BCF News


On April 21, at 11:00 a.m. The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) had the privilege of dedicating another Shepherds’ Cottage in honor of the late Howard and Julia Gates. The cottages built in Heritage Village were an aspiration of BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen to provide a home for retired ministers, missionaries, widows, and other exceptional servants of the Lord who may not have a place to live later in life. This vision has been accomplished through hours of volunteer labor and some amazing donors such as Howard Gates Jr., and his wife Janelle, along with other members of the Gates family.

As guest were gathering around the home to be dedicated in the historic Heritage Village, BCF alumnus Rashonda Johnston played a beautiful prelude followed by an inspirational invocation by Academic Dean Robin Jumper. BCF Music and Worship Division Chair Bill Davis led family and friends in an ageless hymn favorite “Amazing Grace” as a reminder of the protective shelter provided by the Lord.  Kinchen shared several words of blessing and thankfulness for the Gates family and this new addition, and what it meant to him personally and to the future occupants.

During the dedication, Jeff Keeman, Minister of Senior Adults and Congregational Care at First Baptist Church (FBC) Fort Walton Beach, sang “Great Redeemer, We Adore Thee” as a personal tribute for the Gates family. After thanking everyone and offering some introductions, Retired Pastor of the FBC, Ft. Walton Beach, Howard Gates Jr. shared several heartwarming stories about his deeply loved and admired parents, and why he felt led to honor them in this way. “The schools of Christian Education and music meant a lot to mother and dad,” stated Gates. He reminisced about their incredible lives of servanthood, education, and parenting, leaving all who were gathered with one clear thought, “Don’t ever count God out.”

Davis presented the beautiful dedication anthem “Bless This House” followed by BCF Theology Division Chair Richard Elligson’s dedication prayer asking God to protect those that dwell within and keep them safely under His care and protection. All of the Gates family, friends, and guest were able to tour the new home and see what a wonderful blessing it will be to the future occupants.

For more information on Heritage Village or Shepherds’ Cottages located on the college campus, please visit the website at https://www.baptistcollege.edu or call 850.263.3261.