"The conversation was forthright and candid on everyone's part," said Jim Futral, executive director for the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. "We discussed a wide range of concerns and sought together the best way we could go about reaching North America for Christ."
"I was very encouraged by the straightforward, very fair exchange we had," Ezell said of the meeting. "I appreciate their willingness to be patient with me on my steep learning curve."
Futral was appointed spokesperson for the group of state executives. Others in attendance were Randy Davis of Tennessee, Stephen Davis of Indiana, David Hankins of Louisiana, Fred Hewett of Montana, Anthony Jordan of Oklahoma, John Sullivan of Florida, David Waltz of the Pennsylvania-South Jersey convention and Robert White of Georgia. Gerald Taillon, national ministry leader of the Canadian National Baptist Convention, also attended and Bill Crews of the Northwest Baptist Convention joined the meeting by telephone.
Ezell will continue conversations with state leaders in meetings scheduled between now and mid-February's annual meeting of state executive leaders, where Ezell has been invited to address the entire group.
Futral and Ezell described the meeting as the beginning point to conversations about how NAMB and state Baptists will work together.
"Kevin is in the early days of listening and learning, dreaming and designing an effective plan," Futral said. "No one came to the meeting thinking he would have all of the answers for every question and need in every state convention. He has a pretty steep learning curve, but there is no lack of openness and desire to hear from us.
"It was the beginning of a process," Futral said. "It's a process that opens the door to great possibilities for the days ahead as we press forward together in the Lord. At the conclusion of the day, we left feeling we had met with a partner and together we could make a difference."
Ezell expressed similar hope and optimism.
"I would encourage Southern Baptists not to underestimate what God can do and all that can be accomplished as we work together," he said. "It's a new day, a new NAMB and a new way of relating between states and entities."
Mike Ebert is vice president of communications at the North American Mission Board.
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