James Dobson resigned on Friday as board chairman of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family.
The announcement was made on Focus on the Family's radio broadcast, which Dobson will continue to host. Dobson told fellow board members on Wednesday and informed the 950 Focus employees Friday morning at a staff worship service, the Associated Press (AP) reported.
"One of the common errors of founder-presidents is to hold to the reins of leadership too long, thereby preventing the next generation from being prepared for executive authority," Dobson said in a statement. "Though letting go is difficult after three decades of intensive labor, it is the wise thing to do."
Dobson's resignation is part of his succession plan for the ministry he founded in 1977. He began relinquishing control six years ago by stepping down as president and CEO. The 72-year-old psychologist will relinquish his administrative duties but will continue speaking out on social issues and writing a monthly newsletter that is distributed to 1.6 million supporters.
While Focus on the Family devotes most of its resources to offering parenting and marriage advice, Dobson, a child psychologist and author, has gotten more involved in politics in recent years.
Gary Schneeberger, a Focus on the Family spokesman, told the AP that Dobson "will continue to speak out as he always has - a private citizen and not a representative of the organization he founded." He said the ministry and Focus on the Family Action will continue to influence public policy.
Jim Daly, president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, said there is no timetable for Dobson to leave the radio program, which has roughly 1.5 million daily listeners. He said Focus will "look for the next voice for the next generation" while Dobson remains on the air.
Dobson's wife, Shirley, also resigned from the Focus board. Air Force Lt. Gen. Patrick P. Caruana, a longtime board member, will replace Dobson as board chairman.
Daly said the ministry will "forever be committed to the fulfillment of the mission so definitively served by both Dr. and Mrs. Dobson-helping families thrive."
"The Dobsons have dedicated their lives to Focus on the Family," Daly added. "He is my mentor and friend-and an inspiration and role model to millions of Americans."
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