THE ICON: The Rev. Fred Luter Jr.
THE LEGACY: Years before he made national news in 2012 by being elected the first black leader of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Rev. Fred Luter Jr. had cemented his local legacy twice: by building the struggling Franklin Avenue Baptist Church into the biggest Baptist congregation in the state, and then rebuilding it after 2005’s Hurricane Katrina and the ensuing flood ravaged the Gentilly church and scattered its worshipers. Working with other congregations to rebuild, Luter stayed true to his mission by ministering to the faithful across the state and leading his flock through a decidedly challenging valley of post-Katrina darkness. While some describe him as a miracle worker, Luter knows where the real credit belongs, declaring in 2012 that it was “by the grace of God. God allowed us to come back.”
THE ARTIST: Connie Kittok
THE INSPIRATION: “(Luter is) the fire-breathing, miracle-working pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church … who has been shaking the city with the power of the Gospel.” — The Rev. David Crosby, pastor of New Orleans’ First Baptist Church, in nominating Luter for the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention