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Gateway trustees elect Adam Groza president, approve Ferguson as VP

(Left to right) J. Robert White, presidential search committee chair, Adam Groza, Gateway President effective May 13, Jeff Iorg, current president and next president of the SBC Executive Committee, and board chair Phil Kell.

ONTARIO, Calif. – In a unanimous vote on Monday, April 15, Gateway trustees elected Adam Groza as Gateway Seminary’s eighth president during their spring 2024 meeting. His term begins May 13.

“I came back to California in 2010 to be part of Gateway Seminary because I believe raising ministry leaders in the western United States is a necessity for Southern Baptists,” Groza said.

“I still believe in this mission, and I am humbled to be entrusted with this responsibility.”

Adam Groza, alongside his wife Holly, receives a standing ovation after a unanimous decision by trustees to name him president.

Groza, 48, was born in Pasadena, Calif., just over 30 miles west of the Seminary’s campus in Ontario. He grew up in Arizona and graduated from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s in political science. Then he earned a master of divinity from The Master’s Seminary in northern Los Angeles.

“Dr. Groza is a product of Southern Baptists’ investment in the western United States, and we are extraordinarily blessed to have a new leader who will continue Gateway’s mission of developing leaders in the West for the world,” said Phil Kell, Gateway trustee and retired president of the Baptist Foundation of California.

“With nearly two decades of leadership in academia and a deep commitment to serve Southern Baptist churches, Dr. Groza is poised to further shape the seminary into a leading training center for the next generation of pastors and ministers.”

Groza earned a Ph.D. and a Th.M. in philosophy of religion at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). While in seminary, he was ordained for ministry at Fairview Baptist Church in Rhome, Texas.

Before joining Gateway in 2010 as vice president for enrollment and student service, Groza served SWBTS and Scarborough College as director of admissions.

Adam Groza

Groza was announced as the official nominee April 2 by the chair of the search committee, J. Robert White.

White, who served as executive director of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board for 26 years, said, “It was clear from our first interview with Dr. Groza that he possesses the integrity, godly character and academic experience to lead Gateway Seminary into the future.”

In addition to serving as vice president at Gateway, Groza is also an associate professor of philosophy of religion. He also serves as a research fellow at the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, a teaching fellow at the Agricola Theological Institute in Finland and teaches regularly at California Baptist University.

Groza has written several books and articles, including most recently “Unraveling Philosophy: An Interactive Guide,” which he co-authored with J. P. Moreland.

Groza and his wife of 23 years, Holly, who is also a southern California native, have four children, Cosette, 19; Charlie, 17; Christian, 15; and Cate, 13.

Kristen Ferguson

Trustees also approved Groza’s nomination of Kristen Ferguson as vice president of enrollment and student services on April 16. Ferguson joined Gateway in 2016 as director of online education and associate professor of educational leadership. In 2022, she was appointed associate dean of educational effectiveness.

“Dr. Ferguson was my first choice to lead the enrollment and student service offices, and I look forward to what she will bring to the seminary in an executive leadership role,” Groza said.

“She is a capable and proven leader who has the respect of our faculty, staff and students.

“Through the long tenures of the seminary’s past two presidents – Dr. Iorg for 20 years and Dr. Crews for 18 years previous – serious investments in emerging leaders have yielded strong results. I am confident Dr. Ferguson will continue to press Gateway forward as an institution that delivers an excellent student experience.”

Ferguson currently serves as chair of the resolutions committing of the SBC and is a research fellow for the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. She is an active scholar — her most recent book is “Excellence in Online Education” and focuses on fostering Christian community in a virtual environment.

Similar to Groza, Ferguson has deep California roots. She is from Barstow, a city in Southern California’s High Desert. She earned a bachelor of applied theology degree at California Baptist University (CBU) before receiving doctor of education and master of divinity degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS).

Kristen met her husband Anthony at CBU. He earned a Ph.D. and a master of divinity from SBTS and now pastors Eleventh Street Baptist Church in Upland, Calif.

Additionally, trustees elected a new faculty member, Kevin S. Chen, who will join Gateway in fall 2024 as professor of Old Testament studies. Chen is a graduate of Gateway, having earned his Ph.D. under John Sailhammer.

Chen’s teaching experience includes positions as professor of Old Testament at Christian Witness Theological Seminary, associate professor of biblical studies at Union University, visiting scholar at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and adjunct roles at SBTS, Western Seminary and Gateway.

Trustees approved the 24-25 academic budget of $12,900,000, an increase of 3 percent over 2023-2024. Additionally, trustees promoted Jim Wilson to distinguished professor of leadership formation and granted Kon Yang senior faculty status upon his retirement in July 2024.

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  • Tyler Sanders