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FIRST-PERSON: What’s next for the ERLC?

ERLC President Brent Leatherwood delivers a report to messengers at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, Calif. (Baptist Press/Adam Covington)


Earlier this month, I had the privilege of traveling to multiple state conventions as they hosted their annual meetings. To say it was a joy to be with our SBC pastors and leaders in person is an understatement. There is something to be said about being in the same room with these brothers and sisters with whom we’ve linked arms for the purpose of the Great Commission. 

Two months ago, the trustees of our entity turned over the reins to me as president of the ERLC. Since that time, I have been busy calling and connecting with pastors from all across the country to––first and foremost––listen to their ideas, challenges, and experiences. In doing so, I believe this foundational work ensures that the ERLC will be able to keep speaking from our churches, just as it has since its inception. The ERLC is an institution that dates back over a century, and it belongs to Baptists––the pastor, the minister, and the individual in the pew who faithfully and sacrificially gives to the Cooperative Program. 

But this heart isn’t unique to me. It comes directly from our mission statement. The ERLC exists to speak with and assist our churches in understanding the moral demands of the gospel and, at the same time, to speak from our churches about the pressing policy issues that we all face in the public square. This includes issues such as the dignity of life, religious freedom, protection of conscience rights, the sanctity of marriage as God has defined it, and the defense of human dignity. This ensures that, even as we work alongside a number of partners and peers in our work, we’ll continue speaking with a thoroughly Baptist voice about the issues important to the SBC.

What matters most

As we reconstitute and rebuild this team, I know that if my vision for the ERLC is not aligned with what our churches actually need right now, it won’t work. So as new staff members are brought aboard, new initiatives are designed, and new resources are created, know that each of these steps are undertaken so our entity is fashioned in such a way as to address the feedback we are receiving from our churches.

One thing that will not change is our ministry assignment; one that we are privileged to carry out. This specific task has been given to us by our convention, so that means where our churches have spoken, this Commission will also speak without wavering. This is vital because a deep, abiding, and consistent voice of moral clarity is needed in the confusing times we find ourselves in. That’s what will set us apart. While there are other organizations in this space with competing motivations, this ministry will be firmly rooted in Scripture and guided by our Baptist Faith and Message.

What’s next?

It’s natural to wonder: What will this new version of the ERLC look like, and what comes next? There will be many updates to come on that front. I’m eager to tell our churches more in the weeks and months ahead. The best way to stay informed 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 advocacy in our nation’s capital, exciting new partnerships with our state conventions, and the ways we are working across the SBC with our sister entities.

As we move forward in this next chapter, know that our churches are first in our hearts and at the top of our minds. We are taking each next step with a Mark 10:44 mindset: to be a servant of all. I cannot wait to hear from you and be alongside you as we take the gospel to a chaotic public square that is in desperate need of the hope and peace that can only be found in a relationship with Jesus Christ.

    About the Author

  • Brent Leatherwood