Leadership Conference Gives Students a Better Understanding of the Southern Baptist Convention

ERLC President Russell Moore responds during the Question & Ethics segment that was part of the Student Leadership Conference March 26-27 in Nashville. Phillip Bethancourt (left), the ERLC's executive vice president, listens in his role as moderator. Photo by Alli Rader
ERLC President Russell Moore responds during the Question & Ethics segment that was part of the Student Leadership Conference March 26-27 in Nashville. Phillip Bethancourt (left), the ERLC’s executive vice president, listens in his role as moderator.
Photo by Alli Rader

For seminary student Jamin Eben, the inaugural Student Leadership Conference cosponsored by two Southern Baptist entities proved doubly beneficial.

Eben, a third-year master of divinity student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., said the event provided “a much better understanding of the nature and day-to-day shape of the cooperation that makes up the Southern Baptist Convention.”

“The core of Southern Baptist identity is not structure but cooperation, and the leadership conference truly brought that out,” Eben said via email.

The first-time event also helped by exposing him to various Southern Baptist pastors and leaders, Eben said.

“Leadership is desperately needed in the church today,” he said. “However, styles of leadership are so diverse that as a young leader I often wonder how to work toward my own development. Seeing a vast diversity of godly leaders helped me think through my own development a great deal.”

Eben was among 62 participants — primarily students with some faculty and staff members — from three SBC seminaries and seven Baptist colleges or universities at the March 26-27 conference in Nashville. The conference, cosponsored by the Executive Committee and Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC), was held in conjunction with the second annual ERLC Leadership Summit on “The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation.”

Between and after sessions of the ERLC Summit, students interacted with Southern Baptist pastors and entity leaders. They also had the opportunity to ask questions of them in panel discussions at three meals during the summit.

Frank S. Page, president of the Executive Committee, explained the work of the EC and the convention at the March 26 dinner before joining three pastors for a question-and-answer session. ERLC President Russell Moore responded to students and other guests at a Question and Ethics segment during the March 27 dinner break. Six LifeWay Christian Resources staffers on a panel fielded questions at a March 27 luncheon sponsored by the entity.

Page said the student conference enabled the Executive Committee to engage in its assignment from the convention of building cooperation — specifically in this case “to encourage students in their understanding of and appreciation of the work of the convention.”

“We were able to connect personally, as well as to share information,” Page said. “It was a wonderful time of connection and networking. We are hopeful this event will encourage cooperation in the days ahead.”

The goal of the student conference “was to invest in next generation leaders by growing them as leaders, networking them with key SBC leaders and educating them on how the SBC works,” said Phillip Bethancourt, the ERLC’s executive vice president who emceed the dinner programs.

“We hope this will become an annual event that strengthens the SBC’s connection to younger leaders,” he told BP by email. “Imagine the impact on the denomination after a decade if 500-plus key SBC leaders have attended this event and shaped their ongoing commitment to investing in the SBC.”

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SOURCE: Baptist Press
Tom Strode

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