GRACEVILLE, Fla. (BP)–The name of the Florida Baptist Theological College has been changed to The Baptist College of Florida by action of the Florida Baptist Convention’s board of missions May 19.
The name change, requested by the college’s board of trustees, does not mean that the institution, based in Graceville, Fla., with 500 students, is moving away from its heritage or original purpose, President Thomas A. Kinchen said in an announcement after the vote.
A key reason for the name change, Kinchen said, involves impressions stemming from the word “theological.”
“Many people assume that the term ‘theological’ means that they have to be a preacher” to attend the college, Kinchen said. “There are many persons who would desire the Bible-based training that we deliver in order that they might serve the Lord with their lives, but they assume that is not available.”
Kinchen said the name change will more accurately reflect the broader line of degrees now available at the college for both prospective students and for potential employers of graduates who might not understand the breadth of programs offered.
The name change also will allow for expanded funding sources since many will not provide assistance to theological institutions, Kinchen said. Students also will benefit from expanded missions opportunities because many international missions programs could not place students in certain countries from a school with the word “theological” in its name.
In addition to new degree programs and delivery systems already in place, Kinchen said any additional programs as well as the ongoing refinement of current programs will prepare graduates for “entrepreneurial Christian ministry” and will continue to be based on “the centrality of the Word and the service of our Lord through our exceptional biblical studies curriculum.”
Founded in Lakeland, Fla., in 1943 as Florida Baptist Institute, the college was subsequently named Baptist Bible Institute of Florida and later Baptist Bible Institute. The college was moved to Graceville in 1953. Following continued expansion through the stages of high school, institute, junior college and senior college, the college was renamed Florida Baptist Theological College in 1988.
The name change to The Baptist College of Florida officially takes effect June 1.
Stewart is director of information services at Florida Baptist Theological College.