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ERLC trustees OK new staff, radio program in first meeting

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Meeting for the first time under a new name, trustees of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission added two new staff members, gave their endorsement for a national radio program and approved a record budget during the Southern Baptist Convention agency’s semiannual trustee meeting Sept. 15-17 in Nashville, Tenn.
Trustees approved the hiring of King Sanders, pastor of Rodeo Baptist Church, Santa Fe, N.M., as director of communications for the agency’s Washington, D.C., office. Sanders, who also served as an ERLC trustee until being named, will be responsible for the ERLC’s newsletter, Salt, and will work with news media representatives in Washington.
The board also approved the hiring of Harold Harper as executive producer of the agency’s planned radio program and director of broadcasting. Harper currently serves as director of administration and consultant with Marketplace Christian Network in Dallas.
The agency plans to launch the national radio program, “For Faith and Family,” on the eve of the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision Jan. 21, 1998 in Washington, D.C. The 30-minute live call-in program will air weekdays in selected markets across the United States and will feature ERLC President Richard Land and others on pressing issues of the day. The program will also be heard internationally via AudioNet on the Internet.
Land, marking his ninth year as president of the ERLC, the Southern Baptist agency for ethical, public policy and religious liberty issues formerly known as the Christian Life Commission, said the agency’s first trustee meeting under its new name was gratifying.
“For years Southern Baptists have been asking when we were going to have a radio program to the deal with the moral issues we face as a nation,” Land said. “We are all excited that we will soon have such a program because of the generosity of Southern Baptists in investing a significant increase in financial resources in the ministry of the ERLC.”
The commission was the recipient of a boost in its percentage of the SBC’s 1998 Cooperative Program budget. The SBC Executive Committee approved an increase in the ERLC’s share of the CP budget to 1.49 percent, up from .99 percent, during an SBC Executive Committee in February. The nearly $2.7 million ERLC budget also included a projected increase in income from the sale of literature and products.
In other business:
— trustees posthumously named A.J. Barton the recipient of the agency’s Distinguished Service Award for 1998. Barton, who was born near Jonesboro, Ark, in 1867, labored unpaid as chairman as the SBC’s Social Service Commission from 1914 until his death in 1942. The Social Service Commission was the forerunner of the Christian Life Commission (now the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission).
According to the Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists, Barton’s annual reports to the Southern Baptist Convention were “classic statements on the Christian position on temperance, race relations, industrial problems, world peace, divorce, and related matters.” Barton served as vice president of the SBC in 1932.
— responding to a request from the SBC Committee on Order of Business, trustees recommended the creation of a standing committee to the SBC Executive Committee that would be empowered to “consider if, when, and for what purpose an attempt to use the investment influence of Southern Baptists would be taken.”
This committee would seek to influence the charitable contribution policies and other corporate policies of companies included in the investment stock portfolios of SBC entities by voting shares in opposition to such policies and urging Southern Baptists with similar holdings to do likewise.
— Tom Strode was named Baptist Press Bureau Chief in the agency’s Washington office. Strode currently serves as director of media and news information in that office.
— Jay McCollum, pastor of First Baptist Church, Gallup, N.M., was elected as an interim trustee from New Mexico to replace King Sanders. McCollum will serve until the Southern Baptist Convention meets in session next June in Salt Lake City.
— Steven Wright, pastor of Houston Northwest Baptist Church in Houston, Texas, was elected as trustee chairman and Ben Wilkes, evangelist from Union City, Tenn., vice chairman. Jim Powell, a retired physician from Ellensburg, Wash., was re-elected as secretary.

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  • Dwayne Hastings