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Our History

Our History

Over Seventy Years of Responsible Stewardship

Incorporated in 1947

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 this charter."

The  First Few Years

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.

In the 1950's

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).

The 1960's

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.

2000 until the present

Dr. Borders retired in early 2001 and Eddie L. McClelland was named new Executive Director-Treasurer of the organization and served until his retirement in 2019.  In January of 2020, Dr. Rick Wheeler began his tenure when he was elected as the fifth Executive Director-Treasurer of the Florida Baptist Foundation.  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 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 financial resources to support the Lord's work in Florida and around the world.