NOBTS Trustees Approve $12M Renovation Plan, Renaming Student Center After Fred Luter | Baptist life

NEW ORLEANS (BP) — The Board of Trustees of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College approved a $12 million plan during its April 12-13 spring meeting to undertake critical campus renovations, including updates to student housing, the cafeteria and the student center.

In addition, the board voted to rename the student center in honor of Fred Luter, pastor of Franklin Avenue Baptist Church (FABC) in New Orleans. The renewed cafeteria is named in memory of Landrum P. Leavell II.

Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College, shared the news of the naming of the student center with Fred Luter and members of FABC on Easter Sunday.

“Proverbs chapter three verse number 27 says this: ‘Do not withhold good things from those who deserve them when it is in your power,'” Dew said during the naming announcement. “Pastor Luter, you are clearly a man of credit and it is within our power to do so.”

The newly rebranded interior restoration of the Fred Luter Jr. Student Center (LSC) is nearing completion after more than a year of work. The trustees also approved much-needed exterior improvements to the student center to beautify the entrance to the campus and improve the functionality of the center. Updates include additional interior renovations, outdoor seating areas, landscaping and parking lot repairs.

The LSC renovations were funded by an anonymous $2 million gift. A donation of this size includes naming rights to the building, Dew said. In consultation with the NOBTS administration, the donor chose to recognize Luter’s humble and faithful service in New Orleans and throughout the Southern Baptist Convention by naming the building after him.

During the presentation, Dew shared how he began listening to Luter’s sermons shortly after he became a believer and how Luter made an impression on him.

“When you watch someone from afar, you get a sense of who they are and what they are. And you know how that goes, sometimes when you meet these people in real life, they’re not who you thought they were,” Dew said. “Brother, not only are you everything I thought you were, you are more. We love you.”

A video of Dew’s announcement at the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church is available here.

Called to pastor Franklin Avenue in 1986, Luter helped the struggling 65-strong congregation grow into one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in Louisiana. During his 36-year tenure as FABC pastor, Luter became an important voice for the cause of Christ in the city of New Orleans and a passionate supporter of the seminary’s work. In 2012, Luter was elected SBC’s first African-American president, serving two terms in that capacity.

In addition to the LSC improvements and naming, the Trustees-approved multi-year campus renovation plan includes a complete renovation of the student accommodation units and an update of key public buildings such as the cafeteria. The project also includes the construction of a new teacher’s house. The updates will include numerous ADA accessibility features to better serve the campus community.

The cornerstone of the plan is a $5 million cafeteria refresh that will include a 4,000-square-foot extension, new meeting rooms, new bathrooms, an elevator and a mezzanine. The gradual construction and conversion of the canteen begins in May.

In addition to the updates and innovations, the canteen will be given a new name. The trustees voted to name the cafeteria Landrum Leavell Dining Hall in memory of Landrum P. Leavell II. Leavell, the seminary’s seventh president, led NOBTS for 20 years with a unique emphasis on training men and women for Kingdom work. This important community and conference space on campus square will honor his legacy on campus.

Nearly $4.5 million will be spent on remodeling and upgrading student housing, including the addition of eight new apartments in the former Shepherd’s Corner building. Many of the apartments covered by the refurbishment plan were built when the NOBTS campus moved to Gentilly. While the structures are solid, updates and repairs are needed. The most extensive repair and restoration work is being carried out at Willingham Manor (married student flats). Willingham foyers, hallways, stairwells and apartments will be remodeled. The apartments will receive new appliances as well as plumbing and electrical updates.

Campus dormitories and the Lipsey/Dement/Crutcher apartments receive significant updates to common spaces such as foyers, hallways, and stairwells. Common rooms and areas in the dormitories will also be renovated and the Courtyard Apartments will receive new furniture.

Other campus improvements include an elevator and exterior updates for the Frost building, as well as a new meeting room on the second floor of the student center.

In addition to the $2 million anonymous gift, the remainder of the project will be funded by private donations, the NOBTS Foundation, an insurance settlement related to Hurricane Ida, and an investment by the Providence Housing Corporation.

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