Russell Moore new ERLC leader

A 41-year-old seminary professor has been named to replace Richard Land, who steps down after a quarter century as the Southern Baptist Convention’s top expert on moral issues.

By Bob Allen

The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has named seminary professor and administrator Russell Moore as president. He succeeds Richard Land, who retires after 25 years as the Southern Baptist Convention’s chief spokesman on public policy and religious-liberty concerns.

Moore, 41, is dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He also is professor of Christian theology and ethics. His 2002 doctoral dissertation was about applying evangelical theologian Carl F.H. Henry’s notion of the Kingdom of God to contemporary evangelical thought.

russell moore familyIn 2010 Moore chaired the SBC Resolutions Committee that called for greater environmental stewardship in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil-rig explosion that polluted the Gulf of Mexico. He described the spill as an “awakening” for a denomination that had previously opposed government regulation comparable to the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision on abortion in 1973.

He was a member of the Resolutions Committee in 2012, when Southern Baptists went on record in support of immigration reform that includes a “just and compassionate path to legal status” for undocumented aliens.

Moore blogs at “Moore to the Point.” His podcast “The Cross and the Jukebox” explores connections between country music and theology. He has written extensively on adoption and chairs the board of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

When he takes office June 1, Moore will join LifeWay Christian Resources President Thom Rainer, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary President Daniel Akin and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Jason Allen as SBC agency heads who worked previously at Southern Seminary.

North American Mission Board President Kevin Ezell also has ties to the seminary. For 15 years he was pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, where both Moore and seminary President Albert Mohler are members.

Moore has a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from the University of Southern Mississippi. Before entering the ministry he was an aide to U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor (D-Miss.) He is an ordained Baptist minister and was preaching pastor at Highview Baptist Church in Louisville from 2008 until 2012.

Land, who came under fire last year for comments about the shooting death of black teenager Trayvon Martin and for reading other people’s material without attribution on his call-in radio program, will stay on as president emeritus.