As Trustees of The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) assembled for their Annual Meeting at the main campus in Graceville on May 2-3, 2019, there was a sense of excitement and anticipation in the air. In 1943, the institution was founded in Lakeland, Florida. It moved to the Northwest Florida campus in Graceville in 1953. According to BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen, "We came together to vote on the issue of going 'back to the future." Trustees had received a report in their February 2019 meeting concerning the possibility of the institution expanding its operations into other areas of Florida. At their plenary session on Friday morning, the Board of Trustees received a recommendation from the College President to authorize the establishment of an additional location of the college "in the Central Florida area somewhere along the I-4 corridor." After discussion which included testimonies by some trustees as to the great need for the college to establish a physical presence in the area, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the recommendation for the new location. The primary location under consideration is the Lakeland area. "This is the reason that we feel that we are going back to the future since the college began its life at the old First Baptist Church location in Lakeland," stated Kinchen. "This area provides one of the greatest concentrations of strong, active Florida Baptist churches in the state. It covers the geographical heart of Florida, and we believe that The Baptist College of Florida will provide higher education opportunities representing the heart of our Lord and Florida Baptists. I am convinced that this action represents one of the most significant decisions ever made by the Trustees of the college." With several months of planning, research, and approvals for accreditation and licensing required for the new location, plans are for an opening in 2020.
In another historically significant action, the Board of Trustees approved the naming of the Prayer Chapel located in the center of the Graceville campus. The facility was officially named Conner Chapel in honor of Dr. Craig Conner and his wife Karen. Trustees, faculty, staff, students, and many other guests joined in a beautiful service of dedication following the trustee meeting on Friday morning. The service, held in front of the Conner Chapel, was characterized by music, prayer, and praise honoring the Lord Jesus for His goodness and mercy. Executive Director-Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention Tommy Green expressed his appreciation and that of the convention for Conner's faithful service and mission impact. BCF Board of Trustee Chair Tim Maynard thanked Conner for his service as a trustee and faithful minister of the Gospel. Kinchen shared how Conner's efforts had led to the construction of the Prayer Chapel at the college. In his remarks, Conner recalled the impact of the college on his life and stated that there was no building on the campus that he would rather carry his name than the Prayer Chapel. Conner, who is an alumnus of BCF, has served for over twenty years as Senior Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Panama City.
In other action, the Board of Trustees approved a 2019-2020 Operating Budget of $6,100,000. According to the BCF President, "Our faculty and staff accomplish more for the Kingdom with the fewest resources of any group with whom I ever had the privilege of working. I am grateful to God for their spirit and effort."
For more information on the exciting plans and opportunities of The Baptist College of Florida, please call 800.328.2660 ext. 460 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.