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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By / Feb 18

In this episode, Brent and Lindsay discuss the ERLC’s board of trustees voting to move forward with the sexual abuse assessment of the SBC, a likely Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the pandemic slowing and becoming endemic. They also discuss evaluating our social media engagement and the SBC’s history within the pro-life movement.

ERLC Content


  1. Sexual Abuse Assessment of the SBC 
  2. Russian amassing more troops on Ukrainian border
  3. Russia invasion likely in next few days
  4. U.S. sends more aid to Poland as preparation for conflict continues
  5. America’s uneven pandemic off ramp


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  • Prison Fellowship | Second Chance Month // Every person has dignity and potential. But one in three American adults has a criminal record, which limits their access to education, jobs, housing, and other things they need to reach that potential. Join Prison Fellowship this April as they celebrate “Second Chance Month”. Find out how you and your church can help unlock second chances for formerly incarcerated people who have repaid their debt to society. Learn how at
  • Psalm 139 Project // Through the Psalm 139 Project, the ERLC is placing 50 ultrasound machines by the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 2023, and thanks to the overwhelming generosity of Southern Baptists and our pro-life partners, we’re already halfway to our goal. But requests for these lifesaving machines continue to pour in from around the country, and our team can’t keep up without your help. Will you take a stand for life by helping us place our next ultrasound machine? One hundred percent of financial contributions designated to the Psalm 139 Project go toward purchasing ultrasound machines and providing training for workers. Learn more at
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.

By / Dec 22

2020 was not the year any of us expected. With the arrival of COVID-19, our world changed rapidly and we were all forced to adjust. But even through crisis and tragedy, our churches found ways to continue serving those around them.

Throughout this year, our team has worked tirelessly on behalf of our churches to protect life, advocate for religious freedom, and advance the Gospel in the public square. We’ve prepared a recap for you to download that gives an overview of the ERLC’s work in 2020.