Welton Gaddy, former Southern Baptist who became a champion of liberal Christianity, dies

by | Jun 8, 2023 | Religion

(RNS) — The Rev. C. Welton Gaddy, a pastor and former president of Interfaith Alliance who went from being a conservative Southern Baptist leader to an advocate for interfaith relations and LGBTQ Christians, died Wednesday (June 7). He was 81.Interfaith Alliance announced Gaddy’s death in a statement, saying the organization’s former leader died in his home in Monroe, Louisiana.
“Welton stood as a source of inspiration to many,” the statement read. “He showed us that it was possible to hold on to our faith while also fighting for the rights of others who did not share our religious tradition.”
Growing up in Tennessee, Gaddy went to Union University there before attending Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, where he earned a master’s and a Ph.D. He went on to serve as a Southern Baptist minister, his profile rising within the denomination until he eventually served on the SBC’s Executive Committee.
But when Southern Baptists lurched rightward in the 1980s, Gaddy aligned himself with a new, more liberal-leaning group of like-minded faithful: the Alliance of Baptists, a denomination he is credited with helping create. He eventually found a steady pulpit at Northminster Church in Monroe, Louisiana, an Alliance of Baptists-affiliated congregation where he served as senior pastor until 2016 and pastor emeritus until his death.

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