ALPHARETTA, Ga. — A special
meeting of the North American Mission Board’s (NAMB) trustees has been called
for Sept. 14 to consider the nomination of Louisville pastor Kevin Ezell as
next NAMB president.
While a NAMB news release Aug. 31 announcing the special meeting did not name
Ezell, search committee chairman Ted Traylor told the Florida Baptist Witness
the nominee was Ezell, pastor of Highview Baptist Church and immediate past
president of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference.
In the first of two email letters from NAMB board chair Tim Dowdy to trustees
and NAMB staff, Traylor said,
“I am delighted to report to you that our search team has found God’s man to be
nominated as the next president of NAMB. Our team has prayerfully considered
several impressive candidates.”
In the letter Dowdy said he would release
details on the candidate to NAMB’s entire trustee board in a few days. That
timetable accelerated when word began to leak that Ezell was the nominee. Dowdy
sent a second letter to trustees with the information and Traylor gave the
Witness a copy.
Dowdy told trustees in his letter that Ezell, 48, is a “gifted
preacher and teacher and a faithful ambassador of the Lord with a passion for
reaching the lost and touching the world for Jesus Christ. His own family
embodies this commitment as Kevin and his wife of almost 25 years, Lynette,
have three natural children and three adopted children from three different
countries: Ethiopia, China, and the Philippines.”
Ezell has led his current
church to grow to 6,000 members, meeting on seven campuses. Dowdy said the
church’s investment in missions through “Southern Baptist causes” reached $1.2
million in 2009.
Ezell has held previous pastorates in Illinois, Tennessee and
Texas, all of which experienced significant growth, according to Dowdy as
quoted in the Florida Baptist Witness.
Traylor, senior pastor of Olive Baptist
Church in Pensacola, called Ezell “a warm, personable leader who can make
difficult choices in leading an organization to be laser-focused on the mission
Ezell’s nomination drew praise from current SBC President Bryant
Wright, who received the news “with great joy and excitement.”
prayer for Ezell “as God prepares him for this new calling of key leadership
for Southern Baptists as we seek to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission.”
Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest and
David Dockery, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., also were quoted
in the letter as references who supported Ezell’s nomination.
“This is a great
day for NAMB. It is a great day for the SBC,” said Akin, who was a member of
Highview for almost eight years of Ezell’s tenure as pastor.
Dowdy told fellow
trustees more information about Ezell will be provided before the Sept. 14
The Florida Baptist Witness reported that Ezell is a native of
Paducah, Ky., and was born in Germany during his father’s service in the U.S.
Air Force. Ezell has served on the board of trustees of Midwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., including as its chairman, and
currently serves on the Advisory Board of Boyce College, the undergraduate
school of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, as well as Union’s Board of Reference.
He earned a bachelor of science degree from Union University, a master of
divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a doctor of
ministry degree from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
The NAMB presidency
was vacated in August 2009 when former president Geoff Hammond resigned under
pressure from trustees.
Richard Harris, a NAMB executive with 30 years of
experience with the agency and its predecessor entity, the Home Mission Board,
has served as acting and interim president since Hammond’s resignation.
addition to Traylor, members of the search committee are Doug Dieterly,
executive pastor, Plymouth Baptist Church, Plymouth, Ind.; Larry Gipson, pastor
of First Baptist Church, Oneonta, Ala.; Chuck Herring, pastor of Collierville
First Baptist Church in Collierville, Tenn.; Lisa Knutsen, a member of Green
Valley Baptist Church in Henderson, Nev.; Ryan Palmer, pastor, Seventh Metro
Church, Baltimore, Md.; and Tim Patterson, pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church,
Jacksonville, and immediate past NAMB trustee chairman. As chairman of NAMB’s
trustee board, Tim Dowdy, serves as an ex officio member of the search
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Story compiled from the Florida Baptist Witness, staff
reporting and a NAMB news release.)