History of

Florida General Baptist Convention, Inc.

Records of the organization of a state convention in Florida began with a resolution by the Rev James Page of the Bethlehem Association during its 1873 Association meeting in March.  This resolution called for the formation of a convention five months later, and comprised of “two Associations instead of one.”
The records show that the convention was organized in March, 1874, in keeping with the above, and adopted the name “Florida Bethlehem Baptist State Convention.”  The elected officers were:  President, Elder John A. Potter, of Monticello; Secretary, Elder John N. Stokes, Sr. of Tallahassee, and Treasurer, Elder C. B. Simmons of Jacksonville.  At the March meeting a total of 56 churches were represented.
In 1875, at the session of the Convention held at the African Baptist Church, in Live Oak, February 12 – 13, the name was changed to the “Convention of the Missionary Baptist Churches of Florida.”  This was to help with distinguishing between the Bethlehem Association and the Convention.  
Several new associations were formed following the 1873 resolution calling for the formation of more associations.  Among these in 1874 was Jerusalem Baptist Association, covering chiefly Alachua County with Gainesville as the center, and Rev. Frank Dansey serving as its first moderator.  In 1875 the Second Bethlehem Baptist Association was formed, covering territory primarily of Marion County, with Ocala as the headquarters, and Rev. Samuel Small serving as its first moderator.
Other associations formed between 1874 and 1879 included the Nazarene Association, comprising a territory extending from Putnam County to as far South as Hillsborough County.  This Association later merged with the Second Bethlehem, and the name “Nazarene” was dropped.  The Central Association’s territory included Columbia, Hamilton, and Suwannee Counties with headquarters in Lake City.  The First West Florida Association was headed by Rev. Robert Ahrens and included the churches in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, with Pensacola as headquarters.  The Second West Florida Association, formed in 1874, had its headquarters in Marianna and included churches in Jackson and Gadsden Counties.  The Rev. Richard Ellis of Greenwood served as its first moderator.  Each of these associations extended its territory as churches developed in adjacent counties.
At the 1880 session of the Convention, the name was changed again. This time the name became

“Baptist State Convention of Florida.”

In 1881, an invitation was sent Second Baptist, Nazarene, Jerusalem and East Florida Associations, asking them to meet at the State Convention convening at the Bethel Baptist Church in Jacksonville, on Thursday before the second Lord’s Day in February.  The purpose was to form a general Convention for the State of Florida to work for increased support of the newly established school, Florida Institute at Live Oak and also the work of extending the Master’s Kingdom.  This meeting was not to form a new Convention, but to revise the name and constitution of the Florida Baptist State Convention.
April 30, 1909, Certificate No. 21025 was filed and the Baptist General State Convention of Florida became Incorporation.  The name of the Corporation was the “Baptist General State Convention of Florida.”  The names on the application for the Corporation were: Frank W. Lancaster, Jacksonville; J. O. Brooks, Jacksonville; G. W. Brooks, Jacksonville; N. W. Collier, Jacksonville; and C. S. Daniels, Jacksonville.
On January 6, 1984 a name change amendment was filed and the “Baptist General State Convention of Florida,” became “The Florida General Baptist Convention, Inc.” during the presidency of Dr. Henry J. Lyons.


Rev. John A. Potter, Monticello
Rev. John N. Stokes, Sr. Tallahassee  
Rev. Samuel Small, Ocala   
Rev. Frank Dansey, Gainesville  
Rev. John A. Potter, Monticello   
Rev. John N. Stokes, Sr., Tallahassee   
Rev. W. Ashbury Wilkerson, Flemington
Rev. Joseph P. Hankerson, Tallahassee  
Rev. George W. Raiford, Pensacola 
Rev. Joseph P. Hankerson, Tallahassee 
Dr. George P. McKinney, Live Oak
Rev. W. C. Brown, Jacksonville  
Rev. John N. Stokes, Jr., Deland
Dr. J. A. F. Finlayson, Daytona Beach 
Dr. A. B. Coleman, Jacksonville  
Dr. George E. Weaver, Ft. Lauderdale   
Dr. Henry J. Lyons, St. Petersburg 
Dr. James C. Wise, Miami
Dr. Arthur Jackson, Miami 
Dr. Fred Maeweather, Ocala
Dr. George McRae, Miami
Dr. James B. Sampson, Jacksonville

Dr. C.P. Preseton, Jr., Miami

1874 - 1881
1881 - 1883
1883 - 1883
1883 - 1884
1884 - 1887
1887 - 1890
1890 - 1894
1894 - 1899
1899 - 1903

1903 - 1909

1909 - 1919

1919 - 1930

1930 - 1941

1941 - 1969

1969 - 1977

1977 - 1981

1981 - 1996

1996 - 2002

2002 - 2002

2002 - 2003
2003 - 2007

2007 - 2018

2018 - present


Mrs. E. M. Bailey, Fernandina

Mrs. A. A. Johnson, Ocala

Mrs. Anna M. Holman, Tampa

Mrs. Susie M. Mitchell, Ocala

Mrs. Pennie A. James, St. Petersburg

Mrs. Viola T. Hill, Orlando

Mrs. Susie C. Holley, Ft. Lauderdale

Mrs. Celestine Dixon, Pensacola

Mrs. Sarah Rice, Jacksonville

Mrs. Naomi W, Bentley, Daytona Beach

Mrs. Patricia T. Carter, Ft. Lauderdale

Mrs. Virginia P. Hayes, Orlando

Mrs. Audrey White, Jacksonville

1890 – 1891

1891 – 1893

1893 – 1903

1903 – 1909

1909 – 1919

1919 – 1955

1955 – 1980

1980 – 1990

1990 – 1995

1995 – 2005

2005 – 2013

2013 - 2018

2018 - present

The Florida General Baptist Convention, Inc. purchased land in 1984 in Putnam County for a retreat site under the administration of Dr. Henry J. Lyons.  The retreat site is known as the Indian Lake Retreat.

The headquarters for the Florida General Baptist Convention is located in Daytona Beach, FL.  The building was purchased during the administration of Dr. James C. Wise.


Rev. Dr. C.P. Preston was elected the Convention’s 23rd president during its Annual Session in April, 2018 in Jacksonville, FL.  Dr. Preston is the 4th pastor from the city of Miami to serve as President of this great convention.


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2007 Florida General Baptist Convention, Inc.

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