President Iorg's Report to the SBC in Louisville
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary reports current strengths, significant achievements and plans for the future
Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, began his June 23 report to messengers by quoting a local paper’s article on another seminary which was facing major cutbacks. “Despite the economic downturn, we thank God this article wasn’t about Golden Gate,” he said. “We are open for business.”
“All academic programs are fully operational,” he said, noting that the faculty is fully staffed and administrative employees are working hard preparing for about 1800 students who will enroll for classes across the five-campus system this fall. “The economy is down but our commitment to our mission is as high as it’s ever been.”
Iorg explained the reason Golden Gate is able to stay strong in a weak economy is by reducing next year’s budget by more than 4% - about $450,000. He noted that the Seminary remains fully operational as a result of dedicated employees, especially the faculty, “who are sacrificing to accomplish our mission.” He described the financial sacrifices being made by both faculty and staff, and invited his listeners to applaud the sacrifices of the team of dedicated men and women who are committed to the mission and vision of a strong Southern Baptist seminary in the western United States.
“This past academic year has included two significant achievements at Golden Gate,” Iorg said. “The first is the 50th anniversary of our location in Northern California.” He described the two-day celebration of events centered on those who were in the earliest graduating classes at Golden Gate, from 1949-1959. “These events remind us what a young seminary we are,” Iorg noted. “Many students from our first graduation class in 1949, the very first class, are still alive. One of these, Rev. A.L. Davis, will be honored as one of our distinguished alumni at our luncheon tomorrow for his significant ministry.” Noting that the convention is currently celebrating Southern Seminary’s 150th anniversary, he invited the Southern Baptist Convention to San Francisco in 2020 to help Golden Gate celebrate its 75th anniversary.
“The other significant achievement this past year has been successful progress on our reaccredidation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Association of Theological Schools,” Iorg said. Golden Gate was commended for excellence in several areas, and was called “a healthy institution that is providing a sound education for its students.”
“The most exciting and most daunting challenge we face at Golden Gate is discerning God’s future plans for our school,” said Iorg. He explained the Seminary’s extended planning process, and his anticipation that the trustees will adopt the “Diamond Plan” – a blueprint which will guide the school through 2020 when the seminary will celebrate its 75th anniversary – the diamond anniversary.
“One of our fundamental challenges is discerning the future of educational delivery systems and schedules,” noted Iorg. “Golden Gate long ago abandoned a traditional seminary model and traditional class schedule, in favor of the block schedule – meaning each class only meets once per week.” He explained that many classes meet in the evenings or on weekends, and many intensive courses meet for three or five days. “We have a growing number of fully online courses as well as ‘hybrid’ courses which combine classroom instruction with those that are partially taught online.”
He noted the Seminary’s confidence in the content – God’s Word and sound ministry practices based on the Bible. “Content is not in question, but delivering that content across a multi-state region, with ever-changing electronic delivery options, to an increasingly diverse student body, is our challenge.”
“We believe technology is redefining the concept of a learning community,” Iorg said. “We are on the cutting edge of understanding how to apply these advances in seminary training and look forward to the future.” He asked for prayers as the Seminary boldly goes forward, confident its best days are ahead.
Iorg concluded by giving thanks for the opportunity to report on Golden Gate Seminary, and expressing appreciation for Cooperative Program support. “As always,” he continued, “if you know someone who wants to train for ministry in a multi-cultural, urban environment, far from the Southern Baptist homeland – send them to Golden Gate. We will train them in the west and send them on mission to the world.”