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SBC leaders see bright future for Gateway under Groza’s leadership

Adam Groza with his wife Holly and children Cosette, Charlie, Christian and Cate.

ONTARIO, Calif. (BP) – Accolades are pouring in for Adam Groza, who was nominated to follow Jeff Iorg as president of Gateway Seminary. The formal announcement was made April 2, and Gateway trustees are expected to vote during their meeting April 15-16.

“Congratulations to Dr. Adam Groza and Gateway Seminary for this good news,” said Albert Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, in written comments for Baptist Press. “It says a great deal about the strength of Gateway Seminary that they found their next president within the institution.

“Dr. Groza’s gifts, convictions, and vision for Gateway drew the confidence of the search committee, and I am confident that great days are ahead for the seminary.”

Groza joined Gateway in 2010 and currently serves as vice president for enrollment and student services and associate professor of philosophy. Gateway reported a fall 2022 total enrollment of 2,182 students, according to the 2023 SBC Annual.

“Strength is added to strength and great days are ahead,” Mohler said. Other seminary presidents also expressed their strong support of the nomination.

“I am thankful that God has raised up a man who will follow in the footsteps of Dr. Iorg and continue the faithful ministry of Gateway Seminary,” said Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in comments to Baptist Press. “I look forward to working alongside Dr. Groza in the days ahead.”

New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary president Jamie Dew said he also looks forward to Gateway trustees’ affirmation of Groza.

“[Groza] is a man deeply committed to God’s Word, the local church, the SBC and Gateway Seminary,” Dew said. “Moreover, Southern Baptists will love his humble and down to earth leadership.”

A Southern Baptist seminarian

Prior to coming to Gateway, Groza served as the director of admissions, associate director of the Riley Events Center and an appointed faculty member at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

SWBTS president David Dockery told BP, “The Southwestern Seminary community joins me in expressing their excitement and support for the announcement that Adam Groza, a two-time Southwestern alum, will be recommended to serve as the next president at Gateway Seminary.”

Groza holds a B.S. from Northern Arizona University, an M.Div. from The Master’s Seminary, a Th.M. from SWBTS and a Ph.D. from SWBTS.

“Dr. Groza is a gifted leader and a fine Christian thinker, deeply committed to the Lordship of Christ and to faithful theological education,” Dockery said. “His years of service alongside President Jeff Iorg should make for a seamless transition at Gateway, allowing them to continue their concerted efforts to prepare future generations to take the Gospel to the nations.”

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Jason Allen told BP that as a “sister Southern Baptist institution,” Midwestern would “continue to root for” Gateway.

“We rejoice with them in the many accomplishments of Dr. Jeff Iorg’s tenure, and in God’s evident provision of Dr. Adam Groza to lead them into a new season of faithful ministry,” Allen said. “As we await the board of trustees’ official action in this regard, we’ll be praying for Dr. Groza, Gateway Seminary, and for a bright future for both.”

Groza has authored or contributed to four books, including last year’s “Unraveling Philosophy,” authored with theologian J.P. Moreland and published by B&H Academic. He also wrote “Faith Wins: Making it Through a Crisis of Belief,” published by New Hope Publishers in 2020, and contributed to “Christianity and Idealism,” published by Bloomsbury Press in 2016, and “Ministry and the New Marriage Culture,” published by B&H in 2015.

Since 2017, Groza has served as a research fellow of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission. ERLC President Brent Leatherwood also welcomed the news of Groza’s nomination.

“The appointment of Dr. Adam Groza to serve as the next president of Gateway Seminary is such good news for the institution and for the Southern Baptist Convention,” Leatherwood said. “Dr. Groza has been an essential part of the success at the seminary over the years and now has been tapped to lead this great entity. … We are thankful for his service in SBC Life.”

Groza has served as a pastor or interim pastor at several churches in Texas and California, and he is currently serving Southern Baptists as a member of the Great Commission Resurgence Evaluation Task Force, which will present its findings to messengers at the SBC annual meeting in June.

A missions advocate

Gateway has made students’ involvement in missions a priority. In 2023, the seminary announced a partnership with the International Mission Board allowing each qualified student to participate in a fully-funded short term mission trip. At the time, Iorg called the partnership a dream come true.

“When I first became Gateway’s president almost 20 years ago, one of my dreams was for every student to have an international missions experience while they were enrolled at Gateway,” Iorg said. “God has provided a way to give future missionaries, pastors, youth ministers and worship leaders an invaluable experience on the mission field as a part of their education.”

IMB president Paul Chitwood believes the strong partnership between the seminary and the IMB will continue under Groza’s leadership.

“Under Jeff Iorg’s leadership, Gateway Seminary has been an incredible partner with the IMB,” Chitwood told BP. “I’m excited about the potential of working with Adam Groza as both entities remain focused on serving Southern Baptists in carrying out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations.”

Woman’s Missionary Union president Sandy Wisdom-Martin believes God has been shaping Groza for the lead role.

“Everything in his life has prepared Dr. Groza for this critical hinge in history,” Wisdom-Martin said. “He is a prophetic voice for our generation. Dr. Groza has responded to God’s call and Southern Baptists will be blessed by his faithful service.”

A study in leadership

Groza’s tenure at Gateway has seen major change at the institution, including a name change and a 400-mile relocation to Southern California in 2016. Groza was instrumental in these transitions.

Kevin Ezell, Ben Mandrell and Jonathan Howe believe Groza’s leadership experience will pay dividends for the seminary and Southern Baptists.

“Adam Groza has faithfully ministered at Gateway for many years now, quietly serving Southern Baptists well and training leaders to fulfill the Great Commission, said Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board. “He’s an excellent candidate to take the baton from Jeff Iorg and lead Gateway Seminary into the future.”

Lifeway Christian Resources President/CEO Ben Mandrell said outgoing President Iorg is “one of the finest leaders I’ve ever known.”

“And he speaks so highly of Adam,” Mandrell added. “It’s a testimony of Jeff’s leadership that such a strong leader was already in place at the seminary. I recently visited Gateway, and I could tell the culture is set and strong. Adam would be inheriting a very healthy organization. I have no doubt there are great days ahead for Gateway.”

Jonathan Howe, SBC Executive Committee interim president/CEO, said in written comments that Groza’s nomination “fills me with excitement for the future of Gateway Seminary.

“He is uniquely positioned to build on the foundation he helped build with Jeff Iorg over the past 14 years,” Howe said. “Gateway is an important and distinct seminary model for Southern Baptists, and Adam’s leadership and service to the seminary should position it for unparalleled future success.”

    About the Author

  • Brandon Porter

    Brandon Porter serves as Associate Vice President for Convention News at the SBC Executive Committee

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