CAROLYN NICHOLS
Panhandle Reporter

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Sep 11, 2014
Florida Baptists were among the thousands who voted in primary elections Aug. 26. Some of the voters may have met the candidates and questioned them in events at their churches, and some may have read the candidates’ opinions on issues in voter guides that were distributed at one of the state’s 3,000 churches.

However, most Florida Baptist churches shy away from election-year involvement because of fear of lawsuits or losing their tax-exempt status. Their fears are unfounded, according to Bill Bunkley, president of the Florida Ethics and Religious Commission and a representative of the Florida Baptist Convention during legislative sessions in Tallahassee for the past 19 years.
Sep 3, 2014
MIDDLEBURG (FBW)—More than 50 North Florida children are learning the sport of archery at First Baptist Church in Middleburg. According to Associate Pastor Tim Martin, church leaders had been “looking for something to draw the children of our community to First Baptist,” when a 2011 Sportsman’s Expo sparked interest in archery.
Sep 1, 2014
INDIANTOWN (FBW)—Dozens of men who are incarcerated at Martin Correctional Institution in Indiantown are studying how to be better fathers. According to Awana’s Lifeline Program website, the men are “learning to live up to their biblical responsibilities as dads.” The culmination of their “Malachi Dads” studies will be a Returning Hearts Celebration Nov. 8 during which prisoners spend the day with their children.

Randy Huckabee, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dade City, is leading a group of volunteers to help with the Returning Hearts event.
Aug 28, 2014
OCALA (FBW)—Jack Roland, an Ocala layman, will be nominated as president of the Florida Baptist State Convention during its November annual meeting in Lakeland. If elected, he will be only the fifth layman to serve as Convention president since 1950.
Aug 17, 2014
WINTER PARK (FBW)—John Hemphill, a layman at First Baptist Church in Winter Park, went on his first mission trip 31 years ago, and he has traveled dozens of times across the Western Hemisphere to build churches and to encourage fellow believers. He also is passing on a love of missions to his son and grandson.

Hemphill began traveling with construction mission teams from his church when he was working as a senior accountant with Sprint. He retired in 1997 when the company moved to Kansas City, but worked another 12 years with MFI, a company assuring quality control of pharmaceuticals.
Aug 16, 2014
HIGH SPRINGS (FBW)—Only two weeks after his surgery to donate a kidney on May 19, Pastor Derek Lambert and his wife, Nichole, gave their testimonies in the evening service of his church, First Baptist Church in High Springs. On June 1, the couple sat on the stage as they talked about their journey of organ donation and his recovery after surgery.
Aug 11, 2014
SANTA ROSA BEACH (FBW)—Buddy Mullins, minister of music at Chapel at Crosspoint in Santa Rosa Beach, was recently inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame as a former member of the Gaither Vocal Band.

Mullins sang lead vocals with the Gaither Vocal Band for two years beginning in 1993 as part of the quartet with Bill Gaither, Mark Lowry and Terry Franklin, who was replaced by Jonathan Pierce. Mullins called the ever-changing ensemble “a fraternity of men who love each other.”
Aug 8, 2014
Scores of Florida Baptist churches are led by pastors who may be old enough to collect Social Security but are far from retirement. They balance the realities of growing older with the demands of growing congregations. Among those pastors are Ken Harrison, pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Ponce de Leon, and Stan Hannan, pastor of First Baptist Church in Belleview.
Aug 3, 2014
BONIFAY (FBW)—A new ministry of First Baptist Church in Bonifay will soon offer hope of recovery to men struggling with addictions. Plans for the F.A.R.M. (Faith-based Addiction Regeneration Ministry) are taking shape in “an unbelievable series of events,” according to Pastor Shelley Chandler.

Chandler said requests for help with addiction problems “began coming across my desk” 11 years ago, soon after arriving in Bonifay. Three years ago, men of the church began praying about a ministry to addicts. They met every Tuesday at 6:30 a.m., not missing more than five Tuesday mornings in three years, the pastor said.
Aug 1, 2014
GRACEVILLE (FBW)—The Baptist College of Florida is preparing for the rest of the 21st century. Its motto remains the same—“Changing the World through the Unchanging Word”—but BCF’s campus is changing at an accelerated pace.

BCF trustees endorsed the $20 million “20/20 Vision Program,” a comprehensive campus renovation, barely three months ago, and changes are already evident. BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen said the program title is a nod to the target year of completion and to a “perfect vision of a new campus.”
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