When the Board of Trustees of The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in Graceville met on October 20, 2020, they took action on a broad range of programs. According to BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen, "I am convinced that the actions taken by our trustees will impact the work of Florida Baptists for generations. More importantly, they will impact the work and growth of the Kingdom."
The Board approved the establishment of a partnership with the Florida Baptist Convention that will impact the work and training of bi-vocational and small church pastors across the state. Dr. Tommy Green, Executive Director-Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, addressed the proposed partnership in the meeting. He noted the Convention's desire to provide bi-vocational pastors with the opportunity for theological training that would fit into their already cluttered schedules. In order to facilitate such a program, the trustees approved a redesign of their certificate program that would allow these ministers to enroll in a program that would lead to a Certificate in Biblical Studies or Pastoral Ministries. Green and Kinchen agreed to a plan in which the Convention will pay for one half of the tuition and the College will cover the other half. They each stated that this was a program that was close to their hearts and to the heightened effectiveness of Florida Baptist churches.
In further partnership action, the Board approved the establishment of a tuition assistance program for ministry students in churches related to the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists. Prior to coming to Florida in 1990, the BCF President served as Executive Director of the West Virginia Convention. He noted, "Ruth Ann and I left a chunk of our hearts in West Virginia, and we have desired to do all that we can to assist with the ongoing development of those churches." Kinchen stated that he had tried to establish a partnership several years ago but had not received a response. Recently, the BCF President visited with the current Executive Director of the West Virginia Convention Eric Ramsey and brought up the idea of providing tuition assistance for any ministry students who are members of churches in that Convention. The idea met with a very positive response. In a conversation with Ramsey after the Trustee meeting, Kinchen was told that the proposed partnership will be brought before the West Virginia Convention in November. Kinchen noted, "With my history in West Virginia and the ongoing partnership of the Florida Baptist Convention with that Convention, it seems only natural that we would work with them in this partnership."
A new Prison Based Program of Instruction was approved by the Board of Trustees. This program will be based on a cooperative effort between the College, the Florida Department of Corrections, and the Global Prison Seminaries Foundation. Instructional sites are planned at prisons in Bowling Green, Fla., and in Ocala, Fla. The combined programs have the potential to involve up to 320 students per year. According to the BCF President, "This program will afford us the opportunity to provide top quality training for those individuals who will be effective witnesses for Christ and community leaders while incarcerated as well as in their larger community after their release. This is a program of academic excellence as well as Kingdom growth."
The BCF Trustee meeting was held virtually keeping trustees safe as they discussed, approved, and voted on major, life-changing programs for the college. For more information about The Baptist College of Florida, please call 800.328.2660 or visit the website at www.baptistcollege.edu.