Messengers also adopted a report brought by a special committee tasked with examining policies and procedures governing sexual abuse allegation reporting, survivor care and prevention within the FBSC. Florida Baptists’ 160th annual meeting drew 1,225 in attendance, including 822 messengers representing 412 churches, along with 403 guests.
The theme, “For the Kingdom,” and Scripture found in Matthew 6:33 were the focus of the President’s Message given by Paul Purvis, lead pastor of Mission Hill Church in Temple Terrace.
When God’s kingdom comes, Purvis said, it will come in truth, grace, power and glory. Purvis urged Florida Baptists to “make sure our vision is aligned with God’s vision.
“We must maintain our focus; we must keep the main thing the main thing. We must stay on mission. As individuals, as churches, as a convention, we must start living and leading for the Kingdom.”
Special committee report
The nine-person special committee, chaired by JJ Johnson, pastor of South Tampa Fellowship, selected Telios Law, PLLC, based in Monument, Colorado, to conduct an independent review of policies and procedures related to sexual abuse issues.
Five cooperating ministries were included in the review: Florida Baptist State Board of Missions, Florida Baptist Children’s Homes, Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center, The Baptist College of Florida, and Florida Baptist Financial Services.
The committee reported that Telios Law noted there were no overwhelming flaws in the policies and procedures of the state’s cooperating ministries.
The committee’s report then highlighted seven “areas of critical importance moving forward” and requested that the cooperating ministries provide updates at the 2023 FBSC annual meeting on the progress made in addressing these “opportunities for improvement.”
Budget adoption/policy revisions
Messengers approved a 2023 Cooperative Program goal of $29.5 million to be distributed 51% to Southern Baptist Convention causes and 49% to Florida Baptist Convention causes. The 51/49 split is the same distribution Florida Baptists have approved since 2016, the first budget recommendation after Tommy Green became executive director-treasurer in 2015. The approved 2023 budget is a $350,000 increase over the 2022 goal of $29.15 million.
Messengers also approved recommendations that would codify the process used with the cancellation of the 2020 annual meeting during the COVID-19 pandemic if a catastrophic event or other widespread emergency prevents the annual meeting of the FBSC from occurring in person in the future.
These recommendations came in response to a motion presented by Joel Breidenbaugh from Gospel Centered Church in Apopka at the 2021 FBSC annual meeting.
Baptist College of Florida
Messengers to the 2022 FBSC annual meeting honored Thomas Kinchen, president, The Baptist College of Florida, on his planned Dec. 31 retirement after serving in that role for more than 30 years.
Messengers presented Kinchen with a standing ovation and a resolution expressing appreciation to him and his wife Ruth Ann for dedicating “their lives in service to their Lord and to Florida Baptists through their devotion and love for The Baptist College of Florida and its students.”
In response, Kinchen encouraged Florida Baptists, saying, “Embrace your school. Embrace the future. Grab tomorrow and run with it,” pledging his full support to president-elect Clayton Cloer.
A breakfast for BCF’s alumni and students on Monday, Nov. 14, and an afternoon fellowship on Tuesday, Nov. 15, provided opportunities for individuals to offer personal words of affirmation and thanks to Kinchen for his faithful service.
Messengers approved a recommendation to change the name of the college to Baptist University of Florida. The name change requires two consecutive years of approval by messengers to the FBSC annual meeting.
RISE for Life
In partnership with One More Child, Florida Baptists announced the launch of the RISE for Life initiative, which outlines the group’s mission through the acronym RISE:
- Reach every child
- Involve every church
- Strengthen every community
- Empower every family.
With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the partnership calls on every Florida Baptist church to stand in the gap for the most vulnerable in society by partnering with pregnancy care centers, mentoring single mothers, becoming involved in foster care ministry, conducting resource drives to meet the practical needs of mothers and their children and taking other actions.
Lake Yale/Florida Baptist Financial Services
Florida Baptists affirmed the cooperating ministries of Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center and Florida Baptist Financial Services. Lake Yale offers a free pastor sabbatical program for all Florida Baptist pastors and pastoral staff. Florida Baptist Financial Services leaders shared that the organization has been able to provide higher education scholarships to Florida Baptist ministers and their families, provide a 13th check to retired ministers and wives through Mission:Dignity and offer loans to Florida Baptist churches.
Four 2022-23 FBSC officers were elected by messengers, including three officers who will serve second terms.
Purvis was reelected by acclimation to serve as FBSC president. Dwight Woods, senior pastor of Family of God Baptist Church in Panama City, was reelected by acclimation to a second term as first vice president. Healthcare professional John Bozard, a member of First Baptist Church Orlando, was reelected by acclimation to his second term as second vice president. Rounding out the slate of officers to be elected to serve Florida Baptists in 2022-23 was Janey Frost, minister of music and women at West Pensacola Baptist Church, elected by a ballot vote to serve as FBSC recording secretary
The 2023 FBSC annual meeting is set for Nov. 13–14 at Idlewild Baptist Church in Tampa.