NASHVILLE – As the first phase of the search for a new president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) comes to a close, the trustee search committee’s chairman said he is pleased with the committee’s progress.
“I have been encouraged both by the attitude and work of the search committee itself and by the engagement of a wide variety of leaders among Southern Baptists,” said Barry Creamer, vice president of academic affairs and professor of humanities at Criswell College in Dallas and an ERLC trustee.
Creamer said the search committee group is hopeful of completing its search before next summer to recommend a successor to Richard Land, who has led the ERLC since 1988 and has announced his retirement effective Oct. 23, 2013. The commission addresses moral, ethical and religious liberty issues from a biblical perspective from its offices in Nashville and Washington, D.C.
“Everything so far indicates we will have a fruitful process,” Creamer said in an Oct. 25 interview, recounting that the search committee has met either via conference call or face-to-face every week since being organized in August. The committee has primarily focused on “resolving issues about the process the committee will use to find God’s man for the ERLC,” Creamer said.
Once the committee selects a nominee for the ERLC presidency, Creamer said the candidate would be presented to the full trustee board for consideration prior to the June 2013 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Houston.
The presidential search committee launched a website – erlc.com/presidentialsearch – in early October, which includes an outline of the attributes the ERLC trustees are seeking in a candidate as well as a prayer guide for the committee’s work.
The committee set an Oct. 31 deadline for receiving curricula vitae from individuals interested in the position. Creamer said the committee does not anticipate extending the date. He noted curricula vitae (CV) are only accepted through a portal on the committee’s website.
Creamer indicated he hadn’t known what to expect regarding interest in the position but is pleased with the response so far. “We tried to make the candidate profile information on the website sufficiently clear to ensure that recommendations and CVs would be mostly for qualified candidates, and the results indicate that the strategy has worked,” Creamer said.
The presidential profile developed by the committee lays out an expectation that a candidate would “demonstrate a commitment to applying Biblical principles and gospel understanding to critical ethical concerns of our time.”
The profile notes an individual considered for the ERLC’s chief executive position should have “significant education in and demonstrated understanding” of ethics, philosophy and history, among other academic disciplines, and “be able to comprehend complex and significant ethical issues quickly and respond to them succinctly.”
As the search committee moves into its next phase, Creamer said its goals are relatively straightforward.
“We intend to work through the recommendations and CVs to find a person with the calling, credentials, background and qualifications whom we can then nominate to the ERLC board as our candidate to be the next ERLC president,” he said. “We are remaining flexible but do expect quite a bit of work with calls, interviews, background work, references and so forth.”
Search committee members, in addition to Creamer, are Kenda Bartlett, executive director of Concerned Women for America in Washington, D.C.; Kenneth Barbic, a lobbyist with the Western Growers Association in Washington, D.C.; Lynne Fruechting, a pediatrician in Newton, Kan.; Ray Newman, executive director of Georgia Citizens Action Project in Atlanta; and Bernard Snowden, family life pastor at Antioch Baptist Church in Bowie, Md. ERLC trustee chairman Richard Piles, who appointed the search committee, is an ex officio member. Piles is pastor of First Baptist Church in Camden, Ark.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Dwayne Hastings is a vice president with the SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.)