Southeastern Graduate Chad Barefoot: The Youngest Senator in North Carolina
January 19, 2017
Chad Barefoot is currently serving his first term in the N.C. Senate as its youngest member. He represents Wake and Franklin counties in the 18th Senate District, including the neighborhood where his parents grew up.
Barefoot is a recent graduate of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) in Wake Forest, N.C. with a Master of Arts in Christian Ethics. Prior to attending SEBTS, he earned a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in public management from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C.
Mentors, past job experiences and family values have prepared Barefoot for his current role in politics. He has worked as a policy advisor to the North Carolina House Majority Leader and serves on numerous boards and committees that relate to education, health and the family.
Barefoot’s parents work for the Baptist Children’s Home of North Carolina. He grew up in the Baptist church and continues his father’s legacy of service by speaking to Triangle churches about its annual Thanksgiving offering for children and families in need.
“How amazing is it that Baptists in this state, collectively, have taken care of the needs of young children for over 125 years. What started out as an orphanage now looks to rebuild broken families,” he said. “Baptists provide physical and emotional shelters for children but also tell them about Jesus. The focus is to find them an eternal home.”
Initially, Barefoot had ambitions of attending law school, but decided to pursue a different educational path of preparation. “After prayerful consideration I realized that what the state [of North Carolina] needed was leaders who were well-grounded in understanding the difference between right and wrong,” Barefoot said.
“I had a few friends in the SEBTS ethics program and our conversations helped me pursue that path,” he said. “Looking back, my experience at SEBTS served as a much more important preparation for political life than going to law school. I came to SEBTS believing in Christ but unsure and confused about the answers to many important ethical issues. I knew that I needed to be more than someone who just knew what the laws were.”
At Southeastern, Barefoot had the opportunity to study under all three ethics professors. “David Jones, Dan Heimbach and Mark Liederbach each brought different perspectives and styles of teaching into the classroom,” Barefoot said. “I really appreciated all three of them. My favorite class was law, religion and morality with Dr. Heimbach because it touched on the three academic areas that I am most interested in at once.”
“SEBTS provided a place for me to pursue my academic interests and helped me to develop and mature in my personal character and worldview. This training allowed me to cultivate a deeper biblical, theological and historical understanding of good and evil and how it is applied in the world today,” he said. “However, I did not have a particular view forced upon me. Southeastern challenged me to think more critically than any other school in my life.”
Barefoot expressed his gratitude for his time of preparation at SEBTS and to the Southeastern family for their continued support and encouragement. “It really helps to have people praying for us,” he said. “Staying connected to the family of faith helps prepare you for the challenges you will face.”
One of Barefoot’s greatest role models is Paul “Skip” Stam, a N.C. House of Representative from Wake County. Barefoot worked for Stam before becoming a Senator. “He is the smartest person I know,” Barefoot said. Through this relationship, Barefoot was introduced to his wife while they were both legislative interns.
In 2011, Barefoot married his wife, Paige, in Binkley Chapel on the SEBTS campus. They live around the corner from SEBTS with their son, Franklin, and are active members of Capital Community Church in Raleigh, N.C.
Barefoot extended an invitation to Southeastern students to reach out to him. “My door is always open to SEBTS students,” Barefoot said. “One piece of advice I have is to prayerfully consider how the Lord wants to use you and be open to the fact that He may take you to unusual places. I would feel more comfortable as a youth group leader or a missionary in Africa than as a Senator.”
“The Lord has blessed us with a country where we govern ourselves,” Barefoot said. “Christ’s eternal work on the cross is the perfect example of justice and mercy, so why should we not be involved in a nation that is desperate for both?”