More than 4,000 friends and dignitaries gathered in front of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary June 14 to celebrate the dedication of the Fred Luter Jr. Student Center and the presentation of a state resolution and local proclamations honoring “the pastor of New Orleans.”
The smell of New Orleans’ signature char-grilled oysters cooking onsite and the sound of the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church choir singing filled the evening air as the crowd gathered in front of a building that once housed a well-known clothing department store.
Jamie Dew, NOBTS president, turned to Luter — pastor of the church and former SBC president — during the ceremony and asked him to notice the large crowd gathered.
“Do you see them?” Dew asked. “Do you see the people you’ve had an impact on? Do you see the people throughout our convention that you have had an impact on?
“You have been faithful. You have been diligent. You have labored hard and God, through your humble obedience to Jesus Christ, has used you profoundly,” Dew continued. “We celebrate you tonight, my friend.”
Tony Evans, LifeWay author, pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship and president of the Urban Alternative, sent his video congratulations to his “good friend” and praised Luter for his impact and investment in the SBC.
“Most important of all is your commitment to our great God and His word, your faithful proclamation and dedication and illustration of Kingdom commitment,” Evans said. “I am proud to be your friend. I am proud as an African American to join you in this first-in-a-lifetime opportunity and recognition. I hope generations to come will come to know and appreciate the life and legacy of Pastor Fred Luter.”
The Fred Luter Jr. Student Center houses NOBTS and Leavell College offices, classrooms, student study carrels, the North American Mission Board Church Planting Center, and the Global Mission Center in partnership with the International Mission Board. The building faces the busy Gentilly Blvd. that runs in front of the seminary.
Elizabeth Luter, wife of Fred Luter Jr., was honored in a surprise announcement that drew shouts and cheering from the crowd. Dew announced that the newly renovated student study carrels inside the Fred Luter Jr. Student Center were named in her honor.
“He calls you his ‘prime rib’ so we thought it was fitting that something inside would be named after you,” Dew said.
Among those who attended the event were Bart Barber and Willie McLaurin, interim president and CEO of the Executive Committee. Also present were Paul Chitwood, IMB president; Jason Allen, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary president; Ben Mandrell, Lifeway president and CEO; former SBC presidents Ed Litton and Jim Henry, and numerous executive committee members and NOBTS trustees, and others.
Dew recognized the many politicians and city dignitaries in the crowd and welcomed them to speak.
State Senator Joseph Bouie Jr. announced Senate Resolution No. 167 that commended Luter for being “an exemplary leader, devoted servant, and unwavering advocate for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Further recognition came from the city of New Orleans.
New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell noted the importance of the faith community to the city and praised Luter for his legacy.