Brent Leatherwood has been selected as the new president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, according to an announcement.
Noting that he was “honored and humbled” to be selected as the ERLC’s next president, Leatherwood highlighted that “True leadership begins as service.”
He added, “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.”
According to Christianity Today, Leatherwood has been the interim leader of the ERLC, serving as the acting president of the commission. This week, however, the ERLC board of trustees voted unanimously to approve his appointment to the presidency.
Previously, Leatherwood worked as chief of staff under the previous interim leader, Daniel Patterson. He was also the vice president of external affairs under former president Russell Moore.
The ERLC cooperates with the Southern Baptist Convention, but SBC churches operate independently.
Recently, the ERLC has been criticized for its lobby efforts on issues such as religious liberty and abortion. Critics have said the ERLC’s stance is not the official status of all Baptist churches.
Meanwhile, former ERLC president Richard Land said at the June convention that the ERLC did not need to be dissolved and defunded.
“I cannot imagine a more damaging moment for the Southern Baptist Convention to defund the ERLC,” Land said.
The board voted in June to reject a proposal to defund the ERLC.
The ERLC is responsible for launching the Caring Well Initiative in 2018, a program meant to help train and teach churches how to respond to abuse survivors.
The program is especially important following the release of the SBC’s Executive Committee report on abuse. The report on how SBC and ERLC leaders were divided over abuse allegations was released in May. It found that the SBC may have censored ERLC materials that described a sexual abuse “crisis” within the denomination.
“It is essential that we resist the urge to react defensively or from a position of protecting ourselves or an institution rather than precious individuals made in God’s image. Whether at a church or an entity, we must foster an environment where survivors are confident they will be received, listened to, and supported,” Leatherwood wrote in May.
“It is imperative that the stories of survivors be met with the same compassion Jesus exhibited for those who were marginalized or vulnerable.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Ehrlif
Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.