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Crews underscores obedience to God during Golden Gate commencement

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Seminary graduates are empowered for effective ministry not by what they know but by their obedience to God, asserted William O. Crews, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, at the school’s third commencement ceremony this year.
“God doesn’t need our … degrees,” he told the 79 graduates of the Mill Valley, Calif., seminary and the hundreds of family members and friends who attended the May 28 event. “He has them anyway. What God is after is to see if you and I are willing to do the thing that only we can do, and that is to obey.”
The Mill Valley campus graduates came from 18 states and four foreign countries, and the commencement followed ceremonies at two of the seminary’s regional campuses. Six students received their degrees at the first-ever commencement at the Pacific Northwest campus in Vancouver, Wash., May 22, and 17 graduates walked the stage at the Southern California campus in Brea during its fifth annual commencement exercise May 21.
In addition, attending the Mill Valley ceremony was the first graduate ever to finish out of the seminary’s Rocky Mountain regional campus in Denver. Brian King, originally from Oklahoma, graduated with his master of divinity by taking classes at the Denver and Mill Valley campuses with help from Denver Conservative Baptist Seminary.
During the ceremony, the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership, given at each commencement to a graduate who exemplifies the seminary’s vision for leadership development, went to master of divinity graduate Joseph Moyer, pastoral assistant at Rollingwood Baptist Church, San Pablo, Calif. He enrolled at Golden Gate in 1984 but left for another school and came back in 1997 after years of pastoral struggle and his realization of a need for leadership training. “One responsibility of being a pastor is raising up leaders,” he said in a previous interview. “If I don’t raise up leaders, it doesn’t matter how good a preacher I am. God’s remedy for the gaps in my training was Golden Gate Seminary.”
Crews said Moyer and all the graduates need to keep obeying God throughout their ministries, like Moses kept using his rod to show God’s power. “You and I have the ability to choose to obey,” he said. “If we choose not to, the only things we’ll carry into the ministry are the sticks that we brought. If we choose to obey, we’ll carry the power of God itself.”
Citing 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, Crews said God is looking for people to understand who he is and who they are and to carry out his will. “Learn that lesson early in your own lives and ministries,” he charged the graduates. “Anything you do in obedience to God will become the power of God in your life. This way, the honor goes to God who made it all possible.”
Designed as a worship service and celebration of God’s work in the graduating class, the ceremony featured the San Francisco Master Chorale, a Korean group led by master of music in church music graduate Myung Hong, a slide show of graduates’ memories and testimonies of three graduates.
Sandy Davis, who started her master of divinity with a pastoral counseling concentration at age 44, said there was no class where she didn’t have an “aha” moment, but it wasn’t all easygoing. “I walked to the seminary bench that overlooks San Francisco after not doing well on an exam and with projects that I wasn’t even sure about looming over me,” she said. “I was ready to quit, but I acknowledged that God was Creator, and I named everything I saw that he created. I rattled off the obvious things, but then I saw shape and movement and beauty and things I don’t normally look to see. I had my own personal revival right there on that bench. God once again shared that he wanted to walk along with me.”
Master of divinity graduate Bill Budd, who left a seven-year pastorate in New Jersey to undertake full-time study, said Golden Gate came highly recommended even from that far away. “I checked with my associational leaders about my decision and which school to go to,” he said. “I’d been doing multicultural ministry and church planting, and everyone who had spoken to me said to apply to Golden Gate. So I applied and my wife Pauline and I drove Highway 80 until it ended (near the Mill Valley campus).”
Like Budd, Alicia Wong, who graduated with her master of arts in intercultural studies degree, said it wasn’t just her professors who taught her. It was the whole seminary experience. “The lines cross somewhere,” she said. “The professors become your friends. The friends become your teachers. And people become your family.”

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