Rev. Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, will be nominated to become president of the Southern Baptist Convention
Pastor Luter began his career as what he fondly refers to as a street preacher, spending his time preaching on different street corners in New Orleans “Lower Nine” area where he grew up. In 1986, the members of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church elected him pastor even though he had no pastoral experience. Under Pastor Luter’s leadership the church has grown from a membership of 65 members on roll to its current membership of 7000 plus worshipers.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) is the world’s largest Baptist denomination and the largest Protestant body in the United States, with over 16 million members as of 2010. The SBC became a separate denomination in 1845 following a regional split with northern Baptists over the issues of slavery. After the American Civil War, another split occurred: most black Baptists in the South separated from white churches and set up their own congregations. Today the once all-white denomination of slaveholders and segregationists, has a membership of 16 million and are one of the most diverse denominations in the United States. Almost 20 percent of Southern Baptist churches are predominantly African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American or other minorities.
“Our election of Fred Luter as the first African American president of the SBC will send a great, hopeful, powerful message to our city, our culture, our convention and our country,” said current president David E. Crosby, pastor of First Baptist Church in New Orleans.
The national convention is scheduled for June in New Orleans.