By / Sep 13

Brent Leatherwood has been elected to fill the role as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission by the organization’s trustees. 

The ERLC board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Leatherwood during its first session on Sept. 13. Leatherwood, 41, has served as the organization’s acting president since September 2021, following the departure of Russell Moore. The vote occurred during the trustee’s annual meeting, Sept. 12-14, in Nashville, Tenn. 

“It has been both my joy and privilege as the current chair of the ERLC board of trustees to work directly with Brent Leatherwood in his interim capacity as acting president,” said Lori Bova, of Hobbs, N.M. “Under his leadership, the staff has not missed a beat in producing timely, quality resources for our churches. He is a tireless servant with a passion to serve Southern Baptists and to steward well the ministry assignment of the ERLC.”

Prior to serving as acting president, Leatherwood held the role of chief of staff at the ERLC, as well as the entity’s director of strategic partnerships. Leatherwood has an extensive background in public service and electoral politics, serving as the executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party and as director of communications and policy strategy in the Tennessee General Assembly. He also previously served on Capitol Hill as a senior staffer for a member of Congress.

The ERLC trustee presidential search committee, chaired by Todd Howard of Pine Bluff, Ark., recommended Leatherwood to the full board after a 14-month search process.

Howard likened the ERLC search committee process to 1 Samuel 16. “Initially, the committee had a great pool of candidates and thought the next president of the ERLC could be among them. However, as the committee began the process of interviews, doors started closing. We found ourselves asking, ‘Are these all your sons?’ 

“Leatherwood was recommended to us from a variety of sources and became the top candidate by virtue of his leading well through the various challenges facing the commission during the interim season. He has intangible leadership qualities that we could not ignore. After a final round of interviews with Leatherwood, the committee, for the first time in this process, voted unanimously in favor of recommending him to the full board of trustees as the next president of the ERLC.” 

Leatherwood is a dedicated member of The Church of Avenue South in Nashville, Tenn., where he has served as a deacon since 2014. He is married to Meredith, and they have three children. 

“True leadership begins as service,” said Leatherwood. “That has been the heart I have brought each day to the ERLC these past 12 months. And it is that same heart I will continue to bring as this new chapter begins. I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve this historic institution as its next president. 

“Rooted in Scripture and guided by the Baptist Faith and Message, this team will remain fervently committed to carrying out our ministry assignment—faithfully serving our churches and growing our convictional presence in the public square on behalf of our convention. That means speaking with biblical clarity about the issues that matter to Baptists: the inherent value of life, religious liberty at home and abroad, human dignity and the flourishing of families. 

“We have made it a priority to come alongside and equip our churches, partner with our state conventions, and support our sister SBC entities. This Commission will continue to do so in this new season because we know the Southern Baptist Convention is stronger when we are cooperating on mission together.”

Prior to Leatherwood’s appointment as ERLC president, Russell Moore served as president from 2013-2021 and Richard Land served from 1988-2013. All three men were appointed to the presidency at age 41.

__________

Brent Leatherwood was endorsed by a variety of SBC and state leaders. Their statements are below. 

“I believe Brent Leatherwood will serve Southern Baptists well in this strategic position. He is a gifted and godly man with firm biblical and baptistic convictions.” 

Daniel Akin 
President 
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“It is my privilege to recommend Brent Leatherwood to you as the next president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). Brent has the spiritual grounding, experience, and skill set necessary to lead the ERLC at this unique time in our Convention’s and nation’s history. As I have observed, Brent has a strong faith, knowledge of Scripture, and an unbounding love for Jesus. These are critical tenets for anyone who leads one of our Southern Baptist entities.” 

Kevin Ezell 
President 
North American Mission Board 

“Brent Leatherwood strikes me as the sort of man who loves Southern Baptists—who we have been, are, and hope to become. Such a man as that can rise as a statesman to speak for Southern Baptists. Such a man can also come alongside Southern Baptists and gently speak to us as a brother.” 

Bart Barber 
Pastor, FBC Farmersville, TX 
President, Southern Baptist Convention

“I consider it a privilege and an honor to endorse Brent Leatherwood’s nomination as president of the ERLC. Brent has led wisely and courageously as the interim president during what can only be described as a tumultuous and strident period in our nation and our convention. Southern Baptists and America both desperately need the information, inspiration, and guidance the ERLC can provide under Brent Leatherwood’s leadership.” 

Richard Land 
President Emeritus 
ERLC

“The National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention (NAAF) wishes to express our strong support of Mr. Brent Leatherwood’s candidacy for President of the ERLC. Brent is a proven leader and trusted partner. His commitment to Gospel-centered public policy is seasoned by his sensitivity to the nuanced lived experiences of our diverse Southern Baptist (SBC) family.” 

Rev. Frank Williams
President
National African American Fellowship, SBC 
and
Rev. Dennis Mitchell
Executive Director,
National African American Fellowship, SBC

“Tennessee has a long history of faithful men and women who love their neighbors through service in the political arena. Believers must view engagement in government as the opportunity that it is. I can think of no one better than Brent Leatherwood to be the next President of the ERLC, leading Southern Baptists as they strive to represent Jesus through faithful and humble engagement in the public square.” 

Bill Lee
50th Governor of Tennessee

__________

To request an interview with Brent Leatherwood, contact Elizabeth Bristow by email at [email protected] or call 202-547-0209.

By / Sep 13

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept. 13, 2022—Brent Leatherwood has been elected to fill the role as the next president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission by the organization’s trustees. 

The ERLC board of trustees voted unanimously to appoint Leatherwood during its first session on Sept. 13. Leatherwood, 41, has served as the organization’s acting president since September 2021, following the departure of Russell Moore. The vote occurred during the trustee’s annual meeting, Sept. 12-14, in Nashville, Tenn. 

“It has been both my joy and privilege as the current chair of the ERLC board of trustees to work directly with Brent Leatherwood in his interim capacity as acting president,” said Lori Bova, of Hobbs, N.M. “Under his leadership, the staff has not missed a beat in producing timely, quality resources for our churches. He is a tireless servant with a passion to serve Southern Baptists and to steward well the ministry assignment of the ERLC.”

Prior to serving as acting president, Leatherwood held the role of chief of staff at the ERLC, as well as the entity’s director of strategic partnerships. Leatherwood has an extensive background in public service and electoral politics, serving as the executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party and as director of communications and policy strategy in the Tennessee General Assembly. He also previously served on Capitol Hill as a senior staffer for a member of Congress.

The ERLC trustee presidential search committee, chaired by Todd Howard of Pine Bluff, Ark., recommended Leatherwood to the full board after a 14-month search process.

Howard likened the ERLC search committee process to 1 Samuel 16. “Initially, the committee had a great pool of candidates and thought the next president of the ERLC could be among them. However, as the committee began the process of interviews, doors started closing. We found ourselves asking, ‘Are these all your sons?’ 

“Leatherwood was recommended to us from a variety of sources and became the top candidate by virtue of his leading well through the various challenges facing the commission during the interim season. He has intangible leadership qualities that we could not ignore. After a final round of interviews with Leatherwood, the committee, for the first time in this process, voted unanimously in favor of recommending him to the full board of trustees as the next president of the ERLC.” 

Leatherwood is a dedicated member of The Church of Avenue South in Nashville, Tenn., where he has served as a deacon since 2014. He is married to Meredith, and they have three children. 

“True leadership begins as service,” said Leatherwood. “That has been the heart I have brought each day to the ERLC these past 12 months. And it is that same heart I will continue to bring as this new chapter begins. I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve this historic institution as its next president. 

“Rooted in Scripture and guided by the Baptist Faith and Message, this team will remain fervently committed to carrying out our ministry assignment—faithfully serving our churches and growing our convictional presence in the public square on behalf of our convention. That means speaking with biblical clarity about the issues that matter to Baptists: the inherent value of life, religious liberty at home and abroad, human dignity and the flourishing of families. 

“We have made it a priority to come alongside and equip our churches, partner with our state conventions, and support our sister SBC entities. This Commission will continue to do so in this new season because we know the Southern Baptist Convention is stronger when we are cooperating on mission together.”

Prior to Leatherwood’s appointment as ERLC president, Russell Moore served as president from 2013-2021 and Richard Land served from 1988-2013. All three men were appointed to the presidency at age 41.

__________

Brent Leatherwood was endorsed by a variety of SBC and state leaders. Their statements are below. 

“I believe Brent Leatherwood will serve Southern Baptists well in this strategic position. He is a gifted and godly man with firm biblical and baptistic convictions.” 

Daniel Akin 
President 
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“It is my privilege to recommend Brent Leatherwood to you as the next president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC). Brent has the spiritual grounding, experience, and skill set necessary to lead the ERLC at this unique time in our Convention’s and nation’s history. As I have observed, Brent has a strong faith, knowledge of Scripture, and an unbounding love for Jesus. These are critical tenets for anyone who leads one of our Southern Baptist entities.” 

Kevin Ezell 
President 
North American Mission Board 

“Brent Leatherwood strikes me as the sort of man who loves Southern Baptists—who we have been, are, and hope to become. Such a man as that can rise as a statesman to speak for Southern Baptists. Such a man can also come alongside Southern Baptists and gently speak to us as a brother.” 

Bart Barber 
Pastor, FBC Farmersville, TX 
President, Southern Baptist Convention

“I consider it a privilege and an honor to endorse Brent Leatherwood’s nomination as president of the ERLC. Brent has led wisely and courageously as the interim president during what can only be described as a tumultuous and strident period in our nation and our convention. Southern Baptists and America both desperately need the information, inspiration, and guidance the ERLC can provide under Brent Leatherwood’s leadership.” 

Richard Land 
President Emeritus 
ERLC

“The National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention (NAAF) wishes to express our strong support of Mr. Brent Leatherwood’s candidacy for President of the ERLC. Brent is a proven leader and trusted partner. His commitment to Gospel-centered public policy is seasoned by his sensitivity to the nuanced lived experiences of our diverse Southern Baptist (SBC) family.” 

Rev. Frank Williams
President
National African American Fellowship, SBC 
and
Rev. Dennis Mitchell
Executive Director,
National African American Fellowship, SBC

“Tennessee has a long history of faithful men and women who love their neighbors through service in the political arena. Believers must view engagement in government as the opportunity that it is. I can think of no one better than Brent Leatherwood to be the next President of the ERLC, leading Southern Baptists as they strive to represent Jesus through faithful and humble engagement in the public square.” 

Bill Lee
50th Governor of Tennessee

__________

To request an interview with Brent Leatherwood, contact Elizabeth Bristow by email at [email protected] or call 202-547-0209.

By / Aug 26

In this episode, Lindsay talks with Hannah Daniel, ERLC Policy Manager, about the ERLC Washington, D.C., office, Congress reconvening soon, and our priorities for the fall. They also discuss the SBC’s Global Hunger Sunday held on Aug. 28. 

ERLC Content

Culture

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  • Dobbs Resource Page | The release of the Dobbs decision marks a true turning point in the pro-life movement, a moment that Christians, advocates and many others have worked toward tirelessly for 50 years. Let us rejoice that we live in a nation where past injustices can still be corrected, as we also roll our sleeves up to save preborn lives, serve vulnerable mothers, and support families in our communities. To get more resources on this case, visit ERLC.com/Dobbs.
  • Sexual Ethics Resource Page | Do you ever feel overwhelmed by the constant stream of entertainment and messages that challenge the Bible’s teachings on sexual ethics? It often feels like we’re walking through uncharted terrority. But no matter what we face in our ever-shifting culture, God’s design for human sexuality has never changed. The ERLC’s new sexual ethics resource page is full of helpful articles, videos, and explainers that will equip you to navigate these important issues with truth and grace. Get these free resources at ERLC.com/sexualethics.
By / Dec 3

WASHINGTON, D.C., Dec. 3, 2021—The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, will host a special online event, Monday, Dec. 6 at 10:00 a.m. EST, to discuss yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court’s oral arguments on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case and how it could overturn the Roe v. Wade decision and affect the future of the prolife movement. 

Pro-life leaders who are scheduled to participate in the online event include:

  • Herbie Newell, president & executive director, Lifeline Children’s Services
  • Denise Harle, senior counsel, Alliance Defending Freedom
  • Elizabeth Graham, vice president of life initiatives, ERLC
  • Chelsea Sobolik, director of public policy, ERLC

The ERLC and other pro-life organizations filed an amicus brief in the Dobbs case earlier this year requesting the U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

Throughout the event, panelists will discuss questions such as: 

  • How can churches prepare for a post-Roe world?
  • How could the justices rule on this case?
  • What do we know from oral arguments?
  • When can we expect a ruling?
  • How could this case change the future of the prolife movement? 

“The stakes are high, and we will continue to advocate for the protection of all human lives until abortion becomes illegal, unthinkable and unnecessary across the world,” said ERLC’s Elizabeth Graham.

Members of the press are invited to attend and can register for free at this link

Immediately following the event, you’re invited to join event speakers for a 10-minute “on-the-record” Q&A to ask follow up questions from the panel discussion pertaining to the Dobbs case. If you would like to join, please RSVP to Elizabeth Bristow at [email protected] to receive further information for this virtual press room

By / Oct 15

In this episode, Lindsay and Brent discuss what’s next for the ERLC, student discipleship, and the transgender revolution. They also discuss Jon Gruden resigning, William Shatner’s voyage into space, the high cost of heating our homes this winter, and the formation of the Committee on Cooperation for the ongoing sexual abuse mishandling investigation of the SBC Executive Committee. 

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. Jon Gruden has resigned
  2. William Shatner blasts off for Blue Origin
  3. Rise in energy prices
  4. Five-member Committee on Cooperation will act as liaison between SBC Executive Committee, the Sexual Abuse Task Force, and Guidepost Solutions

Lunchroom

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  • Mere Evangelism by Randy Newman | | C.S. Lewis was used by God in the conversions of countless people, but evangelism is an extraordinary task to most people. You may feel inadequate, but in this book evangelist Randy Newman skillfully helps us to apply some of the famous methods Lewis used in our own conversations with unbelievers, whatever their attitude towards the Christian faith. 
  • Any Time, Any Place, Any Prayer by Laura Wifler, co-founder of Risen Motherhood | | This beautifully illustrated Bible storybook takes children on a journey from the start of the Bible story to the end. Children will learn a biblical understanding of prayer, why it’s amazing, and that they can enjoy talking with God about anything, anytime, anywhere.
By / Oct 12

What’s next for the ERLC? Many people have asked us this question, and rightly so. We’ve undergone a substantial amount of change and transition in the last few months, and some have wondered about what lies ahead for our organization. 

Let me assure you: the path ahead is clear, and our commitment to carrying out our ministry assignment has never waned. 

The issues we handle are critically important to Southern Baptists, and our team is addressing them with the excellence and care our churches have come to expect. As acting president, I’d like to share the direction we are taking the organization during this interim period.

Missions mindset

Just like our missionaries are sent to ​tumultuous nations or church planters are commissioned to establish churches in the midst of challenging contexts, we feel it is both our responsibility and mighty privilege to be a kingdom voice and carry forth the good news of the gospel into a chaotic​ public square.

While there are many parts of the globe where certain groups have never heard the good news of the gospel, there are also sectors of the public square that are equally unfamiliar with the glorious name of Jesus Christ. It is our joyful duty to ensure that His name is taken where it is not known.

As we carry out this work, we understand we are not doing so alone. Our churches, our associations, our state conventions, and our entities are all unique and independent — and yet we need one another to accomplish the work set before us. In fact, as all of us move forward in our cooperative work, we complement one another. In a word, we are ​interdependent. I believe when we are doing the work of our ministry assignments alongside one another​, we are honoring the will of Southern Baptists. So, continuing to build those bridges remains our focus even during this season.

Our ministry assignment

The ministry assignment Southern Baptists have given the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission asks us to assist churches in applying the moral and ethical teachings of the Bible to Christian life. We are doing this on a number of fronts:

Life: Our life team is well on its way to placing 50 life-saving ultrasound machines in pregnancy resource centers by the 50-year mark of the disastrous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. In the coming months, churches will hear more from our team about this “Road to Roe50” and ways you can partner alongside us.

At the same time, we are exploring exciting cooperative partnerships with our sister SBC entities that will help leverage this significant cultural moment so that a watching world can see how precious every single preborn life is –– just as God sees them. In doing so, we are working toward the goal of a society where abortion is not just illegal, but is also both unnecessary and unthinkable.

Public Policy: Our public policy advocacy work continues on Capitol Hill, following the guidance set forth by messengers in numerous resolutions. Our team in Washington works tirelessly to protect life, defend religious liberty, and advance human dignity by working on initiatives to safeguard the pro-life Hyde Amendment and file briefs before courts ensuring religious freedom is respected.

Internationally, your ERLC has used our platform to loudly decry the heinous treatment of the Uyghur people by the Chinese Communist Party and call for America to counter that regime morally. This work was enhanced significantly with the incredible step taken in June by our messengers to call the appalling situation in China a genocide –– making us the first denomination to use this label.

Perhaps one of the most exciting developments has been the announcement of our new project on technology ethics: The Digital Public Square. With the challenges presented by emerging technologies, artificial intelligence, and social media platforms, we felt a calling to equip the church with rich, theologically-centered resources that will help pastors navigate these complex issues.

Sexual Abuse: Three years ago, Southern Baptists called on the ERLC to launch an initiative to equip churches about the issue of sexual abuse. Through a challenge churches can engage, curriculum that equips ministry teams, and guides that promote best practices, we believe a foundation has been laid to help churches be safe from abuse and safe for survivors. But we know more must be done, and we are grateful messengers to the 2021 Annual Meeting emphatically said so. With that clear direction, we are committed to not only redoubling our Caring Well efforts, but partnering with churches in the years ahead to fully assess the scope of abuse so that we may understand it, confront it, and end it. 

Obviously, we have a lot of work ahead of us. As we move forward, we are committed to fortifying our relationships with our churches, our associations, our state conventions, and our sister entities. This interdependence upon one another is what truly makes the Southern Baptist Convention so remarkable, and our fellow Southern Baptists expect nothing less. 

By / Sep 14

Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 14, 2021—The board of trustees of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention announced today they are accepting applications from interested candidates for the office of president and CEO of the ERLC. 

ERLC trustees from across the country gathered together Sept. 14-15 for their annual meeting at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. 

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

“The ERLC has a rich history and it is our prayer as a search committee that God will reveal to us the right leader He has in mind to continue leading this Commission forward to defend religious freedom and be an advocate for life, the marginalized, the abused and the oppressed across the globe,” said Todd Howard, presidential search committee chair. “We would invite every fellow Southern Baptist to lift up this organization and our committee in prayer, asking God to provide us with wisdom, humility, and discernment.”

The selection of a new president is the responsibility of the ERLC board of trustees. To facilitate this process, the chairman of the board has appointed a search committee of seven trustees who review candidates and then nominate and present the candidate to the full board for approval. 

More information about the presidential search can be found online at www.erlc.com/presidentialsearch.

By / Aug 14

In this episode, Josh, Lindsay, and Brent discuss the resignation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Taliban taking over major portions of Afghanistan, the CDC’s new data about vaccines and pregnant women. Lindsay gives a rundown of this week’s ERLC content. And the gang celebrates Josh’s final episode as he wraps his time serving on staff at the ERLC.

ERLC Content

Culture

  1. Cuomo resigns over sexual harassment
  2. Taliban take over Afghanistan
  3. Pregnant women and the COVID vaccines

Lunchroom

  • A final Q&A with Josh

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Sponsors

By / Aug 4

We are in a season of transition at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission after Russell Moore’s move to Christianity Today. The team in D.C. is changing as well, and so we wanted to bring you a final show with the current team: Jeff Pickering, Chelsea Patterson Sobolik, and Travis Wussow. 

This show will air in two parts with reflections on the ERLC’s work in Washington, D.C., and a conversation with David French of The Dispatch about religious liberty, pro-life policy, and January 6th.

The motivating aim of Capitol Conversations was to foster a new evangelical imagination for political engagement and we hope it’s done that for you. On behalf of all of us at the ERLC in Washington, D.C., thanks for listening.

In the meantime, stay subscribed to Capitol Conversations as there will surely and soon be something new on this channel. And be sure to check out The ERLC Podcast as well, with new episodes from Nashville released every Friday.

Guest Biography

David French is senior editor of The Dispatch. He’s also a columnist for Time. He’s the author of Rise of ISIS: A Threat We Can’t Ignore, and Divided We Fall: America’s Secession Threat and How to Restore Our Nation, among others.

Resources from the Conversation

By / Jul 6

Nashville, Tenn., July 6, 2021—A search committee has been formed to identify the next President of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

On behalf of the ERLC Executive Committee, Dr. David E. Prince, chairman of the ERLC Board of Trustees, announced that Todd Howard, pastor of Watson Chapel Baptist Church in Pine Bluff, Ark., will serve as chairman of the presidential search committee.

In addition to Howard, the other ERLC trustees appointed to the committee include Lori Bova, founder of Veritas Classical Christian Academy and member of Taylor Memorial Baptist Church in Hobbs, N.M.; Traci Griggs, communications and public policy specialist, radio show host, and member of Fairview Baptist Church in Apex, N.C.; Christine Hoover, author and Bible teacher and member of Charlottesville Community Church in Charlottesville, Va.; Juan Sanchez, pastor of High Pointe Baptist Church in Austin, Texas; A. B. Vines, pastor of New Seasons Church in Spring Valley, Calif. Prince, who is pastor of Ashland Avenue Baptist Church in Lexington, Ky., and an at-large trustee, will serve as an ex-officio member.

“The men and women serving on this search committee come from diverse backgrounds and ministry contexts but share a deep and abiding commitment to the gospel and the need for faithful Christian witness in the public square,” said David Prince. “I am thankful in advance of the way in which I know this group will work diligently, methodically, and prayerfully to search for and recommend a candidate who can serve both the Commission and our Convention of churches with faithfulness, excellence, and skill.”

In the weeks ahead, the search committee will meet to establish guidelines, a presidential profile, and procedures for how recommendations may be submitted. Once completed, more information will be released for those interested in recommending a candidate for consideration.