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Examiner
  • Southern Baptist leader addresses social change

  • When he spoke Thursday, Fred Luter drew from Jeremiah 18, a section of the Old Testament that speaks of a potter making the clay into whatever he wishes.



    The point, he said, is “that if revival is going to happen we’ve got to put our lives in God’s hands,” he said.

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  • When he spoke Thursday, Fred Luter drew from Jeremiah 18, a section of the Old Testament that speaks of a potter making the clay into whatever he wishes.
    The point, he said, is “that if revival is going to happen we’ve got to put our lives in God’s hands,” he said.
    Luter, the first African-America president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation’s largest Protestant denomination, has been in Independence for a revival at Mount Washington Baptist Church. He spoke Thursday and Friday nights.
    Luter, recently elected to a second and final one-year term as president, said one of his key goals has been to get to the church to open itself more to minorities.
    “Being here this week at Mount Washington is a perfect example of what we want to get done,” he said Friday afternoon, referring to the merger three years ago of Mount Washington and Greater New Home Baptist, one predominantly white and the other predominantly African-American.
    A member of Luter’s congregation, the 5,000-member Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, moved to Independence after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and that led to the connections that brought him here. Mount Washington Baptist holds the revival each year.
    In a shifting culture, Luter said, the church must hold fast to what it stands for.
    “The problem is not that the country is changing,” he said. “The problem is that the church is not being the church.”
    Sometimes, he said, the church has gotten caught up in internal divisions at the expense of its essential message, which “should still be that Jesus is the way, the truth and the light.”
    That’s not to say the church isn’t doing good work.
    “Lives are still being changed,” he said. “The problem is we’re not getting the word out.”
    Any real change to put the church back in the center of people’s lives, he said, has to begin with families, specifically with parents making the decision that life’s many activities and distractions should not crowd out Sunday mornings in worship.
    “That (has) to come before the soccer game, the football game, the basketball game,” he said.
    Luter said the Southern Baptist Convention was disappointed in the recent decision by the Boy Scouts of America to change its policy and allow gays to be Scouts, though not adult leaders. Churches sponsor most Scout packs and troops, and Luter said individual Southern Baptist congregations will decide whether to stay with the program.
    He said those congregations have an opportunity to reach out to young people through Scouting, though a similar program such as the Royal Ambassadors is an alternative.
    Parents also will have to decide how comfortable they are with changes in Scouting, he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I don’t advise parents to make a hasty decision,” he said.
     

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