OBU will award an honorary doctor of divinity degree to Dr. Fred Luter Jr., senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La., on Sunday, June 10, at the church, in recognition of the pastor's "high standards, excellence in achievement and genuine concern for others."
The presentation will be made by Dr. David W. Whitlock, OBU president. He will be assisted by Dr. Stan Norman, provost and executive vice president for campus life; Dr. Ken Gabrielse, dean of the Warren M. Angell College of Fine Arts; and Dale Griffin, dean of spiritual life.
"Dr. Luter has strengthened the work of Southern Baptists and, thereby, expanded the effective ministry of our denomination," Whitlock wrote in a citation to be presented during the ceremony. "Through his commitment to visionary, focused and faithful ministry, he has sought to bring glory to God through his work."
"Dr. Luter serves as an excellent example of the kind of graduates we seek to prepare in our Herschel Hobbs College of Theology and Ministry," explained Whitlock. "He exemplifies the kind of leadership within our denomination that we desire to celebrate."
A native of New Orleans' historic "Lower 9th Ward," Luter has served as pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church for 26 years. Under his leadership, the church has grown from 65 members to more than 8,000 members, making Franklin Avenue the largest Southern Baptist Church in Louisiana and one of the largest churches in the Greater New Orleans area.
Luter attended the University of New Orleans and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He was the first African-American to preach the annual Southern Baptist Convention sermon in 2001. Luter has served in various Southern Baptist leadership roles on the local, state and national level, including numerous leadership positions with the New Orleans Baptist Association (NOBA) and the Louisiana Baptist Convention. He has been nominated for president of the Southern Baptist Convention, which will be voted on during the SBC Annual Meeting in New Orleans June 19-20.
During Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Luter lost his home and his church. While temporarily living in Birmingham, Ala., he started new congregations in Baton Rouge, La., and Houston, Texas, as an outgrowth of ministering to his church members displaced across the country. The Mayor of New Orleans asked him to return to the city and serve on the "Bring Back New Orleans Commission" to help rebuild the city in the wake of the hurricane.
Luter and his wife, Elizabeth, are the parents of Kimberly Ann Luter and Fred "Chip" Luter III.