DENVER (BP) — Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg told trustees during the fall board meeting the school has retained mission-discipline in spite of a bevy of distractions. Nearly the entire board met in-person October 11 and 12 in Denver, Colorado, while a limited number of trustees joined remotely.
“Tumultuous times require resolute focus on the mission,” Iorg said. “Leaders facing chaos must narrow their focus – not attempt to solve every problem forced upon them.”
Iorg shared with trustees four specific areas Gateway Seminary has been focused on despite “denominational conflict, social unrest, political turmoil, and a global pandemic.”
“The most significant action happening at Gateway Seminary this year is successful executive transition,” Iorg said.
Trustees approved Dr. Alex Stewart as vice president for academic services at the spring 2021 meeting and the executive committee of the trustee board selected Ray Tong as vice president for business services in June 2021. They are replacing two vice presidents with more than 80 years of combined service among Southern Baptists. The seminary has implemented a Board-approved period of overlap and training to insure a smooth transition in seminary operations.
“It has been a gift from God to have Alex Stewart and Ray Tong join us,” Iorg said.
“In addition to their academic preparation and leadership skill, both men have demonstrated relational affability and spiritual depth – they are men who know God and express that in how they treat people.”
Additionally, Iorg said “the pandemic has forced transition on the Seminary” in two primary ways: educational delivery methods and shifting work patterns for employees. He said roughly one-third of students are currently in on-campus classes, one-third are in remote/live video classes, and one-third are in fully-online classes. Before the pandemic, approximately two-thirds of students were in on-campus classes.
“While we were well positioned at Gateway for more video access and remote course delivery because of the technological capabilities of our new campuses in California, the challenge now is projecting for a post-pandemic future and meeting the changing needs of students.”
Most employees have returned to work at a campus location and Iorg reported “overall morale at the Seminary is high.” Gateway has not been immune to disagreements between employees over vaccines, masks, social distancing, and the levels of acquiescence to local and national safety requirements the Seminary is willing to accept. “It is a credit to our employees that these discussions have not created divisions,” he said. “Our mission commitment has held us together”
Iorg reported long-term financial health is very strong. A recent audit found the “differential between assets and liabilities is well over $100 million,” Iorg said. Additionally, the Seminary exceeds recommended financial reserves by a factor of ten. Recent significant gifts include $100,000 for the Rocky Mountain Campus endowment fund and $100,000 for an endowed scholarship for students planning to serve in East Asia or the Pacific Rim.
“Operationally we will continue to be conservative in our budgeting during these uncertain times, but we are confident in the long-term financial health of the seminary,” Iorg said.
As part of the Board meeting, trustees attended a banquet to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Campus and a session of the Colorado Baptist General Convention which celebrated the partnership between the seminary and the convention. Dr. Stephen Veteto was recognized for his 20 years of service as the Rocky Mountain Campus director. The dinner culminated in the successful completion of a 72-hour social media-driven giving that raised more than $25,000 to commemorate the 25-year anniversary.