Bush, speaking by satellite to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in San Antonio, said the church has made the United States stronger.
"You have contributed millions of dollars to fight world hunger, and logged countless hours in disaster relief and rebuilding," he said. "You've provided training to lift people out of poverty and dependency, and you've spread the gospel."
Bush thanked Southern Baptists for supporting U.S. troops in uniform and their families, and he mentioned several political issues on which he said the church and his administration shared common points of view -- including judicial appointments, abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and teen sexual abstinence.
The president told his audience about administration initiatives to fight malaria and HIV/AIDS in Africa, and pointed out that Southern Baptists run hospitals and provide medical care to many Africans who suffer from those illnesses.
Bush thanked Southern Baptist Convention Director Richard Land for "working tirelessly" to help victims of the genocide in Darfur.
Notable deaths of 2014 [PHOTOS]