Reflections on the Election of Fred Luter

Over a century and a half ago, Baptists in the south split from Baptists in the north over the issue of slavery. Southern Baptists wanted to appoint slave owners as missionaries, and the northern Baptists disagreed. And so in 1845, the Southern Baptist Convention was born.

In the mid-90’s, Southern Baptists affirmed a resolution of repentance for being on the wrong side of slavery and Jim Crow. It was too long in coming, but it was good and needed.

Today, however, Southern Baptists had their Acts 26:20 moment. We brought forth deeds in keeping with repentance.

I cannot overstate how deeply significant the election of Fred Luter is. Nor can I overstate the emotion that was in the room when he was elected. Baptist messengers from all over the South rose to their feet and cheered as they cast their votes for the first black president of the SBC. I myself tried to cheer and whistle as I held my ballot up, but I could not get anything out through the tears. And I wasn’t alone.

Given our history and the fact that it is within living memory that many Southern Baptists voted not to allow integration in their churches, today is an astonishing mercy from the Lord. The Lord has granted repentance to us–a repentance we don’t deserve. But there it is. The Lord has done it, and it is marvelous in our eyes (Psalm 118:23).

“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.'” -Revelation 5:9


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