Fran Buhler possesses a unique background and experience which includes a 21- year ministry career, plus a prior 27-year marketing and business development career. From Fran’s two decades of grief ministry, conducting 776 funerals and memorial services, came first "the grief letter," and now the full-length book, titled: “The Grief Letter”
FRAN BUHLER BIO
He grew up in Lebanon, Tennessee, a preacher’s kid. He is a 1962 graduate of Carson Newman University, where he was elected student government president, voted football captain and selected all conference quarterback. In both high school and college, Fran helped teammates and class mates deal with team member and class member deaths.
Seminary Preparation: His education includes biblical theology, psychology of religion and pastoral care. TGL draws on the author’s graduate education from both the Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, completing his divinity degree in 1966, including Professional Certification in Clinical Pastoral Care.
Pastoral Experience/Church Leadership/All at one Church (FBC of Tallahassee, Florida): Fran has two decades of pastoral leadership and grief ministry experience. Fran’s pastoral and ministry duties include: Interim Pastor/Ministry Coordinator 1993-94; Associate Pastor/Director of Ministry 1995-2012; Interim Pastor 2012-13; Associate Pastor/Director of Ministry 2013-14.
First Baptist Church of Tallahassee: Buhler’s church averaged three dozen deaths a year. He performed or assisted in 776 funerals and graveside services. His two decades of pastoral grief experience were in a flagship church in its prime, 168 years old, a congregation blessed with multiple demographics in its ministries---Children, Youth, College, Young Adults, Singles, Hearing Impaired, Internationals, Adults and Senior Adults.
Family: Fran is the oldest of six siblings, the father of three children, the grandfather of seven, and is soon to be a great-grandfather. He has been married 55 years to his high school sweetheart.
21-YEAR MINISTRY HIGHLIGHTS
Fran Buhler led his church in 1993 as Interim Ministry Coordinator to begin a downtown “open house” hospitality “connecting” ministry supporting two signature community events, “Springtime Tallahassee” and “The Tallahassee Winter Festival,” offering restrooms, baby comfort station, hospitality coffee, cider and snacks. These events have become an annual FBC/T community service and connecting ministry tradition for 24 years.
As Associate Pastor / Director of Ministry: Organized a 7-church inter-faith partnership to staff the FBC Christian Life Center to serve as the Tallahassee Cold Night Shelter host for the 75 to 150 overflow from the city homeless shelter when temperatures dipped below 39*. This 15-year ministry bridged to construction of a new Tallahassee Homeless facility.
Frequent host and panel member of a five-member clergy panel for a monthly city-wide “Faith, Food, Friday” discussion of faith and community issues, sponsored by “The Village Square,” with an interfaith luncheon audience of 150 citizens.
Invited by the Florida State University College of Social Work to participate with a Jewish Rabbi, a Catholic priest and an African-American Pastor in panel discussions and local TV social justice promos, raising community awareness of domestic violence.
Coordinated FBC staff and member support for “First Love,” an annual October Saturday of “community service”, addressing 40 ministry and service projects, completed in a single day, from 1995 to the present.
Authored seven in-home worship-discussion guides for Summer Sunday evenings in church member homes, including: “Exercises for the Soul,” “Rivers of Grace and Gladness,” and “Life in the Key of Joy.” Authored a Sunday Morning Bible Study “Leader Guide” to support an 8-week sermon series on the “gospel” of Nehemiah: “Love Tallahassee: Neighboring Our Community with the Love of Christ.”
Invited for 21 years by “The Tallahassee Democrat” daily newspaper to give the annual Invocation for the Volunteer of the Year Awards Luncheon, honoring community volunteers in a city-wide event drawing 450 paying guests.
During his 21 years of service, Buhler spoke at numerous conferences sponsored by denominational and faith-based organizations seeking to impact church growth, best ministry practices and professional development.
2014 recipient of the Dr. Findley Edge Award for Leadership in Christian Education, a statewide Florida award for outstanding ministry.
Recipient of City of Tallahassee Mayor and City Commission 2014 recognition for outstanding leadership and community service.
PRIOR MARKETING AND CONSULTING CAREER
Former White House Press Secretary, Bill Moyers, profiled Fran Buhler in Moyer’s best-selling book, Listening to America, when Fran directed a rural community development project in a South Carolina community with a per capita income among the lowest ten percent of counties in the US in the heated civil rights era of the late 1960s, also featured in Harper’s Magazine. Buhler led in the appointment of an inter-racial Community Planning Committee, secured $1.34 million in funding for a regional wastewater treatment facility, stimulating $6 million in industrial expansion, creating much-needed new jobs. Buhler also secured state and federal funding for low-income, integrated, single family housing.
Fran mentored returning Peace Corps Volunteers with job search training in San Francisco and Washington, DC Transition Centers, a program profiled nationally in Harper’s Magazine.
In Washington, DC, Buhler managed a national municipal task force of mayors and city officials for the National League of Cities and the US Conference of Mayors, funded by the US Department of Environmental Protection, focused on the nation’s waste disposal crisis in the 1970s, including regional conferences across the US to promote what is now accepted “best practices” in solid waste collection and disposal---marking the end of “open dumping of waste” in the US.
Fran Buhler drafted and managed in 1990 the successful proposal of a Florida firm to the Republic of Poland Ministry of Environment for the first US environmental engineering firm selected under the World Bank-funded US Trade and Development Program to assist Eastern Europe with hazardous waste clean-up after the Soviet Union Communist withdrawal.
Buhler’s private sector marketing and consulting experience includes Director of Special Projects, managing Washington, DC and Tallahassee offices for a Boston consulting firm, 1980-88; and Vice President for Business Development, managing southeast US marketing for a Florida engineering firm from offices in Tallahassee and Orlando, 1989-92.
Fran Buhler has given speeches in 50 cities across the US, spoken in 20 churches and published two dozen articles in journals and national magazines.
As the 1991 founder of Enterprise Communications, Inc., Buhler was the writer-editor of “1st Place Marketing Letter”, a subscription newsletter, “The Marketing SOURCE for Engineering, Environmental and Technical Services”, selected by the Small Business Institute of the FSU College of Business as a small business study project for 1992. Buhler closed his business to join the staff of his church in 1993.