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NAMB committee recommends Kevin Ezell for president

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–The presidential search committee of the North American Mission Board’s trustees has unanimously nominated Kevin Ezell, senior pastor of Louisville’s Highview Baptist Church. Trustees received word of the nomination Tuesday night, Aug. 31, in an e-mail from NAMB trustee chairman Tim Dowdy.

Ezell, 48, is the immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference. He has led the multi-site Louisville congregation since 1996.

“Kevin … 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,” Dowdy, pastor of Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga., wrote to trustees.

The nomination is the culmination of a 10-month search that began in October 2009 with the appointment of a seven-member search committee. NAMB’s full trustee board membership will vote on Ezell’s nomination at a special called meeting Sept. 14 at NAMB’s headquarters in Alpharetta, Ga.

Dowdy praised the efforts of the search team and told trustees they will soon receive more information about Ezell, “but for now I want to make sure you know who will be presented so you could be in prayer for our meeting on September 14, 2010.”

Information from the 2009 Annual Church Profile maintained by LifeWay Christian Resources lists 121 baptisms at Highview Baptist Church and primary worship service attendance of 3,260. Highview gave $140,100, or 2.23 percent, through the Cooperative Program from undesignated receipts of $6,270,057. Its total missions expenditures of $1,350,170 includes $50,000 for the Lottie Moon Christian Offering for International Missions and $10,000 for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American Missions.

Further reporting on Ezell’s nomination will be carried by Baptist Press on Sept. 2.

NAMB’s presidential search committee members are: chairman Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla.; 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 NAMB’s trustee board, Dowdy serves as an ex officio member of the search committee.
Compiled by Baptist Press staff.
The full text of NAMB trustee chairman Tim Dowdy’s letter reporting Kevin Ezell’s nomination as president follows:

It is with great excitement, anticipation, and gratitude to the Lord Jesus Christ that I announce to you the unanimous selection by our Presidential Search Team of Dr. Kevin Ezell as the candidate for president of the North American Mission Board. You will receive more information at a later time about Dr. Ezell, but for now I want to make sure you know who will be presented so you could be in prayer for our meeting on September 14, 2010.

Kevin is senior pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, a Southern Baptist congregation of more than 6,000 members. He has served at Highview since June 1996, when he stepped into a difficult situation to rebuild consensus and lead the church to flourish into what is now one church with seven locations in Kentucky and Indiana.

Kevin, 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.

“It is with great joy and excitement to hear the good news that Kevin Ezell is the unanimous choice of the search committee for the president of NAMB,” said Bryant Wright, president of the Southern Baptist Convention and one of Kevin’s references. “He is a gifted leader, and so much of the convention was able to see what a great job he did of leading the pastor’s conference in Orlando in June. Let us now join in prayer with Kevin as God prepares him for this new calling of key leadership for Southern Baptists as we seek to fulfill Christ’s Great Commission.”

Kevin’s dynamic leadership has helped Highview’s membership increase by more than 1,000 people in the last three years, while the church’s investment in missions reached $1.2 million in 2009. At Kevin’s previous pastorates, attendance doubled within a three-year period at First Baptist Church of Marion, Illinois, attendance doubled within a two-year period at First Baptist Church of Hartsville, Tennessee, and the percentage of growth at Hilltop Baptist Church led the city of Fort Worth, Texas for two years.

“I joyfully and enthusiastically endorse the selection of Dr. Kevin Ezell as the next President of the North American Mission Board,” said James Merritt, past SBC president and one of Kevin’s references. “I have known Kevin for many years and have long admired his outstanding leadership skills, his pastor’s heart, his ability to work with people, and the tremendous love he has for the Southern Baptist Convention. His unique set of personality traits, leadership abilities, and an understanding of twenty-first century evangelism in a changing culture, I think, give him tremendous qualifications to take the North American Mission Board to newer and higher levels of reaching this country for Christ. I congratulate the search committee and the Board of Trustees for making such an outstanding selection.”

I want to thank the Presidential Search Team, led by Ted Traylor, for its prayerful diligence in seeking God’s man to lead NAMB. The team concluded Kevin’s gifts, leadership skills, and passion for missions are God’s answer to those prayers.

“Kevin Ezell is a warm, personable leader who can make difficult choices in leading an organization to be laser-focused on the mission at hand,” Traylor said. “His communication and organizational skills excite me for the future at NAMB. His family commitment to international adoption will be an inspiration to all Southern Baptists. He has led Highview Baptist Church, a multi-campus ministry, with 12 percent of their budget being given to Southern Baptist causes. He is a loyal missions supporter. There is great joy in my heart to report as our search committee chairman that our group is unanimous in this choice of Dr. Kevin Ezell to lead NAMB to assist Southern Baptists in touching North America with the Gospel.”

Kevin obtained his Doctorate of Ministry from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville after earning a Master of Divinity degree at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee.

Kevin’s two oldest children, Anna and Shelly, are currently enrolled at Union. He and Lynette also have son Taylor, 14, son John Michael, 11, whom they adopted from the Philippines, daughter Libby, 7, whom they adopted from China, and daughter Micah Lyn, 5, whom they adopted from Ethiopia.

“Words are not sufficient to express my enthusiasm concerning Kevin Ezell as the next president of the North American Mission Board,” said Danny Akin, president of Southeastern and another of Kevin’s references. “He was my pastor for almost eight years and his impact on my own family has been quite significant. He is one of the godliest men I know. He is an exemplary husband and father. He is also an outstanding pastor, leader, and visionary. His love for the nations is exemplified in his own family with his three adopted children from China, Ethiopia and the Philippines. His visionary leadership is evident in the multiple-campus approach at Highview Baptist Church and his aggressive North American Church Planting and International Missions commitments. I believe Dr. Ezell has the gifts and talents to take NAMB to levels of effectiveness and impact not seen before. This is a great day for NAMB. It is a great day for the SBC.”

Kevin is a native of Paducah, Kentucky and served as president of the 2010 SBC Pastor’s Conference.

“Kevin is an exemplary pastor, a serious and faithful student of Scripture, and dedicated Christ-follower. His track record as an innovative thinker, a thoughtful planner, and a strong motivator are examples of the special qualities one looks for in a denominational leader,” David Dockery, president of Union University, writes in his letter of reference. “His relational skills are of the highest quality and he interacts well with a wide variety of persons. I believe that his unique gifting and experience, coupled with his proven leadership abilities, will be just what is needed to provide direction at this time in the life of the North American Mission Board.”

Thank you for your continued prayers for the Ezell Family and the North American Mission Board. I am very thankful for each of you and I look forward to our time together in Atlanta in a couple of weeks.
With a Grateful Heart…Live for Jesus,
Tim Dowdy, chairman
Board of Trustees
North American Mission Board

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