The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention is just around the corner (June 19-20) in New Orleans, La.
Among items of business will be the election of a new president.
For the first time in recent years I am excited about this election. As of now, only one person has been announced as a nominee — Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in the host city.
Many people are making a big deal that, if elected, Luter would become the first African American president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
That’s well and good, but the fact is that when I cast my ballot for Fred Luter, it will have nothing to do with his race.
He could be any nationality and I would still vote for him because of who he is and what he stands for.
Fred Luter does not deserve to be elected president of the nation’s largest Protestant body because he is African American. He deserves to be elected president of the SBC because of his accomplishments over a number of years.
Luter began his preaching ministry at Franklin Avenue when it started as a mission. It is the only church he has served.
Unlike some past SBC presidents, Luter is an ambassador for the Cooperative Program.
Luter, current SBC vice president, has been a frequent speaker at events in Tennessee for many years. He was in Rockwood last summer at First Baptist Church, speaking at an event sponsored by Big Emory Baptist Association.
In an interview with the Baptist and Reflector, Luter acknowledged, “Our church would not be where it is today if it was not for the Cooperative Program.”
As the church has grown he has led it to increase CP giving. In 2007, the church gave $44,000 through CP. In 2010 that amount had increased to $261,798, according to Southern Baptists’ Annual Church Profile.
Luter told me last summer, “I am a strong supporter of the Cooperative Program. It still works.” Amen!
What a refreshing change from our current president who was elected despite having led his church to decrease CP giving.
In addition, Luter is one of the best preachers you will ever hear. Luter recalled in his interview last summer that when he became the first African American to preach the annual convention sermon, then SBC President James Merritt was asked if Luter was chosen to preach because of his race.
Luter noted that Merritt replied that Luter was chosen “because he was a respected preacher.” Amen again. Luter can preach.
Last summer during our interview Luter had not decided if he would allow his nomination. He made a pledge that if he did and was elected his goal would be “to bring us together as a convention” so that “we can truly be the body of Christ.” He went on to add that “we need to major on the things that have made this convention great through the years — evangelism and discipleship.”
Add all that together and that’s why Fred Luter will get my vote for president of the SBC. He has earned it through his love and dedication to his Lord and our denomination.