NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–A search committee has been named to find a successor to Russell Moore as president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC).

On behalf of the ERLC Executive Committee, David Prince, chairman of the commission’s trustees, announced Tuesday, July 6, the selection of Todd Howard as chairman of the presidential search committee. Howard is the pastor of Pine Bluff, Ark., Watson Chapel.

The other trustees named to the committee and the state conventions they represent are Lori Bova of New Mexico, Traci Griggs of North Carolina, Christine Hoover of Virginia, Juan Sanchez of Texas and A.B. Vines of California. Prince, pastor of preaching and vision at Lexington, Ky., Ashland Avenue, and an at-large trustee, will be an ex-officio member of the committee.

The search committee is charged with bringing a candidate to the ERLC trustee board to recommend as a successor to Moore, whose resignation took effect June 1 after eight years as the commission’s president. Moore announced in mid-May his departure to become public theologian for Christianity Today and lead the evangelical magazine’s new Public Theology Project.

In an ERLC news release, Prince said the search committee members “come from diverse backgrounds and ministry contexts but share a deep and abiding commitment to the Gospel and the need for faithful Christian witness in the public square.”

He expressed gratitude in advance for “the way in which I know this group will work diligently, methodically, and prayerfully to search for and recommend a candidate who can serve both the Commission and our Convention of churches with faithfulness, excellence, and skill.”

In written comments for Baptist Press, Prince called the ERLC “a crucial institution in Southern Baptist life.”

The ERLC staff has “continued to demonstrate this fact by moving forward with their important work saving lives, upholding human dignity, promoting religious liberty, and carrying the Gospel forward into the public square,” Prince said. The commission’s next president “will be a leader who has a heart for all those aspects of the ERLC’s ministry assignment and a bold vision for accomplishing them,” he said.

The search committee will meet in the weeks ahead to create guidelines, a presidential profile and the process for submitting names for consideration, according to the ERLC news release. Information will then be released to assist those who would like to recommend a candidate.

As with other recent SBC entity searches, the election of a new ERLC president is expected to require “many months,” Prince said during the commission’s report to the 2021 SBC Annual Meeting June 15-16 in Nashville. He asked messengers to pray for the trustees’ search for a president and for the ERLC staff during the transition.

The ERLC trustees elected Moore as president in March 2013, nearly eight months after Richard Land announced his retirement.

In its release, the ERLC provided the following descriptions of the search committee’s members other than Howard:

  • Bova, founder of Veritas Classical Christian Academy, is a member of Hobbs, N.M., Taylor Memorial.
  • Griggs, communications/public policy specialist and radio show host, is a member of Apex, N.C., Fairview.
  • Hoover, author and Bible teacher, is a member of Charlottesville, Va., Charlottesville Community.
  • Sanchez is senior pastor of Austin, Texas, High Pointe.
  • Vines is senior pastor of Spring Valley, Calif., New Seasons.