West Virginia Southern Baptists who have acknowledged and are pursuing a call to ministry are now eligible for a tuition-free education from the Baptist College of Florida.
A formal signing took place for the new partnership during the April 10 Executive Board meeting of the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists. Signees were Dr. Thomas Kinchen, Baptist College of Florida President and Eric W. Ramsey, WVCSB Executive Director-Treasurer.
Dr. Kinchen, who also served as West Virginia’s third executive director from 1986 to 1990, told WVCSB Executive Board members, “I don’t know what your questions might be, but the answer is yes; whatever we can do, however we can do, whenever we can do, please know that West Virginia is in my heart.” He drew laughs from the board while sharing, “I was sitting here remembering the last time I attended a meeting in this room was the celebration that they threw when I left.” Dr. Kinchen has served as Baptist College of Florida President since accepting the role in 1990.
Ramsey explained both he and Dr. Kinchen “believe the future of churches in North America will largely be led by bivocational pastors – those who do not receive a full-time salary from the church but hold additional jobs to support their families.” The free-tuition partnership understanding allows for the pursuit of any degree program, but students will also be encouraged to pursue a theological education whether it be a major, double major, minor, or graduate degree. A four year degree at the Baptist College of Florida is currently priced at $45k.
“On behalf of West Virginia Southern Baptists,” Ramsey said, “the generosity that the Baptist College of Florida is extending to us is very kind and an incredible demonstration of Dr. Kinchen’s love and kingdom mindedness, and we are grateful to him and the BCF Board of Trustees for loving West Virginia.”
The goal is to equip pastors and missionaries from West Virginia for a life of gospel multiplication in and through West Virginia. In order to apply for the program, students must be a member in good standing at a cooperating West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists Church, be affirmed in a call to ministry by their church, and meet the requirements for admission to the Baptist College of Florida.
“I’m honored and privileged to get to come back,” Dr. Kinchen concluded, “Many places you leave and you don’t know if you can go back or not. But I feel like I can come back to West Virginia, and I am so grateful for that.”