BATON ROUGE, La. (BP) — Longtime Louisiana pastor Bob Anderson, a former first vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, died Dec. 13 after a seven-year battle with Parkinson’s disease. He was 84.
Anderson led Parkview Baptist Church in Baton Rouge from 1974 until his retirement in 1996, growing the congregation to 5,000 members.
He founded Parkview Baptist School in 1981, now one of Louisiana’s largest private schools with 1,200 students from pre-kindergarten to high school. Don Mayes, Parkview’s superintendent since 2013, is one of Parkview’s alumni from the 1980s and the father of a high school senior there.
A Shreveport native, Anderson committed his life to Christ at a local crusade meeting led by Billy Graham in 1951, which he attended with his high school football team. “I went forward and gave my heart to Christ,” he said later, as recounted by the Louisiana convention’s Baptist Message newsjournal.
Anderson was elected as the SBC’s 1996-1997 first vice president during the annual meeting in New Orleans. He also served as a trustee at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas.
In 1997, Anderson was elected by acclamation as the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s president as a consensus nominee between two factions.
“We’re going to have to [achieve peace] by reaching out to one another emphasizing that the Jesus in you loves the Jesus in me,” he said in calling for “a peace-driven convention.”
After his retirement, Anderson founded Antioch Affection Ministries to provide care for ministers terminated by their churches as well as assistance to churches and pastors needing reconciliation.
In a 1997 chapel message at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Anderson recounted that he began helping fellow ministers soon after arriving at Parkview, “bringing [onto the staff] ministers who had been terminated … helping them dump their baggage and get back into the ministry.”
“Our churches will be filled to capacity when they’re filled with happy people, and it starts with the pastor. A joyful church starts with the minister being happy,” he said. “It is possible for ministers to enjoy the ministry.”
Tommy Middleton, executive director of the Baptist Association of Greater Baton Rouge, told The Advocate local newspaper, that Anderson was “a great friend to pastors. He was always passionate about encouraging other pastors.” Middleton said Anderson also had “a gentle spirit about him. He was gentle and a gentleman…. His heart was to preach the Gospel.”
Anderson held an undergraduate degree from East Texas Baptist University and a master of divinity degree from Southwestern.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Rochelle; a son, Robert Jr.; two daughters, Susan McKey and Janet Blankenship; and nine grandchildren.
His funeral was held Dec. 16 at Parkview Baptist Church, which included a video of Anderson’s last sermon at the church titled “Finishing Well.”
Memorials may be made to the Bro. Bob Anderson Scholarship Fund at Parkview Baptist School or Antioch Affection Ministries.