Thomas Kinchen, president emeritus of Baptist University of Florida, dies
By BP and Florida Baptist Convention Staff
GRACEVILLE, Fla. (BP) – Thomas A. Kinchen, president emeritus of the Baptist University of Florida (formerly Baptist College of Florida), died Thursday (Jan. 11) of pancreatic cancer. He retired from the school in December 2022 after 32 years as its president.
His tenure was the longest of any person serving as president of the same Southern Baptist institution of higher education, the Florida Baptist Convention reported at his retirement.
Founded in 1943, BUF trains and develops Christian leaders for the church and marketplace through offering 19 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The college is a cooperating ministry of the Florida Baptist State Convention, and it operates campuses in Graceville and Central Florida, with plans to establish a third campus in Miami.
In 1990 when Kinchen was called to lead the college, “he inherited an organization experiencing declining enrollment and with the mandate that if things did not change, the college would likely close within 18 months,” according to a resolution adopted by messengers to the 2022 Florida Baptist State Convention annual meeting in Pensacola.
“When I arrived, I thought that the first two words in the name of the school were ‘Poor Old,’” Kinchen recalled.
“When I bragged about what was going on, I was cautioned not to brag on a poor little school in a tiny town in rural Florida. What folks did not recognize was that I was bragging on a mighty God in heaven who had initiated and supported this unique school.
“I have sought to face the challenges by never letting the school be defined by what we are not but by what we are.”
The school did not close; instead, it grew tremendously over the decades of Kinchen’s leadership.
“BUF is asking our Faithful Lord to provide love, comfort, and support for the Kinchen family,” the school posted on social media. “Please join in praying and supporting the Kinchen family. We grieve Dr. Kinchen’s passing but rejoice in our great hope of eternal life for him through the Lord Jesus.”
Tommy Green, Florida Baptist Convention executive director-treasure posted: “Dr. Kinchen was a friend to Florida Baptists and his impact and influence in Christ continues across Florida and to the nations!”
With reporting from Margaret Colson/Florida Baptist Convention.
Brotherhood Mutual offers Kingdom Advancing Grants to churches
By BP Staff
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (BP) – Brotherhood Mutual Foundation, a nonprofit established by Brotherhood Mutual Insurance, is offering a total of $150,000 in grants to support church programs that address a community concern while spreading the Gospel.
“We’re looking for churches that are doing something innovative, creative, and unique,” foundation director Kathy Bruce said in a press release. “The program should be sustainable, with a well-thought-out business plan. And it must be something that other churches can replicate.”
The average grant ranges between $20,000 and $50,000, and each grant recipient is paired for a year with mentors from the Granting Council who offer guidance and assistance, the foundation said.
To be eligible, ministries must be overseen by a church based in the U.S., designed to spread the Gospel or disciple believers, and must involve a “unique idea that’s innovative, creative, and new, and that other churches are not already doing.” Programs must be sustainable over time and replicable by other churches.
Nine church programs have benefited from grants since the program was created in 2022, the foundation said.
Additional grant information, including an informational audiocast on grant applications, is available at BrotherhoodMutual.com.
Brotherhood Mutual Insurance, which partners with Guidestone Financial Resources in offering liability insurance, established the foundation in 2005 to promote and encourage charitable, religious and educational projects.