Pastors' lineup includes adoption focus

ORLANDO (BP)--Under the banner of "Greater Things," the 2010 SBC Pastors' Conference will explore the prospect of a bright future for Southern Baptist pastors, their churches and the denomination, conference president Kevin Ezell says. The program also will feature the launch of a national campaign to help pastors adopt children.

"This is a critical time in the life of our convention," said Ezell, president of the Pastors' Conference and senior pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. "We're thankful for the past, but we really do believe the best is yet to come and God has greater things for us as a convention and, hopefully, for ministers -- in their personal lives, in their ministries, and in our mission as a whole. That's what each of the sessions will be about."

The program -- which opens at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, June 13, with a concert by popular Christian musician Travis Cottrell -- features a wide range of speakers from diverse backgrounds, Ezell said.

"Southern Baptists are a very diverse group, and we wanted to draw young pastors as well as accommodate pastors of all ages," Ezell said. "We prayed and planned to have a Pastors' Conference that would minister to pastors. We didn't focus on having an all-star team for preachers. Each speaker has unique gifts we feel would be beneficial to pastors."

The diversity is reflected in a lineup that ranges from Tony Evans, senior pastor at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas and president of The Urban Alternative, to C.J. Mahaney, longtime pastor of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., and president of Sovereign Grace Ministries.

Other speakers include noted apologetics speaker and author Ravi Zacharias and Francis Chan, teaching pastor of Cornerstone Church in Simi, Calif., as well as:

-- Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

-- Matt Chandler, lead pastor of The Village Church in Flower Mound, Texas.

-- Steve Gaines, pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, Tenn.

-- David Landrith, senior pastor of Long Hollow Baptist Church in Hendersonville, Tenn.

-- R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

-- Russell D. Moore, dean of Southern Seminary's school of theology and senior vice president for academic administration.

-- David Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, Ala.

-- Andy Stanley, pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, Ga.

-- David Uth, senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla.

-- Ken Whitten, pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa, Fla.

"I'm sure there's at least one person on there that everyone is a little nervous about," Ezell said.

"Honestly, my hope was to stretch us some and not put our heads in the sand, to identify who is impacting pastors and ministers and to utilize them and not be afraid of being blessed by people we don't necessarily totally agree with theologically," Ezell added.

A unique aspect of this year's conference will be the launch of a national campaign to help pastors adopt children, Ezell said.

"I have six children -- three are biological and three are adopted. We just got home with a child from the Philippines six weeks ago, we have a little girl from China, and then we have a little girl from Ethiopia. We kind of look like the opening ceremony of the Olympics when we walk in," Ezell said. "Adoption has changed my life personally. It brings missions home. I live with missions 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We have had over 120 children in our church adopted and it has helped our church focus on missions so much more."

Pastors' Conference attendees will take up an offering to help pastors who want to adopt, Ezell added.

"I think there's a lot of pastors out there who want to adopt but their biggest hurdle is that they are financially limited," Ezell said. "I feel like if we can impact the lives of pastors in adoption, then pastors in turn will impact churches, and churches in turn will impact communities, and so on. I just believe it will open up an incredible resource that will bless churches all over the country."

The goal, Ezell said, is to establish an endowment that would match the first $2,000 a pastor raises to adopt a child. Once the expenses of the conference are met, the remainder of the offering will be used to open the endowment fund.

One of the conference speakers, Russell Moore, who has written a book titled "Adopted for Life," will speak on the importance of adoption for Christian families and churches, Ezell said.

The June 13-14 Pastors' Conference will be held in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando. For more information about the conference, visit www.spcpc.net.


Mark Kelly is an assistant editor with Baptist Press.

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