A Little More

About Us

For over 60 years, God has been using the Royal Palm Baptist Association to support pastors, strengthen churches, and connect ministries.

Here's a little more of our story ...

Our History

In 1957, several SBC pastors and churches in southwest Florida sensed the Lord leading them to come together to form the Royal Palm Baptist Association. Their goal was simple: to work together to reach southwest Florida with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Over the years, more churches were planted as the association kept growing under many Executive Directors – also called Associational Missionaries, Directors of Missions (DOM), and now Associational Mission Strategists (AMS).

In 2014, Dr. Mark Gonzales succeeded Everett Rafferty (who faithfully served for 28 years), and became the eighth man to serve as the Executive Director/AMS of our Royal Palm family of over 100 churches from Pine Island, North Ft.  Myers, and Cape Coral; through Ft. Myers, FM Beach, Estero, and Bonita Springs; down to Naples, Goodland and Marco Island; over to Everglades City, Golden Gate, and Immokalee; and back up to Lehigh, Olga, and Labelle!

Since 1987, Royal Palm has also been blessed to have Jennifer Horton faithfully serving as our very gifted, gracious, and knowledgeable Administrative Assistant.

Our Team

Dr. Mark Gonzales

Associational Mission Strategist

Brother Mark has served as the Executive Director / Associational Mission Strategist for the Royal Palm Baptist Association since July 2014.

He served as a church planter and pastor for 32 years, most recently here in Southwest Florida as the founder and lead pastor of Gateway Grace Fellowship, SBC from 1990 to 2014.

In early 2014, he sensed the Lord leading him away from local church ministry to focus on regional and global mission work, as he continues to serve as a radio broadcaster, author, columnist, consultant, and speaker.

He and his wife Lindy have seven grandchildren and three married sons who, along with their wives, actively serve the Lord in various ministries.

To get a glimpse of Dr. Mark’s heart, CLICK:  Media Missions and Resources.

Jennifer Horton

Administrative Assistant

Jennifer has served as the administrative assistant to the executive director/associational mission strategist since July 1987. 

Prior to her current position, she served as Secretary to the Minister of Education and Senior Adults at McGregor Baptist Church.

Jennifer has been an active member of  NAMA (National Association of Ministry Assistants) formerly the National Association of Southern Baptist Secretaries (NASBS) since 1989.

She served as their Vice President of Membership for the 2009-2011 term, president for the 2011-2013 term and currently serves as Historian.

For more information about the National Association of Ministry Assistants, visit www.NAMA-SBC.org.

Jennifer, her husband Larry, and their dog Lola live in Cape Coral. She and Larry are members at First Baptist Church of Pine Island.

Dr. David Acton

Lead Team

Pastor, New Hope Church, Cape Coral

Jim Olsen

Lead Team

Pastor, First Baptist Church Pine Island

Bill Vecchio

Lead Team

Pastor, Fort Myers Community Church

Frank Brand

Lead Team

Pastor, First Baptist Church of Estero

Les Morgan

Lead Team

Pastor, North Fort Myers First Baptist Church

Apply for Membership

We love welcoming new members into the family! If you would like to start the process of exploring membership, we would love to hear from you! Just give us a call at 239-433-2292.