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SBC DIGEST: Ouachita alum is Nat’l Endowment nominee; Moore joins Becket Fund board; new ERLC staff named

ARKADELPHIA, Ark. (BP) — Jane Chu, a 1979 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University, has been nominated by President Obama to chair the National Endowment for the Arts, the White House has announced. Her nomination will move to the U.S. Senate for confirmation.

Chu has served as president and CEO of the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Mo., since 2006. Under her leadership, the Kauffman Center opened a $326-million facility as the performance home of the Kansas City Ballet, Kansas City Symphony and Lyric Opera of Kansas City.

In addition to earning a bachelor of music in piano performance and bachelor of music education from Ouachita, Chu holds a master’s degree in piano pedagogy from Southern Methodist University, an MBA from Rockhurst University and a Ph.D. in philanthropic studies from Indiana University.

President Obama, in a statement, said Chu’s ‘lifelong passion for the arts and her background in philanthropy have made her a powerful advocate for artists and arts education in Kansas City. She knows firsthand how art can open minds, transform lives and revitalize communities, and believes deeply in the importance of the arts to our national culture.’

‘The School of Fine Arts at Ouachita Baptist University is proud to have one of our own as the nominee to head the National Endowment for the Arts,’ said Scott Holsclaw, the school’s dean. ‘I can think of no one better suited to lead our nation in the pursuit of artistic development and arts initiatives throughout our country. We wish Dr. Chu the very best in her pursuit of continuing the outstanding work of the National Endowment for the Arts.’

Chu is the daughter of Finley and Rosemary Chu. Finley Chu served as chairman of OBU’s economics and business department until his death in 1967. Rosemary ‘Mom’ Chu, a campus legend at Ouachita, served more than 42 years as residence hall director of Frances Crawford Hall West before retiring in 2009. The Mom Chu House in Gosser Hall is named in her honor.

Jane Chu, who grew up on the Ouachita campus, is a former Miss OBU and was a member of the Ouachi-Tones and Concert Band.

‘The legacy of the Chu family runs deep through Ouachita,’ Ouachita President Rex Horne said. ‘This influence is widespread as evidenced in the nomination of Jane Chu as chair of the National Endowment of the Arts. We congratulate Jane on this significant opportunity.’ 

Ouachita is a Baptist-affiliated university in Arkadelphia, Ark.

ERLC’S MOORE JOINS BECKET FUND BOARD — Russell D. Moore has joined the board of directors of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, one of the world’s leading defenders of the freedom of religious expression.

Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, accepted the Becket Fund’s invitation to become one of its board directors, the ERLC announced in a Feb. 14 news release.

The Becket Fund ‘is delighted’ Moore has become one of its directors, said William Mumma, president and chairman of the Becket Fund board. ‘Dr. Moore has been [a] longtime defender of religious liberty and has a keen understanding of the challenges we face as a nation.’

Moore said the Becket Fund is ‘untiring in standing up for religious liberty for all. I am honored to join this great team, and I pray to represent the spirit of our freedom-fighter Baptist forebears such as Thomas Helwys and Isaac Backus and John Leland.’

The Becket Fund has advocated for the freedom of adherents of a variety of religious traditions in the United States and at least 29 other countries.

It is leading the way in defending the conscience and religious liberty rights of nonprofit organizations and for-profit corporations that object to the Obama administration’s abortion/contraception mandate. That rule implementing the 2010 health care law requires employers to cover contraceptives, including abortion-causing drugs, for their workers. The Becket Fund is representing Hobby Lobby in its legal challenge to the mandate. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the case March 25.

Among the other members of the Becket Fund board are Robert George, professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University and chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF); Mary Ann Glendon, law professor at Harvard University and a USCIRF commissioner; Ken Blackwell, senior fellow at the Family Research Council; John Garvey, president of the Catholic University of America; and Kevin Hasson, Becket Fund’s founder.

ERLC NAMES NEW STAFF MEMBERS — The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) has added six new staff members, ERLC President Russell D. Moore announced Feb. 17.

‘We are thrilled with the addition of these new staff members to the growing ERLC team,’ Moore said in a news release announcing Edgar Aponte as consultant for Hispanic initiatives; Diana Chandler, editorial associate; Alli Hill, digital communications specialist; Elizabeth Graham, event coordinator; Kevin Miller, video editor; and Travis Wussow, consultant for legal initiatives.

‘They will strengthen our ability to apply the Gospel of the Kingdom to the life of local congregations for the sake of the mission of the Gospel in the world. Representing a diverse cross section of Southern Baptist life, they will seek to enhance our service to SBC churches.’

The responsibilities of the new staff members will include:

— Aponte will provide consultation to the ERLC on strategies to serve and equip Hispanic churches on ethical issues. He will continue to serve as director of Hispanic leadership development at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS). Aponte was a foreign diplomat for the Dominican Republic before earning a Master of Divinity at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS).

— Chandler will be an editorial associate for the ERLC while remaining Baptist Press’ full-time general assignment writer/editor. She holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

— Hill will provide design and content services for the ERLC. A public relations graduate from Union University in Jackson, Tenn., Hill previously worked in the communications department at Bellevue Baptist Church in the Memphis area and served as an administrative assistant to Moore at SBTS.

— Graham will coordinate events and conferences for the ERLC while continuing to serve in the office of Ryan Hutchinson, executive vice president at SEBTS. She holds a master’s degree in biblical counseling from SEBTS, where she previously coordinated events for eight years.

— Miller will be video editor with the ERLC’s digital team. He is a technical editor at NewsChannel 5 in Nashville and a creative team member at First Baptist Church in Mt. Juliet, Tenn.

— Wussow will provide legal advice to the ERLC on ethics issues in courts and legislatures. He serves as executive director of Proclamation Ministries and general counsel at Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas. Wussow, who earned a law degree from the University of Texas-Austin, serves as a fellow with the International Justice Mission.
Compiled from reports by Trennis Henderson of Ouachita University and Tom Strode of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. . Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).

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