NASHVILLE, Tenn., April 27, 2020—Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, has announced organizational changes and new staff positions to strengthen the work of the organization and fulfill its mission to serve and equip churches to apply the gospel to moral and ethical issues.
Moore has appointed Daniel Patterson as the new executive vice president of the organization, who will be charged to lead the ERLC staff, strategy and operations. Patterson will succeed Phillip Bethancourt as the ERLC executive vice president, who is now the senior pastor of Central Church in College Station, Texas.
Patterson was hired at the ERLC in 2013 and has served since then as vice president for operations and chief of staff. In this role, he directed public relations and helped drive operations across the organization. Patterson holds a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he served in a number of posts prior to his time at the ERLC.
“Daniel Patterson and I have worked together nearly 15 years, and since the start of my tenure at the ERLC, I have entrusted him with some of the most important work the ERLC has sought to carry out,” said Moore. “At every step, he has exceeded my already-high expectations, with amazing capacity to manage teams, develop strategy and foster effectiveness throughout the organization, and I’m grateful to God to have him at the helm in this role.”
“It is an honor of the highest magnitude to step into this new role at the ERLC,” said Patterson. “Ethical transformation and religious liberty are vitally related to our cooperative work carrying out the Great Commission, and for the last seven years I’ve had the privilege to watch the ERLC team come to work every day with a deep desire to serve Southern Baptist churches with faithful advocacy, thoughtful resources and an unrelenting focus on the gospel and our witness. I look forward with great expectation to stepping into this new role and the opportunity to continue serving our churches in the ERLC’s efforts to connect the agenda of the kingdom to the cultures of local congregations for the sake of the mission of the gospel in the world.”
ERLC Cabinet Changes
In addition to the appointment of Patterson, Moore added to the responsibilities of three of his Cabinet members.
Brent Leatherwood has been named the new chief of staff for the ERLC. Leatherwood has served as the director of strategic partnerships since 2017. Prior to his work at the ERLC, he served a successful four-year tenure as the executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party and held several important posts in the Tennessee Legislature and on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., before that.
Elizabeth Graham will now direct women’s initiatives and coordinate the ERLC’s pro-life initiatives including Stand for Life and Evangelicals for Life, while continuing to serve as director of events.
Travis Wussow, who serves as vice president for public policy and general counsel, will also serve as the ERLC lead on matters related to sexual abuse in churches and the Caring Well Initiative.
Moore remarked, “If we had conducted a nationwide search we would have identified these same leaders, with their proven giftedness and conviction. Thankfully, in God’s providence, all of these individuals who are my brilliant colleagues are already here. What was needed was a shifting of additional responsibilities, not the hiring of new people, which turns out to be an additional blessing in this time of our country’s great economic distress.”
Thacker and Wester assume new roles
Moore also announced updated roles for two additional members of the existing ERLC team.
Jason Thacker has been named the new chair of research in technology ethics, in addition to continuing in his role as creative director for the ERLC. Thacker is the author of “The Age of AI: Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Humanity” with Zondervan. His work has been featured at Christianity Today, The Gospel Coalition, Slate and Politico. Thacker also previously served in the role of special projects manager at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Joshua Wester has been appointed as the new chair of research in Christian ethics. Previously, Wester served as director of research in the office of the president since coming to the ERLC in 2017. Prior to joining the ERLC, Wester served as director of operations at Redeemer Church in Rocky Mount, N.C. He also previously served as director of ministries at Redemption City Church in Franklin, Tenn.