Southern Baptist leaders are hailing the nomination of Pastor Kevin Ezell for the post of president at the North American Mission Board.
Ezell, senior pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., has been described by fellow Baptists as a visionary and a godly man with a heart and proven track record for church planting.
Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and one of the most prominent figures in his denomination, tweeted: "I have known Kevin Ezell for over 15 years as pastor, friend, and visionary leader. He is a man of honor, truth, & conviction."
Mohler, who attends Highview Baptist Church, also said Ezell's NAMB nomination is "truly great news."
Similarly, Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research and a missiologist, gushed about the "exciting news" of the nomination. In his blog, Stetzer recalled how he first met Ezell ten years ago on an airplane.
During that flight, Ezell talked to one seminary student who was part of Stetzer's church planting team. That conversation led to Ezell's church sponsoring the student's church plant in Philadelphia.
Highview Baptist Church sent $1,000 each month for four years to support the church plant. Ezell also sent 100 junior high students to help the church plant distribute 14,000 door-hanger invitations in Philadelphia for its first preview service.
"Kevin has a heart for church planting and has led out from his local church," Stetzer noted.
Ezell became pastor of Highview Baptist Church in 1996 when the congregation was meeting on one campus and averaged 1,200 worshippers on Sunday. Since then, the church has grown to six campuses in two states with more than 3,000 worshippers for Sunday services.
For 2010, Highview church's goal is to give $1.4 million to missions, according to Baptist Press. There are also more than 24 mission events and trips on the church's calendar this year.
On Aug. 31, NAMB announced Ezell as its nominee for president after more than half a year of searching.
Immediate former NAMB president, Geoff Hammond, resigned last August amid accusations of cronyism, mismanagement, and low morale among the agency's staff.
Hammond's predecessor, Bob Reccord, also resigned amid allegations of mismanagement.
Ezell, in an interview with Stetzer, said he wants to be NAMB president to help use resources more effectively and to plant churches across North American.
"I want to see NAMB become something that Southern Baptists are proud of," said Ezell. "I want to see churches plant churches, and for NAMB to have its right place in that. NAMB doesn't plant churches; churches plant churches. NAMB had good people working within a broken system. We're going to fix the system and continue to get good people."
Ezell and his wife, Lynette, have six children, three of which are adopted. His three internationally adopted children are from China, Ethiopia and the Philippines.
NAMB trustees will meet in Atlanta on Sept. 14 to decide whether Ezell will be the new president of the Southern Baptist mission agency.
NAMB is the domestic mission arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the nation's largest protestant denomination. The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force this year in its report recommended that NAMB's priority be to assist SBC churches in planting churches, particularly in metropolitan areas and where under-served people groups are.