New president known as teacher
At a time when the definition of marriage dominates the conservative Christian agenda, the Moody Bible Institute has named a new president with a reputation for championing traditional family values.
Rev. Michael Easley, 47, pastor of a non-denominational church in Springfield, Va., and a renowned speaker for the national non-profit group FamilyLife Ministries, was introduced as Moody’s eighth president Tuesday night during the school’s annual Founder’s Week celebration at The Moody Church in Chicago.
“God has given Moody an incredible legacy,” Easley said. “My prayer is to first of all continue the great work they have been doing and [to train] more and more women to serve Christ.”
Easley succeeds Rev. Joseph Stowell III, 60, who oversaw the growth of the institute into a Christian broadcasting and publishing empire and overhauled its curriculum to teach students how to spread the Gospel in the 21st Century.
At the end of the month, Stowell will become teaching pastor at northwest suburban Harvest Bible Chapel, a church of 7,000 parishioners, where his two sons also serve.
Easley is from a large suburban church outside Washington, D.C., where he has been senior pastor since 1993.
Even though Immanuel Bible Church has a dozen pastors and more than 5,000 seats filled each Sunday, worshipers still refer to him on a first-name basis. They know Cindy, his wife of almost 25 years. And they know his four children, three of whom are adopted, though they “forget which ones,” Easley said.
“He’s not a preacher; he’s a teacher,” said Mel Birdwell, a member of Easley’s church for four years. “His love of God’s word is conveyed through his passion to teach God’s word honestly–not Michael’s interpretation of it, but the way it’s written.”
That unswerving faithfulness to the Gospel is one of Easley’s trademarks, said Rev. Mark Bailey, president of the Dallas Theological Seminary, where Stowell and Easley earned graduate degrees.
“There’s a deep passion for doctrinal consistency at the school,” Bailey said. “Michael has those concerns to protect doctrinal heritage of the faith.”
With 33 radio stations–including WMBI-AM and WMBI-FM in Chicago–and a prolific publishing arm, Moody will give Easley an international platform to espouse his theological convictions, Bailey said, including his advocacy for the sanctity of marriage and traditional family values.
Easley begins his job March 1.