Pastor Fred Luter, Jr., senior pastor at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, will deliver OBU’s Winter Commencement address Friday, Dec. 11, at 2 p.m. in Raley Chapel’s Potter Auditorium.
The event will combine commencement ceremonies for graduate students from OBU’s College of Graduate and Professional Studies and undergraduate students.
Luter’s commitment to his family, passion for church growth and love for both God’s Word and God’s people led him to make history when he was unanimously elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest protestant denomination in America, in June 2012. He was the first African American president of the SBC.
Luter began his ministerial journey on what he refers to as his “Damascus Road Experience.” In 1977, a motorcycle accident seriously injured his body but ultimately saved his soul. As a result of the accident, he made a conscious decision to surrender his life entirely to Jesus Christ.
Born and raised in New Orleans, he preached his first sermon at the Law Street Baptist Church in 1983. Three years later, while preaching at Greater Liberty Baptist Church, he applied for the position of senior pastor at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church. With experience in street preaching and supplying at other churches, he began his first pastorate at Franklin Avenue. He committed himself to encourage the people by preaching, teaching and living the Word of God. Dedicated to saving the family, Luter purposely sought ways to draw men to the church, believing that if you save the man, the man would save his family.
By 1989, Franklin Avenue had grown to more than 300 members. By 1994, the church could no longer accommodate the crowd in their current building, so the church began raising funds to build a larger sanctuary. In 1997, the new 1800 seat sanctuary opened. By 2005, prior to Hurricane Katrina, the church grew to more than 7,000 members. The church continues to grow and is currently raising funds to build a 4,500-seat sanctuary through its Capital Campaign “Committed to Changing More Lives.”