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GGBTS targets deficit-free budget; trustees view possible German tie

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Trustees of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary have approved budget guidelines to help the institution begin the next century with a third consecutive year of deficit-free operations.
Meeting at the seminary’s main campus in Mill Valley, Calif., April 13, trustees also heard a report on plans to offer one of the seminary’s degree programs in Germany and elected new officers for the coming year.
Seminary officials reported higher than expected revenue from tuition and other sources, combined with a built-in expense contingency and carefully managed spending, should enable the institution to finish the current fiscal year without a deficit. Jim Stephenson, vice president for business affairs, also cited “generous Cooperative Program gifts from the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention,” which he said provided more than $3.2 million dollars for seminary operations this year.
However, trustees approved a budget total for the coming year that is smaller than the current spending plan. Preliminary plans call for a balanced 1999-2000 budget totaling $7,573,800. That figure is $181,500 less than the institution’s current budget. The reduction is due in large measure to decreasing revenue from earlier sales of surplus seminary property.
Under the proposed budget, student tuition costs would increase 3 percent and Golden Gate Seminary employees would receive a 3 percent cost of living salary increase.
Before voting on the new spending plan, trustees encouraged seminary administrators to achieve a balanced budget for fiscal year 1999-2000 without cutting student services. One issue raising concern among some students and trustees involves the possible elimination of the dean of students’ position. Seminary administrators reportedly are considering doing away with that post to help balance the budget. Under one scenario, responsibility for services now provided by the dean of students would be transferred to other departments.
Currently, professor Mike Thompson is serving as acting dean of students. Kon Yang, former dean of students, recently moved to Vancouver, Wash., where he now teaches as a resident professor at Golden Gate Seminary’s Pacific Northwest Campus.
Trustee Bruce Aubrey of Liverpool, N.Y., said members of the student relations committee he chairs were “uncomfortable with the thought” of cutting the position.
“I want to know if I vote for this [budget proposal] am I voting for the funds but not voting to eliminate the dean of students?” Aubrey asked.
“If we vote the budget, we have set the parameters,” responded David George, trustee from Arlington, Texas. “I don’t think we’re eliminating the dean of students but unless something happens it’s likely somebody’s going to be eliminated.”
George said specific decisions on how to balance the budget are being left to seminary administrators.
President William O. “Bill” Crews said he was not prepared to give a final answer on the question of whether any positions will be cut. He indicated a number of areas likely would be affected by the need to trim the preliminary spending plan.
“I don’t enjoy the prospect of finding $380,000 that has to be reduced, but we have to do something,” Crews said. “I don’t have a solution today but we will find a solution,” he added, assuring trustees that final budget figures for the coming year would be in line with the amount they approved.
Trustees heard greetings from two leaders of the Bibelseminar Bonn (Bonn Bible Seminary), a conservative evangelical seminary seeking a partnership with Golden Gate Seminary “to be part of shaping leaders for the future.”
Heinrich Loewen, director of Bibelseminar Bonn, told trustees his school considered many different seminaries in the United States before selecting Golden Gate Seminary for the strategic partnership.
“We have in our churches many fathers with gray hair and a lot of experience. They can tell us how to survive in time of persecution because they did well in this area. But they cannot tell us and teach us how to train leaders for the next century. We need your experience,” Loewen said.
Friedhelm Jung, Bibelseminar Bonn academic director, said the teaching faculties at European universities and seminaries are too liberal for most Baptists in Europe.
“We don’t want to send our students to liberal faculties, so we are very happy to cooperate with you because we know your theology is biblical and evangelical in the right sense of the word,” Jung told trustees.
Under the partnership, professors from Golden Gate Seminary initially would teach master’s-level courses at the German seminary. A Golden Gate official emphasized that the institution is awaiting approval from two accrediting agencies before launching the venture with the German seminary. That approval could come later this year.
Trustees elected John Funk, a businessman and member of Calvary Church in West Hills, Calif., to serve as trustee chairman during the coming year. Funk succeeds Sam Porter, director of men’s ministries for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.
James McCullen, pastor of First Baptist Church, Mountain View, Mo., was elected trustee vice chair and Marie Aldridge, a businesswoman and member of Pennsylvania Avenue Baptist Church, Washington, was elected trustee secretary.
In other actions trustees:
— approved a revised policy containing detailed guidelines for seminary investments.
— granted a half-year sabbatical beginning in January 2000 to Thomas Wolf, professor of missions. Wolf reportedly will use the leave to work toward completion of a Ph.D. degree as required under a three-year extension of his teaching contract reported to trustees by President Crews.
— authorized Crews to appoint a long-range planning committee.
— tabled for two years consideration of a motion by Colorado trustee Mel McClellan concerning at-large trustee representation from state conventions that host the seminary’s regional campuses.
Crews reported the resignation of a trustee from California. Horacio “Ray” Jones, pastor of Fremont (Calif.) Bible Fellowship, notified Crews in a letter he was resigning due to family and church obligations. Jones was elected to a five-year term as a Golden Gate Seminary trustee in 1995.

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  • Mark A. Wyatt