President's Report to Messengers at 2010 SBC Annual Meeting
Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, began his report on June 16 at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention June 15-16 in Orlando, Fla., by telling the messengers, "Golden Gate Seminary continues to fulfill its mission of shaping leaders who expand God’s kingdom around the world. You have placed us in the American West to prepare global leaders. We are delighted to report your seminary on the West Coast is healthy and doing what you have asked us to do – shaping leaders who will change our world."
Iorg introduced the seminary’s strategic plan, a guide to the academic year 2019-2020, when the five-campus system will celebrate its 75th anniversary This will be the diamond anniversary, hence the plan is called "The Diamond Plan" and states the seminary’s mission, vision, values, and goals for the next ten years.
"A key part of creating this plan was restating our core values," Iorg said, listing and explaining the seminary’s core values. "First, we believe the Bible is the Word of God," he said. "Because our campuses are located in some of the most spiritually challenging areas of our country, with our primary campus near San Francisco, standing for biblical positions – on issues like sexuality, medical ethics, protection for the unborn, and gender identity – makes us a definite minority. It’s not easy to stand for things we believe in, but we do it. We believe the Bible, live the Bible, teach the Bible, and trust God to use its message to transform lives."
He told his listeners to be encouraged by the seminary’s example. "When you find yourself in a community or culture that doesn’t share your values, stand strong anyway! You can stand for truth, live the gospel, reach the lost, and yes, even raise a healthy family in these trying circumstances." He reminded the messengers that Golden Gate is training leaders to stand strong in "a hurricane of cultural opposition and societal change."
The second value Iorg listed was being Spirit-empowered. "At Golden Gate, we admit we are not big enough, wealthy enough, or smart enough to accomplish anything of eternal consequence," he said. "We are not ashamed to admit we need the power of the Holy Spirit for our work."
The third value was strengthening churches. "The church – local, organized, and covenanted – is God’s plan, and will always be God’s plan for discipling the nations," Iorg said. "At Golden Gate, we are shaping leaders to start churches, revive churches, and lead churches."
As a corollary, Iorg noted that Golden Gate has a renewed passion for training pastors. "Many students come to seminary these days willing to do almost anything in ministry – except be a pastor," he said. "We are confronting this at Golden Gate. We believe pastors are significant kingdom leaders. We are elevating the call to pastoral ministry and challenging students to take on this important office. "
Another value was embracing the multicultural community. The president said, "Leaders of our national accrediting agency have called Golden Gate the most multi-cultural seminary in North America. As the next step in the expansion of our multinational program, we anticipate launching a new Master of Intercultural Ministry degree in the fall of 2011 to further prepare leaders for multi-ethnic, multinational ministries not only in the U.S. but around the world."
He explained, "Now a plan must have more than values, it must also be implemented." One of the first implementation steps was to employ an independent firm to objectively survey a broad spectrum of Southern Baptists to discover what people think about Golden Gate. He shared two highlights of what was learned.
"First, Southern Baptists across the United States have a high regard for Golden Gate. In the Western United States, 95% of people surveyed said they have a "favorable" or "somewhat favorable" opinion of the seminary."
Secondly, one of the strengths seminary alumni reported was the strong commitment to Baptist theology and the biblical preparation they received at Golden Gate. "We are a Baptist seminary – without apology," Iorg said. "At Golden Gate, we teach students biblically-based Baptist doctrine and practice. And, based on our survey responses, students are living out the training they receive."
"As I conclude, let me remind you how you can help us," Iorg said. "First, pray for us. Many of you pray for us and send us notes of encouragement. Keep it up. We need it."
Iorg asked his listeners to prioritize Cooperative Program giving in their churches. "The Cooperative Program funds employees at Golden Gate Seminary. It also funds students by enabling us to keep tuition low." He explained the reason for low tuition is so graduates can depart seminary unencumbered by significant debt. "Golden Gate graduates are leaving for the mission fields across the Western U.S. and around the World because of your giving through the Cooperative Program."
"Finally, you can help us by sending us students," Iorg said. "Our survey showed the most important factor in a student’s choice of seminary is still a personal recommendation from a friend or mentor. Your influence matters more than a website, brochure, or email. We are a long way from where most of you live, but if you send us students, we will train them to change the world.
"In 2019-2020 we’re inviting the SBC to come west to the San Francisco Bay Area to celebrate with us. But don’t wait that long. Come and visit us. We’ll welcome you, we’ll inspire you, and we’ll thank you for your support. "