SBC Life Articles

Matters for Consideration

Golden Gate Seminary Name Change

Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, charges graduates to live lives and lead ministries worth monuments during the last winter commencement to be held on the northern California campus at Mill Valley. Photo by Kate Weatherly.

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary will become Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention if the name change is approved by a vote of messengers to this summer’s SBC annual meeting in Saint Louis, Missouri.

SBC bylaws require two successive votes to change the seminary’s name to Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.

“Based on the overwhelmingly positive first vote on this issue in 2015, we have been preparing for immediate implementation of an affirmative decision if it is made by the messengers in 2016,” Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Seminary, said. “This may make the 2016 convention unique as a new seminary identity likely enters the history of the Southern Baptist Convention.”

The change in name corresponds to the relocation of the seminary’s main campus from Mill Valley, California, to Ontario, California, a process that began in 2014. The seminary will retain a presence in the Bay Area with a new branch campus in Fremont.

“We have had virtually no opposition to the relocation,” Iorg said. “Obviously, many people are saddened by the decision to leave our beautiful Mill Valley property where there are so many significant memories. But across the board—faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends have poured out their support for the decision. We are making this major move without internal division or external attacks. God is blessing us with unity that comes from resolute focus on His mission.”

Iorg noted that building officials have streamlined the process, which he said was not always the case in California; more than $4.25 million in special gifts has been donated for relocation-related projects; and the seminary continues to enroll large numbers of students, even while changing locations. In addition, the seminary’s regional campuses in Vancouver, Washington; Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; and Brea, California have remained operational.

“While we have worked hard to manage the transition, I cannot explain these results by those efforts,” he said, “except to say it is God’s hand on Golden Gate Seminary.”

He added that the move to the new main campus will be completed debt-free and with two new facilities to serve as anchor campuses on the West Coast.

“The [Southern California] facility in Ontario, California, is a state-of-art twenty-first century educational center with more than 150,000 square feet of usable space,” Iorg said. The facility in Fremont will serve 250–300 commuter students in the Bay Area to continue the seminary’s historic ministry near San Francisco. “We are spending about $45 million to complete these facilities debt-free,” he said.

Iorg emphasized that the new facilities’ designs would be mission-specific, devoted to the seminary’s educational programs and equipped to handle the educational delivery demands of the future.

Time Allotted for Discussion Following Entity Reports to be Considered

Time Allotted for Discussion Following Entity Reports to be Considered

Messengers raise their ballots during a business session at the 2015 SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Photo by Paul W. Lee.

The SBC Executive Committee voted in its February 23 meeting to recommend to the Southern Baptist Convention an amendment to SBC Bylaw 26.

The “Procedures” bylaw directs how messengers are provided adequate information at each year’s annual meeting to make wise decisions about Convention business.

Section A outlines the duty of entities, special committees, and the Convention’s standing committee to submit printed reports and recommendations to messengers.

Section B describes how motions are routinely dealt with, whether automatically referred (all motions dealing with the internal operations or ministries of an entity) or acted on by the Convention in session. It stipulates that entities are required to report in writing to the Convention the following year addressing how the matter was considered and what actions, if any, were taken on the referred motion.

Section C requires an opportunity for verbal interaction between messengers and the entities during the annual meeting. Presently, time to devoted to such exchanges is expressed as “one-third” of the time allotted for each entity’s report.

According to background material provided to members of the Executive Committee, this requirement has led to an artificial division of entity program components into “presentations” and “reports,” with SBC Bylaw 26.C being applied only to program time designated by the entity as its “report” segment.

Entity program segments for “reports” have varied in time in recent years, often ranging from eight to ten minutes. The resultant “one-third” of allotted minutes guarantees no minimum length of time for messenger inquiry about entity work.

The Executive Committee considered the adjustment to SBC Bylaw 26.C shown below in the interest of “promoting greater transparency, amenability to the constituency, and a broader understanding of the work of the Convention’s entities” and to avoid “variability in length of time” from year to year for discussion of entity ministries.

This recommendation, if approved, has the additional benefit of providing opportunity for entity leaders to stand together in demonstration of visible unity and pool their report minutes to allow for greater messenger participation.

(Note: Recommended changes are abridged in this issue of SBC LIFE in order to highlight only the changes in the proposal. Addition of text is indicated by underline and deletion of text is indicated by strikethrough.)

SBC Bylaw Amendment Regarding Discussion Following Entity Reports

SBC Bylaw 26.C—Renaming and Amending Current Language as Follows

RECOMMENDATION: That the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention recommend to the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Saint Louis, Missouri, June 14–15, 2016, that SBC Bylaw 26.C. Limitations be retitled and amended to provide messengers with a guaranteed amount of time to inquire about and discuss entity work, as follows:

26. Procedures:

C. Limitations: The last one-third of the time allotted for consideration of every entity report before the Convention shall be reserved for discussion from the floor.

C. Questions to Entities: The program recommended by the Committee on Order of Business shall provide a time or times for questions from the floor regarding entity work. The program shall state which entities may be questioned in a particular segment and provide no less than four (4) minutes times the number of entities included for discussion during that time, but the total time in any such segment need not be evenly apportioned among the entities then included for discussion.

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