The pastor of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church is poised this week to become the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention. His career as a church pastor was not something he imagined as a child.
Pastor Fred Luter says that when he was growing up in the Lower Ninth Ward, church was not a personal priority.
“One of mamma’s rules was on Sunday morning everybody had to go to church. I don’t care what you’re doing out with your friends, or how late you stay out on Friday night or Saturday night. But, on Sunday morning, everybody’s going to church.”
He says his life changed after a motorcycle accident in Gentilly in May 1977 — when he was 20 years old. Luter says he almost died. After a visit from a senior deacon of his church, Luter made a vow. He says he promised that if he lived, he’d serve God for the rest of his life.
Luter is now expected to lead the largest Protestant denomination in the United States, and that group has a history of supporting segregation. Luter says he hopes his leadership can make race a side issue — not the focus of his agenda.
“God is the god of all of us: Red, yellow, black and white. We’re all precious in his sight. And it’s time for the Southern Baptist Convention to not only to start talk this thing, but now start walking this thing.”
The Southern Baptists’ meeting is being held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Morial Convention Center.