Pictured Above: (left to right) Ted Traylor, Tommy Green, Clayton Cloer, and Willy Rice at the inauguration of Clayton Cloer as the seventh president of The Baptist College of Florida.
GRACEVILLE–The Baptist College of Florida inaugurated Clayton Cloer as it seventh president in a ceremony April 25 on the school’s main campus in Graceville.
Cloer began serving the college as president-elect on Nov. 1, 2022, and assumed his presidential duties on Jan. 1, 2023.
As Cloer moved into the presidential role, RC Mills, chairman of the college’s presidential search committee, described Cloer as “a leader who will honor the legacy of the college while also casting a vision for the future.”
During the inauguration service, Tommy Green, Florida Baptists’ executive director-treasurer, commissioned BCF faculty to strive for excellence in their spiritual, academic and classroom lives. He called on each faculty member to have an “unrelenting zeal for maturity … uncompromising passion to educate … and unwavering commitment to inspire.”
Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, encouraged Cloer to keep BCF “lashed to the Rock” of Jesus Christ, knowing that persecution will come. “We can stand on that Rock, and we must,” he said, as Cloer was presented with a Bible.
Cloer’s uncle, Michael Cloer, pastor emeritus of Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, said that the new BCF president is uniquely prepared to lead the college. Cloer, he said, is “a multifaceted leader for such a time as this.”
In his “charge to the president,” Willy Rice pastor of Calvary Church in Clearwater, said, “I suppose there is no greater charge I could give a new president than this charge … keep the faith. Keep this school latched to God’s truth; keep it latched to a partnership with the church and its mission; keep it latched to historic Baptist principles and cooperation.”
Rice continued, “Stay close to the people of God. … Stay grounded in the word of God. …
Stay committed to the mission of God.”
Concluding his message, Rice said, “Our prayer, and I know yours, is that you will give the rest of your days to leading this school to play a pivotal role in the advancement of God’s kingdom. May God raise you and this institution up to send out a generation of champions, grounded on the truth and called to the mission.”
In an emotional message, Cloer recounted God’s many blessings in his life. However, he noted that a “sewer pipe” had broken in our communities and nation, spewing forth agony and darkness. Persecution is coming for Christians, he said, “like a freight train.”
‘Our Maker is on a mission. He’s going to do something amazing.’
In spite of the world’s darkness and the coming persecution, Cloer reminded those in attendance, “Our God reigns and operates in this context so well. … I believe a mighty revival is coming our way. … Our Maker is on a mission. He’s going to do something amazing.”
He called on students to seek, obey and teach the law of God.
Inviting all current students to stand in front of the stage for the closing prayer, Cloer said, “Let’s do it together. Let’s see what God will do through us.”
The inauguration service also included reflections from two current students; Michael Orr, a BCF graduate and pastor of nearby First Baptist Church in Chipley; and Robin Jumper, the college’s academic dean. Orr declared that BCF’s “greatest days are ahead.”
Additionally, BCF’s College Singers presented two musical selections during the service.
BCF’s newly inaugurated president succeeds Thomas Kinchen, who led the college’s expansion and growth for three decades.
Cloer previously served as senior pastor of the Church at the Cross in Orlando. Cloer has also served as a board member of the Florida Baptist Convention and president of the Florida Baptist Pastors’ Conference (2009). He earned an undergraduate degree from Clemson University in South Carolina and a master’s degree and a doctorate from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Tennessee.
He and his wife, Linda, have two young adult sons.
The college, founded in 1943, is an institute of higher education designed to train and develop Christian leaders for the church and marketplace through offering numerous undergraduate and graduate degree programs. The college is a cooperating ministry of the Florida Baptist State Convention, operating campuses in Graceville and Central Florida, with plans to establish a third campus in Miami.
The college’s board of trustees voted in November 2021 to begin the process of BCF attaining university status and changing the institution’s name to Baptist University of Florida.