Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Southern Baptists enthusiastically elect first African-American president

Fred Luter Jr., left, and outgoing SBC
President Bryant Wright (AP photo)
Rev. Fred Luter Jr. has been chosen to lead the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest Protestant denomination, the first time that an African-American pastor has been so honored. Travis Loller of the Associated Press writes that it is "an important step for a denomination that was formed on the wrong side of slavery before the Civil War and had a reputation for supporting segregation and racism during much of the last century. In a news conference after the vote, Luter said he doesn't think his election is some kind of token gesture. 'If we stop appointing African-Americans, Asians, Hispanics to leadership positions after this, we've failed ... I promise you I'm going to do all that I can to make sure this is not just a one-and-done deal.' " Luter was unopposed when he was elected by thousands of enthusiastic delegates at the SBC annual meeting in his hometown of New Orleans.

At that meeting, a controversial proposal was also put forth for the organization to adopt the alternative name of Great Commission Baptists, a move that was made in hopes of bringing in more believers. The organization, acknowledging a recent decline in membership,  its desire for greater diversity and the belief that some may have a negative associations with the current name, has put the optional name to vote. The result was set to be announced Wednesday.

Luter did speak Tuesday about the decline in SBC membership and his own efforts to grow his church, reports AP's Loller, "which included intensive outreach to men, and his concern that men in his inner-city neighborhood were not taking responsibility for their children."  (Read more)

No comments: