Pastor to Become First Black Leader of Southern Baptists

Yea, I read this article the other day. I'm not a over the top churchy kind of a person, but I thought Rev. Fred Luter Jr. may make a bigger impact than most folks think. Most folks are thinking about racism & the racist history of the Southern Baptist Convention & they're not thinking about dollars & cents. Look at it this way, 51,000 congregations with 16 million members, about a million of them black. In the largely black National Convention U.S.A there are 7.5 million members. The quarterly & annual rates will sky rocket if they can get a lot of those members back to the Southern Baptist Convention or form one Baptist Convention.

I'm sure the governing boards knew this. Just one question, is the governing boards still the Grand Wizards???

Before somebody says something, I may not be overly churchy, but I know black folks had been apart of the Southern Baptist movement since the 18th & 19th centuries. The Southern Baptist
promoted the view of equality before God, which embraced Africans, they also urged planters to abolish slavery. But there was a split in 1845 over slavery, because they thought that slavery was okay. After the civil war, some Southern Baptists founded the Ku Klux Klan. Like the article said, the Southern Baptist Convention is the spiritual home to white supremacists. Since the founding the core membership have been white supremacist. They only know it's in their best interest to change. 51,000 congregations with 16 million members, about a million of them black. In the largely Black National Convention U.S.A there are 7.5 million members, u do the math per dollar.

 

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Here's the article:

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2012-06-11/fred-luter-t...

 

NEW ORLEANS – Baptist pastor Fred Luter Jr. once preached the Gospel through an amplifier on street corners in this city's Lower 9th Ward.

Tuesday, he's set to become the first black president of the Southern Baptist Convention— a group created more than a century ago to support slavery — at the group's annual meeting here.

The rise of Luter, 55, from street preacher to religious leader is more than a tale of personal fate. It's a historic moment in the denomination's 167-year history, a history tainted with racial segregation and human bondage, historians and convention leaders say.

The Southern Baptist Convention, which is overwhelmingly white, is the second-largest Christian denomination in the USA, behind Catholics. But its membership numbers have been sliding for five years, down from 16,306,246 in 2006 to 15,978,112 in 2011, according to Nashville-based evangelical research agency LifeWay Research. This is dangerously close to falling behind the nation's third-largest group: people with no religious identity.

Just as Catholic numbers have been sustained by the influx of Hispanics and other immigrants, the SBC hopes it can grow with more minorities.

Electing Luter will be "the most significant event to happen in our history since our formation," says Daniel Akin, president of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. "It makes a statement about where the SBC is and where it hopes to go in the future."

Akin says convention leaders hope Luter's election has a "trickle-down effect," motivating more black congregants and pastors to join. The numbers have been rising, up from 1,907 African-American congregations in 1998 to 3,534 in 2010, according to the SBC's North American Mission Board.

The Southern Baptist Convention was created in 1845, after northern Baptists refused to recognize slave owners as missionaries, says Nancy Ammerman, a professor of the sociology of religion at Boston University.

In the past two decades, the convention has taken steps to recant its past and try to draw more African Americans. The denomination made front-page news nationwide at its 150th anniversary meeting in 1995 when it passed a resolution of apology and reconciliation for its racist past. Luter helped write it.

It said, in part, "that we ask forgiveness from our African-American brothers and sisters, acknowledging that our own healing is at stake; and … we hereby commit ourselves to eradicate racism in all its forms from Southern Baptist life and ministry."

Luter's pending election shows, Ammerman says, that "they're becoming more willing to become a more multiethnic denomination."

As of 2010, African-American churches were 8% of the denomination's congregations; 50% of Southern Baptist churches started in 2011 were non-Anglo, according to Religion News Service.

To become truly more inclusive, Southern Baptist leaders need to appoint more African Americans and other minorities to high-level leadership and seminary positions, not just name a black president, which is mostly a symbolic position, says Robert Parham, executive director of the Nashville-based Baptist Center for Ethics and EthicsDaily.com.

"Symbolism has the capacity to make folks feel good about themselves without actually doing anything," he says.

Luter says he didn't know the convention's history when he became Franklin Avenue Baptist Church's pastor in 1986. He was just happy to be off the street. Luter grew up the middle of five children in the Lower 9th Ward. As a youth, he was exposed to the joyous singing of Greater Mount Carmel Baptist Church but was "running with the wrong crowd."

When a motorcycle accident nearly ended his life at 21, he vowed to serve God if he made it out of the hospital alive, he says. Soon after that, he began reading from the Bible and preaching to passersby on street corners in the Lower 9th Ward every Saturday at noon.

In 1986, someone suggested applying for the pastor opening at Franklin Avenue Baptist in the city's Gentilly neighborhood. Luter says he considered it a "white church" — but the white members had fled to the suburbs by then. He took the job.

Learning about the convention's history several years later didn't deter him or his mostly black parishioners, he says. In 1995, he led an effort to have the Southern Baptist Convention formally denounce its past of supporting slave owners.

His unopposed election to the SBC presidency will say a lot about a group that, like himself, has had darker days but is trying to improve, Luter says.

"They're not just passing resolutions — they're walking the walk," he says. "This is a convention that's serious about opening doors to other ethnic groups around the country."

A recent poll by LifeWay Research found 86% of SBC pastors said it would be good for the denomination to be led by an African American.

Luter has faced controversy with the SBC leadership this spring. Richard Land, a longtime friend of his and the head of the SBC's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, made inflammatory comments on the radio, accusing President Obama, Al Sharpton and others of exploiting the killing of Trayvon Martin and calling racism a myth.

Land issued a two-page apology for his "insensitivity" and had his radio show canceled. Luter told the Baptist Press news service that he accepted Land's apology and looked forward to working with him and others within the convention "to tear down the walls of racism in our great country."

Change and growth won't come quickly or easily, T. Vaughn Walker, a professor of black church studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, told Religion News Service.

Walker, the first full-time black seminary professor in the denomination, said he was "delighted" for Luter's election, but he added, "I have no illusions that he's going to change much."

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Wow!

For someone who isn't, as you describe, "an over the top 'churchy' kind of person," you certainly hit the nail on the head with much of what you said. This was a good read. Bro. Tony.

I think that denominations have and must wield some power thru numbers and resources to even have a VOICE in society.    Upon his return, Jesus could probably care less if the whites joined the blacks or vice versa organization wise.  "Did you call sinners to repent,  did you feed my sheep, . did you clothe the naked,... feed the hungry,.. visit the prisoners?  I agree with T. Vaughn Walker saying Luter probably wouldn't change much. I believe this strategy does more in giving white Southern Baptists a chance to reveal or express some "growth in Christ" over the years since Reconstruction. 

The 'blood guilt' stain upon the KKK came out these same roots. "Christian gentlemen" such as that "WRETCHED SLUG,"  Nathan Bedford Forest, had nothing else to do after the Civil War but torture and burn out blacks on Saturday nights before going to church Sunday morning.  He probably was the Chairman of the Deacon Board while enjoying  the mantle of the 1st Grand Wizard ever.  So, some 'spiritual reparations' probably can't hurt Southern Baptists right about now.  As in the truth with most reparations, . . these are really long overdue!

Thanks Bro Phil, 

I agree, 'spiritual reparations' want hurt Southern Baptists at all. 

Bro. Anthony:

One thing I thought about a little while ago and you can tell me what you think.

With all this "kum  ba yah" going on with the SB, the mud is still bound  to hit the fan in a matter of time.  Most white SB vote Repub.  Most black SB vote democrat. Clash of the Titans in a matter of time, I believe!

And here's something else about to go kaboom.    Most Blacks, (Christian and Muslim voters), are just now becoming aware of the "hard left" political swing the Democratic Party is going thru now.   Obama shocked  and disappointed many a black church goer last month.  He was willing to stake his favorability and re-election on 'COMING OUT' as the 1st Gay President, because these "Progressives" told him to do it. 

The push for abortion services or "rights" in Africa by the U.S., AND the expansion of the gay rights agenda in African Muslim and Christian nations is looked at in some places  to be considered for aid.  That's sorry.  The push to quiet religious influence in these same countries' governments is becoming as loud and as demanding as it is here in the U.S.

Black religious voters are finding themselves in a hard spot not being able to violate their spiritual consciences from the Koran and the Bible and be in good standing in the democratic party.   So I said all of that to ask "how is all this going to turn out?."

Blacks can't/won't vote Repub.   Democratic Progressives JUST ABOUT finished their take over of the Democratic party.  How long will it be before BLACK RELIGIOUS VOTERS AND ATHEISTIC PROGRESSIVES ARE STRAIGHT-UP FIGHTING until someone has to go?  

And since deep pockets are what matters in politics, , ,its probably not going to be the white, atheist progressives, IS IT!    LOL.   What do you think?

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