The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has named Brent Leatherwood as its new president.
Leatherwood, who was unanimously elected Tuesday (Sept. 13) by ERLC trustees, has served as the organization’s acting president since September 2021. Leatherwood had previously served as vice president of external affairs and chief of staff at ERLC. He follows Daniel Patterson, who served as acting president before departing in August 2021 to serve as executive pastor of Central Baptist Church in College Station, Texas. Patterson was named acting president following Russell Moore’s resignation in May 2021.
“It has been both my joy and privilege as the current chair of the ERLC board of trustees to work directly with Brent Leatherwood in his interim capacity as acting president,” said Lori Bova of Hobbs, New Mexico in an ERLC news release. “Under his leadership, the staff has not missed a beat in producing timely, quality resources for our churches. He is a tireless servant with a passion to serve Southern Baptists and to steward well the ministry assignment of the ERLC.”
Before joining the ERLC in 2017 as director of strategic partnerships, Leatherwood served as the executive director of the Tennessee Republican Party from 2012 to December 2016. In that role, he “managed the organization’s campaign apparatus at the federal, state and local levels,” according to the ERLC website. Leatherwood, the site noted, also worked as a senior legislative aide to former Rep. Connie Mack, R-Fla.
“True leadership begins as service,” Leatherwood said in the news release. “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. I am honored and humbled to be given the opportunity to serve this historic institution as its next president.
“Rooted in Scripture and guided by the Baptist Faith and Message, this team will remain fervently committed to carrying out our ministry assignment — faithfully serving our churches and growing our convictional presence in the public square on behalf of our convention,” he noted. “That means speaking with biblical clarity about the issues that matter to Baptists: the inherent value of life, religious liberty at home and abroad, human dignity and the flourishing of families.
“We have made it a priority to come alongside and equip our churches, partner with our state conventions, and support our sister SBC entities. This Commission will continue to do so in this new season because we know the Southern Baptist Convention is stronger when we are cooperating on mission together.”
Brent and his wife, Meredith, have three children and are members of The Church at Avenue South in Nashville, where Brent serves as a deacon.
Leatherwood was endorsed by the following SBC and state leaders:
“I believe Brent Leatherwood will serve Southern Baptists well in this strategic position. He is a gifted and godly man with firm biblical and baptistic convictions,” said Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
“It is my privilege to recommend Brent Leatherwood to you as the next president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. Brent has the spiritual grounding, experience and skill set necessary to lead the ERLC at this unique time in our Convention’s and nation’s history. As I have observed, Brent has a strong faith, knowledge of Scripture, and an unbounding love for Jesus. These are critical tenets for anyone who leads one of our Southern Baptist entities,” said Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board.
“Brent Leatherwood strikes me as the sort of man who loves Southern Baptists — who we have been, are and hope to become. Such a man as that can rise as a statesman to speak for Southern Baptists. Such a man can also come alongside Southern Baptists and gently speak to us as a brothers,” said Bart Barber, pastor of First Baptist Church Farmersville, Texas and SBC president.
“I consider it a privilege and an honor to endorse Brent Leatherwood’s nomination as president of the ERLC. Brent has led wisely and courageously as the interim president during what can only be described as a tumultuous and strident period in our nation and our convention. Southern Baptists and America both desperately need the information, inspiration and guidance the ERLC can provide under Brent Leatherwood’s leadership.” said Richard Land, ERLC president emeritus.
“The National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention wishes to express our strong support of Mr. Brent Leatherwood’s candidacy for president of the ERLC. Brent is a proven leader and trusted partner. His commitment to gospel-centered public policy is seasoned by his sensitivity to the nuanced lived experiences of our diverse Southern Baptist family.” said Frank Williams president of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC, and Dennis Mitchell, NAAF executive director, in a joint statement.
“Tennessee has a long history of faithful men and women who love their neighbors through service in the political arena. Believers must view engagement in government as the opportunity that it is. I can think of no one better than Brent Leatherwood to be the next president of the ERLC, leading Southern Baptists as they strive to represent Jesus through faithful and humble engagement in the public square,” said Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee.