Posted on : Sunday August 29, 2010

Buff and Cissy McNickle, a Florida couple who adopted twin boys, are the first recipients of a $2,000 grant from the SBC Pastors’ Conference to be used toward their adoption expenses. They also unexpectedly received $10,000 from Pastor’s Conference program sponsors. Photo by Shannon Baker

By Michael Foust

ORLANDO, Fla.—With the belief that pastors who adopt children inspire their congregation to do the same, the SBC Pastors’ Conference will use its surplus offering funds to provide a series of $2,000 adoption grants for Southern Baptist ministers and missionaries who want to adopt.

Funds are limited and interested families can obtain more information at A home study must be complete before applying.

SBC Pastors’ Conference President Kevin Ezell and his wife Lynette have adopted three children in the past six years, adding to a family that already included three biological children. Ezell is pastor of Highview Church in Louisville, Ky.

“Pastors impact churches, and churches impact communities,” Ezell told Baptist Press. “Since we adopted our daughter, we’ve had 130 children adopted in our church [by about 85 church families]. When a pastor does it, it impacts the church. It sets tones of acceptance and leading by example.”

Meanwhile, Bethany Christian Services says it will provide a matching grant for the first 25 pastors who are approved for the Pastors’ Conference funds and who use Bethany for their adoption service. A news release from Bethany said pastors can serve as a “multiplier effect.”

“Frequently, when a pastor and their family adopts a child, an average of five families in the same church will also adopt,” the Bethany release said.

Adoption costs vary widely, but typically cost anywhere from $10,000 to $30,000. Ezell said he knows the Pastors’ Conference grant will pay for only a portion of costs.

“When God is leading someone to adopt, finances typically are the greatest hurdle,” Ezell said. “It’s not their heart, it’s their wallet. We want to in some way help, and by doing that it will encourage others to help.”

The Pastors Conference awarded the first grant during its June 14 afternoon session to Buff and Cissy McNickle, a Florida couple who adopted twin boys and appeared on stage. Buff is a minister at Idlewild Church in Lutz, Fla.

“Adoption is not God’s Plan B ever. Adoption is always God’s Plan A, if that’s what He’s called the family to,” Cissy McNicle said during a short video that told their adoption story. The couple unexpectedly received an additional $10,000 given by the SBC Conference program sponsors.

Ezell’s three adopted children are from China, Ethiopia and the Philippines.

“I would adopt all over again based on the impact it’s made on my biological children,” he said. “They are so much more informed and the world is a much smaller place to them. They better understand the love of God and how it crosses nationalities.”

Obviously, it’s also impacted his church. “It’s been sweet to watch our people, opening their hearts,” he said.

Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.