"Dr. Ethridge has been a pastor for over 27 years, serving churches in Georgia, Arkansas and Virginia," Luter, senior pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, said in a statement to Baptist Press May 20. Ethridge is a former president of the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.
"Under his leadership, Liberty has grown to five worship services each Sunday," Luter said of the 6,000-plus-member church Ethridge has led the past five years. "In order to accommodate the crowds on Easter weekend 2011 the church had nine services."
Liberty has received designations as one of the top 100 fastest-growing churches in the U.S., Luter stated, and has been the leading church in the Southern Baptist Conservatives of Virginia convention in Cooperative Program giving, in giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for International Missions and in baptisms.
"With the emphasis today on unreached people groups and church planting, Dr. Ethridge and Liberty have led by example," Luter stated. "Liberty has adopted UPGs in North Africa, Northwest Africa and the Middle East. They have been a part of planting churches in Virginia, Boston and Toronto."
Luter also stated, "For the past three years, during these hard economic times, Liberty has sought to meet the physical needs of their own community by providing 4,800 free boxes of food to supplement the meals of a family of four for a week. Each box had all name-brand items, purchased from local businesses to help the regional economy."
In addition to the Arkansas Baptist convention presidency, Ethridge has served on various state and national boards and entities, and his speaking engagements have included universities, seminaries, conventions, conferences, revivals, television and international mission fields.
Luter added a personal reason for his nomination of Ethridge:
"The next SBC Pastors' Conference will meet in my home city, the great city of New Orleans. When our church was destroyed, out of all the churches that called and helped, my friend, Grant Ethridge, was the first pastor to contact and help me and my congregation financially when Hurricane Katrina hit. In my humble opinion, it is therefore fitting that he serve as president of the Pastors' Conference in the city of New Orleans, where he has proven he has a heart to encourage and help fellow servants of God."
Ethridge and his wife Tammy have two married daughters and two sons who will be attending Liberty University in the fall in preparation for full-time ministry. Another son, Christian, died in 1992. The Ethridges also have raised four foster children and are expecting their first grandson in September.
Compiled by Baptist Press assistant editor Mark Kelly.
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