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Florida college trustees reaffirm ties to state Baptist convention

GRACEVILLE, Fla. (BP)–The Baptist College of Florida’s board of trustees reaffirmed the college’s longstanding ties to the Florida Baptist Convention during a Jan. 23-24 meeting on the Graceville campus.

The 25-member board unanimously passed a resolution presented by the school’s president, Thomas A. Kinchen, and capped the action with a standing ovation.

“I think it’s time for one college to make one statement to put itself in direct counterbalance to the popular trend of the times,” said Kinchen, according to a press release from the college.

In an interview with the Florida Baptist Witness, Kinchen said the move was not a response to “any particular institution” but is a reaction to a “popular tide of action taken by many colleges and universities” in recent years.

Citing instances of Baptist schools in Georgia, Missouri and Texas loosening or severing ties with their Baptist state conventions, Kinchen said he personally felt “it was time for our school to make a statement of who we are in relationship to our founding principles and our state convention.”

“We treasure our relationship to the Florida Baptist Convention. We have the same aims [and] the same principles,” Kinchen said. “We have maintained that uniqueness. That gives us … an identity.”

The resolution acknowledges Baptist involvement from the school’s inception in 1943 and the assumption of its ownership by the Florida Baptist Convention in 1957. It also affirms the school’s commitment to a historical doctrine that recognizes “the absolute Lordship of Christ and the supreme authority of the Holy Scriptures.”

In addition, the resolution affirms the continued relationship of the school to the Florida Baptist Convention through the election of trustees by the convention, inclusion of the college in the Cooperative Program budget of the convention and training of church leadership by the college for service in the convention.

Speaking of the importance of formally declaring this reaffirmation on the occasion of the college’s 60th anniversary, Kinchen told trustees in introducing the resolution that “the welfare and direction of any institution is centered in its core commitments and relationships.”

“Increasingly, church-related colleges are choosing to sever or redefine ties to their denominations,” Kinchen said. For the college, however, the reaffirmation “helps to define our destiny to become more than we have ever been, and to let Florida Baptists and every one else know that this is a school that’s different.”

The Baptist College of Florida action came on the heels of news that Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach voted Nov. 21 to amend their charter to no longer require a majority of their trustees to be Southern Baptists.
The Baptist College of Florida’s website is www.baptistcollege.edu.

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  • Joni B. Hannigan