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Golden Gate intercultural degree approved by International Board

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Leaders of the Southern
Baptist International Mission Board have affirmed Golden
Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s new master of arts in
intercultural studies degree and its accompanying two-year
international field internship as meeting the educational
and experience requirements for entrance into the IMB career
missionary appointment process.
“We are pleased the International Mission Board has
affirmed the strategic creativity of our faculty and the
commitment of the Golden Gate Seminary family to mobilize
leaders for effective global ministry,” said seminary
President William O. Crews. “The IMB has provided a
wonderful blessing to our denomination’s future missions
leaders with this partnership.”
Officials at the Mill Valley, Calif.,-based seminary
announced the endorsement Jan. 21 following a series of
meetings with IMB leaders over the past year. Golden Gate is
one of six Southern Baptist Convention seminaries and the
only SBC agency in the western United States.
“Our international mission leaders have recognized that
the unique laboratory for learning available in the San
Francisco Bay Area, study among a culturally diverse student
body at our campus and the significant ministry experiences
available abroad combine to make this a degree program that
takes seriously the world in which future Christian leaders
will serve,” Crews added.
Golden Gate’s new degree has already received
accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools
and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.
Although IMB officials continue to endorse the master
of divinity as educational preparation for the missionary
appointment process as well, mission board leaders adopted a
two-track approach for receiving graduates of the
intercultural studies program into the missionary
appointment process:
Students receiving the master of arts in intercultural
studies at Golden Gate are eligible to go to the mission
field as missionary apprentices, provided they qualify as
normal for the apprentice program, to serve under a mentor.
While on the field, they will complete the additional 40
credit-hours internship course work provided by Golden Gate
in order to move forward in the appointment process.
The apprentice program is designed for persons who hold
degrees from an accredited seminary and are qualified for
appointment except for sufficient international ministry
Missionary apprentices receive some of the basic
benefits of career missionary appointment including 90
percent of the career missionary salary and career
orientation and are placed for three years in a position on
the field in which they will likely return following career
missionary appointment by the IMB. Thus, they begin the
extensive language training and cultural acquisition they
will need to serve effectively on that field, officials
noted. The educational requirement for the missionary
apprentice program depends on the nature of the request from
overseas and usually requires the master of divinity degree.
The master of arts degree without the international
internship will qualify candidates for a limited number of
apprentice positions overseas depending on the requirements
stated by the field entity requesting them. Rodrick Durst,
Golden Gate’s vice president for academic affairs, said
completing the internship education component will “open up
much broader doorways of service” for career positions
overseas which will normally require the M.Div. or its
equivalent. With the two-year educational component overseas
successfully completed, the master of arts in intercultural
studies becomes the equivalent of the master of divinity.
Entrance into the missionary apprentice program is
considered a “significant investment” on the part of the
mission board, Durst said.
The IMB staff’s decision comes as welcome news to
students like Harry Duncan*, the former legal counsel to the
governor of South Carolina who moved his family to the San
Francisco Bay Area last year to concentrate on mission
studies in Golden Gate’s school of intercultural studies.
“I believe the IMB’s decision to do this is a very
positive development in global mission strategy,” said
Duncan. “I am grateful for the action that has been taken
and believe it is the right course as we prepare for the
21st century.
“The reason I came to Golden Gate was because I view
San Francisco as a critical city for world missions and
especially in the Pacific Rim,” Duncan added. “I have
learned an incredible amount and I believe I am being well
prepared for missions in the inner city.” Duncan predicted
more students will be willing to come to Golden Gate with
the opportunity to enter the missionary apprentice program a
real possibility.
Students receiving the master of arts intercultural
studies, but who do not yet qualify for the IMB’s apprentice
program, may still be invited to go to a mission field
through the board’s International Service Corp program.
There, they will spend two years under supervision in an ISC
assignment while completing the seminary’s internship course
work. Following successful completion of both components,
they may move forward in the career missionary appointment
That is essentially the same as some other SBC seminary
programs where students can pursue a master of divinity —
two years in campus residence and two years in a mission
field internship — to meet the requirements for eligibility
into the board’s career missionary appointment process. A
key difference, however, is that students in Golden Gate’s
intercultural studies degree program earn their degree prior
to the mission field internship.
With the first semester of the new degree program
completed, 52 students are enrolled in the program, with
another dozen approved for admission this spring.
*Name changed for security reasons.

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  • Cameron Crabtree