Rev. J. Brent Walker has accepted the position of Interim President at The John Leland Center for Theological Studies in Arlington. Walker recently retired as Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, a position he held for 17 years.
Leland’s president, Dr. Mark Olson, had previously announced that he was resigning to accept the position of Senior Pastor of Haymarket Baptist Church but agreed to continue at Leland until an Interim President could be located. Olson has served as Leland’s president since 2007 and will serve through August.
In Walker, the Leland trustees have found a Baptist leader who is known throughout the country because of his leadership relating to religious freedom. A University of Florida graduate who also earned a J.D. from Stetson University College of Law and an M.Div. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Walker has been a tireless advocate for religious freedom for all people. He shares that passion with the school’s namesake, John Leland, who advocated for religious freedom in the nation’s earliest years. Before coming to the Baptist Joint Committee, Walker served as pastor of Richland Baptist Church in Falmouth, Kentucky. He is an ordained Baptist minister and active member at Columbia Baptist Church.
Walker is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar and counts among his many honors an induction into the Baylor University Alumni Association Hall of Fame, the Virginia First Freedom Award, the Adrian Westney Religious Liberty Award from the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Florida, and an honorary Doctor of Divinity Degree from Leland in 2013. Olson said of Walker, “Leland is greatly blessed to find such a strong and widely respected leader. I feel confident that God will use Brent Walker to make Leland a stronger seminary.”
The John Leland Center was founded in 1998 as an evangelical Baptist seminary serving the greater Washington, D.C. area and Virginia. It features an international faculty with professors from Korea, Argentina, Ghana, Russia and Estonia. The student body is ethnically very diverse, with no ethnic group having a majority. The seminary is accredited with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) through 2022 and is a member of the prestigious Washington Theological Consorium.