After months of urging from other Baptists around the country, the Rev. Fred Luter of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church told his African American congregation Sunday he will run for the presidency of the predominantly white Southern Baptist Convention.
Several Baptist leaders said Luter becomes the prohibitive favorite for the post, to be filled in a potentially historic election here in June.
SBC Today, a denominational news web site, carried the announcement earlier today. Youth pastor Fred "Chip" Luter III separately confirmed Luter's announcement this morning.
Luter appears to be the first candidate to declare for the post, which by custom comes vacant this summer when the Rev. Bryant Wright of Marietta, Ga. finishes his second one-year term.
For months, other officials in the nation's largest Protestant denomination have been urging Luter to run.
Many began openly promoting Luter for the top job last summer, moments after he was elected the convention's first African-American first vice president at the convention's last annual meeting.
"If he runs, he'll get elected overwhelmingly. He may be unopposed," said Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
No other candidates have announced so far.
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SOURCE: The Times-Picayune