During the week of Sept. 22-26 The Baptist College of Florida family paused to celebrate Sixty-Five Seasons of Service and to recharge for the years ahead. The week was filled with activities that ranged from birthday cake after chapel services to a gala birthday dinner attended by members of the larger Florida Baptist family.
Faculty, staff and students gathered around the Daniel Gazebo on September 22 as BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen sliced the first piece of traditional birthday cake. The time of fun and food served to remind those gathered of the generations of faithful Christian leaders who have gone before them in the life of the school.
Established September 7, 1943, the first BCF class was actually held at the First Baptist Church in Lakeland, FL. The institution moved to the tri-state area of northwest Florida in 1953. During the life of the school there have been several name changes indicating the breadth of its academic programs: Florida Baptist Institute (FBI), Baptist Bible Institute of Florida (BBIF), Baptist Bible Institute (BBI), Florida Baptist Theological College (FBTC), and The Baptist College of Florida (BCF).
Guided by a visionary President, a strong Board of Trustees, and unwavering convention leadership support, the academic programs at BCF prepare men and women for areas of ministry, service and vocation with every degree program supported by a strong Bible foundation.
Throughout the week the College celebrated the contributions of those who had served faithfully since 1943. The outstanding opportunities of the present were highlighted as the school celebrated its reaffirmation of accreditation by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In addition to reaffirming accreditation the Commission also approved establishment of new degree programs including: English, History and Social Studies, English for Secondary Education, History and Social Studies for Secondary Education, Christian Studies, Ministry Studies, and Leadership and Christian Education which includes a new major in Business.
On Sept. 25 staff leadership of the Florida Baptist Convention, members of the State Board of Missions, BCF trustees, faculty and staff as well as spouses filled the Assembly Center for a birthday banquet. Prior to the banquet guests were provided with guided tours of the campus and were able to visit displays and exhibits presented around the Assembly Center illustrating the 65 year history of the college.
Thomas A. Kinchen, BCF President for nineteen years, welcomed guests with an introductory blessing before the evening meal. As those in attendance were finishing their meal, the BCF College Choir and Male Chorale, who served the tables, performed a sequence of worship and praise music, including BCF favorites "The Presence of the Lord is Here" and "All Rise."
Following the musical worship, John Sullivan, Executive Director-Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, gave the convention greeting and encouraged everyone present to always be conforming into the image of Jesus. He quoted Philippians 2:1-11 and commended BCF for its firm stance on teaching the truth of Jesus Christ to the students.
Larry Taylor, Chairman of the Board of Trustees at BCF, approached the podium after Sullivan to present the trustee greeting and share his love for the school. Taylor expressed his passion for BCF with a story about his pastor who was a graduate of the school. He recounted the influence of the school on the man and the man on the world through long years as a pastor. With tears in his eyes, Taylor told the crowd that the man in the story was his father.
Kinchen concluded the evening’s celebration highlighting the history of BCF and the challenges and rewards he’s experienced in his years of service as President. "I’ve never been more challenged and more blessed than I have been here," stated Kinchen. He further stated, "This life of this school has never been a matter of convenience, rather it has been a life of necessity. If we are to reach this state and this world it is necessary that a vibrant school educate and train those who will literally change their world."
After his remarks, Kinchen presented the BCF birthday cake, a replica of the R.G. Lee Chapel, and two round cakes decorated with the BCF logo and seal. The evening was complete as everyone stood and sang the BCF hymn "Tell Me the Story of Jesus," after which BCF Senior Vice-President, R. C. Hammack, dismissed the gathering with a prayer of thanksgiving.
For more information on The Baptist College of Florida or upcoming events, please contact the Admissions Office at 800-328-2660 x 460.