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SBC DIGEST: Gateway, Midwestern trustee meetings

Gateway’s present strength has historic foundations, trustees told

By Tyler Sanders/Gateway Seminary

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (BP) – Reporting the highest fall headcount in core programs in the history of Gateway Seminary, President Jeff Iorg told the institution’s trustees of growth amid pandemic and recessionary pressures.

In a report to trustees, Iorg said Gateway had reached the highest fall headcount in master’s programs in the school’s history. The fall 2022 headcount of 933 is a 5.6 percent increase over fall 2021. Fall 2022 enrolled hours increased 5.2 percent from 2021 to a total of 5,017, the highest mark since fall 2006. The Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) program also reached an all-time high enrollment of 282.

Pointing to the past as a source of historic strength, Iorg shared a story of a faithful California church at a dinner following the fall 2022 trustee meeting.

Iorg had recently preached at Southwinds Church in Tracy, Calif., during its 75th anniversary celebration. To prepare for the celebration, church members reviewed historic documents and found minutes from the first business meeting of the church, then known as First Baptist Church of Tracy.

“Here is the weekly budget in September 1947, the founding week of First Baptist Church in Tracy,” Iorg said.

“Rent – six dollars; Pastor salary – five dollars; Literature 90 cents; Sunday bulletin – 50 cents; Cooperative Program – one dollar. The last line: Golden Gate Seminary – 50 cents,” he said.

Gateway Seminary was founded as Golden Gate Seminary in 1944 and was adopted into the Southern Baptist Convention in 1950. Prior to that time, the seminary depended on gifts from individuals and churches.

“When Golden Gate Seminary was still an embryonic dream, this band of people in Tracy, Calif., decided to launch a church, and in their first meeting said, ‘Out of that $13.90 budget, we are going to give $1.50 to missions, a dollar to the Cooperative Program and 50 cents to the Seminary,’” he said.

“I wonder if those believers have any awareness, while they’re celebrating in heaven, of what their 50 cents has become,” he said.

In other business, trustees approved the hiring of Garrett Ho as associate professor of leadership and associate director of the D.Min. program. Ho is an alumnus of Gateway’s D.Min. program and serves as pastor of operations at Mandarin Baptist Church of Los Angeles and chaplain of the Alhambra Police Department.

Trustees also approved a new strategic plan to open multiple teaching sites as part of the seminary’s commitment to training leaders in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. In 2016, Gateway opened a campus in Fremont, Calif.

“While there has been much good work done through that campus, the enrollment at that location has not been what we expected nor what we hoped it would be,” Iorg said.

He said the challenges of starting a new campus, COVID-19 and commuting difficulties and costs have all contributed to low enrollment at the campus. 

“This past summer, we spoke with students, employees and ministry partners in the Bay Area about what we can do to best serve the needs of the region,” he said.

“What we concluded was in-person instruction in the Bay Area is very important to both students and us. The request was for more locations to augment our work in Fremont.”

The plan is to launch up to two new teaching sites by fall 2023 while continuing to use the campus in Fremont. Trustees also approved a plan to market the campus for sale, but made no final decision about that possibility.

“At some point in the future, we may sell it, but we are under no compulsion to do so,” Iorg said. 

“We will wait and see how the campus fits into our long-term commitment to the Bay Area and Northern California.”

Additionally, trustees adopted a plan to implement a solar power structure in the parking lot of the campus in Ontario, Calif. The plan is projected to result in $2 million in utility savings for the seminary over the next 20 years.

MBTS trustee meeting includes 10-year celebration, newly endowed chair, five-year plan

By Brett Fredenberg/MBTS

KANSAS CITY, Mo – Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s fall trustee meeting focused on celebrating God’s kind providence to the seminary over the last 10 years, the strategic plan for the next five years, another record enrollment and recently announced financial gifts to the institution.

During his president’s report, Jason Allen, who celebrated his 10th anniversary in the role during the Oct. 17-18 meeting, reminded trustees of the significance of their task and responsibility of their stewardship.

“Just as we celebrate the great things God has done at Midwestern Seminary,” Allen said, “we must continue to protect ourselves and guard against the rot of the small things. The best way to guard against the rot in the small things is by prioritizing the big things.”

Reading from Matthew 28:18-20, Allen reminded trustees of the marching orders for the Church to make disciples of all nations.

He said, “We want to be able to draw a direct line from our service day to day to the fulfilling of the Great Commission. God will be faithful to this institution as we remain faithful to the Great Commission.”

“We rejoice this morning that we can report again, for a 10th consecutive year, a record enrollment this past year with a total headcount of 4,917 and this fall to be up again 5 percent, and to present financial statements that show financial robustness in God’s ongoing blessing on us and this institution in a broader context of so much challenge.

“We also rejoice as a seminary, in a denomination of great need, to be a place that our convention of churches can look to and find stability and health and an appropriate mission focus, and to look to our graduates who have been trained well. We take that not for granted, but we do speak of it with great joy and an appropriate sense of institutional pride.

“We rejoice in God’s kindness, we rejoice in what He has done in the past 10 years, and we rejoice in what we believe He is going to give us in the next 5 years.”

In further institutional updates, trustees voted on recommendations from the academic committee and executive committee.

In recommendations from the academic committee, the trustees voted to renew Jason DeRouchie’s faculty contract for the next three years and to approve a six-month sabbatical for Geoff Chang in the upcoming year.

Additional trustee business included adopting three recommendations from the executive committee, including the formation of an ad hoc legal affairs committee and the adoption of an updated Five Year Strategic Priorities Plan.

Finally, the board completed its meeting by approving a newly drafted resolutions document titled, “Resolution of Thanksgiving and Appreciation for Dr. Jason K. Allen on his Tenth Anniversary at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.” 

‘Five Strategic Priorities’

Following the Trustee meeting, Allen shared the approved five-year strategic vision with the broader Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College community in a special chapel service. As he said, “Each of these five priorities is of monumental importance, and they give us a clear sense of the markers to run after for the next five years.”

First, the priority of mission faithfulness. Allen shared, “Our greatest commitment is to the Bible as the Word of God, which is manifested in our commitment to uphold our four confessional statements.” He also shared the institutional commitments to the for the Church and for the Kingdom visions in addition to the commitment to Southern Baptist churches.

Second, the priority of student success. Speaking to the continued need for this priority, Allen said, “Our greatest urgency is to produce graduates in sufficient numbers and of sufficient quality to meet the needs of Southern Baptist churches.”

Third, the priority of faculty strength. Allen stated, “Our accomplished faculty isn’t just an institutional advantage to enjoy, it’s an institutional stewardship to exercise. We thus prioritize the essential marks of a faithful faculty: theological integrity, spiritual maturity, scholarly accomplishment, student devotedness, local-church focus, and Great Commission commitment.”

Fourth, the priority of a flourishing community. “We are not a loose collection of employees and students,” he said. “We are a committed people, joined together in community for spiritual growth, service, and ministry.”

Fifth, the priority of intergenerational stewardship. He concluded by stating, “We continue to prioritize a robust business model that emphasizes financial strength, as marked by our commitment to avoid indebtedness and to grow our endowment.”

Endowed Chair

Signifying the importance of institutional stewardship, Allen ended the chapel service by announcing a new endowed chair, the Wayne and Berna Dean Lee Endowed Chair of Church Music and Worship Ministries. 

As Allen shared, “There is a chance that this institution would not be here today apart from this couple, and this man’s leadership as a trustee at the seminary in the 2000s. At a very critical stage in the life on this institution, Wayne stepped forward with great courage and conviction as a trustee and chairman of the board of trustees and gave heroic leadership. The Lees have been relentlessly generous with their time and financial resources. Thus, we are, again, thankful to them for funding this endowed chair.”

Allen said to the Lees, “It is an honor to announce this newly endowed chair in your name.” He went on to explain the significance of endowed chairs in the life of an institution and the honor for the individual, stating how the endowment provides a base of financial support for a professor’s salary from funds that have been devoted to a professorship in perpetuity.

The Wayne and Berna Dean Lee Endowed Chair of Church Music and Worship Ministries is the sixth endowed chair established at Midwestern Seminary.

Before concluding the chapel service, Lee Roberson, chairman of the board of trustees, presented Allen with a plaque commemorating their approved resolution in support of his leadership and the vision of Midwestern Seminary and Spurgeon College.

Midwestern Seminary’s Board of Trustees consists of 35 members and meets biannually in October and April.

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