Open House at the new Baptist Joint Committee on Religious LibertyWritten by Don Byrd

Earlier this week, Rev. Brent Walker announced his plans for retirement from the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, where he has served as executive director since 1999, after joining the organization in 1989. 

Fortunately, for those of us privileged to work alongside Brent and benefit from his leadership, his retirement will not take place until the end of 2016.  It is not too early, however, to recognize his exceptional tenure of accomplishment at the BJC. Here are excerpts from a few online tributes prompted by his retirement announcement:

Suzii Paynter, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Executive Coordinator (and BJC Board member), quoted at CBF blog:

“The BJC has flourished under Brent Walker’s leadership. Religious liberty is the foundational right in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution and essential to the vitality of living in freedom in the U.S. and beyond. Brent has used the best of the BJC’s rich legacy and history to generate a future-oriented narrative that establishes the BJC as a leader in the days to come. Thank you, Brent. Don’t hang up your shoes too soon—even in retirement the BJC Board expects to call on you.”

Welton Gaddy, President Emeritus of the Interfaith Alliance:

“Brent Walker has been a strong and tireless voice among Baptist leaders for religious freedom, a right historically cherished in our community but that has deteriorated in recent years. Brent has brought a compassionate and cooperative spirit to this sacred work. A true friend and a trusted colleague, his leadership will be missed among those striving to safeguard religious freedom.”

In a Perspectives column for Baptist News Global, former BJC staff members Jeff Huett and Stephen Reeves, with former BJC intern Aaron Weaver, write of Brent’s mentorship.

Bob Allen notes the highlights of Brent’s career, including the passage of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act, and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act.