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Hankins challenges NAMB committee choice
wire reports
September 10, 2010
5 MIN READ TIME

Hankins challenges NAMB committee choice

Hankins challenges NAMB committee choice
wire reports
September 10, 2010

In a bold,

unprecedented open letter to trustees of the North American Mission Board

(NAMB), David Hankins, executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention,

has called for NAMB trustees not to elect Kevin Ezell, pastor of Highview Baptist Church of Louisville, Ky. as

NAMB president.

Trustees are

scheduled to elect Ezell, the

unanimous choice of the eight-person search committee, during a Sept. 14 special called meeting.

Hankins says “a

major flaw” disqualifies Ezell for the post.

“I believe you

are being asked to elect a candidate who, while having many admirable

qualities, is unqualified in one significant way,” Hankins wrote. “Dr. Ezell’s

excellent credentials in areas such as character, family, leadership and

theology do not compensate for the demonstrated lack of support for the mission

of NAMB.”

Hankins noted that despite his church’s annual $6 million budget, “the

financial contribution of the church, through the Cooperative Program (CP) and

Annie Armstrong Offering, has been marginal, at best.”

“Consequently, one has to believe the anemic support of cooperative

ministries has been a purposeful decision by the pastor and the church

leadership,” Hankins’ letter continued. “Dr. Ezell has indicated he believes

this was a better way to reach their congregational objectives. Is that what

Southern Baptists believe and what they expect from the leader of the North

American Mission Board?”

File photo by John Swain

Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Director David Hankins, seen here speaking at a missionary commissioning service in New Orleans Oct. 6, 2008, has announced his opposition to the possibility of Kevin Ezell as the next leader for the

North American Mission Board.

Hankins said those who would presume to lead Southern Baptist entities

ought to have a track record of supporting those entities.

Through the 2009 Annual Church Profile (ACP), Highview Baptist Church

reported giving $140,100, or 2.23 percent, through the Cooperative Program from

total undesignated receipts of $6,270,057. The church gave $10,000 to the Annie

Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions. They gave $50,000

through the Lottie Moon

Christmas Offering for International Missions.

Kentucky Baptist

Convention (KBC) records show the church gave $10,000 annually to the CP

through the KBC during both 2008-09 and 2009-10. The State Convention of

Baptists in Indiana reported Highview gave $140,100.04 to the CP. Highview has

a satellite campus in Indiana.

Emil Turner, executive director of the Arkansas Baptist State

Convention, affirmed Hankins’ call for NAMB trustees to reconsider the search

committee’s recommendation.

“Dr. Hankins has a gracious and kind assessment of the

situation and he is also clearly logical,” Turner said. “It seems surprising to

me that the search committee would recommend someone whose level of support for

the North American Mission Board through the CP and the Annie Armstrong Easter

Offering could not sustain the work of NAMB were it to be duplicated widely

across the convention.

“While I have met Dr. Ezell and been impressed with his

personality and his preaching, I would hope that the new president of NAMB

could be an example of commitment to the Cooperative Program as called for by

the Great Commission Resurgence Task Force and to the Annie Armstrong Easter

Offering.”

“This is not meant as a personal attack on Dr. Ezell,” Hankins wrote.

“I would have the same concern about any candidate for NAMB who had a similarly

poor record on cooperative giving. There are many excellent pastors with an SBC

affiliation who have chosen to go a more independent route with their churches’

mission spending. I am thankful for every success they have brought to the

Kingdom, but I believe, by their negligible cooperative denominational giving,

they have removed themselves from consideration as SBC entity leaders.

“Why is demonstrable support for the North American Mission Board, and

leading by example in denominational cooperation, not a prerequisite for the

NAMB presidency?” Hankins asked the trustees.

He further expressed concern that a NAMB president who has chosen an

independent church model will “send a chilling message” to thousands of

Southern Baptist churches who give generous support to the CP and mission

offerings.

“How will such a president have the moral authority to carry out the

conclusions of the GCR report that ‘The greatest stewardship of Great Commission

investment and deployment is giving through the Cooperative Program’ and

‘that we

call upon Southern Baptists to adopt goals of giving no less than …$100 million

annually through the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American

Missions?’ How can he challenge cooperative support if he has led his

church in the opposite direction?”

Hankins said he had been told there are no candidates who have all the

credentials of the current nominee and

an exemplary track record of CP and Annie Armstrong support.

“I do not believe this,” he wrote. “There are any number of leaders

who possess outstanding leadership skills and meet all the prerequisites, including

denominational cooperation and support.

“This is serious business at a serious juncture. No one needs to

remind you of the struggles that NAMB has had due to conflict at the executive

level,” Hankins told NAMB trustees. “I know you want to get this decision

right. Compromising on cooperative missions methodology is not the pathway to

getting it right. Please, seek a candidate to lead our national work who

possesses all the prerequisites

your Southern Baptist family expects and deserves.”