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Never stop learning, Crews urges grads at Golden Gate commencement

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Graduation from seminary begins a lifelong journey of learning about ministry, Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary President William O. Crews told graduates at the school’s winter commencement ceremonies in December.

More than 70 graduates of Golden Gate, representing 21 states and five other countries, heard Crews recall his feelings about graduating from seminary 36 years ago and the need to continue learning.

“I remember sitting where you’re sitting and I looked forward to it because I thought at last I would be through,” Crews told the graduates. “But almost immediately, I learned the journey had just begun, and it’s required that you continue to grow in your ministry.”

Citing Luke 2:52, which states that Jesus grew in “wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men,” Crews said continuous learning is more important than ever.

“The need for effective leadership is so heightened today and it’s necessary to continue learning to grow as a person and as a leader,” he said. “The Lord needs your mind sharper, your gifts more effective. He deserves that. Do all that you can to serve him.”

Crews backed up his challenge with action, by graduating himself with a doctor of ministry degree from Golden Gate. Crews was part of a pilot “Executive Leadership Track” in the seminary’s doctor of ministry program, designed for church leaders and agency executives who work in multi-staff environments. Crews was among 18 doctor of ministry graduates, the largest group ever in the seminary’s history.

In addition to Crews, graduates this fall included a man who completed diploma studies at a Contextualized Leadership Development Center operating in an Oklahoma correctional center; a father and son who earned master of divinity degrees; a student who began his seminary course work on the Internet while serving as a missionary journeyman in West Africa; and men and women who are moving to countries to begin service in countries closed to traditional missionary endeavors.

The seminary gave the President’s Award for Excellence in Leadership to a student earning the master of arts in theological Studies, a program designed primarily for those serving in voluntary ministries and leadership in a local church setting. S. James Stephenson received the recognition for his contribution as a Bible teacher and lay leader at his local church, Bethel Baptist Church in Concord, Calif.

Stephenson came to Golden Gate in 1989, but “detoured” from his seminary studies after being asked by seminary officials to join the administrative staff as vice president for business affairs over the last decade. At the end of last year, he left that post in order to turn his attention back to completing his seminary degree.

In all, 11 degrees were represented among the 70 graduates: diploma in Christian ministries-CLD, diploma in theology-CLD, diploma in theology, master of music in church music, master of arts in intercultural studies, master of arts in intercultural ministries, master of arts in Christian education, master of arts in theological studies, master of divinity, master of theology and doctor of ministry.

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  • Cameron Crabtree