The board of trustees at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College voted during their spring meeting to rename the campus student center in honor of Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans and former Southern Baptist Convention president. The new name is part of a $12 million plan focused on campus renovations including updates to student housing, the cafeteria and the student center, the seminary reported April 18.
Jamie Dew, president of NOBTS and Leavell College, surprised Luter and members of his church with the news on Easter Sunday. See video of Dew’s announcement here.
“Proverbs 3:27 says this, ‘Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due when it is in your power to do so,” Dew said during the presentation. “Pastor Luter, you are clearly a man to whom honor is due and it is within our power to do so.”
The newly renamed Fred Luter Jr. Student Center interior restoration is nearing completion after more than a year of work, NOBTS reported. Trustees also approved much-needed exterior upgrades to the student center, which include additional interior renovations, outdoor seating areas, landscaping and parking lot repairs.
The student center renovations were funded by a $2 million anonymous gift. A gift of that size, Dew noted, includes naming rights for the building. In consultation with the NOBTS administration, the donor chose to recognize Luter’s humble and faithful service in New Orleans and throughout the SBC by naming this building in his honor, the seminary reported.
Dew noted he began listening to Luter’s sermons shortly after becoming a believer.
“When you watch someone from afar, you have an impression about who they are and what they are,” Dew told the congregation. “And you know how this goes, sometimes when you get to meet these people in real life they are not who you thought they would be.”
He added, “Brother, you are not only everything I thought you were, you are more. We love you.”
Franklin Avenue Baptist Church called Luter as pastor in 1986. Luter would go on to help the struggling congregation with 65 members grow to one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in Louisiana, NOBTS reported.
“During his 36-year tenure as the church’s pastor,” NOBTS noted in their report, “Luter has become an important voice for the cause of Christ in the city of New Orleans and an ardent supporter of the seminary’s work.” In 2012, Luter was elected as the first African American president of the SBC and served two terms in that role.
In addition to the updates and new features, the cafeteria will also receive a new name. Trustees voted to name the cafeteria the Landrum Leavell Dining Hall in memory of Landrum P. Leavell II., the seminary’s seventh president, who served for 20 years.
For full story on the NOBTS trustee meeting, click here.