CORDOVA, Tenn. (BP)–Adrian Rogers, who helped lead the Southern Baptist Convention back to its biblical, historical roots, announced his retirement as pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church Sept. 12.
Rogers’ retirement is effective next spring, although a specific date has not yet been given. The goal is to have a new pastor in place when Rogers leaves.
Making the announcement on his 73rd birthday, Rogers read a letter to the church, which has some 27,000 members.”Now comes a time that we all knew would come when I should announce my retirement as pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church,” Rogers said in the statement that has since been posted on the church website. “Nevertheless, I will not retire from the ministry until I draw my last breath.”
Health, Rogers said, “is not a factor” in the decision. He had triple bypass heart surgery March 16. “I thank God for my recovery and growing vitality and hope for many good years ahead,” Rogers said.
Rogers was called as pastor of Bellevue Baptist in 1972, succeeding Ramsey Pollard, who had served as pastor since 1960. The church became a prominent SBC congregation under the leadership of R.G. Lee, who served as pastor from 1927 to 1960.
Rogers’ election as president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 1979 helped spark what is known as the conservative resurgence — a period in which the denomination returned to its historical, orthodox roots and a commitment to biblical inerrancy. After choosing not to run for re-election in 1980, Rogers was elected president again in 1986 and 1987. A conservative has won the presidency every year since 1979.