Pence expresses gratitude for work of ERLC

Pence expresses gratitude for work of ERLC

INDIANAPOLIS (BP) — Vice President Mike Pence expressed his gratitude for the work of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) during a special lunch event hosted by the entity on Tuesday (June 11) of the 2024 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) annual meeting.

Pence, 48th vice president of the United States and 50th governor of the State of Indiana, said he is grateful for the work the ERLC has always done in the public square and for the leadership of ERLC President Brent Leatherwood.

“Brent, I’m grateful for your leadership,” Pence said. “I appreciate so much, and have for many years, the work of the ERLC. We’re truly grateful for the principal leadership that this group provides. What a blessing to see you in this role, it really is Brent.”

Leatherwood, who met Pence while working on Capitol Hill in the early 2000s, introduced Pence as someone whom he respects “immensely.”

Pence began by chronicling his political journey to the sold-out crowd of more than 400. He described a mindset shift that came after losing a couple of elections early in his career.

“While I gave my life to Christ when I was 18, I’m not sure that I gave my dreams to Him until after I lost a couple of elections,” Pence said. “I started thinking about what my faith required of me.

“The ERLC represents the idea that we can bring our faith into the public square and that being a winsome witness for Jesus Christ is just as important as the things we stand for. And I’d failed that early in my life. I thought the dream was gone, but I purposed in my heart to say that if it (the opportunity to pursue public office) ever came around again I’d aspire to carry myself in a way worthy of the gospel.”

He described his most recent role of vice president as an “honor.”

“One of the greatest honors of my life was to be your vice president,” Pence said. “I’m incredibly proud of the record of our administration and proud of the team that we had around us and what we accomplished, with a lot of help from ERLC.”

Pence thanked pastors and ministry leaders present at the event and encouraged them to continue to impact the families in their churches.

“I want you all to know how grateful I am for the role that you play in the lives of families in the communities that you serve,” Pence said. “I will always believe that the pulpits that you speak behind are infinitely of more value to the life of this nation than any podium that I’ve ever had the privilege to stand behind. I believe it with all my heart, so thank you for your service to the Lord and the role that you play in the life of the nation.

“If I have one word to each one of you when you go back to those pulpits and when you go back to those churches … encourage people to go home for dinner. If we save the family, we’ll save America.”

Leatherwood and Pence discussed other topics, including the overturning of Roe v. Wade, current pro-life issues, the public conversation regarding the Jan. 6, 2021, riots and dealing with criticism as a politician.

On dealing with criticism, Pence said he simply tries to rely on the Lord and be encouraged by fellow Christians around the country.

“I’m not immune to feeling frustrated from time to time,” Pence said about facing public criticism for taking biblical stances on issues. “For every one person that has got a problem with what you said, there seems to be legions of people who quietly are grateful for the stand that you take.”

While bringing the event to a close, Leatherwood praised Pence for the courage and conviction he has shown throughout his political service.

“You have shown, at various points, immense courage under fire, you have stood strong for your convictions and you have always, in my estimation, pointed people to the light of this world, Jesus Christ,” Leatherwood said.

Pence said despite all of the turmoil and challenges the country faces, he has faith in the American people.

“I’m very optimistic,” Pence said. “Over my 20 years in public service … my opinion of our government has not really gone up very much and sometimes it’s gone down. But my opinion of the American people has gone up every single day.

“Seeing the way the American people come alongside one another in the hardest of times … my conviction is that the American people are the most freedom-loving, faith-filled, generous, caring, decent people the world has ever known, we’ve just got to have a government as good as our people again.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Timothy Cockes is a writer in Nashville.)

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