RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--Thomas (Tom) D. Elliff, longtime Oklahoma pastor, Southern Baptist Convention leader and former missionary, is the unanimous recommendation of a 15-member trustee search committee to be the next president of International Mission Board.
The nomination of Elliff -- who served as a missionary to Zimbabwe with his wife, Jeannie, in the early 1980s -- will be presented to the full board of trustees for consideration and a possible vote when they meet March 15-16 in Dallas.
If elected, Elliff would succeed Jerry Rankin as leader of the mission board, which coordinates the work of more than 5,000 Southern Baptist missionaries worldwide. Rankin retired as IMB president July 31, 2010, after 17 years at the helm. Veteran missionary and Executive Vice President Clyde Meador currently serves as interim president.
IMB trustee chairman Jimmy Pritchard, who has led the presidential search committee throughout its selection process, announced the nomination Feb. 17. He said Elliff emerged as the committee's clear and unanimous choice in January.
"Throughout the process, we talked to some great and godly men, but we just could not get a sense of God's peace about any one of them," said Pritchard, pastor of First Baptist Church in Forney, Texas. "When Dr. Elliff's name came before us, we had a subtle sense of God's Spirit speaking to our hearts. That may sound mystical, but that's really what happened.... Every one of us senses that God spoke and said, 'This is the moment you've been praying for. Here is your man.'"
Elliff, 66, a Texas native, was twice elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention, in 1996 and 1997, and also served as president of the SBC Pastors' Conference in 1990. He has led several key churches in the denomination, including First Southern Baptist Church of Del City, Okla., where he was pastor for 20 years. Read More