Southern Baptists elect first black president

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June 3: Reverend Fred Luter, pastor of the Franklin Ave. Baptist Church, greets congregation members during Sunday Services at the Church in New Orleans. (AP Photo)

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NEW ORLEANS — At the end of the day Wednesday, the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention will pass to an African American pastor for the first time.

The nation’s largest Protestant denomination voted Tuesday to lect the Rev. Fred Luter Jr. to lead them. It’s an important step for a denomination that was formed on the wrong side of slavery.

Faced with declining membership, the SBC is trying to appeal to a more diverse group of believers. Luter’s election at the SBC’s annual meeting in New Orleans helps those efforts.

Some Southern Baptists also believe adopting the alternative name Great Commission Baptists will help. They say there are too many people who have negative associations with the current name.

The results of a vote on that proposal will be announced Wednesday.
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This article was provided by The Associated Press Wire.  (Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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