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Fred LuterPHOENIX — The nation’s largest Protestant denomination has chosen an African-American to serve as its No. 2 officer in an historic election.

The Southern Baptist Convention elected Fred Luter to the position of 1st vice president Tuesday at their annual conference in Phoenix. The 54-year-old Luter has been the head pastor of a SBC affiliate church in New Orleans since 1986.

Some Southern Baptists leaders have expressed hope his election will mean a rise to president next year when the 2012 convention is held in his hometown.

In recent years, the SBC has seen a decline in overall membership and attendance. At the meeting in Phoenix on Tuesday and Wednesday, delegates are considering a resolution that aims to help diversify the denomination.

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