The ERLC lacks a permanent leader at the moment, Russell Moore having resigned earlier this year after leading the organization for eight years. I always liked the demeanor that Moore brought to the ERLC.
The acting President is Executive Vice President Daniel Patterson and the ERLC trustees have appointed a search committee for the new leader. I do not know him but presume he and all ERLC employees are wonderful people and represent the SBC well.
The ERLC President has the toughest job in the convention. Severe criticism is guaranteed, some will be vicious and unchristian.
A few facts about the ERLC:
- The commission reports a total of 21 employees.
- By my review of the ERLC staff page, most of these are female although it appears that executive leadership is male.
- It appears that at the moment there are no African-American or other minority employees. Maybe I missed some not pictured on their staff page.
- The organization is based in Nashville (12 employees there) and has offices in DC (five employees there). Four work in other locations.
- The ERLC has a “Leadership Network,” a group of SBCers who “received intentional investment” from the organization. A number of SBC Voices people (contributors and/or team members) are in the network including Joel Rainey, Jared Wellman, and Jay Adkins. Other SBCV folks have been in this group in the past. There are over 60 people in this including some African-Americans, non-pastors, women, and ethnic minorities. These are not employees of ERLC.
A few financial facts about the ERLC:
- The ERLC gets 1.65% of Cooperative Program receipts received by the Executive Committee, about $3.2 million.
- Of the total CP, including the lion’s share kept by state conventions, the ERLC receives about 0.66 percent.
- A tiny amount of donations is reported, less than $100k for the most recent complete fiscal year. This is not a significant contributor to their budget.
- The ERLC has events which generate income. I don’t know how much they net from these events.
- By far the CP is the main source of funding for the ERLC, reported at 85.2%. In contrast the seminaries report CP contributing around one-third, varies by institution, of their budgets. The mission boards have a massive infusion of funds from their special offerings and the CP contributes less than half of their budgets.
- If the CP suffers, ERLC suffers; hence, their vulnerability to high profile churches and personalities escrowing funds. A tiny portion of ERLC contributions by a major church can be leveraged into a powerful weapon.
A few opinions from your humble blogger:
- In the past I thought the ERLC was over funded. I’m not so sure now. Many large churches have a budget the size of ERLC. Their total budget is around $4 million. Most of the expenses are salary and benefits (amounts to over 80% of their CP income).
- We’re on the celebrity system, so the ERLC leader (first Richard Land, then Moore) were heavily branded. While this is the reality on the ground, I don’t know if we are well served. It may be the only way to be effective.
- The ERLC must take positions that alienate some SBC pastors and churches.
- We would quickly abandon religious liberty as a national virtue if some SBC extremists (and not a few uninformed followers) were to have their way.
- The ERLC made a mistake or two. These are seldom forgiven and never forgotten. It’s a harsh environment.
All to say that if we’re going to have an ERLC, and I don’t see how we can not have an organization that functions like this, then the leadership choice is critical. The committee has my prayers.
As an aside, we had an examination of SBC attitudes towards the ERLC conducted under the stewardship of former Executive Committee Chairman, Mike Stone. The study was flawed, employed secret sources, and was not comprehensive. I don’t dispute that the ERLC is a lightning rod for a segment of SBC life, some of whom make declarations about witholding funds or leaving the SBC. Talk is cheap.