On Monday, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention began accepting candidate nominations for its new commission president as it prepares for the retirement of long-time president Richard Land next fall.
Land has served as the president of the organization for several decades, but in July he announced his plans to retire on Oct. 23, 2013 – his 25th anniversary with the ERLC. Within a month of the announcement the organization had assembled a committee, led by chairman Barry Creamer, to find Land's replacement.
"He has been widely recognized as one of the leading public voices among evangelicals during his presidency. While there is no other Dr. Richard Land, there will be a next president of the ERLC, and needless to say, the expectations for that person are extremely high," said Creamer, who serves as the vice president of academic affairs at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas, on the ERLC website.
The responsibilities of the ERLC president include serving as the organization's CEO, working to promote biblical ethics within the church and among its leaders, promoting religious liberty and more.
The committee is encouraging those who are interested in the position, and those who know someone whom they feel is qualified, to pray about whether or not they should start the candidacy process. They have also made it clear that the person with the most impressive resume will not necessarily become the next president, because they are "pursuing God's will" to make sure the right person is chosen.
The organization released a profile of the type of person they are looking for, however, and they say it is "not likely" they will compromise on any of the characteristics in the profile. These characteristics include faithfulness to the Baptist Faith and Message, understanding of the Bible, ethics, philosophy, theology and history, strong communication skills and leadership experience, among other things.
They also hope to find someone "who is characterized by the qualifications found in 1 Timothy 3," a passage of Scripture that describes an overseer as having characteristics like being "above reproach," "self-controlled," "gentle," "not a lover of money" and able to manage his home and family well.
ERLC is now accepting Curriculum Vitae's from those who believe they should be considered a candidate. Candidate CV's will be accepted until Oct. 31.
The Presidential Search Committee has also created a "Presidential Prayer Guide" for those who want to help by praying that the right candidate would be chosen. All of the suggested prayers on the list are aimed toward the seven committee members, as they are encouraging individuals to pray for their personal spiritual health and for godly wisdom in their search for the next ERLC president.
Once the search committee finds who they believe is the best candidate for the job, they will submit their recommendation to the ERLC board.
Land, who serves as executive editor for The Christian Post, told CP in August that he is retiring from ERLC but not from ministry. He plans to continue addressing important cultural and ethical issues through the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
"I have no intention of retiring from the issues that are of importance to our society," Land told CP. "I feel called to fight for the biblical principles important to our nation and our world."