GRACEVILLE (FBW)—The Baptist College of Florida has approved full funding for an endowed faculty chair in honor of Florida Baptist Convention Executive Director-Treasurer Dr. John Sullivan.
The approval comes after BCF President Thomas A. Kitchen recommended that the College's Board of Trustees approve the naming of the chair to be known as the John Sullivan Chair of Cooperative Program Ministries.
"During his (25-year) tenure as Executive Director-Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Convention, Dr. John Sullivan has been a stalwart supporter of the Cooperative Program," Kitchen wrote in a recent email to the Witness. "Under his leadership the Convention and the College have been blessed by millions of dollars coming from Florida Baptists and going to the world. Dr. Sullivan has been a consistent friend to the College and to me as its President."
Several years ago, The Baptist College of Florida set aside $250,000 from an estate gift to be used for the establishment of a Chair of Cooperative Program Ministries. At that time, the State Board of Missions of the Florida Baptist Convention allocated $100,000 from overages for the Chair and indicated that they would allocate $100,000 per year from overages until the Chair had reached its fully funded status of $750,000.
"As we all know, the economy went into a downward spiral; and there have been no years of plentiful overages for the Convention for several years," Kitchen wrote. "Thus the partial funding of the Chair of Cooperative Program Ministries has remained at $350,000.
"The reason for the establishment of the Chair is that the Cooperative Program has been the primary lifeline for Southern Baptist missions and ministries ever since it was established in 1925. It is not a sacred cow, but it is what I believe to be a God ordained and blessed mechanism through which the world has been immeasurably blessed.
"When I arrived at The Baptist College of Florida in 1990, the Cooperative Program allocation from the state convention budget equaled 65 percent of the College’s operating budget. Currently that percentage is approximately 21 percent. During that 24-year period actual Cooperative Program dollars coming to the College have increased, but with budget growth the percentages have decreased. Our loyalty to Florida Baptists and our joy in being a member of the Florida Baptist Convention family are not tied to percentages but to mission and identity.
"At this time when there is much discussion about the Cooperative Program and its place within Southern Baptist mission support, I am convinced that it is absolutely appropriate that The Baptist College of Florida complete the funding of the Chair that was started earlier. There are many ways to support missions and ministries. The Cooperative Program has been our most consistent and effective way,” Kitchen continued. “We will do well to recognize the strength of our past as we assess the present and launch into the future. It is also absolutely fitting that we also name the Chair for an individual who has contributed greatly to the life of the College through Cooperative Program support as well as other allocations for the College’s growth and wellbeing."
In order to facilitate the process of naming the Chair of Cooperative Program Ministries, Kitchen recently conducted a poll of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees of The Baptist College of Florida asking for their approval in that venture. They were unanimous in their approval.
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