ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) — Relatives and friends celebrated with Gateway Seminary’s first graduating class on Dec. 17 in the chapel of the new Los Angeles-area campus.
Thirty graduates received degrees, including 16 doctoral students. The seminary dedicated its new main campus in Ontario, Calif., in October.
Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, reminded graduates that God chose to use some unexpected people in the Bible such as David, who is included in Jesus’ genealogy in Matthew chapter one.
“Birth order meant a great deal, and for seven to be passed over and one to be taken says something strongly to us about God’s intentionality of choosing and using this man in the genealogy of Jesus,” Iorg said.
David described his own call to ministry when he was a young man from a small town who didn’t attend church until his teen years.
“Yet God chose me and has used me. He will do the same to every one of you graduates this morning.”
Iorg told graduates of GateWay Seminary that God also used people with morally questionable backgrounds.
“You have been chosen for the purity God will demonstrate through you, not the perfection you have already attained,” Iorg said. “He wants to use you despite what is in your past, to make of you the person He wants you to be in the present and what He can use you to accomplish going forward.”
“God is in the business of forgiving, forgetting and moving people onto a better life than they ever claimed to have had before.”
Iorg said God also calls anonymous people.
“There are names in the passage that aren’t really described in Scripture … not much is known about any one of them except that they made it into the genealogy of Jesus.”
He continued by telling graduates they may never write a famous book or preach to tens of thousands of people, but they will still be making a “dramatic and significant impact.”
“The people around you where you live and work, to them you are the most important spiritual leader alive. They are depending on you.”
Chris Carter, a master of divinity graduate from Florida, gave the student testimony about Gateway Seminary’s impact on his life and ministry.
“(My wife and I) have always felt called to those slightly off the beaten path; to those postmoderns outside of the Bible belt,” he said. “It made sense that we ended up at a seminary outside the Bible belt.
“I cannot stress enough the importance of the teaching and the instruction we receive in the classroom at Gateway,” he said. “But we cannot forget that our lives outside of the classroom, when the rubber meets the road, when we see God’s leaders become His hands and feet and operate the way He intended the church to operate, these are the moments that we carry with us.”
Iorg presented the William Crews Leadership Award to Max Stabenow of California, who received a master of theology degree.