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GGBTS trustees elect 2 profs, approve $5.4 million budget


MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Trustees of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary elected a New Testament professor, adopted a 1997- 98 budget of $5,485,400 and gave approval to pursuing a “strategic partnership” with a new evangelical seminary in Germany.

Trustees also granted faculty status to the dean of students while meeting for their spring meeting April 7-8 on the seminary’s Mill Valley, Calif., campus.

Richard Melick, former president of the Criswell Center for Biblical Studies in Dallas, was elected professor of New Testament Studies. He has been a visiting professor during the current academic year.

“We are proud to have this world-class scholar and local church champion on our biblical studies faculty,” said seminary President William O. Crews. “His strong commitment to Christ, to scriptural integrity and to evangelism enable him to engage students effectively with the classical and contemporary issues of our faith.”

Melick has served as a professor and administrator at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Tennessee, Palm Beach Atlantic College and Miami Christian College in Florida and Columbia International University in South Carolina. He has served in church staff positions in Texas, Illinois and Georgia, as well as filling numerous interim pastorates.

His writings include the New American Commentary volume on Philippians, Colossians and Philemon, published by the Baptist Sunday School Board’s Broadman & Holman arm. He was co-editor and contributor to “Authority and Inspiration: A Baptist Perspective,” published by Baker Book House. He also authored sections of “Foundations for Biblical Interpretation: A Complete Library of Tools and Resources,” “Handbook of Contemporary Preaching” and “Southern Baptists and American Evangelicals: The Conversation Continues,” each published by B&H.


He received a doctor of philosophy from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, a master of divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois and a bachelor of arts from Columbia International University.

Kon Yang, dean of students since 1993, was elected to faculty status as assistant professor, teaching in the areas of spiritual formation, Hebrew and Old Testament studies.

“Anyone who meets Dr. Yang is immediately impressed with his level of Christian commitment and service to the kingdom of God,” Crews said. “His gifts for teaching, his wise counsel and commitment to shaping persons for effective ministry will serve the seminary well for years to come.”

Before coming to Golden Gate, Yang was pastor of Fairfield Korean Baptist Church, Suisun City, Calif., 1991-93; youth minister at Concord Korean Baptist Church, Martinez, Calif., 1987-91; and choir director and youth minister at Berendo Street Baptist Church in Los Angeles, 1983-87.

Yang has been adjunct professor at Golden Gate since 1991. He received his doctor of philosophy and master of divinity degrees from Golden Gate and a bachelor of music from New Jersey’s Westminster Choir College.

Two other professors received one-year presidential appointments: Gary Arbino, assistant professor of Old Testament and archaeology, and Bob Baker, associate professor of pastoral care and counseling. It is the second one-year appointment for each.

In other academic matters, 18 faculty members received promotions. Trustees also granted a spring 1998 sabbatical to Ron Hornecker, professor of ministry and director of the seminary’s doctor of ministry program.

The seminary’s 1997-98 budget of $5,485,400 represents a 1.8 percent increase over the current budget.

The new budget includes additional revenue from a 3 percent increase in tuition for students and a one-time $171,000 increase in Southern Baptist Convention Cooperative Program allocations due to the SBC reorganization.

The budget provides added resources for the Mill Valley library, support in pastoral care and in church planting. A 2 percent merit wage increase for faculty and staff will begin in October if fall enrollment figures are up.

Reductions in expenses include a staff restructuring in students services; budget reductions in the church music degree program, which trustees have voted to close, and the intercultural studies program; and moving the continuing education operation to a cost-recovery basis.

“In most areas, we’re decreasing expenses,” said California trustee John Funk, who chairs the finance and properties committee. “We’re not looking at next year as being one of those years of expansion in expenses. It’s a very tight budget.

The board also approved an “additional $450,000 from Seminary Ridge property sales (plant fund) be loaned to the current fund as needed to provide adequate cash reserves.” Beginning in 1997-98, the total $1.1 million will be returned to the plant fund over a 10-year period through current fund budget surpluses of at least $100,000 annually, officials said.

Trustees also approved a resolution of the “incorporation for the Council of Seminary Presidents,” a new group resulting from the Southern Baptist Convention restructuring. The same resolution is being adopted at the other five SBC seminaries.

The item requiring most of trustees’ time, however, related to the vote to close the seminary’s music school because of a “financial emergency” in the music school’s operation. Trustees directed Crews to close the school by July 31.

Eliminating the program “may not have been action we would have recommended,” Crews said. But “ultimate authority still rests with the trustees,” he said.

While music faculty and students urged trustees to delay the action for further study, trustees determined decisive action was needed. Rising costs combined with falling revenue from years of declining enrollment made closing the music school necessary, they said.

According to a financial analysis prepared by seminary administrators, the school of church music has operated with deficits ranging from $107,833 in 1992-93 to $245,382 last year. In addition, a five-year projection forecast continued deficits of more than $120,000 in the music school annually through the 2001-02 academic year.

“It is a tough financial issue that brought us to this point and we needed to exercise the stewardship of our responsibility as trustees,” said Texas trustee David George, who chairs the board’s instruction committee.

Closing the school will terminate two church music master’s degrees at Golden Gate Seminary. The action affects 25 current students, four tenured professors and several adjunct instructors.

Crews pledged to do everything possible to help students complete their degree programs. He said it could take a year or more to complete the closing while seeing that students receive a plan for completing their studies and affected professors are helped appropriately.

Seminary officials said they do not expect the trustee action to negatively impact accreditation from the seminary’s primary accrediting bodies the Association of Theological Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Accreditation by the National Association of Schools of Music is expected to remain intact while students complete the program.

A “strategic agreement” with the Bonn Bible Seminary would allow Golden Gate to offer its new master of arts in intercultural studies at the European school. Seminary officials intend to work in consultation with ATS so that the degree earned in Germany would bear Golden Gate’s name and would be accredited by ATS.

Seminary officials told trustees the partnership would require the Bonn school to conform to all areas and practices in the current Golden Gate catalog related to delivery of the M.A. degree.

Funding for the program is coming from sources related to the Bonn seminary.

Instruction committee chair George noted it was “amazing” that a new degree like the master of arts in intercultural studies “literally has immediate effect around the world.”