Gateway Seminary celebrates first year in new locations
PHOENIX, Ariz. (June 14, 2017)—Dr. Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary, told messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Phoenix, Ariz., that the past year had been one of celebration and success as the Seminary completed its first year with a new name in two new locations in Ontario and Fremont, Calif.
“Built on the legacy of Golden Gate Seminary, we continue to be your seminary in the West delivering theological education and leadership training at our five campuses, including one here in Phoenix,” he said.
In addition to the two new facilities, Gateway launched Gateway Live, a video conferencing system that makes live classroom participation possible from virtually anywhere in the world, and expanded Gateway Online, a delivery system offering multiple degrees in an online format.
“We truly are a global seminary, in more ways than ever,” Iorg said.
He announced a new academic program to train Mandarin-speaking leaders—a Chinese-English bilingual program—will begin offering classes this fall and will eventually use all the Seminary’s delivery systems to train Mandarin-speaking leaders around the world. Gateway also has retooled the Contextualized Leadership Development program with a simplified curriculum and a new name, Advance.
“This program continues to be a vital entry-level program for students with limited English language skills as well as a key source for training bi-vocational ministry leaders across the West,” Iorg said. “We are grateful to announce we have received nearly $2 million in special gifts this year to support our work and launch these new initiatives.”
Iorg said that the biggest celebration was the number of new students who enrolled at Gateway
“We pushed hard for students to graduate so they would not have to relocate when the Seminary moved,” he said. “Now that we are fully operational in our new locations, we are seeing large numbers of new students enroll, including an all-time record of new applicants approved for this coming fall. We are rebuilding our student body and expect it to grow to its former strength and beyond in the next few years.”
Iorg said that the Seminary also experienced sadness in the death of President Emeritus William O. Crews, who passed away in February after a brief illness. As Iorg was sorting through Crews’ presidential papers, he came across a letter from Dr. Harold Graves, former Golden Gate president. It explained the presence of a small plaque over the door of a classroom at the former campus in Mill Valley, Calif., that read “William Conover Chapel.” No one knew Conover or how the room had received its name.
The letter from Graves explained that the Seminary had had difficult months following the 1950 decision of the SBC to accept it as an institution to be owned and operated by them. The summer before the SBC would assume control on January 1, 1951, it was apparent they must act sooner if the school was to survive. The Seminary’s chairman of the board wrote the SBC Executive Committee and asked for a special allocation of $50,000 to allow classes to open for the fall semester.
“Almost simultaneously with this exchange of letters, the Executive Committee received a letter from an attorney concerning the settlement of an estate,” said Iorg, reading from the letter. “(In 1932), a Mr. William Conover had died, leaving his estate in trust for his children and grandchildren. They were to be paid income until their deaths, and then the residue was to be given to a Southern Baptist Seminary.
“The heirs had all died, leaving $51,839.81 in the estate. After due consideration, the Executive Committee sent a check to Golden Gate Seminary for $53,000.”
Iorg noted that Graves had concluded the letter with the exclamation “God works in mysterious ways, His wonders to perform.”
He said the story had important implications for Gateway Seminary and for the Southern Baptist Convention.
“William Conover died in 1932, Golden Gate was founded in 1944 and was adopted by the SBC in 1950. Now, 85 years after Mr. Conover’s death and 65 years after his gift saved our school, Gateway Seminary stands strong as a Southern Baptist sentinel in the West for the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Iorg expressed thanks to the Executive Committee in the 100th anniversary of their work for their support of the Seminary.
“Thank you for your skilled leadership today and the history of your work in our school. The Executive Committee saved our school in the 1950s, and you continue to sustain us in our work today.”
He also thanked Southern Baptists for their support.
“Thank you, Southern Baptists, for standing with us. Thank you for supporting us through the Cooperative Program, for sending us students and for praying for us. We are proud to be a seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention.”