The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) announced Jan. 19 its 73-member Leadership Council for 2017.
The council’s 73 pastors and leaders receive training from the ERLC through events and conference calls to help them and their churches apply the gospel of Jesus to all areas of life. Council members also provide counsel to commission staff and sometimes write for the ERLC’s website.
The ERLC inaugurated the council in 2014, seven months after Russell Moore became president. Each January, the commission unveils a new list of council members, who typically serve for one year.
“Churches around the country are on the front lines of engaging some of the most difficult cultural and societal questions imaginable, ones that our parents and grandparents often never had to consider,” Moore said in a written release announcing the latest council members.
“With our Leadership Council, I’m thrilled to be able to partner with a new group of leaders from around the country who are eager to address these issues with a gospel focus both in the life of their churches and in the public square,” Moore said.
Among the members of this year’s Leadership Council, which includes women for the first time, are:
– H.B. Charles, pastor-teacher of Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church of Jacksonville and Orange Park, Fla.
– James Merritt, lead pastor of Cross Pointe Church in the north metro Atlanta area and former president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).
– Jen Wilkin, author and Bible teacher, member of The Village Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.
– Byron Day, senior pastor of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Laurel, Md., and president of the National African American Fellowship of the SBC.
– Matt Chandler, lead pastor of teaching at The Village Church in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex.
– Clint Pressley, senior pastor of Hickory Grove Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.
– Kevin Smith, executive director of the Baptist Convention of Maryland/Delaware.
– Jimmy Scroggins, lead pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, Fla.
– Bart Barber, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Farmersville, Texas.
– Willy Rice, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla., and a former president of the SBC Pastors’ Conference.
Other North Carolina pastors among the leaders of this year’s Leadership Council are Andy Davis, senior pastor of First Baptist Church, Durham; Matt Kendrick, next generation pastor of Biltmore Church, Asheville; and Jeff Long, senior pastor of Parkwood Baptist Church, Gastonia.
In written comments provided by the ERLC, Merritt said he is part of the Leadership Council because of his deep interest “in the political and social issues which have spiritual ramifications for the church and culture today” and his “confidence in the ERLC leadership in its engagement with these issues.”
Day said, “The current cultural climate in America demands a Christian worldview response,” adding the ERLC “is essential to equipping the followers of Jesus to stand in grace and godliness in an ungodly society.”
Wilkin said she is “looking forward to learning from the other members and gaining exposure to new ideas.”
For Pressley, “There is not another organization, like the ERLC, that helps evangelical Christians think through the pressing issues with a genuinely Christian framework. To be a small part of such a great organization is a rare privilege.”
The entire list of council members is available at erlc.com/about/leadership-council.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.)