Article  ERLC Announcements/News

Explainer: What you should know about the ERLC’s board of trustees


ERLC trustees from across the country gathered together this week in Nashville, Tennessee, for their annual meeting. One of the most important tasks on this year’s agenda was determining the criteria for the selection of a new president for the ERLC. 

Here is what you should know about the function and makeup of ERLC’s board of trustees.

What are trustees, and what are their roles within the ERLC?

Within the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), a trustee is a member of a board that is given oversight of one of the SBC’s 11 ministry entities. The trustees of the ERLC establish bylaws, elect officers, transact business, and directly oversee the executive heads.  

The board of trustees of the ERLC have the full authority to direct the entity. As with the boards of the other 10 entities, SBC messengers can make requests of the ERLC board and the Executive Committee of the SBC can provide assistance, but neither can interfere with the entity’s internal affairs.

What role do messengers play in the ERLC board of trustees?

The messengers are directly involved in the selection of all individual board members through the nomination process. When the Committee on Nominations presents its full slate of nominees, the messengers are free to debate, make amendments (such as substituting eligible nominees one name at a time), and register their approval through a vote. 

Who is on the current board of trustees for the ERLC?

The ERLC board of trustees has two at-large members: David E. Prince, who serves as chairman and Kevin L. Smith. The other members, arranged by state, are: Alabama: Joseph C. (Joe) Godfrey; Arizona: Anthony Cox;  Arkansas: B. Todd Howard;  California: A. B. Vines;  Colorado: Jonathan C. Ferré; Florida: Amy Pettway; Georgia: Jimmy D. Patterson; Illinois: D. Scott Foshie; Indiana: Nathan W. Lugbill; Kansas-Nebraska: Dan R. Anderson; Kentucky: Lynn O. Traylor; Louisiana: Sherry L. Peveto; Maryland Delaware-District of Columbia: Lennox Graham; Michigan: Michael S. Guyer; Mississippi: Mike Aultman; Missouri: Miles S. Mullin II; Jonathan R. Whitehead; Nevada: Janeé England; New England: Robert L. Orleck; New Mexico: Lori A. Bova; New York: Robert Dean; North Carolina: Traci D. Griggs; Northwest: Alan E. Gayle; Ohio: Mike L. Wilson; Oklahoma: Justin T. Sampler; Pennsylvania/ South Jersey: Roger Manao; South Carolina: Tony L. Beam; Tennessee: Trevor M. Atwood; Texas: Kelly Hancock; Virginia: Christine Hoover; and West Virginia: Preston T. White. 

At the most recent meeting the board unanimously elected Lori A. Bova to be the new chair, Kevin L. Smith to be the vice chair, and Justin Sampler to be the secretary for the upcoming year.

Who chooses the new president of ERLC?

The ERLC board of trustees is responsible for choosing a replacement for Russell Moore, who resigned as president of the ERLC on May 18, 2021. To facilitate this process, the chairman of the board, David E. Prince, has appointed a search committee of seven trustees who review candidates and then nominate and present the candidate to the full board for approval. 

Todd Howard will serve as chairman of the presidential search committee. The other ERLC trustees appointed to the committee include Lori Bova; Traci Griggs; Christine Hoover; Juan Sanchez; and A. B. Vines. Prince will serve as an ex-officio member.

The seven trustees will nominate and present the candidate to the full board for approval. 

What are ​​the trustees looking for in hiring the new president?

During the meeting, trustees approved a presidential profile that includes the following qualifications: 

  • Spiritually mature: The candidate must have an authentic testimony of personal faith in Christ, give a hearty affirmation of the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of Scripture, and hold a firm conviction that Jesus Christ is the only Savior of the world. 
  • Convictionally Southern Baptist: The candidate must be a member in good standing of a cooperating Southern Baptist church.
  • Appropriately educated: The candidate should have significant education in and demonstrated understanding of theology, biblical studies, ethics, philosophy, political science, law, and/or history, preferably with a Ph.D., D.Min., or J.D. in at least one of these areas. 
  • An excellent communicator: The candidate must possess exemplary written and verbal communication skills, with a specific ability to communicate effectively among a range of audiences, including but not limited to churches, academic settings, media, public policy debates, and conferences.
  • A proven unifier: The candidate must be a coalition-builder, able to form relationships within diverse groups of people and bring those groups together in order to advocate effectively on the vital issues of our day. 

A full description of the presidential profile is available online.


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