October 25, 2007 Publishing Good News since 1884 Volume 124 Number 38

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Daytona Beach nominations declared: FBSC president Rice to run for 2nd term


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PENSACOLA (FBW)—William Rice, president of the Florida Baptist State Convention, will be nominated for a second term by Bob Greene, director of missions of the Pensacola Bay Baptist Association.

Rice, pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Clearwater since 2004, was unanimously elected FBSC president in 2006, and is eligible for nomination for a second one-year term at this year's annual meeting Nov. 12-13 in Daytona Beach.

William "Willy" Rice grew up in the 5,700-member congregation at Clearwater, and was called to preach, licensed and ordained there. He is a fourth generation Florida Baptist who accepted Christ while living in Tampa and was baptized at First Indian Rocks Baptist Church in Largo. He spent his early years at Calvary, mentored by long-time Calvary pastor William Anderson

Greene noted 41-year-old Rice was his pastor when Rice served as senior pastor of Hillcrest Baptist Church in Pensacola 1997-2004, before going to Clearwater.

In Rice's 24 years of ministry, he has served as pastor of five churches, ranging in size from 50 to over 5,700 members. At Calvary he has relocated the church facility from its downtown location to a new 30-acre campus with buildings of 180,999 square feet.

"I'm pleased that he has served us so well in his first term as president," Greene told Florida Baptist Witness. "I count it a high honor and a privilege to be able to place his name in nomination for a second term."

Greene said he believes the office of president is one that deserves a two-year term because it's one that comes with a great learning curve and it's during the second year that one person can finally begin to get to know pastors and churches and what their needs are.

"Willy loves pastors. Willy loves churches," Greene said. "He's made himself available to any church and every church in Florida and he's willing to drive the miles and he's willing to invest in the lives of Florida Baptists. And I like that, and I appreciate that.

"He has a pastor's heart and he has a passion for the Gospel and he has a passion for the people," Greene said.

Rice told the Witness he is excited about the possibility of serving for a second term and is thankful for the "wisdom" and foresight Florida Baptists had in making it possible to be eligible to be serve another term.

In the first year, Rice said he has been invited to travel around the state and speak in some churches at a few associational events. A highlight, he said, was traveling to Haiti, where Florida Baptists have ongoing partnership missions work.

"I am the first sitting president that had ever come," Rice said, "I enjoyed that opportunity and was moved by what people face and what the struggle is down there."

Rice said it was "heartening" to see the church planting efforts and ministries Florida Baptists support. Just walking in, he said, was a moment he will remember for a long time.

"I don't think you appreciate it until you go and see it yourself," Rice said. "It encourages you and it encourages them."

Another highlight of this past year was traveling to Miami where Rice said he was exposed to "the breadth of Baptist work."

"Incredible ethnic diversity," is what you see, Rice said. "You hear about it all the time, but until you see it you don't think to appreciate it. It's like doing international mission work. It's not an embellishment, it really is like international missions."

Rice said the Anglo churches that are thriving are creative and "out-of-the-box" and have to be that way in order to connect with the culture he said—which is predominantly Haitian, Hispanic and Brazilian. Rice said traveling to Miami forced him reflect on some serious issues.

"Not all Florida Baptists speak English, but they are part of the Convention," Rice asked. "Do they go on the website? Do they read the Witness? Do they go to the Convention? Do we do enough to draw them into the family? Everything's in English. I have a new appreciation for what they are doing down there."

If elected to a second term, Rice said he wants to emphasize through teaching principles in small groups and in association settings how churches can become strong, dynamic and healthy.

"The passion of my heart is that I'm a pastor," Rice said.

Rice is a graduate of Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. with a Bachelor of Arts degree (1985) and the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree (1990) and a Doctor of Ministry degree (1996).

Married to the former Cheryl Baker they have three children, Amanda Leigh, Anna Ruth and Stephen Benjamin.