Once an all-white denomination of slaveholders and segregationists, Southern Baptists now number 16 million and are one of the most diverse denominations in the United States. About 20 percent of Southern Baptist churches are predominantly African-American, Hispanic, Asian-American or other minorities.
But the denomination has struggled with its past reputation, as evidenced by the recent unsuccessful attempt to change its name. And it still has few leaders of color.
The Rev. Mike Waddey, pastor of Cottage Grove Baptist Church in rural West Tennessee, said he’d heard Luter preach twice at conferences and said he’s become a big fan. Electing an African-American president is a good move for the convention, he said. Electing Fred Luter, he said, is a great move. “We would welcome Fred Luter as our president — black, white or purple,” he said. “The guy is just quality.”
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