By / Mar 24

On this episode, we’ll hear the installation address of President F. Brent Leatherwood. In his message, he shared his gratitude for this stewardship, his hope for the SBC, and his vision for the ERLC.

Connect with us on Twitter

Sponsors

  • Racial unity | If we, as Southern Baptists, can be willing to listen and have good conversations about race, we will see fruit that will draw us closer together. That’s why we believe that A Conversation with Pastor Jon Nelson will be a helpful resource for you and your congregation. Watch this NEW video at ERLC.com/racialunity and listen as Jon candidly shares his thoughts on how we can meaningfully partner together on this work within our churches and communities. Again that link is ERLC.com/racialunity
  • Email updates | Now that 2023 is fully underway, we want to make sure you are kept up to date about the important work we are doing on behalf of Southern Baptists. Whether it?s our 2023 Public Policy Agenda or another ultrasound machine placement, we want to make sure you know how we are serving our churches and acting as missionaries to the public square. As we move forward in 2023, know that first in our hearts and at the top of our minds are our churches. And we are taking those next steps with a Mark 10:44 mindset: to be a servant of all. The best way to learn more is by joining us at ERLC.com/updates. Signing up for email updates allows you to hear directly from us about our work and ways we are serving you on the issues that matter most to Southern Baptists. You?ll learn about our work on your behalf in our nation?s capital, about exciting new partnerships with our state conventions and the ways we are working across the convention with our sister entities. Become an email subscriber at ERLC.com/updates
By / Mar 22

This Commission stands at the beginning of a new era. 

We will build and reconstitute this team to meet the demands of the times we find ourselves in; fulfill the assignment given to us by our churches, initiated over a century ago; and do all we can to bring honor and glory to the name and saving grace of Jesus Christ by telling a dark public square of the “light of life” we read about in John 8.

Times of challenge

Yet, we must acknowledge the broader context we are operating in. Right now, an ideology of extreme individualism, coupled with a wave of loneliness and despair, is coursing through our society. We see this in the breakdown of institutional life, the atomization of culture, and the fact that not only are meaningful relationships being tested, but are even failing to be formed. Community life is eroding. Neighborliness is fading.

In Baptist life, cooperation is being strained. Each day seems to bring new events, legal matters, and moments that are conspiring against us.

While some of this may be naturally refining, in many instances, something far more devious is occurring. Figures and voices have emerged seeking to gain attention, followers, and influence. They would do this at the expense of cooperation on the essentials that have long been a hallmark of our churches.

A dark public square. A distressed convention. Division all around us.

An encouragement for dark and divided times

However, as a Christ follower, I am never without hope. And, as a Tennessean, I always believe something can be done. My state has produced a long line of heroes who sought to develop solutions, work with anyone of goodwill, and build bridges: 

  • From former Sen. Howard Baker, who rejected the notion that our adversaries on any given question must be our enemies; 
  • to Bob Corker, who became the leading voice in Washington against human trafficking and unjust systems when no one else would,
  • and Lamar Alexander, who became governor at a unique moment of constitutional peril for our state.

All of these figures and others in Tennessee’s history often sought to overcome gaps and achieve consensus between people—all while adhering firmly to their own conservative principles. While I am a far cry from any of these noble statesmen, their body of work has had a profound effect on my vision of leadership. In fact, Alexander would often quote a friend from West Tennessee, author Alex Haley, who said “Find the good and praise it.”

My Baptist mind translates that like this: Be an encourager. Be a Barnabas. So allow me to do that briefly here.

While our convention is certainly being tested right now, both from within and without, my discussions with pastors over the last several months lead me to believe we can get through this hour––and be the better for it. There is an appetite for association, a real call for cooperation, and a renewed belief in the Baptist view of the world. And that is where this Commission has such a unique role to play:

  • An agency that assists our churches and acts as an ambassador to the state.
  • An entity that serves our pastors and engages the culture.
  • A team that operates and speaks with both conviction and kindness.

What our name means for our churches 

There’s a theme communicated by the very name of this organization: The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. While this entity is over 100 years old, that name is actually rather new. Given to us in 1997 and purposefully selected, every word is just as important now as it was then:

  • Ethics: applying the moral demands of the gospel to the cultural questions and challenges of the day.
  • Religious liberty: believing that a “free church in a free state is the ideal;” and that this principle is helpful for spreading the gospel because no one can be coerced into the Kingdom of God.

Without a doubt, these twin priorities are robust and challenging. Yet, as I consider how this entity may best fulfill our mission, I am increasingly convinced the most important word is “and.” And is the bridge that shows these two concepts are inextricably linked in our minds. We don’t sacrifice one for the other; they are of equal value. 

I believe this framing is essential to the very work carried out by our team.

It means we operate at the intersection of both faith and culture.

It means we tell the state that it has a God-ordained responsibility to protect the most vulnerable, from the abortionist’s knife to the drugmaker’s chemicals.

It means we remind the Church she has always been a refuge for the abused and marginalized—for those preyed upon by the sexual revolution in culture and those preyed upon within our walls. In fact, we should rush to link arms with the foremost experts to rid us of the plague of abuse in our midst, to cast out those who would target the vulnerable in our pews and playrooms, and make our churches places of safety and sanctuary for everyone.

It means we hold the state accountable by reminding it of the proper limits of its authority. When it tramples the consciences of citizens or seeks to overturn the fundamental and biological truths of what it means to be a man, woman, or, very soon now, a human.

And it means we continue to walk alongside our churches as we pursue true racial unity. This convention has come so far, yet our work is far from finished. But I have hope because I know our churches possess a Revelation 7-heart that will not relent from this mission until every tribe, tongue, and nation is reflected in our convention.d

In all this, I speak clearly because our churches have done so. 

We must always take care to listen to our churches and assist them. When we are aligned like this, it ensures this Commission will continue to bring a deep, abiding, consistent, and thoroughly Baptist voice to the public square. And that is our foremost aim: Render assistance to our churches and, from that service, speak to a watching world.

*This article is adapted from President Leatherwood’s address at his installation on March 20, 2023. 

By / Jan 26

NASHVILLE, Tenn., Jan. 26, 2023—The board of trustees of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has elected Dr. Miles Mullin II, to 

serve as the entity’s next vice president and chief of staff. ERLC President Brent Leatherwood made the recommendation to the board for Mullin’s appointment in a special called meeting of the board.

Mullin comes to the organization after serving as a leadership development strategist in the Missouri Baptist Convention’s church revitalization network. The board confirmed the recommendation with a unanimous vote during the meeting. 

“Our mission calls us to assist our churches and it is from the service we render that we speak to the important issues of the day,” said Leatherwood. “I can think of no one better than Miles Mullin, and the deep well of experience serving churches he draws from, to help us accomplish this vital work. His strengths in leadership and administration will enhance an already strong team at the ERLC. 

“Moreover, he has a deep appreciation for the role of healthy institutions in SBC life and the broader culture. From his time supporting local churches, to the guidance he provided in academia, to his passion for developing leaders, Miles’ knowledge and expertise will help ensure this Commission continues to bring a distinctively Baptist voice into the public square as it has for over a century.”

Mullin’s Professional Background

Prior to Mullin’s service at the Missouri Baptist Convention, he served as a professor and vice president at Hannibal-LaGrange University in Hannibal, Missouri, and as associate professor of church history at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s campus in Houston, Texas. He has served on the ERLC board of trustees since 2019.

Throughout the years, Mullin has served the local church in a variety of leadership and teaching roles and regularly preaches in SBC congregations. Mullin is married to Jenny and together, they have two adult sons.

“Since I was a teenager, my relationship with Jesus Christ has been nurtured in Southern Baptist congregations, and so I am deeply honored to have the opportunity to serve the churches of the SBC in this way,” said Mullin. “The ERLC plays an important role in Baptist life and has for over 100 years. I am glad to be joining such a great team under the leadership of Brent Leatherwood and am looking forward to what we can accomplish together.”

Mullin’s Educational Background

  • Ph.D. Vanderbilt University, Religion, 2009
  • M.A. Vanderbilt University, Religion, 2006
  • M.Div. with Biblical Languages, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2001
  • B.A. University of Virginia, Foreign Affairs, 1995

ERLC & SBC Leaders Applaud Mullin’s Appointment 

“I am overjoyed with our trustees’ affirmation of Dr. Miles Mullin as the next vice president and chief of staff of the ERLC. He has been a valuable member of our board and executive committee and has served faithfully in Missouri. Dr. Mullin brings a wealth of expertise and exemplifies Christ-centered leadership. I am confident he will continue to serve Southern Baptists well in this post.” 

Lori Bova, chairwoman, ERLC board of trustees

“Miles Mullin is the ideal choice to serve as vice president and chief of staff for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. Miles is a thoughtful historian of American Christianity, a seasoned academic leader and a committed Southern Baptist churchman. He cares deeply about the mission of the ERLC, and he knows how to lead teams and develop other leaders around him. Miles will serve Southern Baptists well and be an asset to President Leatherwood and the rest of the ERLC staff.”

Dr. Nathan Finn, provost and dean of the university faculty, North Greenville University

“Dr. Mullin is a rare treasure in Southern Baptist life. While thoroughly equipped to teach in the sphere of academia, he has a heart to serve pastors and their local churches. I anticipate his skill set will help recalibrate the ERLC to being a ministry that brings people into conversation and ‘let us (biblically) reason together.’ He is staunchly pro-life but is articulate in a number of ethical concerns. I’ve found him to be a man of honor and noble character.”

Dr. John Yeats, executive director, Missouri Baptist Convention

By / Nov 15

Nashville, Tenn., Nov. 15, 2022Southern Baptist ethicist Jason Thacker of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and renowned, moral philosopher C. Ben Mitchell recently contracted with B&H Academic to edit a new eight-volume series entitled Essentials in Christian Ethics, set to begin release next year.

The first in the series of short, introductory level volumes features the work of theologian and ethicist David VanDrunen of Westminster Seminary California on the topic of natural law and the moral order, which will be released in November 2023.

With the Essentials in Christian Ethics series, Mitchell and Thacker hope to help equip the next generation to see the centrality of ethics in the Christian life, especially in the training of future leaders for the church. Volumes will begin releasing in 2023 and continue through 2026.

“Ethics is not merely an academic discipline, but intricately woven into the very fabric of the Christian life as we all seek to apply God’s word to the society in which we have been placed and live in light of those truths, no matter the circumstances we face today,” said Thacker.

Current volumes under contract include: 

  • Natural Law Ethics with Van Drunen;
  • Biblical Ethics with Jacob Shatzer of Union University;
  • Metaethics with J.P. Moreland and David Horner of Biola University;
  • Political Philosophy with Bryan Baise of Boyce College;
  • Bioethics with C. Ben Mitchell;
  • Just War and the Ethics of Contemporary Warfare with Paul D. Miller of Georgetown University.

About Jason Thacker: Thacker serves as the director of the ERLC’s Research Institute and chair of research in technology ethics where he leads the Digital Public Square research project. He also teaches at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky. and is the author of multiple works on Christian ethics and public theology. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Christian ethics, public theology, and philosophy from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

About C. Ben Mitchell: Mitchell earned a Ph.D. with a concentration in medical ethics from the University of Tennessee. He held the Graves Chair of Moral Philosophy at Union University for more than a decade before his retirement in 2020. Mitchell previously taught bioethics and contemporary culture at Trinity Graduate School and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.

By / Sep 16

In this episode, Lindsay celebrates Brent Leatherwood as the newly elected president of the ERLC. Then, Lindsay and Brent discuss the latest update with the Yeshiva University case, the delay of the Respect for Marriage Act vote, and the legacy of Queen Elizabeth II. 

ERLC Content

Culture

Connect with us on Twitter

Sponsors

  • 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 / 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 / Feb 22

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 22, 2022—The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, will host a special online eventWednesday, Feb. 23 at 11:00 a.m. EST, on the topic of racial reconciliation and the SBC.

Event panelists include:

  • Ed Litton, President, Southern Baptist Convention
  • Fred Luter, Senior Pastor, Franklin Avenue Baptist Church in New Orleans, La.
  • Missie Branch, Assistant Dean of Students to Women, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary 
  • Jon Kelly, Lead Pastor, Chicago West Bible Church in Chicago, Ill. 

During the event, panelists will address questions and topics such as:

  • How to navigate challenging conversations about race;
  • How the SBC has worked together towards greater unity in recent years;
  • What practical steps churches can take to create unity; 
  • How the SBC can continue to advance racial reconciliation;
  • How to pursue racial reconciliation in your community. 

The ERLC is committed to working towards racial unity and has hosted several events and provided training and content to better equip church leaders on this issue.

Below are ERLC past assets calling attention to racial unity:

Event registration is free and available online.

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 17

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.