"Ken is a strong leader and I am excited about this new role for him," said Kevin Ezell, the mission board's president. "NAMB's commitment to GPS has never been stronger. In fact, our 2013 Find It Here New Testament distribution will put an additional $2.5 million in resources behind the GPS effort."
Ellis, a NAMB staff member for 13 years, has served with GPS since its inception. He replaces Thomas Hammond who is leaving NAMB to become vice president of the SBC Executive Committee's Convention Advancement office.
"I'm excited about the future of GPS," Ellis said. "We had a great 2010 as Across North America was wonderfully received by our partners, and we are looking forward to Reaching Across North America this year."
Ellis noted that state conventions, associations and churches have embraced GPS yet he hopes for even greater participation in the future.
"It was always our hope and desire that churches would not see GPS as just another event, but as a tool to use biblical principles to reach people with the Gospel." Ellis said GPS "is about the things that Jesus is excited about. It is precisely because it is biblical that I see a future for GPS beyond 2020. We do what we do with GPS because it is in the Bible.
"I hope it will be a groundswell for people to get out of their comfort zones and tell someone about Jesus. I appreciate the opportunity to give leadership to GPS. I am thankful for the confidence of Kevin Ezell and Larry Wynn," said Ellis.
"Ken will be great for the task," said Larry Wynn, NAMB's vice president for evangelism. "He understands GPS and has been there from the ground up -- through the development and the process. He is very passionate about evangelism and is a great communicator. He is one of the most respected men in the field. Pastors and all of our partners have tremendous respect for Ken."
Wynn said Ellis also will head up NAMB's Crossover New Orleans efforts prior to the SBC in June.
Launched with pilot projects in 2009, GPS will culminate with Celebrating Across North America in 2020.
"We have a tremendous team here and we have great tools. I am thankful for the work of men like Thomas Hammond and Jerry Pipes and others who have provided leadership to GPS. I'm also grateful to be working with great partners in the states. They are providing excellent leadership," Ellis said.
One key feature of the GPS initiative, Ellis noted, is its linear nature. Churches are not limited to the current emphasis. They may use any of the tools and apply what best suits their needs.
"It is never too late to get on board," Ellis said. "If a church has not participated in GPS yet, they can use the tools to prayerwalk their community, put door hangers on homes and invite people to church on Easter. They can mobilize their deacons, their youth groups; organize to reach their community; and prayerwalk. Anyone can do that.
"GPS also dovetails with Send North America," Ellis said. "There is no church planting without evangelism. Evangelism and church planting go hand in hand. Again, it is biblical. And it is exciting to think about churches reaching their communities with the Gospel."
Ellis began work with the former Home Mission Board as a church planter in Chicago in 1989 where he pastored First Baptist Church in Burnham. He joined the NAMB evangelism team in 1998. He previously served as a regional chaplaincy administrator for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
Ellis, from Winter Haven, Fla., holds master of divinity and doctor of ministry degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville and a bachelor of arts from Western Kentucky University.
He and his wife Penny have three daughters, Imani, Nailah and Aisha, and a son, Emmanuel. They are members of Peace Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga.
Joe Conway is a writer with the North American Mission Board.
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