Adrian Pierce Rogers (September 12, 1931 – November 15, 2005) served three terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention (1979–1980 and 1986–1988). He was also a Southern Baptist pastor whose church services aired on television, and a conservative author.
Rogers was born in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was called to the Christian ministry at the age of nineteen. He graduated from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida, and New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Rogers was ordained by Northwood Baptist Church (now known as The Village Baptist Church) in West Palm Beach. His first job as a senior pastor was at Fellsmere Baptist Church, a small congregation in Fellsmere, Florida. He performed his first baptism in the C-54 Canal near Fellsmere. In 1972, he became the senior pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee, where he remained until March 2005. During this period, the church's membership grew from 9,000 to 29,000, and the church moved into a new, megachurch facility. Rogers was named pastor emeritus after his retirement in March 2005.
Rogers was instrumental in the Southern Baptist denomination's shift towards the right that began in the late 1970s, as he was elected president of the denomination during a theological controversy within the denomination known as the Southern Baptist Convention Conservative resurgence.
Rogers served three times as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest American Evangelical denomination with 16 million members. He was first elected to this post in 1979 on a platform of biblical inerrancy, and under his leadership, the denomination shifted to a theologically conservative stance. Soon liberal and moderate seminary professors were dismissed. All employees of SBC seminaries and the national office were required to affirm their adherence to the Baptist Faith and Message. The denomination has remained conservative since Rogers' tenure as president.
Rogers's election as SBC president at the 1979 convention held in Houston, Texas, launched the Conservative resurgence in the denomination, a movement pushed by the theologian Paige Patterson and the Houston judge Paul Pressler. In 2004, in a symposium at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, Pressler said that the real movers in the Conservative resurgence who elected Rogers and the subsequent presidents were not he and Patterson but the independent-minded laypersons who came for years to the annual conventions to be heard...
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