Today is the day to start growing Sharper! in your ministry

 
Sharper!, the one-day conference taking place simultaneously at more than 20 Florida Baptist churches across the state, has arrived. Host churches will focus the day of training and team building on discipleship, prayer, preaching, teaching, leadership, church multiplication, small groups and other issues, with each location having the freedom to customize its own program and schedule to the needs of their specific audience. "Staying honed and ready to be used by God can be difficult as the challenges of the day ...

Florida Baptists share ‘Right Beside You’ testimonies at convention

 
Highlighting the Florida Baptist Convention’s guiding principle to be “Right Beside You,” Florida Baptist Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green interviewed 16 church leaders during the 2016 state convention annual meeting at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater. Each interview demonstrated how Florida Baptist state, associational and church leaders work cooperatively to advance the Gospel message in Florida and beyond. Here is a glimpse of those interviews: Right Beside You: Regional & multicultural Gary Martin, pastor of Crossroads Baptist Church in ...

Tommy Green: Reflections from our family gathering in Clearwater

 
It was a joyous celebration of the incredible hand of God upon Florida Baptist churches at the recent Florida Baptist State Convention. We heard exciting reports of what God is doing through churches around the state of Florida. The impact of your Cooperative Program receipts in Florida and beyond anchored the family gathering at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater. A special word of thanks to Pastor Willy Rice and the team at Calvary for hosting the 2016 annual meeting. The hospitality ...

Ministers’ wives encouraged to find ‘soul satisfaction’ in Jesus

 
Approximately 280 Florida Baptist ministers’ wives, gathering together for a luncheon during the 2016 Florida Baptist State Convention meeting, were encouraged to find their “soul satisfaction” in Jesus. “After you find soul satisfaction … you will walk in true freedom … begin to see other people with true compassion … glorify God … and have a more vibrant Jesus to offer,” said Kathy Litton, national director of ministry to pastors’ wives for the North American Mission ...

FBSC: State Board fills positions, hears Green’s heart

 
The State Board of Missions created a Black Multicultural Church Catalyst position, transferred three staff members to new roles and took further action to create Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center as a cooperating ministry during its annual meeting held Nov. 14 prior to the Florida Baptist State Convention at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater. Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, updated the Board of Missions on the successful transfer of Blue Springs Baptist Conference to The Baptist College ...

Rummage elected FBSC president; CP commitment continues

 
Messengers attending the 2016 Florida Baptist State Convention elected Brandon pastor Stephen Rummage as president and approved a $30 million Cooperative Program budget for 2017 that continues to send 51 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention while retaining 49 percent for missions and ministries in the state. The meeting, held Nov. 14-15 at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, focused on the theme: "Gathering to Exhort, Stir Up and Send Out." The nearly 1,200 people in attendance—including 989 messengers—also heard Florida Baptists from across ...

Willy Rice at FBSC: What to do when you’re living in Babylon

 
“We are Baptists living in Babylon,” said Willy Rice, senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, during the last session of the Florida Baptist State Convention on Nov. 15. The United States is overwrought with pornography, materialism, a devaluing of life and a variety of issues related to sexuality, racial strife and no restraints on evil, Rice said to a packed house. “We love our country. This isn’t about our patriotism,” Rice continued. “...

FBSC fellowship meetings celebrate ethnic diversity

 
The diversity of Florida Baptists was celebrated during the 2016 Florida Baptist State Convention in Clearwater as three fellowship meetings embraced unique language and cultural expressions of faith. Each fellowship included inspirational music, biblical messages, announcements, a fellowship meal and greetings from Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer. Hispanic Baptist State Fellowship Approximately 175 people gathered for the Hispanic Baptist State Fellowship, where “a united spirit of cooperation and collaboration” prevailed, said Emanuel Roque, Florida Baptists’ Hispanic catalyst. ...

FBSC: Tommy Green calls Florida Baptists to the altar of God

 
Tommy Green called Florida Baptists to the altar, a place of reparation, restoration and revival, during the Nov. 14 opening session of the Florida Baptist State Convention. “Come, come, unite and ignite our lives to reach Florida for Jesus Christ. White, black, Hispanic, Haitian, Brazilian, Japanese, Korean—we are one church–His church; one body—His body—we need each other more than ever before,” said Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention. “...

Russell Moore calls church to stand strong against sexual immorality

 
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, brought a message during the final afternoon of the 2016 Florida Baptist Pastors Conference on Monday to encourage the church to stand firm against sexual immorality. Speaking out of the apostle Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth in 1 Corinthians 6:15-7:5, Moore wondered what message today’s church has for a culture that has embraced a sexuality that is counterfeit to what God ...

Pastor Fries: Five characteristics of biblically faithful corporate worship

 
The problem with the way most Christians find a church home is that their approach has a lot more to do with the way they would buy a pair of jeans than it does what Scripture says about the importance of corporate worship. That’s how Micah Fries, senior pastor of Brainerd Baptist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn., started the 2016 Florida Baptist Pastors Conference Sunday night hosted by Calvary Church in Clearwater. “They try to find the nicest-looking place ...

Pastor Brunson: How do I follow God when I don’t where He is going?

 
Mac Brunson, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Jacksonville, laid down a deceptively simple question to those attending the 2016 Florida Baptist Pastors Conference Sunday night hosted by Calvary Church in Clearwater. His question: How do I follow God when I have no idea where He is trying to lead me? “God will not detour you around the difficulties in ministry and life,” Brunson told those attending the pastors conference. “He will guide you through them for His ...

Pastor Scroggins: Surprise! It’s God’s field and His ministry

 
Jimmy Scroggins, lead pastor of Family Church in West Palm Beach, started his message at the 2016 Florida Baptist Pastors Conference Sunday night by acknowledging that some Christians feel like they are in a plane that is going down. Some of those feelings, Scroggins acknowledged, are based largely on an American culture that thinks everything should always be getting better. But, he said, such a mindset is making us miss out on what is going on. “It would be a ...

Pastor Whitten: What happens when God begins to sift us?

 
Ken Whitten, senior pastor of Idlewild Baptist Church in the Tampa area, opened the Florida Baptist Pastors Conference Monday morning with the question: What happens when God begins to sift us? Everyone in the room is in one of two places: You either think you’re OK, but you’re really not, Whitten said. Or, you think you’re in a bad spot, but God says this is the best spot you could ever be in. “...

Messengers to consider cooperating ministry status for Lake Yale center

 
A recommendation to change the status of Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg to an incorporated cooperating ministry, thus creating its own identity, will be considered by messengers to the Florida Baptist State Convention Nov. 14-15 at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater. Historically, the conference center had served as a department within the Florida Baptist Convention. By transforming it to a cooperating ministry model, the new entity would remain linked to the Florida Baptist Convention, much like Florida Baptist ...

Annual meeting will highlight Florida Baptists’ diversity

 
The diversity of Florida Baptists will be celebrated during the 2016 Florida Baptist State Convention as speakers, choirs and fellowship meetings share their unique expressions of faiths, many in their own languages.  “Our Florida Baptist family is beautifully diverse in cultures, languages and expressions,” said Emanuel Roque, Florida Baptists’ Hispanic catalyst. “As part of celebrating that unity within diversity it’s important to recognize existing affinities and expressions.” “It is exciting that we ...

Florida Baptist State Convention will ‘exhort, stir up and send out’

 
Florida Baptists are “Gathering to Exhort, Stir Up and Send Out” when they meet for the 2016 Florida Baptist State Convention Nov. 14-15 at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater. “As we meet to worship and do convention business I pray that each one is encouraged, refreshed and motivated to continue on in this great Gospel work to which we’ve been called,” said James Peoples, president of the Florida Baptist State Convention. The Convention theme reflects ...

Tommy Green: Come to our family gathering in Clearwater

 
I invite you to our family gathering at Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater on Nov. 13-15.   The Florida Baptist State Convention will be a watershed event for our Florida Baptist churches as we travel from across the state to this important gathering for worship, preaching, fellowship and business.   My prayer is that you will be encouraged and inspired to experience the story of God moving in churches in Florida. We will hear dynamic testimonies of the ...

Church reaching Wakulla County’s forgotten people

 
Eric Davis and his wife, Marrisa, returned to Wakulla County to plant The Mission in their hometown for “people falling through the cracks—people other churches are not reaching.” It was the last place the 28-year-old thought they would be after leaving the rural county south of Tallahassee to attend classes at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. But when several church leaders from the Florida Baptist Association invited the young man back to ...

Inaugural Florida Baptist Convention training webinar benefits pastors

 
About 70 pastors representing a diversity of congregations from throughout Florida participated in the inaugural training webinar presented by the Florida Baptist Convention. The one-hour webinar on Thursday, Aug. 18, was emceed by Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director/treasurer, and featured Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board (NAMB), speaking and answering questions on the topic “Biblical Strategy for Reaching North America.” Ezell opened the webinar by stating that NAMB’s goal is to “...

Florida Baptist State Board approves sixth ministry region

 
In addition to designating a sixth ministry region in the state, the Florida Baptist State Board of Missions turned the page on a new era with decisions made during its Aug. 26 meeting at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg. Among the historic decisions made were transferring ownership of Blue Springs Baptist Conference Center to The Baptist College of Florida; taking steps to transform Lake Yale Conference Center into a cooperating ministry; authorizing the purchase of a new building to ...

Proposed 2017 Florida Baptist Convention CP budget carries 3.45% increase

 
The Budget-Allocations Committee will recommend a $30 million Florida Baptist Convention Cooperative Program budget for 2017—the largest annual increase in more than a decade—to the State Board of Missions when it meets Aug. 26. The 2017 CP budget of $30 million will send 51 percent—or $15.3 million—of the anticipated gifts to the SBC Cooperative Program for global missions and keep 49 percent—or $14.7 million—for mission and ministry causes in Florida. The 2017 proposed CP budget is a million ...

A historic gathering for black/multicultural church leaders

 
With a theme of “We’re Better Together,” 375 black and multicultural pastors and laypeople gathered at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg Aug. 5-6 for the Black/Multicultural Church State Fellowship Conference—the first gathering of its kind for Florida Baptists in 20 years. Reminiscing about long-ago experiences attending such events while growing up as a  preacher’s kid, Patrick Coats, black/multicultural church consultant for the Florida Baptist Convention, said, “This conference ...

Super Summer ’16 focuses on recharging youth ministries

 
Florida Baptist Student Pastor Heath Woolman took 60 youth to Super Summer '16 and found the camp to be the unifying catalyst the group needed. “Our youth group has had a fragmented history,” said Woolman, student pastor at First Baptist Church of Kissimmee. “This week created such a unity among the students that they left as a group. God softened the hearts of many hardened young people and gave us a great start to the new school year.&...

Florida Baptists' mid-year CP giving $1.2M ahead of budget

 
Florida Baptist Convention leaders are rejoicing that Cooperative Program giving by Florida churches through June are nearly a half-million dollars above the previous year and $1.2 million ahead of budget. Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, said the generous giving can be attributed to Florida Baptists’ commitment to send 51 percent of the receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention for worldwide mission causes and retaining 49 percent in the state, “giving away more than we keep.” &...

Tommy Green: Gratitude for privilege to lead Florida Baptists

 
Karen and I express our profound gratitude for the manner in which we have been embraced by our Florida Baptist churches during the first year of our service with the Florida Baptist Convention. Thank you for allowing me the incredible privilege of leading the Florida Baptist Convention. This past year has been a season of transition for our state convention. I am deeply humbled and honored by the trust you have placed in my leadership. This stewardship of trust is ...

Tommy Green: Global hunger relief unifies to make eternal difference

 
This month, Florida Baptists are observing and responding to the Baptist Global Hunger Relief offering. The offering provides a tangible way to respond to the hunger crisis. I am grateful that Florida Baptists are proactive in our desire to provide food to our neighbors in the name of Jesus. This offering enables resources to be disbursed in Florida, North America and internationally to meet this pressing need. This offering is a collaborative effort between the Florida Baptist Convention, North American ...

South Florida church tackles community’s hunger

 
It’s Saturday morning in South Florida. Come rain or shine, dozens of cars snake slowly around the parking lot of Hollywood Community Church. When the morning ends, as many as 100 families facing hunger will have crisscrossed the church grounds to receive a box jam-packed with non-perishable food items, loaves of bread and meat. They are greeted with smiles and words of encouragement by volunteers serving as the hands and feet of Jesus in that inner-city community. ...

Commitment to the Word guides BCF alums in state

 
Scattered from the Panhandle to South Florida in rural communities and complex urban centers, graduates of The Baptist College of Florida are committed to “Changing the World through the Unchanging Word,” while serving Florida Baptist churches as pastors, church planters, ministry leaders and Christian educators. Each year nearly 100 students graduate from BCF’s hallowed halls in Graceville, and as many as 75 percent of these will serve in the Sunshine State. “The quality of education at BCF ...

Jacksonville church comes up with $1.3M to keep property

 
After struggling with massive debt for several years, leadership at Faithbridge Church in Jacksonville, Fla., thought the end had finally come when the church went into foreclosure. But God, acting through a prominent Jacksonville real estate developer, had other plans. The mounting debt and the real possibility of losing the property took a toll on Faithbridge's congregation, as well as the many missionaries and ministries they support around the world. “It’s been ...

Miami churches change lives with pregame meals

 
Two Miami-area churches are scoring inroads into local schools by providing pregame meals for their football teams–while changing lives of players and coaches alike. Each week during football season, pastors Patrick Coats of Kingdom Covenant Baptist Church in Homestead and Erik Cummings of New Life Baptist Church in Carol City, along with church members, prepare and serve hot, nutritious meals before games, cleaning up afterward and subsidizing all costs. It is a ministry they call “Huddle Touch.&...

GO Jax churches collaborate as hands, feet of Jesus

 
Descending upon the campus of Jacksonville’s Englewood High School, more than 25 volunteers from GO Jax 2016 planted vibrant flowers and shrubs along the sidewalks of the school’s entrance, mulched beds and repainted wooden garbage bins a bright yellow to freshen up the urban campus. As the hands and feet of Christ, the fruits of their labors sent a message to the student body and faculty, said Principal Sara Bravo. “First impressions of a school campus are ...

Tommy Green: Churches do more together through associations

 
The establishing of the association in Baptist life enabled churches to unify in ministry efforts. The need for fellowship and combined local ministries prompted churches in proximity to each other to join together for the cause of Christ in their community. “Together” has always been a benchmark of Southern Baptist life. We do more together, we do better together, and we honor Christ together in fulfilling the Great Commission. We have 49 associations in Florida that are geographically positioned ...

Florida Baptists recognize Vanita Baldwin’s missions support

 
For four decades Vanita Baldwin has inspired Florida Baptist women and men to pray for and support Southern Baptists’ worldwide missions, first as WMU executive director for the Florida Baptist Woman’s Missionary Union from 1977-91 and then as a legendary prayer warrior for mission causes. Now her legacy will continue to encourage and influence the cause of missions for decades to come. In honor of her 90th birthday May 1, the Executive Council of Florida Women’s ...

Florida’s DOMs focus on strengthening churches

 
Thirty-eight associational mission leaders focused on the main priority of their mission—to strengthen the local church—during the annual Florida Baptist Director of Missions Retreat May 2-4 at College Road Baptist Church in Ocala. Kicking off the three-day meeting was Tommy Green, who has been serving as the executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention for nearly a year. He pledged to the directors of missions that the Convention would work together with associations to support and ...

2016 FBSC Committee on Nominations named

 
A Committee on Nominations composed of pastors, laypersons, and church staff has been appointed by the officers of the Florida Baptist State Convention. Stan Lewis, executive pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, was named to chair the 49-member committee. The committee is composed of one member from each of the 49 associations in the state, plus three officers of the state convention who serve as ex-officio members. The committee is responsible for nominating Florida Baptists to serve on the ...

An open letter to Gov. Rick Scott from Dr. Tommy Green on behalf of the State Board of Missions

 
May 18, 2016 Office of Governor Rick ScottState of FloridaThe Capitol400 S. Monroe StreetTallahassee, FL 32399-0001 Governor Scott: On behalf of the thousands of Southern Baptists across the state of Florida, I am contacting you now to urge your prayerful consideration of the recent joint-action taken by the United States Department of Education and Department of Justice. As you are certainly aware, these two federal agencies have sought to do exactly what the United States Constitution prohibits them from doing. Specifically, they ...

Retired state collegiate director Joe Webb dies

 
Joe H. Webb, who served as state director of the Florida Baptist Convention’s Student Department (now Collegiate Ministries) from 1958 until his retirement in 1990, died May 13 in Tallahassee while under hospice care. Webb, 90, died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. A celebration of his life will be held May 17 at 11:30 a.m. at Hendricks Avenue Baptist Church in Jacksonville. Visitation will begin at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Greenlawn Cemetery. Prior to being named state director, the ...

First Bonifay embraces needs of displaced children

 
Shelly and Carole Chandler looked at their soon-to-be empty nester home and heard God speak. “He moved our hearts,” said Shelly Chandler, to see they could fill their house once again with gales of laughter brought from small children. And that their home could be a vessel to give hope to one more child. “We were led by God to move into foster care as our home becomes available,” said Chandler, pastor of First Baptist Church ...

Roque named Fla. Baptist Hispanic Church Catalyst

 
Longtime Florida Baptist Convention employee Emanuel Roque has been named as the state’s Hispanic Church Catalyst, a position he will assume effective May 2. In this role, he will serve and partner with churches and pastors to plan and facilitate processes that support, strengthen and encourage Hispanic Florida Baptist churches in their mission and Kingdom ministry. “I am excited for the leadership, vision and direction that Emanuel brings to this role,” said Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ ...

Florida Baptist Convention honors legacy black and multicultural pastors in Miami area

 
The Southeast Regional Center in Hialeah, Fla., transformed its cafeteria into a fancy dinner hall Thursday night (April 14), complete with ceiling ornaments and centerpieces to honor legacy black and multicultural pastors in the region. “These are multicultural pastors who have been part of the Florida Baptist Convention for a long time and we wanted to find a way to reconnect with them,” said Patrick Coats, black and multicultural church consultant. There were more than 20 pastors and wives in ...

Tommy Green: Celebrate the Cooperative Program

 
The call to champion or celebrate a program rings hollow in most instances. But the call for Florida Baptists to celebrate and champion the Cooperative Program is significant. Since the inception of the Cooperative Program in 1925, Southern Baptist churches have provided funding for the global advancement of the Gospel. The resources advanced from our churches to the Cooperative Program fuels the fire of global missions and evangelism. I prayerfully suggest three observations on the current state of the Cooperative Program. ...

Sale of Baptist Building to impact the nations

 
A sacrificial investment made by Florida Baptists nearly six decades ago will reap a far-reaching global missions impact this year as the State Board of Missions approved a multimillion-dollar contract to sell the Baptist Building property in Jacksonville. Fifty-one percent of the proceeds of the Baptist Building property sale will be directed to the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program for worldwide mission causes, pledged Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, during the April 1 meeting at ...

Clearwater’s Calvary Baptist Church celebrates 150 years of Gospel witness

 
Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater, Fla., honored its past while casting a mission and ministry vision for the future as the congregation celebrated its 150th anniversary March 5-6. “Founded in 1866, Calvary has stood for a century and a half as a faithful Gospel witness in our city and in the entire Tampa Bay area,” said Pastor Willy Rice. “We looked back to honor the past and expressed gratitude by worshipping God and thanking people who came before ...

South Florida pastor baptizes son, 469 others

 
When David Hughes was called as pastor of Church by the Glades in 1998, 470 was the average weekly attendance. Now nearly 18 years later in just one weekend, the South Florida church stirred the baptismal waters with 470 new believers in Christ. The correlation of numbers was "catalytic," Hughes said. "It was very organic. It was one of these 'trust God moments and see God at work.'" Leading the baptismal candidates was a child, as Hughes baptized his 7-year-old son, Zane, who ...

Sarasota Baptist Church loves on its community through service projects

 
Wearing bright blue T-shirts proclaiming “I love Sarasota,” nearly 500 Sarasota Baptist Church members—from toddlers to octogenarians—fanned out across the county to shower their community with the love of Christ during the first week of February. “We challenged our people to take a one-week mission trip to Sarasota,” said Pastor Mike Landry. “We are on mission to our community, and to just love on our city.” In all, the volunteers participated ...

Southeast Regional Center in Hialeah remains a hub for ministry

 
The name has changed, but the purpose of the Southeast Regional Center in Hialeah remains the same—to serve as a hub for Florida Baptists’ regional ministry, as well as New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s extension center, North American Mission Board’s Send City emphasis and housing of mission volunteers. The center, formerly known as the Urban Impact Center, is located in renovated buildings that once served as the facilities of First Baptist Church of ...

Historic Southwest Florida church embraces growth, diversity

 
As with any 100-year-old church, First Baptist Church of Immokalee has seen its share of ebb and flow. But after a period of trouble and decline, the revitalized congregation has found new growth, a sense of stability and diversity that more closely mirrors its Southwest Florida community.    “We knew we had to go in a different direction than we had been in the past,” said longtime Deacon Bill Bethea. “We had gotten to the point ...

Trinity Baptist Church reaching the world from Keystone Heights, Florida

 
A sense of safety and security marks Keystone Heights, Fla., an idyllic Southern town halfway between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. It's nearly equidistant northeast to Jacksonville and southwest to Gainesville but, unlike those two cities, has never felt the devastating impact of a full-force hurricane. A pervading sense of peace and tranquility is enhanced by the area's many lakes and Spanish moss-covered oak trees, a low crime rate and the community-held belief in the importance of ...

Florida Baptists send additional $500,000 to SBC

 
The Florida Baptist Convention sent an additional $500,000 in Cooperative Program funds to the Southern Baptist Convention on Jan. 25. The funds represented 51 percent of the $970,924 in budget overages from Florida Baptist churches to the state convention's 2015 budget of $28.8 million. "What a tremendous blessing from God for Florida Baptists to express our commitment to the Great Commission in our work together as Southern Baptists through this budget overage," said Tommy Green, the convention's executive director-treasurer. "This means we will be sharing an ...

Florida Baptists celebrate with 186 graduating Haitian pastors

 
They entered through the door with poise and dignity, carrying well-worn Bibles, wearing matching blazers and ties, marching to the song "Pomp and Circumstance." The academic road they had traveled had been long—an arduous two years of theological training culminated that day in a graduation ceremony to receive their diplomas. Many of the 186 graduates receiving their diplomas at the Confraternite Missionaire Baptist de'Haiti (CMBH) graduation held this past fall in Titanyen, Haiti, had walked for hours to participate ...

102-year-old pastor to preach at his former church in Jacksonville

 
Woodstock Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., is welcoming one of its former pastors to preach Jan. 10 in what is sure to be an historic occasion. Oliver Everett (O.E.) Boals, 102, was the pastor of what was then called Woodstock Park Baptist Church during the 1950s. Gary Poplin, current pastor of Woodstock, has been looking forward to meeting the man who has had such an impact on his church. Poplin said there are current members who were baptized by Boals during ...

Church planter wants 'organic' start in downtown Tampa

 
As he plants a new church in Tampa’s urban Channelside community, Brian Elliott is determined to expand the residents’ “work-here, play-here mentality” to a “worship-here, pray-here” way of thinking. One of Tampa’s fastest-growing communities, Channelside is composed of a dozen mid- and high-rise apartment buildings located along the Port of Tampa. It is home to 3,000 professionals who thrive on walking to work, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues. Everything is contained along ...

Florida Baptist Convention makes Lake Yale housing available for transitioning missionaries

 
Temporary housing for families of International Mission Board missionaries who are transitioning back to the United States will be made available at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg beginning in April. “The desire of Florida Baptists is to minister to our returning missionaries,” said Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, in announcing the availability of the housing at Lake Yale. “Our Florida Baptist churches will be informed concerning these families and will have ...

TheCity.church transforms lives in urban neighborhood

 
With his trendy good looks, approachable personality and readiness to share his faith, Blake Bennett, 25, easily attracts young adults from his generation. TheCity.church, a congregation he planted just six months ago, mirrors his edgy, hipster style from its contemporary music to its passionate, free-spirited worship. Since launching the church in Jacksonville’s eclectic San Marco neighborhood, Bennett, has seen 30, mostly young adults, come to know the Lord as Savior. Twenty have been baptized. “We are reaching people ...

Baptist church in Florida Panhandle invests in Hispanic community

 
When he first arrived as pastor of First Baptist Church in Bonifay, Shelly Chandler recalls seeing only a few Hispanics living and working in his rural Panhandle community. But that has changed, he said. Now, he sees them every day—in stores, restaurants, hotels and playing soccer in fields. The Hispanic community is growing, he said, by “leaps and bounds.” When a 4,000-square-foot building located just a block away from the church was given to the downtown ...

'Epic, pacesetting decision': Florida Baptists send 51 percent of 2016 CP budget to SBC

 
Messengers to the Florida Baptist State Convention approved a 2016 Cooperative Program budget of $29 million that will send 51 percent to the Southern Baptist Convention and retain 49 percent for missions and ministries in the state.  "This epic, pacesetting decision will set a precedent in the Southern Baptist Convention," said Michael Tatem, president of the State Board of Missions, after the vote drew no opposition. "We are doing what the Southern Baptist Convention was called to do in 1845—to take the ...

Tommy Green urges Florida Baptists to 'come to the table'

 
In his first address as the executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, Tommy Green asked if the state convention could “sit at the table” with Florida Baptists to redeem the time because the days are evil. Citing Ephesians 5:16, Green urged those attending the Florida Baptist State Convention, Nov. 9 in Panama City, “to take the Gospel into the world filled with evil, because Satan came to steal, kill and destroy.” He recalled the death of Tripp ...

FBSC President James Peoples encourages Convention attendees to continue moving forward in mission

 
James Peoples, president of the Florida Baptist State Convention and senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Keystone Heights, encouraged the pastors and leaders gathered at First Baptist Church of Panama City on Nov. 10 to continue moving forward in mission. Peoples began his president’s message by reading from Acts 18:1-10, which relates the time Paul spent preaching to the gentiles in Corinth after he became frustrated and discouraged by the unwillingness of the Jews to believe in Jesus ...

Florida multicultural pastors optimistic about future in Convention life

 
Embracing the Florida Baptist State Convention’s theme of “Moving Forward,” 164 multicultural pastors from around the state gathered Monday afternoon, Nov. 9, for inspiration and a meal at the second-annual Black/Multicultural Church Pastors Luncheon.   Patrick Coats, Black/Multicultural church life consultant for the Florida Baptist Convention, said that the group is building on the momentum it has gained over the last year with the addition and support of Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green.   &...

Rethinking leadership, discipleship, humility among topics at Monday’s Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference

 
The Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference wrapped up Monday, Nov. 9, at First Baptist Church in Panama City with speakers ranging from church planters and evangelists to college and seminary presidents. Each presenter tied his message to the theme “Faithful to be Fruitful.” Pastors Matt Lawson and Robby Gallaty were among the most challenging speakers of the day. Lawson, a church planter with Story City Church in Burbank, Calif., gave a sermon titled “Waiting on Reality,” which ...

Baptist 21 panel discusses CP giving, 51-49 Convention budget

 
On Sunday night, Nov. 8, for the first time in Florida, Baptist 21 held a panel discussion at the Florida Baptist State Convention in Panama City.   The discussion was moderated by Dean Inserra, lead pastor of City Church in Tallahassee and a member of the Baptist 21 leadership council, and included topics such as Cooperative Program giving, the new 51-49 Florida Baptist Convention budget and how to forge unity in our very diverse state.   The panel included Tommy Green, executive director-treasurer ...

Inclement weather doesn't dampen Family Fun Day at Crossover

 
Despite the threatening dark clouds that gathered above Panama City, Fla., on Nov. 7, First Baptist Church at Deerpoint Lake put on its Family Fun Day as part of Crossover 2015. The Deerpoint Lake staff had to get creative as it moved the whole event indoors to accommodate for the inclement weather. Along one hallway children got their faces painted and received a balloon animal or sword. Half of one Sunday school classroom was filled with a colorful bounce house from which ...

Preaching conference addresses church's role amid changing culture

 
Immanuel Baptist Church in Panama City, Fla., hosted the eighth-annual Reviving the Passion for Preaching Conference as part of Crossover 2015. Approximately 100 Southern Baptists coming from as far as Arizona gathered Nov. 7 at the church located in the south part of town to listen to musical guests and two well-known preachers talk about how the church should stand in the midst of a changing culture. The night started out with the congregation signing hymns and was followed by a trio of ...

Crook, Traylor talk about ‘Faithful to be Fruitful’ during kickoff of Pastors' Conference in Panama City

 
Jeff Crook, the pastor of Blackshear Place Baptist Church in Buford, Ga., and Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, were the Sunday night speakers for the Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference in Panama City. They both spoke around the theme of “Faithful to be Fruitful.” Crook titled his sermon “A few things that make Satan mad,” and used a text from the 19th chapter of Acts about the time Paul faced civil unrest ...

James Peoples reflects on first year as Florida Baptist State Convention president

 
FBW reporter Keila Diaz recently caught up with James Peoples, senior pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Keystone Heights, as he nears the end of his first term as president of the Florida Baptist State Convention. An edited version of that conversation follows. Keila Diaz: Last year’s State Convention theme was “Shine,” which was designed to be a symbolic way of looking back at what we’ve accomplished and as a challenge for us to ...

Bay Community Church partners with the Convention to offer dental, spiritual help

 
In an effort to serve the most needy in its South Florida community, Bay Community Church in Cutler Bay hosted the Florida Baptist Convention’s Mobile Dental Unit from Oct. 26-30.   During that week the unit saw 76 patients and performed multiple extractions, cleanings and fillings. At the end of the week the unit had provided more than $25,000 in dental care at no cost to any of the patients.   On Tuesday alone, many migrant workers from nearby farms ...

Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers bring hope to South Carolina

 
Sitting beside South Carolina's swift-flowing Edisto River, Joyce Grooms watched as Florida Baptist Disaster Relief volunteers dumped all of her ruined earthly belongings from her flood-damaged home.  Although she had lived on her scenic piece of riverfront property all of her life, Grooms, 81,  saw nearly four decades of life in her own home lost to floodwater. Memories flooded back.  "I have to accept that this is God's will," said the member of Old Fort Baptist Church in ...

State Board expresses overwhelming support of Florida Baptist Convention’s new direction

 
Tommy Green’s bold, groundbreaking reinvention of the Florida Baptist Convention to Reach Florida was met with overwhelming support by the State Board of Missions during its Sept. 18 meeting at Lake Yale Conference Center in Leesburg. The historic decision to send more money away to support global missions than is kept in the state, and the reorganization and reduction of staff to make it more responsive to the needs of churches, were approved with little discussion and no dissenting ...

Four employees elected for newly created Florida Baptist Convention positions

 
Four new employees were elected by the State Board of Missions on Sept. 18 to fill positions created by the reorganization of the Florida Baptist Convention staff. Elected were Billy Young of Brandon as lead catalyst, Next Generation Ministries Group; Micah Ferguson of Brandon as director of Strategic Initiatives; and Jeffery Singletary of Tampa and Wayne Briant of Sarasota as regional catalysts. Additionally, longtime employee Stephens Baumgardner was promoted in a dual role as assistant executive director/Support Services director. Their ...

State Board OKs major reorganization that reduces Florida Baptist staff by 47 percent

 
A major reorganization of the Florida Baptist Convention staff that reduces the number of employees statewide by 47 percent—to 61 employees from the 115 currently employed—was approved by the State Board of Missions, Sept. 18 at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center. The reorganization and downsizing was the fulfillment of a promise made by Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green on May 29 at the time of his election to the post. He stressed the need to have a responsive, lean missions organization that ...

Tommy Green shares Convention’s new direction in regional meetings

 
Nearly 900 Florida Baptist pastors, staff members and directors of missions from across the state attended regional meetings to hear Tommy Green share his heart and vision as he takes the helm of the Florida Baptist Convention. The Convention “supports local churches in their mission of making disciples of all the nations through the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” said Green, executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention since June. “The church does not exist for the Convention; the ...

Hispanic youth camp’s spiritual influence spreads in ever-widening circles

 
A rock slides quietly into the placid waters of the lake, with the silence interrupted only by the delighted laughter of the young teen who threw the rock. Ripples begin to spread across sun-drenched Lake Yale. So, too, the spiritual influence of the young lives touched through the camping ministry of Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center emanates in ever-widening circles throughout the Sunshine State and beyond. “We have heard countless testimonies from youth about how the Hispanic youth camp ...

Florida coed finds life’s calling in missions

 
While most Florida college students could be found on the beach soaking up the first warm rays of the year during spring break, Madeline Rogers spent those days shivering in a mildewed and moldy basement in temperatures that barely reached 20 degrees. After handing off personal items that had been rotting away in the basement for more than two years, she masterfully measured and framed the wall and didn’t even flinch when the compressor of the nail gun shot ...

Palm Springs medical clinic wants to be eyes, hands and feet of Jesus

 
“Today, we have already seen miracles,” said Velma Walter-Hamilton, a registered nurse serving at the Palm Springs Baptist Church Medical Clinic. “Two patients walked through this door with life-threatening situations and we were able to provide them with life-saving medications. It’s been a good day.” Walter-Hamilton invests two Saturdays a month to treat patients at the free medical clinic staffed and operated by volunteers from the Palm Springs Baptist Church located in Palm Beach ...

Florida Baptist Convention's proposed 2016 CP budget meets 51/49 goal

 
Saying "we can impact the world" by sending 51 percent of Florida's Cooperative Program receipts to the Southern Baptist Convention while simultaneously increasing funds to reach Florida, Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green presented a $29 million budget for 2016 to the State Board of Missions' Budget-Allocations Committee. The committee unanimously approved the proposed 2016 Cooperative Program budget Aug. 13 to send $14,790,000—or 51 percent—to the SBC and retain $14,210,000—or 49 percent—for ministry within the state. The 2016 budget goal reflects a $200,000 increase over ...

Miami missionary reaches out to ‘least of these’

 
For more than a quarter of a century, Michael Daily has planted his life in Miami as a missionary fueled by a vision to serve the needy, downtrodden and poor in this city of contrasts. Miami is often viewed by the world as a 76-degree paradise of glitz, bling, flaunted wealth, South Beach nightclubs, bay-front mansions, flashy cars and fast boats. But it is one of the poorest cities in the United States, with nearly one-third of the population living ...

Tommy Green to share vision, strategy in regional pastor meetings

 
A series of five meetings across the state have been set during the next two months for Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director-Treasurer Tommy Green to share with Florida Baptist pastors his plans to reach Florida and impact the nations with the Gospel. In an e-mail letter to pastors, Green invited them to the regional meetings to “share my strategy and vision for the Florida Baptist Convention and seek to answer any questions you may have.” Green said he ...

Steps for Florida Baptist churches to take following Supreme Court ruling

 
Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States issued its long-awaited opinion regarding same-sex marriage. In sum, the Court decided that laws which remain true to the traditional, biblical definition of marriage are no longer constitutional. The Convention is disappointed by the Court’s refusal to recognize the states’—and the people’s—right to preserve the true nature of marriage. Likewise, the Convention is deeply concerned over the Court’s refusal to ...

Native son yearns for Homestead, Florida, to know Jesus through church plant

 
Growing up in a Mexican-American family of farmworkers in the low-income Redlands Labor Camp in Homestead, Fla., left Alex Pecina vulnerable to many of society’s ills—drugs, gangs and violence. But he was saved from a self-destructive path when a personal crisis brought him “to his knees” and his life was transformed by Jesus Christ. Choosing now to plant a new church in his South Dade County hometown, Pecina has a burden for the spiritual ...

Florida Baptist State Convention presidents affirm national marriage statement

 
As a sign of unity with the current and former Southern Baptist Convention presidents, 18 former and the current president of the Florida Baptist State Convention have affirmed a statement on biblical marriage and the national implications of same-sex marriage. The statement was originally released during a June 17 news conference prior to the concluding sessions of the SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio. SBC President Ronnie Floyd moderated the news conference, attended by eight former SBC presidents. Sixteen former presidents and ...

Southern Baptist leaders applaud Florida's plan for 51/49 CP split

 
The Florida Baptist Convention’s unprecedented decision to begin giving more of its Cooperative Program dollars to the Southern Baptist Convention than to the state signals a sacrificial commitment to the Great Commission, newly elected executive director-treasurer J. Thomas Green told Baptist Press. Green, who began serving June 8 as EDT of the FBC, has pledged beginning in 2016 to send 51 percent of CP gifts to the Southern Baptist Convention for international and national causes, and to keep only 49 percent within ...

Florida pastor: 'You can't out-give God'

 
She was an elementary school teacher for more than two decades—until a disability forced her into early retirement and a reduced pension. She soon discovered that she couldn't stretch her income enough to meet her monthly financial obligations. She was in need for the first time in her life. He's a legal immigrant, daily working the fields of crops across the Sunshine State from sunup to sundown. Although surrounded by the bounty of the land, he has barely ...

Q&A: J. Thomas Green talks about everything from his calling to engaging millennials

 
Shortly after being unanimously approved as the new executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention on May 29, J. Thomas Green gave an exclusive interview to Kevin Bumgarner and Nicole Kalil with the Florida Baptist Witness. An edited version of that conversation follows. Florida Baptist Witness: The search committee said you were the only finalist who came to them with a plan. What gave you that much confidence to put all your cards on the table before you were even offered ...

J. Thomas Green named executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention

 
J. Thomas Green of Brandon has been elected to lead the one million-member Florida Baptist State Convention as executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention. The pastor of First Baptist Church in Brandon was tapped by the State Board of Missions during its May 29 meeting at Lake Yale Conference Center in Leesburg. He will assume his new role effective June 8.    In remarks to the Board he pledged that by November 2015, he will present an annual budget for 2016 ...

Search committee: We’re ready to present candidate to be next executive director of the Florida Baptist Convention

 
The finalist for the position of executive director-treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention will be presented to the State Board of Missions at its May 28-29 meeting at Lake Yale, according to a spokesperson for the chair of the search committee.   “As with all personnel recommendations, the Administrative/Personnel Committee will receive the recommendation from the Search Committee on Thursday afternoon,” according to a written statement. “Then on Friday morning we have set aside a block ...