MOBILE, Ala. — Longtime pastor 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.
In addition to his pastoral roles, 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.
Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, noted that Wolfe recommended him to First Baptist Church, Morristown, which later called him as pastor.
“God used him to get us to Tennessee,” Davis tweeted on the night of Wolfe’s death.
“Tonight, my friend, mentor and one of the greatest influences on my life, walked into Heaven. Well done Bro Fred. Well done,” Davis tweeted.
Former SBC President Steve Gaines was pastor at West Jackson (Tenn.) Baptist Church 30 years ago when he met Wolfe, who was preaching at nearby First Baptist Church, Milan, where Gaines had been a youth pastor.
“We hit it off and became good friends,” Gaines, pastor of the Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church, said.
“Fred was the one who recommended me to Gardendale (Ala.) First Baptist Church. When I arrived there, we experienced revival, and I ended up staying 14 years,” Gaines added.
Wolfe would preach for Gaines at West Jackson, Gardendale and Bellevue.
“I texted him the week before last and talked to him on the phone,” Gaines said. “I just loved him. He was one of the kindest people you could meet and a lot of fun to be around. When I went to the SBC [annual meeting], I’d hang around with him and Jerry Vines first because they always had so much fun.”