Dr. Howard L. Gates served as Pastor of First Baptist Church from 1987 through Jan 31st, 2018, when he retired but remained in the local area and as a member of First Baptist Church FWB.
A native of Louisiana, Dr. Gates graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.A. in 1970. While a student there, he felt God's call into Christian vocational service. After graduation, he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, receiving the M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees. Prior to his tenure in Ft. Walton Beach, Dr. Gates served as pastor of Driftwood Baptist Church (Driftwood, TX), Manor Baptist Church (Manor, TX), Harris Memorial Baptist Church (Austin, TX), and First Baptist Church (Rosenberg, TX). Our pastor has also been active in denominational life, preaching at the Southern Baptist Pastor's Conference and chairing the SBC Committee on Committees. He has served as Chairman of the Committee on Order of Business for the Florida Baptist Convention and as Vice- Chairman of the Board of Trustees for The Baptist College of Florida located in Graceville. Dr. Gates has also written Sunday School lesson commentaries for the "Florida Baptist Witness." Dr. Gates has 2 adult children, Stephanie and Matt, and is married to his lovely wife Janelle.
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