Dr. Adrian Rogers, one of the greatest preachers and Christian leaders of the 20th century, died early Tuesday morning, November 15, 2005. Like Ezra, the great leader of ancient Israel, Dr. Rogers committed his life to one overarching purpose: the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. “For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments” (Ezra 7:10).
Dr. Rogers succumbed to pneumonia after battling cancer that was diagnosed soon after his March 2005 retirement from 32 years as pastor of the Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis Tennessee. One of America’s largest churches, Bellevue has more than 29,000 members and a ministry that reaches around the world. The church grew and thrived under the dynamic preaching and loving pastoral care of Dr. Rogers. He was named Pastor Emeritus of the church at his retirement.
Dr. Rogers was preceded in death by his parents, Arden and Rose Rogers, and by an infant son, Phillip. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, the former Joyce Louise Gentry of West Palm Beach, Florida; their four children: Stephen, Gayle, David, and Janice; and nine grandchildren.
Adrian Pierce Rogers was born September 12, 1931 in West Palm Beach, Florida. A star quarterback in high school, Dr. Rogers attended Stetson University in Deland, Florida on a football scholarship, which he relinquished to follow God’s call into the ministry. He received a B.A. from Stetson in 1954, and earned a Master of Theology degree from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisiana in 1958.
Dr. Rogers was also awarded numerous honorary degrees, including the Litterarum Doctor degree from the California Graduate School of Theology in Glendale, California in 1979, and the Doctor of Sacred Theology degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginian in 2003.
Dr. Rogers held several pastorates in Florida before coming to Bellevue Baptist Church in 197__ and guiding the church through more than three decades of growth and outreach.
In addition to his pastoral ministry, Dr. Rogers exercised tremendous national and international influence as a spiritual leader and true Christian statesman. He was active in national leadership, and personally consulted and prayed with five presidents of the United States. He recently shared the platform with President George W. Bush in the White House on the National Day of Prayer for America.
Dr. Rogers was also a distinguished leader in the Southern Baptist Convention, the world’s largest Protestant denomination. He was elected president of the Convention three times, and held the distinction of being the only man to be elected three times to this office under the present bylaws.
God’s blessing on Dr. Rogers’s ministry of clear, powerful Bible teaching became even more evident with the birth of Love Worth Finding Ministries in 1987. Dr. Rogers was the founder and Bible teacher of Love Worth Finding, an internationally syndicated television and radio ministry. Love Worth Finding debuted as a one-hour television broadcast on 17 stations and 30-minute radio broadcast debut on 19 stations. From that beginning, Love Worth Finding has grown to become one of America’s leading Christian broadcasts. can be heard weekly on a worldwide television network of over 12,000 outlets, and also through a daily broadcast over nearly 2,000 radio stations and translators. The program can also be heard in more than 150 countries around the world.
Dr. Rogers was also a widely published author, with 18 books to his credit. He was also the editor of 49 published booklets (18 in Spanish), and 79 albums of published messages.
Accolades from national and Christian leaders reveal the depth of the integrity, faithfulness, love, and wisdom that marked the life and ministry of Adrian Rogers. Dr. Billy Graham once said of him: “We need for ministers of the Gospel to defend the Bible as the infallible Word of God… I believe in my heart that Adrian Rogers is such a man. I know him personally. I have walked with him and prayed with him… I know God’s hand is upon Adrian Rogers as he proclaims the Bread of Life from his church and through radio and television…I praise God for his ministry!”
Dr. James Dobson of the Focus on the Family radio program knew Dr. Rogers as a member of the Focus board of directors and a close personal friend. “Adrian’s contribution to this ministry over the years was incalculable. As a member of our Board of Directors, he provided godly wisdom and counsel on countless occasions. We couldn’t have had a better leader filling that vital position – God blessed us significantly in giving us Dr. Rogers.”
Former President George H. W. Bush was also a friend of Dr. Rogers. “Here is a man whom Southern Baptists kept coming to. He served them as president of the Convention . . . and on top of everything else, he pastured one of the largest churches in the world… There are many who presume to speak for the evangelical movements, but surely Dr. Rogers was one of the handful who truly represented them. He was a great man with a lot of influence and a lot of wisdom…”
Chuck Colson, former advisor to President Richard Nixon and founder of Prison Fellowship, said, “In my opinion, Adrian Rogers was one of the truly great preachers in America, and a beloved friend. This was God’s man with God’s message.”
Adrian Rogers was also a much beloved husband, father, grandfather, and friend who will be greatly missed by his family and all who knew him. Of all his accomplishments, Dr. Rogers often said that his greatest joy centered in his relationship to Jesus Christ, his childhood sweetheart and wife, Joyce, his children and grandchildren, and the church he pastored. The recipient of many honors and awards, the trophy he treasured most was one presented to him by his children on Father’s Day in which he was acclaimed The World’s Greatest Dad.