Over Sixty-Five Years of Responsible Stewardship
The Florida Baptist Foundation was incorporated in 1947
under the leadership of then Executive Secretary of the Florida Baptist
Convention, Dr. John
Maguire. The corporate documents of the
Florida Baptist Foundation indicate that "the objects of this corporation are to
solicit, encourage, motivate, and facilitate the making of gifts, donations and
benefactions by deed, will, gift, annuity contracts or otherwise, for the
advancement, promotion, and maintenance of the Florida Baptist State Convention
and the various causes and objects now or at anytime hereafter fostered,
approved, endorsed or officially sanctioned by the Florida Baptist State
Convention or the Southern Baptist Convention, and for any other purpose
embraced within the scope of the objects of this corporation as set forth in
For the first few years of its existence, the Foundation was not directed by an
employee of the Board, but by trustees elected by the Convention. In the next
several years the work grew to the point where it was more than a lay committee
of the Convention could handle adequately. In 1951 some of the responsibility
for the work of the Foundation came to be carried by J. Harrison Griffin who headed the Department of Christian
Education. Upon his retirement in 1952 the State Board of Missions voted to
discontinue the Department of Christian Education.
After 1952, the work of the Foundation was handled for four years
by the Foundation committee together with the Executive Secretary-Treasurer,
Dr. John Maguire. In 1956, the State
Board approved the employment of G. A.
Leichliter as Executive Secretary of the Foundation.
During those years the volume of work done by the Foundation increased
considerably as several different endowment funds were established for various
institutions and causes of Florida Baptists such as Stetson University, the
Children's Home and Baptist Bible Institute (now Baptist College of Florida).
In 1962, Gus Johnson
was elected to replace Mr.
Leichliter who was retiring and the office was
moved from Plant City
to Jacksonville. Under Johnson's leadership, the Foundation
continued to administer trusts and endowment funds for various Florida Baptist
institutions. One of the highlights of his work during the 1960's was his
assignment by the Convention as director of the special campaign to raise $1.5
million for Stetson University and $500,000 for Baptist Bible
Institute. During 1969, the Foundation assisted in preparing wills and
administering funds involving over $1 million. Mr. Johnson
retired in 1981.
Dr. Borders retired in early 2001 and Eddie
L. McClelland was named new Executive Director-Treasurer
of the organization. From those early days in 1947 and from the vision of a few
dedicated Baptists, the Florida Baptist Foundation has grown and expanded to a
corporate entity that is fully capable of providing services and products to
Florida Baptists including banking services, trust and estate planning services,
investment services, church loan opportunities, and senior adult housing and
healthcare provisions that will not only help individual Florida Baptists and
churches meet their stewardship needs, but will generate millions of dollars to
support the Lord's work in Florida and around the world.