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Golden Gate Seminary trustees approve changes, delay budget

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Trustees of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary voted to hire the institution’s first chief financial officer during their regular spring meeting Apr. 23-24 in Mill Valley, Calif.

The trustees also filled an unexpected vacancy at the seminary’s Rocky Mountain Campus and voted to extend time for finalizing next year’s budget as administrators continue the search for a new controller.

Gary Groat, a career corporate finance executive with a Fortune 100 company and eight-year veteran of service in Christian higher education, was named vice president for business affairs. In his new position, Groat will have the same title as Jim Stephenson, who resigned the post late last year. However, GGBTS officials said Groat would serve in an expanded role as CFO because of the seminary’s increasing need for strategic financial planning.

Since 1993 Groat has served as vice president for administration and chief financial officer at Criswell College in Dallas. He previously served 20 years in financial positions at Kraft Food Ingredients in Memphis, Tenn.

Groat is a 1973 graduate of the University of Minnesota and earned an MBA degree from the University of Illinois in 1982.

In a related action, seminary trustees agreed to delay approval of a budget for the 2001-02 fiscal year. Typically, a new one-year spending plan is approved annually during the trustees’ spring meeting. This year, however, budget planning has been hindered by vacancies in the seminary’s top two financial positions.

Trustees approved a schedule authorizing their finance committee and executive committee to approve the 2001-2002 budget by July 15. The budget, which takes effect Aug. 1, then will be submitted to the full board for ratification at the trustees’ October meeting.

Meanwhile, President William O. “Bill” Crews said a search is continuing for a new controller for Golden Gate. Jamie Lawson resigned as controller in March to accept another job.

Trustees voted to fill a key staff vacancy at the seminary’s Rocky Mountain Campus in Denver, CO. The new director is Steve Veteto, a Colorado native and pastor of CrossPoint Baptist Church in Baton Rouge, La. He replaces Emerson Falls, who has resigned to become president of Cook College and Theological School, a Native American institution of higher learning in Tempe, AZ.

Veteto received the M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis. He has served as an adjunct professor at Mid-America and at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

In addition to his new duties as director of the Rocky Mountain campus, Veteto also was elected to the Golden Gate faculty as associate professor of New Testament studies.

Trustees also approved two other additions to the GGBTS faculty, Shera Melick and Bob Royall.

Melick, who is completing work on her doctorate in education at Florida’s Nova Southeastern University, was named assistant professor of Christian education effective Aug. 1. Her husband, Rick Melick, is GGBTS provost.

Royall joins the seminary faculty as associate professor and associate director of the doctor of ministry program effective Aug. 1. He has served with the North American Mission Board since 1994 as the Portland area director of student ministries for the Northwest Baptist Convention. Royall received the D.Min. and M.Div. degrees from Golden Gate Seminary.

Trustees also heard that last year’s action by the Baptist General Convention of Texas sharply reducing funding for Southern Baptist Convention seminaries is, so far, having less impact at Golden Gate than initially expected. President Crews said that move was expected to cost GGBTS about a half-million dollars a year. But while financial support from “BGCT is down 3 percent” during the first half of the current SBC fiscal year, Crews said Cooperative Program support for GGBTS has increased 5 percent during the same period.

“I think we ought to rejoice,” Crews told seminary trustees. “There has been some loss from BGCT but other state conventions have more than made up for it.”

Trustees also received a report on progress toward establishing a dual degree program with Union University. An official of the Jackson, Tenn., school said the “model program” would give students “all the advantages of a strong seminary education and strong emphasis in sociological research.”

Carla Sanderson, provost at Union University, said, “Graduates of this global partnership will be prepared theologically and will have the base of the liberal arts education that will prepare them to live and work across globe.”

Sanderson commended Golden Gate Seminary for “its commitment to global ministry.”

Trustee chairman John Funk, whose term expires in June, challenged board members to “do more” as trustees. “We have a stewardship of a vision,” declared Funk, a Southern California business consultant. “As that develops, it becomes a kind of intellectual property. What are you going to do with that?”

Funk said trustees “have an accountability to God” to see that everything is done to fulfill the vision God gives for the institution.

Trustees approved two recommendations Funk said would help “accomplish what has to be accomplished to see this vision not fizzle but explode.” First, they scheduled a retreat in October to learn about governance principles and methods used by many Christian institutions of higher learning.

Second, trustees voted to designate the board’s vice chairman as chairman-elect to ensure stronger continuity of leadership.

Trustees elected David George, trustee from Arlington, Texas and pastor of Lake Arlington Baptist Church, as chairman for the coming year. George said he wants to challenge and help his fellow board members be the best they can be.

“If you’re not going to do that I would respectfully ask you to resign,” George said.

Also elected as trustee officers were Gary Black, an insurance executive from Novato, Calif., vice chairman and chairman-elect; and Steve Cavanaugh, pastor of Reynoldsburg Baptist Church in Reynoldsburg, Ohio, secretary.

    About the Author

  • Mark A. Wyatt