Winter Commencement 2008
One hundred and one students received degrees Friday evening at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s 2008 winter commencement ceremony, held at First Baptist Church of San Francisco. Students came from the Seminary’s five campuses, as well as several of its regional Contextualized Leadership Development centers. Five married couples were among those earning degrees.
The graduates represented 14 states and seven countries, and received diplomas, masters and doctorates of ministry. In all, 7 degrees were earned among the graduates: Diploma in Christian Ministries-CLD, Diploma in Theology-CLD,
Diploma in Theology, Master of Arts in Educational Leadership, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry.
In the commencement address, Seminary President Jeff Iorg
reminded the graduates to trust in God during their ministry even when they don’t feel worthy or confident, “God uses people you might not expect, in ways you might not expect, to accomplish his goals.” Iorg continued, “God uses inconsistent people, forgiven and restored people, unknown people, and anonymous people. Sometimes God chooses and uses unexpected people to accomplish his work – people just like us.” He urged the graduates to keep in mind that “God wants to use you to get the gospel to the nations. He has chosen you, and continues to shape you as a leader so you might accelerate the fulfillment of the Great Commission.”
The Seminary’s highest student award, the William O. Crews Presidential Leadership
Award, was given to Ryan Blackwell, a Master of Divinity graduate from the Northern California Campus. “Ryan is an outstanding young leader with remarkable potential for future pastoral effectiveness,” said Dr. Iorg. “He has proven himself, both in the seminary community and in local church service, to be worthy of this award.”
Two graduating students shared the story of their experiences at Golden Gate Seminary. Ryan Blackwell returned to the podium to explain how he learned over the past three years to trust God as his provider for job, home and family. “Whenever I felt inadequate and ill-equipped, God spoke to me,” Ryan said. “He told me ‘You can trust me, I will give you what you need.’ It is a testimony of how God uses things in ways we don’t think are possible.”
Gift Suison, who received a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership degree, described how “God repositioned me in my faith, through theological training, community and my relationship with Christ.” She stated how she continues “to be faithful and obedient to carry out what God wants me to do each day.”
Through its 49 Contextualized Leadership Development (CLD) centers across the country, operated in partnership with local churches, associations and state conventions, the Seminary also conferred 53 Diplomas in Christian Ministries and 11 Diplomas in Theology. This year the first Haitian CLD graduates were also commemorated. “It never ceases to amaze me how many language groups we are touching with our work,” noted Dr. Iorg. “God has truly made us a seminary for the nations.”