Adrian Rogers, former Southern Baptist president, dies at age 74
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Dr. Adrian Rogers of Memphis, a three-time president of the Southern Baptist Convention and leader of a conservative takeover of the faith, died early Tuesday in Memphis. He was 74.
His death was announced at the Baptist Press News Web site and at Rogers’ own Web site. Officials with the Nashville based Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment.
Rogers was hospitalized earlier this month with pneumonia and cancer, his Web site said.
Rogers as pastor of the 28,000-member Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis in March 2005, saying during his farewell sermon, “I am what I am by the grace of God.”
Rogers was elected president in 1979 as part of the conservative takeover of the SBC.
Rogers’ election turned out to a be a watershed moment for the denomination, and the 16 million member group shifted dramatically to the right politically and theologically.
In the years that followed, conservative leaders pushed hard against abortion rights, homosexuality and women pastors.
Rogers also was elected president of the SBC in 1986 and 1987.
He was pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church for 32 years.
“There’s no one in this country I respect more than Adrian Rogers,” said Focus on the Family’s Dr. James Dobson on Rogers’ last day as pastor. “You draw me to Christ. When I’m with you, I feel closer to the Lord.”
Among those who attended his final sermon were Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; U.S. Rep. Harold Ford Jr., D-Tenn.; Dr. Richard Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Dr. Paige Patterson, president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, and former SBC president.
During his career, Rogers preached crusades in Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, Russia, Romania, and in Central and South America.
In 2003 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the National Religious Broadcasters.