MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Cameron Crabtree, vice president of public relations for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary for the past five years, has left the staff to pursue local ministry.
Crabtree was on staff at the seminary for 11 years altogether, serving in the areas of public relations and institutional advancement. Earlier, he was an editor at the California Southern Baptist newsjournal.
“Over the last several years, I’ve found my passions and energies drawn more toward more direct local ministry expressions,” Crabtree said. “The possibilities for creative and meaningful ministry, especially on the West Coast, seem endless. I want to dedicate a prime portion of my vocational life to that stream of God’s activity with my family.”
Crabtree, a graduate of the University of San Francisco, worked at Golden Gate during a time of change and re-focus at the seminary.
“The question asked by local churches used to be, ‘Which seminary?’ Now the question is just as likely to be, ‘Whether seminary?'” Crabtree said. “Consequently, seminaries are seeing local congregations and ministries as their primary reference point for evaluating whether seminaries are accomplishing their goals. Are we training what churches need?”
Another shift, Crabtree said, is the near-lack of a “typical” seminary student profile.
“Seminaries have started to see enormous diversity in their student bodies. Students today come from vastly different cultural, ethnic and spiritual backgrounds,” he said. “This impacts curriculum development, faculty selection, marketing, student services and ministerial relations.
“Students used to come to seminary because the vocational choices were already made, and there were specific requirements for following those choices. Ministry is a much wider field now. And more and more students come to seminary not for permission to do ministry, but for the blessing. It’s less of ‘Can we do this ministry?’ and more of ‘God is leading us to this ministry – will you bless it and support it?'”
With all the changes, Crabtree said the most meaningful and rewarding part of his tenure at Golden Gate was the relationships he built.
“I’ve had the opportunity to serve as spiritual director for some of our students in their field ministry support team. These were highly enriching yet very humbling experiences as we engaged in some pretty honest conversations and grappled with what God is really trying to do in us when we get past clichés of the Christian experience and move toward maturity. Golden Gate has always been more than a workplace. It’s been a place of deep friendship and kinship.”
President Bill Crews said, “Cameron has not only been a capable professional communicator of the Golden Gate story, he has been a close personal friend to me during the years of his service with us. I have valued his perspective on many issues, especially as it relates to the church of the future. While I am saddened by his departure from our staff, I am thrilled with his family’s decision to devote their many gifts and abilities in a local church ministry here in the West.”
The challenge Crabtree often found was communicating the work of Golden Gate Seminary in a way that was true and honoring to its Southern Baptist family, but in a cultural context and ministry setting that had little, if any, familiarity with it or regard to it.
“In the West, the church is not propped up by its surrounding culture in any way,” he said. “There are no cultural reference points for ministry here. Churches live or die purely on how their members live in the culture. That background has made it a challenge to communicate Golden Gate’s ministry in the culture where it’s located, and at the same time communicate our ministry to the larger Southern Baptist culture.”
But the Golden Gate faculty, staff and student body can overcome many challenges the school might face, he said.
“No matter which campus of Golden Gate our students attend, they will encounter people who are passionate about ministry and who care deeply about God working in real, tangible ways in their lives. They are authentic in that. That is a great strength of this school.”