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GGBTS intercultural studies school sharpens focus on global ministry

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–In its first year of official
operation, the David and Faith Kim School of Intercultural
Studies at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary has 52
students enrolled in its newest degree program, the master
of arts in intercultural studies. Golden Gate received a
$5.25 million gift in late 1995 to establish the new school
for students pursuing missions service and other
cross-cultural Christian ministries.
“The school of intercultural studies at Golden Gate
Seminary helps students develop the skills, knowledge and
character necessary for the real world of global mission and
ministry,” said seminary President William Crews.
In addition to the new master’s degree, the Kim school
also provides education for students in the master of
divinity-concentration in missions program at the Mill
Valley, Calif., campus and in the Korean bilingual master of
divinity track at the Southern California Campus in Brea.
Seminary officials predicted the new school and its
degree programs developed in the future will better train
not only missionary candidates to serve abroad, but also
those seeking to minister within specific cultural contexts
and those leading multicultural congregations in North
The master of arts in intercultural studies is a
two-year, 49 credit-hour course of graduate study on campus.
The degree has been accredited by the Association of
Theological Schools and the Western Association of Schools
and Colleges. An additional 40 credit-hour supervised field
internship also is available. The degree program meets the
educational requirements for eligibility in the missionary
apprenticeship program of the Southern Baptist International
Mission Board. With successful completion of the
apprenticeship and the internship educational course work of
the seminary, candidates may move forward in the career
missionary appointment process.
Rodrick Durst, the seminary’s vice president for
academic affairs, noted the master of arts in intercultural
studies could also be considered a “language neutral” degree
for students who will serve internationally in countries
closed to traditional missionary work.
The degree is shaped by “life investment” in three
areas, according to Tom Wolf, associate professor of
missions at Golden Gate and director of the Kim school:
— Covenant. “All kingdom involvement is based on and
out of biblical revelation, the Christ-centered and
mission-driven covenant of God intended to include others
from all the peoples of the earth into the salvation we
already experience.”
— Culture. “All kingdom involvement is somewhere with
someone. To properly honor and to effectively impact the
cultures and the peoples of the planet, affirming, blessing
and critiquing culture is at the core of all our endeavors.”
— Church. “All kingdom involvement is entrusted to
God’s people. Rooted in Scripture, drawing on history and
surveying our generation, the church referent places the
local congregation, strategizing to bless others, at the
center of everything of genuine significance in the destiny
of our planet and the universe.”
The requirements for entry into the new master of arts
degree are the same as for other post-bachelor programs at
the seminary, including a baccalaureate degree or its
equivalent from an accredited institution. The degree is
designed to be “rigorous academically and practical
experientially,” Wolf said.
Serving as associate directors of the new school are
Leroy Gainey, associate professor of Christian education and
pastor of the multicultural First Baptist Church, Vacaville,
Calif.; Faith Kim, associate professor-at-large of
intercultural education; and Bill Wagner, who occupies the
E. Hermond Westmoreland Chair of Evangelism. Also serving in
the intercultural studies school this year are IMB
professionals-in-residence Betsy Cunningham (China) and John
and Stacy Langston (East Asia).
The master of divinity with a concentration in missions
requires 88 credit hours of study. It combines the basic
theological studies offered by the seminary with advanced
studies in missions and intercultural studies.
“The intercultural studies school provides students
with a much-needed theoretical and practical background to
become more skilled, effective, confident and productive
ministers in the diverse ministry setting,” Durst said.
“Unless students can minister with people who are different
from themselves, they are likely to be ineffective and
unproductive in contemporary settings.”
The bilingual track provides courses in Korean or
bilingually while students are gaining a required level of
English-language proficiency, allowing them to later merge
into the regular master of divinity program.
Students must pass three sequential classes related to
English skill development during their first two years in
the program. Once the three courses are successfully
completed, students move into the regular master of divinity
Seminary leaders said the new school and the new
degrees are needed because the world in which churches
minister today are vastly different from previous
“The intercultural skills formerly needed primarily, if
not only, by those going abroad are still needed, now with
ever-greater urgency than ever before,” according to Wolf.
“But now, the same intercultural skills once used primarily
for cross-cultural, international service are also
profoundly needed by those ministering in our multicultural
national settings.”

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  • Cameron Crabtree