The Rev. Fred Luter knew that his election as the first African-American president of the nation's largest Protestant denomination would make headlines.
The Rev. Fred Luter at Lakeview Baptist Church, Au...: The Rev. Fred Luter, the first African-American president of the Southern Baptist Convention, preaches at Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn on Aug. 20, 2012.
But he couldn't have predicted the whirlwind that his life has become over the past two months.
"It's been nonstop, it's been engaging, it's been enlightening," Luter said this week before preaching to a large crowd at Lakeview Baptist Church in Auburn. It was one of many sermons he's delivered recently to churches in the predominantly white Southern Baptist Convention.
His election earned phone calls from President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney's office, along with personal letters from former presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. He's been interviewed by several major media outlets and TV newsmagazines.
And three weeks ago, he was an honored guest at the North Carolina home of evangelist Billy Graham, an experience Luter described as "like meeting Moses for the first time."
Luter's meeting with Graham was just before Graham was hospitalized earlier this month for a respiratory infection. Luter said though Graham, 93, is frail, his mind is still very sharp.
He said Graham remembered coming to New Orleans right after Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, and he remembered where Luter's church, Franklin Avenue Baptist, was located. Katrina's flood waters ravaged the church and scattered members of the congregation.
Luter took over Franklin Avenue, which was a predominantly white church until the 1970s, in 1986. He took the congregation from about 50 members to about 8,000, pre-Katrina. The church lost about half the membership after the hurricane, but has rebuilt to about 5,000 today, Luter said.
"God's been very good to us, no doubt about it."
Source: Montgomery Advertiser | Allison Griffin