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Chainsaws roar on seminary campus

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Chainsaws were roaring at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s campus in the San Francisco area — and it was for educational purposes.

John Pollman, trainer and evaluator from the Northwest Baptist Convention’s disaster relief team in Randle, Wash., and seven chainsaw volunteers spent five days on the GGBTS Mill Valley campus training eight Baptist volunteers from northern California in now to trim and clear trees as part of disaster relief ministry.

The 50-year-old seminary has many trees that are coming to the end of their lives. As the trees become hazardous, they provide the perfect training environment for DR volunteers who respond to natural disasters throughout the United States and Haiti.

“We’re all about safety, whether we’re cutting trees or training people on chainsaws,” said Pollman, who has been educating others and cutting trees for 24 years.

Pollman, asked why he does this type of volunteer work, noted, “The focus of disaster relief is to reach people for Jesus Christ. It’s all about bringing people to Jesus Christ.” After one recent storm, he recounted, the people had no idea what to with a fallen tree in their yard. “I drove up and offered to help. I cleared their tree and then prayed with them afterwards.”

Pollman and both of the teams stayed in the seminary’s dorms during the mid-April training sessions. “Golden Gate is really taking care of us. We’re grateful.”

Golden Gate facilities director Robert Dvorak expressed thanks to the tree cutters. “They do a professional job, and save the seminary thousands of dollars. We’re glad to be able to offer them hospitality in exchange for their services.”

Golden Gate’s www.ggbts.edu/volunteer/ webpage provides information for others interested in volunteering at any of the seminary’s five campuses.

In addition to tree trimming, every summer for the past seven years the seminary has employed a herd of 400 goats to cut the grass on the steeper regions of the 120-acre campus. “We save approximately $5,000 in labor and materials by contracting with Goats-R-Us,” Dvorak said. He noted that additional undefined costs associated with Golden Gate staff doing this work are possible injuries from attempting to use mowers and weed whackers on the steep terrain or potential poison oak infections, both of which could incur costs for medical treatment and loss of work time.

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

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