Duke McCall dies

Duke McCall, a leader in Baptist life for four decades, has died.

By Bob Allen

Duke McCall, a denominational leader known by Baptists worldwide for a ministry that spanned four decades, died April 2 at age 98. Chris Caldwell, pastor of Broadway Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., said McCall died this morning after an illness.

duke mccallMcCall was chief executive officer of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee (1946-1951) and president of two seminaries. Early in his ministry he led the Baptist Bible Institute of New Orleans, now known as New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1951 until 1980 he was president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. After his retirement he served a five-year term as president of the Baptist World Alliance.

McCall led Southern Seminary through a 1958 controversy which led to the dismissal of 13 theological professors, one who was later reinstated. Late in his career McCall was active in the so-called “moderate” response to the conservative “resurgence” that gained control of the nation’s second-largest faith group in the 1980s. He ran for SBC president in 1982 and lost narrowly.

McCall conceived of an idea for an alternative to allow disenfranchised moderates to protest their exclusion from leadership by funding some but not all SBC causes. The Baptist Cooperative Missions Program was incorporated in 1990, a year before the formation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.