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First Coast Connect

11/8/2017: FSU Greek Ban; Glourious Bethlehem Church; Planned Giving; Amelia Island Film Festival

Photo © Sarah Sha

Wednesday on First Coast Connect, we spoke with Bloomberg News senior editor and author of “True Gentlemen: The Broken Pledge of American Fraternities,” John Hechingerabout Florida State University suspending all greek life on campus indefinitely (01:13).   

We heard the story of Glorious Bethlehem Temple church in Jacksonville that took on the Florida Department of Transportation and won with pastor Donald Richardson (24:10).        

Planned Giving Officer Cliff Evans with the Catholic Foundation, Diocese of St. Augustine and Annie Tutt with the United Way talked about the 25h anniversary of the Planned Giving Council (34:16).           

Patty Smith and Chuck Oliva told us about the upcoming  Amelia Island Rendezvous Film Festival (46:00).

FSU Greek Ban

It’s been a disturbing trend at universities around the country. Just this year, fraternity pledges have died during hazing rituals at Penn State, Louisiana State and now, Florida State University.

FSU President John Thrasher took a bold step after the death on his campus. He has suspended all fraternities and sororities indefinitely, saying the university has a serious problem.

The suspension follows the death of 20-year-old Andrew Coffey, a Pi Kappa Phi pledge, and the recent arrest of 20-year-old Garrett John Marcy, a Phi Delta Theta fraternity member who is accused of selling cocaine.

Credit Kevin Meerschaert / WJCT
Pastor Donald Richardson and his son Derrick Richardson join First Coast Connect host Melissa Ross.

Glorious Bethlehem Temple

It’s the resolution to a classic David versus Goliath battle on Jacksonville’s Southbank. A few years ago the Florida Department of Transportation began the I-95 Overland Bridge Project. At that time, FDOT bought up several properties to do the highway work, but a small church on Wister Street held out. Glorious Bethlehem Temple had been in its Southside location for nearly six decades and had no plans to leave. The state offered the church $390,000 to move but the church said no.

FDOT filed an eminent domain lawsuit, but the church fought back. After nearly eight years of legal action the little guy won and received what the congregation believes is a fairer settlement price for the building.

This weekend they’re celebrating at their new location at 2051 Ashland Street with a fall festival from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday along with a concert at 7:30 p.m. and a dedication service at 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The Planned Giving Council

The Planned Giving Council is celebrating its 25th anniversary on the First Coast. The group plays a huge role in philanthropy in this area.

Our guests talked about how promoting philanthropy in northeast Florida through planned gifts has changed over the Past 25 Years.

Nov. 14 is National Philanthropy Day. There will be a luncheon at the downtown Hyatt Regency to honor local philanthropists.

Amelia Island Rendezvous Film Festival

It’s a celebration of independent film. The Amelia Island Rendezvous Film Festival is set for Nov. 16 to Nov. 18.

The highlight features a Q&A with filmmaker John Sayles director of the acclaimed “Sunshine State” filmed on Amelia Island.

The movie screens Nov. 17 followed by a conversation with Sayles.

Kevin Meerschaert can be reached at, 904-358-6334 or on Twitter at @KMeerschaertJax.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.