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Chip Luter embraces opportunity in Tampa

[LAURENS, S.C. (BP) — Fred “Chip” Luter III has accepted a call as a campus pastor in Tampa, moving from New Orleans where he has served as youth minister under his father, former SBC President Fred Luter.

Chip Luter will become pastor of the Sulphur Springs campus of Idlewild Baptist Church beginning May 1.

Luter said he is excited about leading “a multi-ethnic congregation [that] has lots of youth and children, which has been the focus of my ministry. It was a hard decision to leave Franklin Avenue [Baptist Church], but the makeup of Sulphur Springs fits me and my ministry.”

Sulphur Springs, in the inner city of Tampa, is predominately African American but is a racially diverse neighborhood that includes Hispanics and Anglos. It struggles with the highest crime rate in Hillsborough County.

The average age of Sulphur Springs is 32, with 70 percent of the neighborhood age 18 and younger.

Idlewild was blessed “when God gave us Chip and Jasmine Luter,” Idlewild senior pastor Ken Whitten said.

“Chip Luter understands the inner city and he understands the student population,” Whitten said. “He will have immediate identity and affinity in this neighborhood with these beautiful people. His winsome personality, gifted communication skills and passionate love for Jesus Christ and people make him the perfect fit for this ministry.”

The Sulphur Springs campus grew out of Idlewild’s Adopt a Block outreach during which 150 members visit the community every other weekend. They prayerwalk and knock on residents’ homes, inviting them to church, asking how they can pray for them and providing a range of help, from food and repairs to tutors in education. To support the Sulphur Springs campus, Idlewild will be launching an adult GED program and an outreach to students age 16-21 who have dropped out of school.

Luter said his preparation in his father’s church and the city of New Orleans has prepared him for the Sulphur Springs ministry.

“I love the fact that this community is so diverse. It will be a challenge, but I know this is where I’ve been called. I’ve had great training from my dad and believe my ministry at Sulphur Springs campus will grow,” Luter said. “I appreciate this opportunity and the support of Idlewild.”

The father and son preached together at the “Leaving a Legacy Bible Conference” hosted by Bellview Baptist Church in Laurens, S.C., in early April. During their sermons, both touched on the move for the younger Luter.

“Personally, I’m sad to see him go,” the senior Luter said, “but I’m excited about how God will use him in this ministry.

“I started my ministry at Franklin Avenue when I was 30 and Chip was 2 years old. Chip’s turned 30 and his son is 2, so he’s continuing the legacy of serving Christ.”

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  • Bob Carey