire and a sense of humor. He will bring politics into his sermons, but.... he is the boss.

Fundamental_Arminian
1833
Points
Fundamental_Arminian 06/24/12 - 05:04 pm
0
0
To be forgiven, we must forgive

    so Richard Land makes racist remarks and later apologizes because of the public opinion. Then Luter is the one who accepts apology (c'mon who made him the representative this case ? ) and soon after he is made the president (PKRichmond).

Like Rev. Fred Luter, we have no choice except to forgive Dr. Land, if we want to be saved. In the Lord's prayer, we are taught to request, "forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors" (Matthew 6:12). To this our Lord added, "For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses" (6:14-15).

Not being a Southern Baptist, I wasn't aware of Dr. Land's offensive statements until I read your comments and then searched the Internet. The important thing is that Dr. Land has come to his senses, repented of his statements, and requested forgiveness. Indeed, Rev. Luter can't speak for us, and that is why we must bring ourselves to forgive.

When we think of how greatly we have offended the Lord and how much we owe him, we should be glad to forgive any debts our brothers and sisters in Christ owe us. What they owe us is nothing compared to what we owe God.

I'm thankful for Rev. Luter's example of forgiveness. It's the way all of us must behave if we hope to avoid Hell. Yes, Rev. Lutner neither does nor can represent us. We must all forgive from our hearts.

PKRichmond
68
Points
PKRichmond 08/12/12 - 03:21 am
0
0
:)

Most of these guys hates their neighbor when they are black .. but would go to africa for mission trips to save poor africans.its just sheer hypocracy .. membership of the SBC is dwindling . so the only options is to buy them from poor countries. Luter kissed up to the boss and the establishment .. obviously eying for the position .. c'mon lets not forget ,, this is the church which had to publicly apologize for its racist past.. which is still segregated on sundays ,,, more progressive christians should take over from these hypocrites !!!! forgiving is onething .. also not go get fooled by these acts is another ...

Back to Top

Search Augusta jobs