April 3, 2013
For Immediate Release
By Lucas Pennington, student news writer
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Fred Luter Jr., president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will be speaking at Campbellsville University’s chapel service on Wednesday, April 10. The service will be held in the Ransdell Chapel at 10 a.m. Ransdell Chapel is located at 401 N. Hoskins Ave., Campbellsville.
|Fred Luter Jr.|
“We are very thankful to be hosting Rev. Fred Luter at Campbellsville University,” John Chowning, vice president for church and external relations and executive assistant to the president, said.
“While this is not his first visit to CU, we are pleased that he is taking time to be here during his time as president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“He has a powerful Christian witness and strong record of leadership. His life story and pastoral ministry at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans are compelling and motivational for all of us.”
Luter has made history multiple times throughout his life as a minister. Luter first made history when he was elected vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2011 but made history once again when he was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Luter became the first African-American to be elected to both positions.
The Southern Baptist Convention was founded in 1845. It is the largest protestant organization in America with over 16 million members and 45,000 churches.
Luter was called to the ministry field after he was involved in a motorcycle accident in 1977. Luter was hospitalized with multiple compound fractures and serious head injuries. He was born and raised in New Orleans’ lower Ninth Ward, and had been active in the church as a child.
With no church to preach in, Luter set up shop every Saturday at noon on the corner of Galvez and Caffin Avenue where he would preach to anyone who would listen.
Luter preached his first church sermon in 1983 at the Law Street Baptist Church in New Orleans’ Seventh Ward and by 1986 he was preaching regularly at Greater Liberty Baptist Church when he heard about the opening for a pastor at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church.
In order to grow his congregation, which was at 65 members, Luter took the approach that if he can get men to come the women would follow. His idea was that if the man of the household came then he would bring his wife and family. Luter invited men over for afternoons at his house and after the event was over he took time to spread the word of God.
Luter said, “When Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns fought, I had about 25 guys at the house that night. Many of them are still with us.”
By 1989, Luter had grown his church to over 300 members. In 1994, practically bursting at the seams, Luter and his congregation began plans to build a new church. Over the next three years, through regular tithes and offerings, the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church faithful had raised enough money to begin construction of their new facility—one that would seat 1,500 people.
The word was out about this “fireball” of a preacher in the upper Ninth Ward who not only talked the talk, but walked the walk, and as Luter’s reputation grew so did his congregation, ultimately reaching more than 7,000 members by 2005.
The congregation at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church was considerable altered on Aug. 29, 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit. Franklin Avenue Baptist Church took more than eight feet of water and the members of the church were scattered across the United States.
Luter, however, would not rest. He began the painstaking process of trying to locate his members and get them home. He traveled all over the United States, preaching in cities where they were.
New Franklin Avenue Baptist Church’s sprang up in cities like Baton Rouge, La., and Houston, Texas, but Luter wasn’t satisfied. He wanted a church in New Orleans to serve those members who had managed to make it back home. Luter’s call would be answered by Pastor David Crosby of the First Baptist Church in the Lakeview section of New Orleans.
Crosby’s large church was spared the major devastation that Franklin Avenue Baptist Church experienced and was able to reopen within a few months. The two were able to make a deal that would allow Luter to use the church at 7 a.m. on Sundays to hold his service.
On April 6, 2008, Luter danced around the pulpit with tears in his eyes, and welcomed his congregation back to their newly build sanctuary. Many in his congregation said had it not been for Luter’s selflessness and inspirational leadership, they would have lost their God-centered orientation and been unable to come home to begin restoring their lives and one of America’s great cities.
Between 2008 and now, membership at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church has continued to grow. So much so that the church has outgrown itself and is now in the middle of a capital campaign to raise the money to build a larger sanctuary.
Luter was born in New Orleans on Nov.11, 1956. He is the middle child of five siblings. He has been married to Elizabeth Luter for the past 32 years. They have a son, “Chip” Luter (also a pastor) and a daughter, Kimberly.
Campbellsville University is a widely acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 3,500 students offering 63 undergraduate options, 17 master’s degrees, five postgraduate areas and eight pre-professional programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.