IORG: Record giving to send students on mission
NEW ORLEANS -- During his address at the 2023 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting, Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg reported a record graduating class and more than $3 million in special gifts in to the 22-23 academic year.
Between winter 2022 and spring 2023 commencement ceremonies, Gateway celebrated 348 graduates, the largest number in any year of the Seminary’s history.
Gateway received a number of special donations since November 2022, including a $2 million gift that established the Go Grant Endowment fund. The Go Grant is reserved specifically to send eligible Gateway students on short-term mission trips.
“One of my dreams has been to provide hundreds of Gateway students a hands-on, international missions experience,“ Iorg said.
“Now, with this endowment, we will be sending hundreds of students in the future.”
To qualify a student only needs to have completed 20 credit hours in a core program at Gateway. The Go Grant will cover the cost of Gateway-sponsored mission trips, including travel, lodging, food and tuition for students who may earn class credit as part of the experience.
Dr. Iorg shared with messengers the value of providing students opportunities to go on mission trips.
“First, some students will be called to a lifetime of missionary service through these trips,” Iorg said.
“Second, all students who serve internationally will have their worldview expanded and better understand the global church.”
“Third, students who go on a mission trip – even if they later remain in the US – will become more passionate advocates for missions because they have first-hand experience with the needs of the world.”
“Finally,” he said, “sending students and faculty on these trips helps keep our school centered on its mission of expanding God’s kingdom around the world.”
Additionally, Iorg said the Seminary received two unique, in-kind gifts.
Gateway professor Mike Kuykendall and his brother Terry donated a significant collection of historic Bibles.
“Dr. Michael Kuykendall retires this summer after 30 years as a professor of New Testament at Gateway,” Iorg said.
“He and his brother, Terry, have been gathering historic Bibles for many years and Gateway is grateful for the trust they have shown in donating their collection to us.”
Included in the 1,400 volumes are a first edition 1611 King James Version, a number of Bibles from the 1500’s and an extensive assemblage of early American Bibles.
The Seminary also received a Torah Scroll from Ken and Barbara Larson. It is 150 years old but is no longer kosher and therefore no longer usable in a synagogue. This is the third scroll in Gateway’s library collection.
“We use these [scrolls] to help students understand the transmission of the Old Testament throughout history and gain an immersive experience reading God’s Word in a unique format,” Iorg said.
Another important gift received by the Seminary came from the estate of Leo and Joanna Rollins.
“The Rollins were rank-and-file Baptists who wisely managed their money,” he said.
The Baptist Foundation of California managed the Rollins estate. After the initial recipient of the proceeds of their estate passed away, Gateway received the balance of nearly $600,000.
“They are a good example for the rest of us. We all have the opportunity to leave a financial legacy,” Iorg said.
The Seminary also received more than $300,000 in gifts to a variety of established scholarships.
Iorg reported more than $164 million in Cooperative Program funds have been given to the school since 1950, the year the SBC adopted Gateway Seminary.
“These gifts have provided the bedrock support that sustains our enrollment of more than 2,000 students every year,” Iorg said.
“Looking back is encouraging, but looking forward is our ever-present challenge.”
“Thank you for your steadfast partnership as we celebrate God’s provision.”