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Russell Moore Replaces Richard Land as Leader of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

(UPDATED) ERLC selects Southern Baptist dean as voice of nation's largest Protestant body on political issues.
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Update: Following the trustees' meeting, CT spoke with Moore about his new role.

Trustees for the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) have elected Russell Moore as its next president.

Moore, a well-known Southern Baptist leader who currently serves as dean of the School of Theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) in Kentucky, will succeed Richard Land when he retires. (Complete press release at bottom.)

SBTS president Al Mohler broke the news via Twitter:

Just talked to @drmoore to congratulate him on his election as President of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC.– albertmohler (@albertmohler) March 26, 2013
The election of Russell Moore as ERLC president is a great day for all Southern Baptists. He will make us all proud. @drmoore– albertmohler (@albertmohler) March 26, 2013

Moore says he hopes to speak with "convictional kindess" throughout his presidency.

"I hope to speak of a holistic vision of human dignity and human flourishing rooted in the kingdom of God—and to do so in a way that is grounded always in the Gospel," he told CT. "I don't view people who disagree with me as my enemies or my opponents. I hope to speak with civility and with kindness and in dialogue with people with whom I disagree."

Just prior to the announcement, Moore also tweeted:

Glad for those who taught Maria & me to say of Jesus: "What He says we will do; where He sends we will go. Never fear, only trust & obey."– Russell Moore (@drmoore) March 26, 2013

CT previously has reported on Moore, who is an outspoken advocate for adoption. Moore also has written for CT on numerous occasions, weighing in on last year's Komen-Planned Parenthood debacle, the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and preaching lessons from Parks and Recreation.

CT also has reported on Land, who announced his retirement last July following disciplinary action after he plagiarized and made "racially charged" comments about Trayvon Martin on his radio show. Among other things, Land has supported the no-fly zone over Libya, Newt Gingrich's statements on race, and the prospect of a Rick Perry presidency. Land often said that he did not explicitly endorse political candidates for office, but last November "crossed his own line in the sand" and endorsed Republican Mitt Romney for president.

Russell Moore elected president of SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission

Russell D. Moore has been elected as the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission by the entity's board of trustees.

Moore will follow Richard Land as the eighth president of the ERLC, which is the Southern Baptist agency dedicated to addressing social and moral concerns and their implications on public policy issues. Moore will begin his new responsibilities June 1. At that time, Land will become the entity's president emeritus, an honor bestowed on him by trustees in September. Land announced his impending retirement in July 2012.

Moore, a native of Biloxi, Miss., has served since 2004 as Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., where he is also Professor of Christian Theology and Ethics.

Moore is a widely recognized preacher, writer and commentator on matters related to faith, culture and politics. He is the author of books such as Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches and Tempted and Tried: Temptation and the Triumph of Christ.

"I am honored and humbled to be asked to serve Southern Baptists as ERLC president," Moore said. "I pray for God's grace to lead the ERLC to be a catalyst to connect the agenda of the kingdom of Christ to the cultures of local congregations for the sake of the mission of the gospel in the world."

Land lauded Moore's election,

"I am delighted that the Holy Spirit has led the ERLC's trustees to Dr. Russell Moore as the commission's next president. Dr. Moore is a godly Christian minister, a devoted husband and father and a convictional, committed Baptist. His excellent academic preparation, combined with his keen mind and his tender heart for God and His people, make him a person uniquely suited to serve our Savior and Southern Baptists in this crucial role at such a critical moment in our nation's history.

"I join the trustees and ERLC staff in committing to pray for Russell and his dear family as he prepares to assume the tremendous responsibilities of the ERLC presidency."

The presidential search committee, led by Barry Creamer, vice president of Academic Affairs and Professor of Humanities at Criswell College, recommended Moore to the trustee board this week after a seven-month search process.

"After praying, planning, meeting and working for months to find the man we believe God would have lead the ERLC, we are blessed by the board's election of Russell Moore today, and confident that God will use his message to impact churches and the public marketplace of ideas for what is right, true and desperately needed today," Creamer said following Moore's election.

A widely-sought cultural commentator, Moore speaks frequently to issues of ethics, evangelical engagement and religious liberty, having been quoted or published by many of the nation's leading news agencies and periodicals. He also writes frequently at his Moore to the Point website and hosts podcasts, including The Cross and the Jukebox, a program that examines country music from a gospel perspective.

Prior to entering the ministry, Moore served former U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) in a variety of roles during Taylor's service in Congress.

Moore and his wife Maria are the parents of five sons.

His nomination to the position received affirmation from both political and religious leaders on the national stage, including:

"Never before has our nation needed Christian leaders in the Church who are both faithful and compassionate. Russell Moore embodies the honesty, integrity and fortitude of a man deeply rooted in the ways of God and of his Kingdom. His presence of mind and keen insights as a theologian and pastor are such that his work has not only benefited me personally, but many who serve our nation in public life. I have never read anything by Russell Moore that did not leave me with a strong impression that this was a man who could speak carefully and powerfully to the public square. I am deeply grateful for his life and look forward to his many future years of service." Bobby Jindal, Governor of the State of Louisiana

"I can think of no one more qualified in experience, in temperament, in passion and in doctrine to represent us as Southern Baptists on the most critical ethical issues of our day, and on the all-important issue of religious liberty, which I believe may be the civil rights issue of this next decade in America. . . ." Rick Warren, Pastor, Saddleback Church

"I can think of no one more highly qualified to lead the Commission than Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Of Dr. Moore's intellectual gifts, one need say no more than that they are formidable indeed. I have often said, and I repeat here, that he is the most brilliant theologian of his generation in any of the Christian traditions. Similarly, of his leadership skills, one need say no more than that they are exceptional. What he has accomplished at Southern Seminary is nothing short of amazing. He is truly a leader of men. . . ." Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University and Visiting Professor, Harvard Law School

"The choice of Dr. Russell Moore to guide the work of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission comes at a strategic moment in both American and Baptist history. He has uniquely prepared himself spiritually, theologically, academically and politically for just such a moment as this. Placing a leader with the right convictions, a razor-sharp mind, and a moral compass that will not fail paints a bright picture for Southern Baptists' future. He will have our full support and prayers." Paige Patterson, President, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

"Russell Moore will provide epic leadership for the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. He will be an outstanding president who will make Southern Baptists proud and who will make the enemies of Christ tremble. He will provide a public voice Southern Baptists will follow and the secular world will respect. . . . The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will greatly miss him, as will I, but we congratulate Southern Baptists on the wisdom of their choice. Russell Moore was made for this position of leadership, and for this hour." R. Albert Mohler, Jr., President, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

A full list of endorsers—as well as more information about Moore's life, education and ministry—is available at ERLC.com/MoorePressKit. A press photo is also available at erlc.com.

The Southern Baptist Convention is America's largest non-Catholic denomination with more than 16.2 million members in over 44,000 churches nationwide. The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission is the SBC's ethics, religious liberty and public policy agency with offices in Nashville, Tenn. and Washington, D.C.

January/February
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