ALPHARETTA, Ga. (ABP) — The pastor of one of the Southern Baptist Convention’s most visible leaders will be recommended as the new head of the denomination’s North American Mission Board.
Kevin Ezell, pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., was announced as a presidential search committee’s nominee Aug. 31, in a letter to NAMB trustees from board chairman Tim Dowdy, according to the Florida Baptist Witness. Dowdy is pastor of Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Ga.
The trustees will meet Sept. 14 to vote on Ezell’s recommendation.
Ezell, 48, “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,” said Dowdy. The reference is apparently to the 1995 resignations of Highview’s longtime pastor and music minister who, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal, both quit within weeks of each other and both confessed to adultery.
Dowdy said Ezell “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.”
At Highview, Ezell serves as pastor to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Al Mohler, a nationally prominent Calvinist theologian and conservative commentator on social issues.
The church has grown significantly in recent years, expanding to multiple campuses beyond its main location in a transitional part of Louisville that was formerly suburban.
According to SBC records for 2009, Highview had 7,721 total members and 4,740 resident members. Its average Sunday-morning worship attendance was 3,260, and the congregation gave $140,100, or 2.23 percent, of its undesignated receipts of $6.3 million through the SBC’s Cooperative Program unified budget.
The congregation — which includes a campus that meets in Louisville’s Indiana suburbs — is primarily affiliated with the conservative-dominated State Convention of Baptists in Indiana. It also maintains an affiliation with the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Several SBC leaders praised Ezell’s character and record in recommending him for the position, according to Dowdy’s letter.
“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 Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. “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.”
Ezell and his wife, Lynette, have six children — three biological and three internationally adopted.
A native of Paducah, Ky., Ezell is a graduate of Union University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southern Seminary. He has served as pastor of churches in Kentucky, Illinois, Tennessee and Texas.
If elected, he will succeed Geoff Hammond, who resigned just over a year ago after clashing with board members amid allegations of cronyism and low staff morale at NAMB. Hammond himself replaced Bob Reccord, who resigned in 2006 after allegations of mismanagement.
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