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Southern Baptist leader Adrian Rogers dies at age 74

Dr. Adrian Rogers, one of the fathers of the conservative grassroots movement in the nation's largest Protestant denomination, died early Tuesday morning after a battle with cancer and pneumonia. He
( [email protected] ) Nov 16, 2005 09:52 AM EST

Dr. Adrian Rogers, one of the fathers of the conservative grassroots movement in the nation's largest Protestant denomination, died early Tuesday morning after a battle with cancer and pneumonia. He was 74.

Rogers came to help build Bellevue Baptist Church in 1972 to the 29,000-member congregation that it is today, and was named Pastor Emeritus after he retired this year. His face and voice were known to millions of believers worldwide thanks to his Love Worth Finding television and radio ministry, which is carried in more than 150 countries.

But Rogers is best remembered for his leadership in the "Conservative Resurgence" within the Southern Baptist Convention, when rising liberalism forced active conservatives within the denomination to vow to elect only conservatives. Rogers' election as president in 1979 marked the official beginning. He was elected twice more in 1986 and 1987. Since his election, a dramatic change took place in the following two decades. Today, the SBC is the largest Protestant denomination in the United States.

According to Crosswalk, Dr. Billy Graham once said there was a "need for ministers of the Gospel to defend the Bible as the infallible Word of God" and that "I believe in my heart that Adrian Rogers is such a man."

Dr. James Dobson of the Focus on the Family commended Dr. Rogers as a member of Focus' board of directors.

"As a member of our Board of Directors, he provided godly wisdom and counsel on countless occasions. We couldn't have had a better leader filling that vital position "God blessed us significantly in giving us Dr. Rogers," said Dobson.

Former President George H. W. Bush was also a friend of Dr. Rogers. He said, "There are many who presume to speak for the evangelical movements, but surely Dr. Rogers was one of the handful who truly represented them," according to Crosswalk.

Tim Ellsworth, director of news & media relations at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., shared his personal story of how one man touched his life, according to a LifeWay news release.

A few years after only having met Rogers only once, Ellsworth received a letter from the pastor complimenting him on an editorial he had written on abortion for his college newspaper.

Ellsworth wrote: "I opened it to find a note from Dr. Rogers commending me for what I had written in that article. My jaw dropped. I don't know how he ever saw that story, but his letter remains one of my prized possessions."

He added, "Judging from the testimonies I heard March 4 and 6 as Bellevue Baptist Church celebrated the ministry of the man who has been their pastor for the past 32 years, countless others have stories similar to mine."

Rogers is survived by his wife, Joyce Rogers, as well as four children and nine grandchildren.