It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations.      

CS Lewis


Today we are focusing our attention on Bellevue Baptist Church, located in Cordova, Tennessee (a suburb of  Memphis).  In 1903 Bellevue began in a small, log-cabin-like facility.  Then in 1952 the church completed a 3,000 seat building, which was one of the first air-conditioned churches in Memphis.  In the 1950s Bellevue grew to become one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in the United States with more than 9,000 members.  Robert Green Lee oversaw this tremendous growth during his long career at Bellevue which spanned 53 years (1927 – 1960). 


Lee’s successor was Ramsey Pollard, who served as pastor of Bellevue from 1960 to 1972.  Then the church called Dr. Adrian Rogers as senior pastor that same year.  Dr. Rogers’ career spanned 33 years, and he retired in March 2005.  Church membership continued to grow under Dr. Rogers leadership.  In response to this tremendous growth, the church relocated to a 400 acre campus in Cordova in 1989.  Its auditorium seats more than 7,500.  Current church membership is estimated at more than 30,000, making Bellevue the second largest Southern Baptist church in the United States. (We will address the topic of membership rolls next week).

Now it’s testimony time here on The Wartburg Watch.  I, Deb, have been tremendously impacted by the ministry of Adrian Rogers for over twenty years, although I have never once stepped foot into Bellevue Baptist Church.  No one has ever impacted my spiritual life to the degree that Dr. Rogers did.  Shortly after my husband and I married, I began watching the Love Worth Finding broadcast that was televised on WGN Chicago.    My hunger for Bible knowledge was increasing tremendously, and Dr. Rogers became my personal teacher through that outreach.  I watched him “religiously” week after week, year after year, rarely missing a broadcast.  I even ordered the cassette albums of his sermons because I just couldn’t get enough of his teaching.  I know so much about his theology that I could almost recite some of his sermons word for word, for they have been so ingrained in my mind.

I understand from my own experience why Dr. Rogers’ congregation dearly loved him.  He had a rare gift of proclaiming God’s word and at the same time connecting with those to whom he was speaking on a highly personal level.  Dr. Rogers spoke so fondly of his wife Joyce that I almost felt like I knew her.  There’s no doubt that they had an extremely happy marriage.  My heart broke when I learned of his death on November 15, 2005.  It had such a profound effect on me that I remember exactly where I was when I heard the sad news.  I was praying in a Moms in Touch gathering at my children's Christian school.  For those of you who do not know much about Adrian Rogers, here’s some information from Love Worth Finding Ministries web site.


As we share some of Elvis’ songs along with our discussion of Bellevue, this popular hit seems to capture the sentiments of Dr. Rogers’ widow, his family and friends, and the members of Bellevue Baptist Church.

(Video to be posted soon)

Adrian Rogers left some mighty big shoes to fill, and he had apparently discovered his successor, Dr. Steve Gaines.  The pastor search committee recommended Steve Gaines, and on July 10, 2005, members of Bellevue voted to make Gaines their new pastor.  Dr. Gaines had previously served as pastor at First Baptist Church in Gardendale, Alabama, for fourteen years.  If you’d like to read more about Steve Gaines, here’s the link to the Wikipedia article: (pastor)


Dr. Steve Gaines preached his first sermon at Bellevue Baptist Church on September 11, 2005.  I (Deb) had the honor of hearing Dr. Gaines deliver a message in person at a Southern Baptist seminary in 2005, prior to his assuming the pastorate at Bellevue.  I’ll never forget his sermon topic — ICHABOD.  It was powerful, and I believed at the time that the congregation at Bellevue had chosen well.


We will take a closer look at the ministry of Steve Gaines all next week and perhaps beyond because we have quite a few controversial topics to discuss. 

Today, we’d like to leave you with a tribute to Dr. Adrian Rogers.  Here are some memorable photos of this great man of God.

Dr. Rogers was famous for his quotes.  Here’s a classic (link in provided):—quote-of-the-week.html

“You cannot legislate the poor into freedom by legislating the wealthy out of freedom. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that, my dear friend, is about the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.”
 –Dr. Adrian Rogers

Here’s a variation of the above quote that I heard in one of Dr. Rogers’ sermons:

When half the people get the idea that they don’t have to work and the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work, then all that we have left is the government and that’s about where we are right now.  (not an exact quote, but close enough!

Comments are closed.