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176 graduates mark largest class in Golden Gate’s history

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–A total of 176 men and women representing 20 states and six countries marked the largest graduating class in the history of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary as commencement ceremonies were held at all five of its campuses on the West Coast.

President Jeff Iorg traveled to four of the ceremonies, challenging graduates to continually preach the life, death and resurrection of Jesus in the ministry settings where God places them.

“Jesus is still big news,” Iorg said, referring to the recent release of the movie version of Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.” “Although there is misinformation about Jesus, it is clear that Jesus is relevant. My desire for you as you go all around the world is you will preach Jesus.”

Drawing from Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:22-24, Iorg gave three ways the graduates can preach Jesus, starting with proclaiming the extraordinary life of Jesus.

“There is no secret about Jesus,” he said. “All of the amazing things that Jesus did during His time on earth were done in the open. Leave this place and teach, preach and live out the extraordinary life of Jesus.”

Iorg urged the graduates to preach the death and resurrection of Jesus, which was made possible by God.

“Stepping into human history, God set Jesus free from death, and in doing so, set us free as well,” he said.

Commencement services were held May 13 at the seminary’s Rocky Mountain campus near Denver for 10 graduates. Mark Edlund, executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention and doctor of ministry graduate, received the William O. Crews Presidential Leadership Award. The award was established by Crews and his wife for students who exhibit exceptional leadership potential.

On May 19, the seminary’s Southern California campus in Brea, Calif., had 26 graduates. Seven of the graduates are on staff at Saddleback Church and attended the seminary’s extension campus at the church. In addition, Julie Tilman, who serves at First Baptist Church of Upland, Calif., received the Educational Leadership Pursuit of Excellence Award.

The Pacific Northwest campus of Golden Gate Seminary held commencement ceremonies May 20 for 30 graduates. The Baker House Book Award was presented to Ron Nelson, a master of divinity graduate.

The 104 graduates at the May 26 commencement ceremony on the main campus in Mill Valley, Calif., heard from two student speakers. Jeff Maitlen told of the mentorship received from his pastor and of the formation process of maturing in the ministry. Maela Sanders spoke of her experience as a student on a mission trip to Botswana using her expertise as a nurse to minister to children and adults with HIV/AIDS.

“I went to use my skills,” Sanders told the audience, “but those children and people taught me more in that short time than I could have ever taught them.”

Of the six graduates at the seminary’s Arizona campus near Phoenix, master of divinity graduate Carl Young was awarded the Dan and Harriet Stringer Award. The Stringer award is given to an Arizona campus student who demonstrates perseverance in completing seminary studies. Young is pastor of the Akmiel Au-Authm (River People) Baptist Church on the Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Reservation in Scottsdale, Ariz.

The degrees presented to the 176 graduates included diploma in Christian ministries-CLD, diploma in theology-CLD, diploma in theology, master of arts in educational leadership, master of arts in church music, master of theological studies, master of divinity, master of theology, and doctor of ministry.

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary is a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention and operates five fully-accredited campuses in Northern California, Southern California, Pacific Northwest, Arizona and Colorado.

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  • Jeff Jones