Fred Luter elected as SBC 1st VP
Barbara Denman, Baptist Press
June 15, 2011

Fred Luter elected as SBC 1st VP

Fred Luter elected as SBC 1st VP
Barbara Denman, Baptist Press
June 15, 2011

PHOENIX — Even as Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)

messengers considered a set of recommendations to increase the ethnic diversity

of the convention’s leadership, they faced the choice between an African

American pastor from Louisiana and a Chinese-American layperson from Phoenix

for first vice president of the SBC.

Fred Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, was

elected first vice president over Rick Ong, a member of First Chinese Baptist

Church in Phoenix.

Of the 2,012 ballots cast June 14 in Phoenix, Luter received 1,558 or 77

percent of the votes while Ong received 441 or 22 percent of the votes; 13

votes were disallowed.

Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake

Forest, nominated Luter, calling

him “one of Southern Baptists’ most popular and beloved preachers. He’s in

constant demand in schools, colleges, seminaries and conferences all across our


Ong was nominated by Phoenix-area pastor, Billy VanCamp of HeartCry Church in

Queen Creek, who said Ong “invests, influences and inspires” others as he

“invites people to Christ.”

Akin, in his nomination, reminded messengers that Luter, in 2001, was the first

African-American to preach the SBC convention sermon. He also has served as an

SBC second vice president.

In August 2005, Luter lost his home and church to the floodwaters of Hurricane

Katrina. “Because of the love for his church members,” Akin said, the pastor

traveled across the nation to minister to his displaced members while living

temporarily in Birmingham, Ala.

The congregation “seized the moment,” Akin said, and started churches in Baton

Rouge and Houston, Texas.

Photo by Kent Harville

Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La., shares how God has opened doors of ministry since Hurricane Katrina hit the city in 2005. His comments came June 14 during the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary report given by seminary president Chuck Kelley during the afternoon session June 14 at the SBC Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Ariz.

In spite of losing half of the New Orleans congregation — and numerous

invitations to move to a new pastorate — Luter stayed with his people, Akin

said, and was asked to serve on the mayor’s Bring Back New Orleans Commission.

Since Katrina, the revived Franklin Avenue congregation has grown to 7,000


Akin said Luter also “set the example” in Cooperative Program giving after

Katrina. The congregation “stepped out on faith,” giving $44,000 through the

Cooperative Program in 2007, increasing their CP giving to $205,000 in 2008,

$250,000 in 2009 and $260,000 in 2010.

“He’s a champion for Christ and a wonderful servant to Southern Baptists,” Akin


Akin recounted that Luter was born and raised in New Orleans’ historic Lower

Ninth Ward and was led to Christ in 1977 at Mt. Carmel Baptist Church.

“Immediately he began to do the work of an evangelist, which has characterized

his life ever since,” Akin said. Every Saturday, the young believer “would go

out and share his faith on different street corners on the Lower Ninth Ward.”

After being called as pastor of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in 1986,

Luter led the small struggling mission church from 65 members to 8,000 members

by 2005, “making it the largest Southern Baptist church in the state of

Louisiana,” Akin said, “and a church that regularly leads the state in


Under Luter’s leadership, the church started 15 missions, Akin said.

Luter is “widely known for his passion for preaching and teaching the Word of

God,” Akin said, “especially for reaching men and developing men. In fact one

of his favorite sayings is ‘If you save the man, the man will save his


In 2010 according to Southern Baptists’ Annual Church Profile, Franklin Avenue

Baptist Church reported primary worship attendance of 4,000; undesignated

receipts of $4,407,217; Cooperative Program contributions of $261,798; a Lottie

Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions gift of $35; an Annie

Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions gift of $1,323; and

$479,540 in total missions expenditures.

Luter and his wife Elizabeth have two children: Kimberly Ann and Fred “Chip”

Luter, III.

In nominating Ong, VanCamp said Ong was 12 years old when he “received Christ

as his Lord and Savior.”

“I love the way Rick Ong invests in people. He’s an investor of people, not

only as people, but as a layman in his church.” First Chinese is a state leader

in Cooperative Program giving, VanCamp said.

As a person of “influence,” Ong was the Asian emphasis director for the

Crossover 2011 evangelistic outreach prior to the SBC. Under his leadership,

2,600 people attended one of the block parties, “mostly kids that were Asian,”

VanCamp said.

Ong served on the 2008-09 SBC Committee on Nominations and has served as an

evangelism conference speaker, VanCamp said.

At First Chinese Baptist Church, Ong served as the Chinese Youth for Christ

president, deacon, Sunday School teacher and director, men’s director and on

the church council.

“Rick has explored God’s Word. Rick has experienced God’s power, Rick expresses

God’s love,” VanCamp concluded.

Ong and his wife Roxanne have two children.

In 2010, First Chinese Baptist Church in Phoenix reported primary worship

attendance of 130; undesignated receipts of $420,178; Cooperative Program

contributions of $41,488; a Lottie Moon Christmas Offering gift for

international Missions of $8,793; an Annie Armstrong Easter Offering gift for

North American missions of $4,825; and $74,512 in total missions expenditures.

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Denman is director of communications for the Florida Baptist