2021 Baptist Heritage Award Recipient: Donald S. Hepburn
The Florida Baptist Historical Society, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the award recognizing effective preservation and promotion of Florida Baptist history, is pleased to announce that the 2021 recipient of the Baptist Heritage Award is Donald S. Hepburn of Jacksonville, Florida.
In considering a potential candidate to be the 2021 Baptist Heritage Award recipient, the Board of Directors of the Florida Baptist Historical Society determined there was one noteworthy individual who has had a long history of contributing to the preservation and promotion of Florida Baptist history: Donald S. Hepburn. A native of St. Petersburg, Florida, Hepburn is the co-author, with the late Dr. E. Earl Joiner (b. 1924; d. 1997), of the book, Favored Florida, A History of Florida Baptists, Volume One 1784 – 1939, published in 2013. He is currently working on volume two of the book. Additionally, he has written over 17 articles for the Journal of Florida Baptist Heritage. Since 2017, Hepburn has served as the volunteer Managing Director (Secretary-Treasurer) of the Florida Baptist Historical Society for which he does not receive compensation.
Hepburn's earliest relationship with the Historical Society dates from 1994 until 2015, during which time he served as the Florida Baptist Convention staff liaison to the Society as the designee on behalf of the executive director-treasurer of the Convention. In that liaison role he was assigned to draft the appropriate documents, subsequently approved by the State Board of Missions and the Florida Baptist State Convention to: (1) dissolve the Historical Society as an agency of the State Convention; (2) authorized that the Florida Baptist History Collection of books and memorabilia to be transferred from Stetson University to The Baptist College of Florida; (3) established a re-defined Historical Society as an entity operating under the auspices of the State Board of Missions; and (4) drafted the Governing Document for the re-defined Historical Society.
Hepburn’s commitment to the mission and ministry of the Historical Society was reflected in his efforts to lead the Historical Society Board of Directors to approve the establishment of a Society Endowment fund. To underscore Hepburn’s commitment to the future mission of the Society he donated the majority seed money to establish the fund managed by the Florida Baptist Financial Services.
During his professional career, Hepburn was a public relations management specialist who worked a combined 45 years for several Southern Baptist-related entitles. Before retiring in 2015, Hepburn served 32 years as the public relations director of the Florida Baptist Convention (1983 – 2015). His previous service included: director of communications, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (1970 – 1978); and director of Office of Communications and Public Relations, The Southern Baptist General Convention of California (1978 – 1983). He is a graduate of Carson Newman College (now University); Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and the University of San Francisco/College of Professional Studies. Hepburn resides in Jacksonville, Florida, where he is a member of the First Baptist Church.