ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) – Spring 2023 commencement ceremonies at Gateway Seminary marked the graduation of the largest class of students since the school’s founding in 1944.
President Jeff Iorg shared the achievement during the ceremony for the Los Angeles Campus on May 5, 2023, at Immanuel Baptist Church in Highland, Calif.
This spring, Gateway conferred 288 degrees – the most ever in a semester at the seminary. In total, Gateway graduated a record high of 348 graduates for the 2022-2023 academic year.
“We are grateful for the recognition we are able to bring to our graduates in these ceremonies,” Iorg said.
The commencement ceremonies also marked growth in the seminary’s commitment to international partnerships and graduates.
In Hong Kong, the Seminary will celebrate the first 26 graduates of the Hong Kong cohort of Gateway’s Chinese-English Bilingual (CEB) program. The program features a 36-hour Master of Theological Essentials (MTE) offered remotely to students living and working in Hong Kong in partnership with Saddleback Hong Kong Church. On May 20, Iorg will celebrate with these graduates at the inaugural Hong Kong commencement ceremony.
The seminary also conferred 40 ADVANCE Ministry Diplomas to students from the Asian Theological Institute (ATI) at the Pacific Northwest campus graduation in Vancouver, Wash.
ADVANCE Centers are hosted and managed by partner organizations, like ATI, around the world and offer classes in more than 16 languages including Burmese, Karen, Mongolian, Swahili, Russian and Arabic.
ATI is an ADVANCE Center based in Portland, Ore. Though their partnership with Gateway initially ran from 2003-2015, they relaunched in 2020 after the program director, Rev. Prachan Rodruan, recovered from cancer. Since then, they have become one of Gateway’s largest ADVANCE Centers. They offer classes primarily to Burmese and Karen Christians living in the Pacific Northwest, but students living in Myanmar often join remotely.
At the Los Angeles commencement ceremony, Iorg charged graduates to pursue God’s mission with “profound humility” and warned them to expect extraordinary challenges. He preached on II Corinthians 1:8-10.
“Affliction is a hard word; Paul didn’t say ‘difficulty’ or ‘struggle’ or ‘trial’ or ‘trouble,’” Iorg said.
“In His providence, [God] will allow you as a ministry leader to come to some circumstance in your life which will help you to understand that you cannot make it on your own,” Iorg said. “No matter how afflicted you become in a moment, you must trust in Him.”
“Even if it takes you to the point of and into death, you can still trust Him because God even raises the dead.”
Iorg charged the graduates to “walk out of here committed to fulfilling our mission of expanding God’s kingdom around the world,” he said. “But do so with profound humility in your heart that simply recognizes that apart from God and His sustaining power, you will not make it; but in God and in his sustaining power, you will.”