Fred Wolfe’s impact for the gospel remembered

Longtime pastor, mentor and Southern Baptist Convention leader Fred Wolfe died Jan. 3 due to complications caused by COVID-19. He was 83.

At 70 years old in 2007, Wolfe heard God’s call for him to do something new. So he planted a church.

Wolfe’s ministry up to that time had included serving as pastor in North Carolina, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama. His influence in the reemergence of conservative leadership in the SBC had been felt in several roles he held, including chairman of the SBC Executive Committee, trustee of the Home Mission Board (now North American Mission Board) and president of the SBC Pastors Conference, at which he preached four times. In 1994, he narrowly finished second to Orlando pastor Jim Henry for SBC president.

Fittingly, numerous Southern Baptist leaders and seminary presidents testified to Wolfe’s reputation earned over five decades of ministry as a “pastor’s pastor.”

Half of Wolfe’s ministry occurred during his 25 years as pastor of Cottage Hill Baptist Church in Mobile, Ala. During that time, the church added 13,000 members, with 5,000 of them coming by profession of faith and baptism. After beginning and leading the Atlanta-based Barnabas ministry to pastors for 10 years, Wolfe said he felt God calling him back to the Mobile area in 2007.

Later that year, Wolfe started a church for “scattered sheep.” That led to planting Luke 4:18 Fellowship, where he would serve as senior pastor until January 2020. At that point, Wolfe transitioned to founding pastor.