By / Sep 13

Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 13, 2023 —The board of trustees for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention has unanimously voted to elect Kevin Smith as the new chairperson during its meeting in Nashville, Tenn., September 11-13. Smith’s appointment is the first time a Black man has held the position in the history of the entity. 

Smith serves as pastor of Family Church Village in West Palm Beach, Fla. He previously served as director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware and has been on the ERLC board since 2018. 

Brent Leatherwood, president of the ERLC, comments on Smith’s appointment.

“Over the last two years, our entity has been blessed by the leadership of Chairwoman Lori Bova. She’s been a constant source of wisdom and encouragement, and we are grateful for her time as chair. Our board has now turned over the gavel to Kevin Smith, a pastor with deep ties in SBC life, who personally understands the importance of cooperation as a Baptist distinctive. I am thrilled to work with him and our new executive committee in this upcoming season.”

In addition to Smith, the new slate of officers and committee chairs are as follows: 

  • Tony Beam, vice chair; Greer, S.C.;
  • Amy Pettway, secretary; Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.;
  • Michael Guyer, chair of the communications committee; Ypsilanti, Mich.;
  • Anthony Cox, chair of the research & public policy committee; Phoenix, Ariz.; and 
  • Nathan Lugbill, chair of the administrative & finance committee, Indianapolis, Ind.

During his presidential address to the full board, Leatherwood, outlined ways in which he believes our society at large is not well. Social issues such as gender confusion, sexual assault, deaths of despair, the passage of more lenient abortion restrictions, the rise of gun violence and epidemic of mass shootings and racial division are all evidence that we live in “a culture that increasingly views life as diminished and disposable,” he said. 

In response, the ERLC has identified five strategic priorities which were met with board’s approval. 

  1. Fortify relationships with partners, with priority given to Baptist partners.
  2. Provide resources to help churches and Christians thrive in a tumultuous culture.
  3. Actively pursue additional sources of revenue in order to enhance our capacity to fulfill our ministry assignment. 
  4. Bolster the ERLC’s brand awareness in SBC circles and beyond. 
  5. Maintain a team culture where every employee thrives professionally and personally. 

The ERLC will continue its work to advocate for policies that bolster the sanctity of life, human dignity, religious liberty and marriage and family.

The Southern Baptist Convention is America’s largest Protestant denomination with more than 13.6 million members and a network of over 47,000 cooperating churches and congregations. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC’s ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn., and Washington, D.C.

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