1. ... By 1986, Luter heard that a Southern Baptist church in New Orleans was looking for a pastor.
"That's that white church over on Franklin Avenue," Luter recalls thinking. "Blacks don't go there."
He was wrong. Whites had fled the neighborhood for the suburbs, and blacks had replaced them on the streets and in the pews. The church was down to a few dozen members.
Luter was unaware of the convention's dark history, how Southern Baptists had split from northern counterparts in 1845 in defense of slavery. As National Baptist and other black denominations expanded, the Southern Baptist Convention refused to integrate and supported Jim Crow laws.
Luter was both ordained and installed as pastor at Franklin Avenue Baptist Church on the same day in October 1986. His wife led the women's ministry. They did not advertise the church as Southern Baptist. Often members didn't discover its affiliation until after they joined, and by then, he said, "it really didn't bother them because this church was a part of their lives" ...