2019 Baptist Heritage Award Recipient: Dr. Thomas Kinchen
Dr. Thomas Kinchen, as president of The Baptist College of Florida, readily offered to accept stewardship of the Florida Baptist Historical Collection which had been surrendered by Stetson University in the late-1990s. The collection, which at the time, contained nearly 1000 volumes of unique publications on Florida Baptist church histories and other significant volumes related to Southern Baptist history, was added to the library collection of The Baptist College of Florida.
Additionally, Dr. Kinchen made provision on the college campus to accommodate at no cost the offices of the Florida Baptist Historical Society for nearly two decades between 1998 and 2017. In a rare effort to retain and restore historically significant Baptist church buildings, Dr. Kinchen conceived and led the college board of trustees to approve the establishment of the Heritage Village on the college campus. The Heritage Village is comprised of an eight-acre site on the northeast corner of the college property. The Village features mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century wood frame structures consisting of three churches, a school building, a WPA-constructed community center and five former residences. All the structures were removed from their original locations in the Florida Panhandle and South Georgia and transported to the Village. Once re-located the buildings were renovated to provide modern electrical and plumbing services and were restored to retain the integrity of the building’s original architectural design and construction.
Dr. Kinchen has served as college president since 1990, when the school was still known as the Florida Baptist Theological College. He came to the Graceville school from the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists where he served as the Executive Secretary-Treasurer from 1986. He previously served as a pastor of churches in Georgia and Louisiana. Dr. Kinchen also served several academic-administrative positions on the staff of the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary prior to going to West Virginia.
The Thomasville, Georgia, native graduated from the Georgia Southern College with a B.A. degree, and the University of Georgia, with a Master of Education degree. He later attended the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary earning a Master of Divinity degree and the Doctor of Education degree.
[For full article see LEGACY newsletter October, 2019.]