EDITOR’S NOTE: Baptist Press is carrying a 12-part series re-publishing some of the most significant stories of 2010. Three stories will appear each day through Friday, Jan. 7. Baptist Press initially published the story below on Sept. 14, 2010.
ATLANTA (BP)–Kevin Ezell, pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., was elected president of the North American Mission Board in a special called meeting of NAMB trustees Sept. 14 at an Atlanta-area hotel.
Ezell’s nomination was announced Aug. 31 after NAMB’s seven-member presidential search committee voted unanimously to recommend him as president. The meeting in Atlanta began at 8 a.m. and ended at noon with the announcement Ezell had been elected.
“I am honored and humbled that the trustees put this confidence in me,” Ezell said immediately following the meeting. “I will do everything I possibly can to honor the Lord in this and to lead the board to a place where it is as effective as it possibly can be.”
Ezell said he sensed God’s call to the role partly because of what can be accomplished through the North American Mission Board.
“I see the potential NAMB has if its energies and resources are focused in the right direction,” Ezell said. “I am looking forward to being able to give a very clear vision for it. You rarely have the opportunity to have this big of a Kingdom impact.”
Tim Dowdy, chairman of the entity’s board of trustees, said the vote was the culmination of a 10-month process. “It has at times been discouraging and at times encouraging, but along the way God has been faithful to give us guidance,” Dowdy said. “When He introduced us to Kevin, it was evident through the interview process that this was the man.”
Dowdy, pastor of Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga., said Ezell’s leadership abilities, integrity and passion for church planting and missions are what led trustees to him.
“He has demonstrated faithful leadership and character and he has a passion for reaching the world,” Dowdy said. “One banner he will consistently wave is that our greatest resource in the SBC is not money, but people. We want to help mobilize our people and partner with them to reach North America for Christ.”
Ezell has served as pastor of Highview Baptist Church since 1996 and was president of the Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference in Orlando this past June. He and his wife Lynette met with NAMB trustees in a closed session for about an hour Tuesday morning to discuss his nomination.
NAMB’s presidential search committee was appointed in October 2009. The committee was headed by Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla. Other members were Doug Dieterly, executive pastor, Plymouth Baptist Church, Plymouth, Ind.; Larry Gipson, pastor of First Baptist 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, Fla. As chairman of the trustee board, Dowdy served as an ex officio member of the search committee.
Bryant Wright, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Ga., attended Tuesday’s meeting. Wright delivered a devotion to NAMB trustees before they entered executive session to consider the vote.
“Today is an historic day in the life of NAMB,” Wright told trustees. “Today your big decision is to follow God’s will with a man the search committee clearly feels is God’s man for leading our churches as they go about the harvest.”
After the vote, Ezell said one of his first priorities as North American Mission Board president will be to spend time with church planters.
“They are on the front lines and I want to do everything I possibly can to free resources and direct resources to them and help them succeed,” Ezell said. “I love church planters. I like being around people who get in the ditch and do the work. That’s who I operate best with. So I look forward to connecting and investing in them.”
Mike Ebert is vice president of communications for the North American Mission Board (www.namb.net). For additional stories on Kevin Ezell’s initial months as NAMB president, go to Baptist Press at www.bpnews.net and enter Ezell in the Search function at the top right of the page for a display of stories.