Southern Baptists to Elect Black Leader

    Pastor Fred Luter acknowledges the crowd at the Southern Baptist Convention prior to to being elected as the first African-American vice president of the organization, Tuesday, June 14, 2011, in Phoenix.  The move to elect Luter comes at the same time the SBC is making a push for greater participation among what it sometimes calls its "non-Anglo" members in the life of the convention, particularly in leadership roles.  Luter's church is one of an estimated 3,400 black churches in the nation's largest Protestant denomination, a small minority of more than 45,700 total SBC-affiliated churches with about 16 million members total. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

    Ross D. Franklin / AP Photo

    A denomination that was once a haven for white racists is setting a new tone: the Southern Baptist Convention is set to elect as its president Fred Luter Jr., a black minister who grew up in New Orleans’s Lower Ninth Ward and lost his home in Hurricane Katrina. Luter preached on street corners before eventually growing an inner-city church into a large Southern Baptist congregation. In 1995 he electrified attendees by preaching at a pastors’ conference. Luter became a nationally recognized preacher, eventually being honored with the nomination for SBC president.

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