SAN FRANCISCO (BP)–Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary faculty, staff, family members and friends gathered at historic First Baptist Church in San Francisco to celebrate fall graduation Dec. 16. President Jeff Iorg challenged the 41 graduates to depend on God throughout their ministry.
“If our graduates are at their best … they will leave here tonight dependent people, with a realization of how weak they really are,” Iorg told the audience in preaching from 2 Thessalonians 3 and sharing examples of the Apostle Paul’s dependency on God.
One way Paul was dependent, Iorg said, was his practice of asking others to pray for him. In 2 Thessalonians 3:1, Paul wrote, “Finally, brethren, pray for us.”
Iorg shared a personal example of his dependency on the prayers of others in his ministry: For 10 years, 40 people have been praying for him daily. Iorg keeps in contact with them monthly and said he feels they are a primary reason for his effectiveness in ministry.
“Any spiritual power that may come through me, at any point in ministry, is more the result of other people praying for me than it is of me praying for myself,” Iorg said.
“You show dependence, graduates, when you go out from this place with the good spiritual sense to ask people to pray for you,” he said. “You need it more than you know.”
Iorg also challenged the graduates to depend on the Lord. “I challenge you to trust in the promises of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is faithful; He will strengthen you; He will guard you; and if you look through His Word you will find a thousand other promises that He has made to you. He will be more faithful to His Word than any other person or source you might trust.”
In addition to showing dependence by asking for prayer from others and depending on the Lord’s promises, Iorg encouraged the graduates to depend on God by humbling themselves and praying.
“My hope is that as you leave seminary, even tomorrow morning, you will get up and cry, ‘Lord, I don’t know how to do Your work. Empower me to get Your work done. Show me how to do Your work. Lord, I am depending on You.’”
In addition to the challenge from the president, the graduates heard the testimony of fellow graduate Elizabeth Latour as she shared how her seminary experience forced her to rely on God. “My obedience does not secure for me a comfortable life, but the opportunities to see God’s power and glory made perfect in my life.” Latour, a former International Mission Board Journeyman, plans to earn an additional degree before returning to service in Asia.
James Misloski and Derek Guyton were presented with the William O. Crews Presidential Leadership Award, which was established by the former GGBTS president and his wife for students who exhibit exceptional leadership potential.
Misloski, a master of divinity graduate, was chosen for his exemplary church planting and pastoral ministry service in Colorado. Having planted seven churches in northern Colorado, Misloski currently is coordinating a network of church planters in the area and serving as lead pastor of Loveland (Colo.) Community Church.
Guyton, pastor of First Missionary Baptist Church in Marin City, Calif., and a doctor of ministry graduate, was chosen for his innovative ministry and outreach to the hip-hop culture of Marin County and San Francisco.
Within the graduating class of 41 students, 11 states were represented as well as three countries. The degrees presented include: diploma in Christian ministries, diploma in theology, master of arts in educational leadership, master of arts in theological studies, master of divinity, master of divinity with a concentration in biblical studies, master of divinity with a concentration in church planting, master of theology and doctor of ministry.
Golden Gate is a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention and operates five fully accredited campuses in Northern California, Southern California, Pacific Northwest, Arizona and Colorado.