Pastor Dr. Fred Luter, Jr. of New Orleansâ€™ Franklin Avenue Baptist Church (FABC) made history as the first African-American president of the traditionally and predominantly white Southern Baptist Convention. The extraordinary milestone was announced at the Southern Baptist Conventionâ€™s 2012 annual meeting â€“ held in New Orleans on June 19th. Dr. Luter, who ran unopposed, was described as a “fire-breathing, miracle-working pastorâ€ by Pastor David Crosby of First Baptist Church of New Orleans in his nominating speech.
Dr. Luter was called to be pastor of FABC in 1986. At that time, the church had a mostly white congregation located in a transitional neighborhood. The population of New Orleans was not growing and there were no financial resources to be tapped. With daunting odds, Dr. Luter took FABC from 65 members to become the â€œlargest worshipping congregation among Southern Baptists, baptizing thousands and shaking [the City of New Orleans] with the power of the Gospel.â€ In 2005 FABCâ€™s facilities were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina, scattering members all over the country. And yet again, Dr. Luter led the physical and spiritual rebuilding of his congregation. â€œWe are proud to share our dynamic leader with the Southern Baptist Convention. He is a man of God. He is a man of order, and we are blessed to be part of his flockâ€ said Marilyn Amar, an FABC member attending the 2012 convention. Dr. Luter will serve as president for the next 2 years.