Posted on : Wednesday September 21, 2016

By Tom Strode

WASHINGTON (BP) — The Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has named one of its own — international justice and religious freedom advocate Travis Wussow — to direct its Washington, D.C., office.

ERLC President Russell Moore announced Wussow’s appointment as the new vice president for public policy, as well as general counsel, Monday (Sept. 19). In these roles, Wussow will coordinate the commission’s legislative, coalition and legal efforts. He will also continue to lead its international work.

Wussow, 33, is now serving as the ERLC’s director of international justice and religious liberty. His family and he moved to the Middle East more than a year ago for him to establish the commission’s first international office.

Moore described Wussow as “the natural choice to serve with me in this vital capacity in Washington.”

“Travis has modeled conviction and skill in law, in advocacy and in ministry,” Moore said in a news release. “During his time at the ERLC, Travis has brought unmatched insight and effectiveness in areas of international justice and freedom. I look forward to working together in our nation’s capital, connecting the vision of the kingdom of Christ to the pressing issues facing the country and the world.”

Wussow said he is “honored and humbled to have the opportunity” to direct the ERLC’s work in Washington.

“Our country and our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world face significant challenges,” he said in the news release, adding the ERLC “is well-positioned to provide policy and advocacy leadership in the years to come.”

In directing the Washington office, Wussow will succeed Barrett Duke, who has served as the ERLC’s vice president for public policy and research while leading the office since 2003.

The Montana Southern Baptist Convention‘s Executive Board unanimously approved Duke, who has worked for the ERLC for 20 years, as the state convention’s new executive director Sept. 8. The convention will vote on Duke at its annual meeting in October.

The ERLC’s board of trustees has unanimously approved Moore’s appointment of Wussow to the Washington post. Wussow will begin serving in the Washington office in January.

From the office in the Middle East, Wussow leads the ERLC to collaborate with other organizations to advocate for religious freedom and social justice internationally. Under his direction, the ERLC office provides training resources on justice and religious liberty for churches and organizations, creates material for raising awareness on the issues and works with Baptist Global Response to help meet human needs.

Prior to his work for the ERLC, Wussow served on the staff of The Austin Stone Community Church in Austin, Texas, for about four years, fulfilling responsibilities at the multi-campus church as general counsel and executive director of central ministries. Before serving at the church, he worked at an Austin law firm.

Wussow also served previously as a fellow for the International Justice Mission, which works on behalf of human trafficking victims and the poor overseas.

He holds both undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas in Austin.

Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.