Tributes from national and Christian leaders reveal the depth of integrity and wisdom marking the life and ministry of Dr. Adrian Rogers, who died Nov. 15 following a battle with cancer and double pneumonia. He was 74.
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.”
A friend of Rogers, former President George H. W. Bush, said: “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 [led] 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…”
Dr. James Dobson of the Focus on the Family knew 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.”
The former adviser to President Richard Nixon and founder of Prison Fellowship, Chuck Colson, 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.”
Rogers was the longtime pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in suburban Memphis. One of America’s largest churches, Bellevue has more than 29,000 members and a ministry that reaches around the world. Rogers was named Pastor Emeritus of the church at his retirement.
But he may be best remembered for his leadership in what is commonly called the Conservative Resurgence, the movement in which Southern Baptists elected a series of conservative leaders in response to evidence of theological liberalism within the denomination's seminaries and entities. Rogers was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention three times.
Baptist Press reported what Rogers thought about leading the SBC: “I look back on my life and there are a lot of things that have happened. I have written books, pastored churches, preached on radio and television around the world. But I think the part that God allowed me to have in the turning of the SBC may have the longest-lasting effect and be the most significant,” Rogers said. “[The conservative resurgence] is part of church history. We think of the ancient councils of the church in decisions and so forth, but this thing is not small; it is big.”
His gift for clear, powerful Bible teaching became even more evident with the birth of Love Worth Finding Ministries in 1987. 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. It 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 is carried in more than 150 countries around the world.
Rogers was also a widely published author, with 18 books to his credit. He served as the editor of 49 published booklets (18 in Spanish), and 79 albums of published messages.
Born Sept. 12, 1931 in West Palm Beach, Fla., Rogers was a star quarterback in high school. He attended Stetson University in Deland, Fla., on a football scholarship, which he relinquished to follow God’s call into the ministry. Rogers 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.
In addition to his pastoral ministry, Rogers exercised tremendous national and international influence as a spiritual leader and Christian statesman. He personally consulted and prayed with five presidents of the United States, and recently shared the platform with President George W. Bush in the White House on the National Day of Prayer for America.
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.
Rogers' body will lie in state Wednesday, Nov. 16 from 5-8 p.m. and Thursday, Nov. 17, from 1-6 p.m. in the Bellevue Baptist Church sanctuary. Visitation with the family is 4-6 p.m. Thursday in the sanctuary. The funeral service will begin at 6 p.m.
The family requests that memorials be sent to the "Adrian Rogers Pastor Training Institute" to go toward the continuance of his ministry and vision to train pastors for the furtherance of the Gospel here and around the world. Gifts may be sent to:
Adrian Roger Pastor Training Institute
c/o Love Worth Finding
2941 Kate Bond Road
Memphis, TN 38133
Or call (901) 382-7900.
Photo courtesy of Baptist Press