Wednesday, June 20, 2012

All Around the SBC: Links On the Election of Fred Luter

Yesterday the Southern Baptist Convention, founded by slave owners, elected its first African-American president unanimously. Fred Luter is a proven leader in the convention and this stands as a historic moment where we wear our repentence. We are not identified by race, but by the gospel. This is an exciting moment for the SBC and one to cherish. Let us continue to pray for the furthering of the gospel and that God may use President Luter, not because he is black, but because he is a fellow brother in Christ.

CNN - Southern Baptists elect first black president |

(CNN) – More than 160 years after its founding as a pro-slavery church, the Southern Baptist Convention on Tuesday elected a black pastor for the first time to lead the denomination.

The election of the Rev. Fred Luter Jr. of New Orleans comes 17 years after Southern Baptist leaders apologized for the denomination's onetime support of white supremacist and segregationist policies.

It also cements years of effort by the church to overcome that divisive heritage.

"Just as some have said that in America race is the original sin, that certainly has been the case among the Southern Baptists," said Curtis Freeman, the director of Duke University's Baptist House of Studies. "It's something that the convention has never been quite able to [get] beyond."

Luter, 55, was unopposed in the election, which occurred Tuesday afternoon at the denomination's annual meeting in New Orleans.

He comes to the presidency after serving one term as vice president of the 16 million member organization, the second-largest denomination in the United States - behind only the Catholic Church. He will replace the Rev. Bryant Wright, the senior pastor at Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia.


Washington Post - Fred Luter elected first African-American head of Southern Baptists |


Messengers or representatives from churches affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant group, elected the first African-American president for the 167-year-old denomination.

Delegates are meeting in New Orleans, the hometown of the Rev. Fred Luter, Jr., who “has already served as the first African-American in various leadership positions within the convention, including as its current first vice president,” Reuters reported Tuesday morning.

Luter, pastor of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, heads one of an estimated 3,400 black churches in the denomination.

“In 1995, the SBC apologized for its history and pledged to bring more minorities into leadership in the nation's largest Protestant denomination,” USA Today reported Tuesday. “Past President Frank Page reiterated that pledge Tuesday before the election of Luter, who was unopposed.”

“Electing Fred will send a great message to the church and the world,” Robert West, pastor of that Memphis congregation called One Faith Fellowship Baptist Church, told the Commercial Appealbefore the election.
West, who has known Luter more than 25 years, said the expected vote sends a message “that the Southern Baptist Convention is serious about racial reconciliation.”

“It was not on my bucket list, so to speak, but I think God ordained this because of the fact that what we’re dealing with right now through the convention is trying to make the convention diverse,” Luter told the Baptist Press in February about his nomination. “I think this will speak not only to our convention but to our country and throughout the world that this convention is serious about reaching all people.”


Baptist Press - Historic: Fred Luter elected SBC president |

NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention June 19. He is the first African American to hold the post.

David Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans, nominated Luter.

"We are already a convention with great diversity in our membership ranks and our churches. If we are faithful in our work this diversity will continue to grow. We need Pastor Fred at the head of the table, helping us understand our mission field and our mission. It is time to tap the great resource of his experience, wisdom and passion for this wider purpose," Crosby said.

The text of Crosby's nominating speech appears below.

Crosby, earlier this year in announcing his intention to nominate Luter, had said the election would send "a great, hopeful, powerful message to our city, our culture, our convention and our country."

"For many, it will make them rethink who Southern Baptists are, and it will help us reach the new diversity that we find in our cities," Crosby had said in an interview.

Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue since 1986, helped the church grow from a fledgling mission with 65 members to the largest SBC church in Louisiana with more than 7,000 members. After Hurricane Katrina damaged the congregation's building in 2005, he held worship services for displaced members in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Houston before the church moved back into its facility in 2008.

In 2011 Luter became the SBC's first African American first vice president and in 2001 was the first African American to preach the convention sermon. He also served on the committee that proposed a revision of the Baptist Faith and Message in 2000
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World on the Web - Southern Baptists elect first black president |

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Southern Baptist Convention has elected its first African-American leader.

The Rev. Fred Luter Jr. was elected president of the nation’s largest Protestant denomination on Tuesday at its annual meeting. He is the pastor at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans.

The historic move comes as the denomination tries to expand its appeal beyond its traditional white Southern base.

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.


Dr. Denny Burk - Reflections on the Election of Fred Luter |

Over a century and a half ago, Baptists in the south split from Baptists in the north over the issue of slavery. Southern Baptists wanted to appoint slave owners as missionaries, and the northern Baptists disagreed. And so in 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention was born.

In the mid-90′s, Southern Baptists affirmed a resolution of repentance for being on the wrong side of slavery and Jim Crow. It was too long in coming, but it was good and needed.

Today, however, Southern Baptists had their Acts 26:20 moment. We brought forth deeds in keeping with repentance.

I cannot overstate how deeply significant the election of Fred Luter is. Nor can I overstate the emotion that was in the room when he was elected. Baptist messengers from all over the South rose to their feet and cheered as they cast their votes for the first black president of the SBC. I myself tried to cheer and whistle as I held my ballot up, but I could not get anything out through the tears. And I wasn’t alone. 

Given our history and the fact that it is within living memory that many Southern Baptists voted not to allow integration in their churches, today is an astonishing mercy from the Lord. The Lord has granted repentance to us–a repentance we don’t deserve it. But there it is. The Lord has done it, and it is marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118:23).


Baptist Press - Fred Luter's trailblazing life rich with trials, blessings |

NEW ORLEANS (BP) -- The new blue and silver Honda 360 motorcycle was mangled junk. A young Fred Luter Jr. lay in a hospital bed, his left leg broken in several places, a hole in his head.

Louis Beloney, then-senior deacon at Greater Mt. Carmel Baptist Church, gave the 21-year-old Luter sage advice: "Obedience is better than sacrifice." That is, Luter would have done better to obey his mother Viola, who told him just a month earlier not to buy the bike, rather than nearly sacrifice his life in the May 1977 accident when he struck a car on Paris Avenue in New Orleans.

"And he said, 'You better get your life right with God.' It challenged me and started making me really consider my relationship with God, to the point that I started reading my Bible every day, on a daily basis, morning and evening," Luter recalls 35 years later. "I called the accident my Damascus Road experience."

Leaving the hospital three months later in a full-leg cast he would wear until the next year, his head mostly healed, he soon walked on crutches down the aisle of Greater Mt. Carmel and committed himself to the Lord
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