FaithWorld

U.S. Southern Baptists set to elect their first black president

By Reuters Staff
June 17, 2012

(Reverend Fred Luter (R) at a working dinner with then U.S. President George W. Bush (L) and Vice Admiral of Coast Guard Thad Allen (C) to discuss rebuilding efforts in the Gulf region after being struck by two hurricanes at Bacco in New Orleans October 10, 2005. REUTERS/Larry Downing)

The largest U.S. Protestant denomination is poised to elect the first black president in its 167-year history, just weeks after the predominately white religious group reprimanded one of its officials for making racially insensitive remarks.

Church leaders said choosing New Orleans pastor Fred Luter Jr. to head the Southern Baptist Convention would make an important statement about the denomination’s efforts to distance itself from its racist past and become more diverse.

“I’m really pumped about this,” Luter said in a telephone interview with Reuters. “My church is so excited man. Because they know my common background, they know where I came from. … I’m really excited for them.”

First Baptist New Orleans Pastor David Crosby, who will nominate Luter, said the move is a statement that “we not only love people of color, we want them in our leadership.”

“We need his perspective. We need him at the table to help us understand who we are as Southern Baptists in this new era.”

Luter, 55, has already served as the first African-American in various leadership positions within the convention, including as its current first vice president.

Read the full story by Colleen Jenkins here.
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