Jeff Iorg Blog

Supernatural Unity

Sep 15 2014

Over the past few months, the Golden Gate community has been dealing with the sale of our Northern California property and the pending relocation of our primary campus. This is more than just a property deal. The seminary is changing in dramatic ways – its operational structure, administrative processes, and public identity. It’s difficult to imagine a school going through more changes - and transitions - than we are going through right now. 

The impact on the people involved, and their response, has been of great concern. We knew people would move through the stages of the grief process – shock, anger, denial, bargaining, exploration, and adjustment. We knew students would be disjointed, employees unsettled, graduates disappointed, and supporters concerned about the future. How all this is working itself out is turning into a remarkable, even supernatural, demonstration of unity. 

The seminary family has responded with resolute focus and determination. Emotions have been kept in check, expressed appropriately as all of us feel deeply about the process. Prayerful discernment has been evident in both the questions raised and the conclusions reached as information has been assimilated. The response by students has been particularly impressive. Some students have thanked me for allowing them to go through the huge change as a learning process for them. Surprisingly, dozens of new students enrolled this semester at the Northern California campus for their first term – knowing full well the seminary is moving. One new student told me he specifically came to Golden Gate because we were moving and he didn’t want to miss the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. 

Real unity is not faking agreement. Real unity is honestly facing organizational issues, personal impact, spiritual motivations, mixed responses, and intermingled agendas. Real unity is facing all the messiness of a complicated situation and deciding to stand together, believing shared mission eclipses personal needs. Real unity is an expression of spiritual maturity – and it’s humbling to be part of it. 

Right now we are enjoying unity which can only be attributed to God’s blessing. The Golden Gate team believes we are on the right track. God has validated our relocation decision in numerous ways. Stay tuned – we will be making another major announcement in chapel at the Northern California Campus this Thursday. God has blessed us with a huge confirmation we are rightly pursuing his mission for our school. See you Thursday if you are in the area – or watch social media for the big news.


Happy Birthday

Sep 02 2014

On September 4, 1944, the first classes were offered at Golden Gate Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. That’s right – we started with “Southern” in our name. Our proposed name change includes it again in our legal a name, a return to our roots in a sense. By any name, we have been training people for global ministry for 70 years! 

This week, we will celebrate our 70th anniversary with a free lunch and birthday party at our Mill Valley, California campus. The event is Thursday, September 4, from 12:30-2:00 p.m. in the cafeteria. If you are on campus, or anywhere in Northern California, come for a special chapel at 11:00 a.m. and then stay for the party. 

Our focus for the past few months has been almost non-stop discussion about our future – land sale, campus purchase, transition issues, etc. That’s not likely to diminish in the next few months. We are headed into a bright new future and excited about it. But, that doesn’t preclude celebrating who we are and what past generations have made possible by their hard work and sacrifice. We are still Golden Gate Seminary – and appropriately proud of it! We are changing, and enthusiastic about what we are becoming. But we are also proud of our past and the remarkable way God has used us to impact the world for Him. 

We hope to see you at the party!


The Adventurers

Aug 25 2014

When I announced we were selling our primary campus near Mill Valley, California and relocating to Southern California, we expected a student exodus – at least a small one! After all, students came for ministry training and any disruption to those plans is an unnecessary distraction. Well, that simply has not happened. 

Most of the students who were already enrolled have stayed, and to our surprise, a significant number of new students have enrolled for the Fall semester – with full knowledge that the seminary may relocate before they complete their degrees. These students will have several options for finishing their degrees – moving to Southern California, taking online courses, taking courses at the new Bay Area Campus, or at any of our other campuses. No matter the option chosen, these students will have to make extra effort to graduate. 

When asked why they wanted to be part of a seminary in major transition, several cited the transition as the attraction. They have told me they admire our school’s resolute commitment to our mission, our willingness to make dramatic changes to assure our long-term health, and the unity and determination of our faculty and staff who are making all this happen. One new student described this as a “once-in-history opportunity” to see God’s people “doing something no one has ever done before.” He called it a “great adventure.” 

That’s the attitude we see reflected in so many who are staying with us or joining us during our transition. It’s a privilege to work with such amazing people and train such enthusiastic students. When this is all over, we will look back with awe at God’s sustaining grace to get us through it. We will also share a unique bond as the people who went through it all together. It’s not too late to get in on the adventure. Spring enrollment is just around the corner!


A Seminary by Any Other Name is Still a Seminary

Aug 18 2014

After we announced the sale of our property in Mill Valley, California and purchase of a new campus site in Ontario, California, an oft-asked question was “Is the seminary going to change its name?” The name Golden Gate Seminary connects us with a beautiful bridge and rich heritage in the San Francisco Bay Area. Under that name, we have sent more than 8,000 graduates across America and around the world. Our current name has served us well and helped define our identity. 

We have had a growing sense; however, that bearing a name so closely associated with an iconic landmark won’t serve us as well when our primary campus is in the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles. Ever since we have been seriously considering relocating, we have also been analyzing the options and factors related to a new name. While there are many challenges with making such a change, choosing to do so now - while we are relocating - is the wisest course of action. 

Since we are owned by the Southern Baptist Convention, a vote of the messengers at the annual meeting (actually two votes in consecutive years) is required. Our Board of Trustees has voted to ask the SBC to change our legal name to - Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention. The primary designator “Gateway Seminary” will be used in public communication. Here are the top ten reasons we chose this name: 

1. It eliminates geographic identity – since our program can be offered anywhere in the world.
2. It differentiates us from other SBC seminaries by breaking the denominational pattern of geographic names.
3. It gives us the opportunity to build a new evangelical brand – managing the message of how we market ourselves to accentuate our strengths.
4. It connects to our heritage as Golden Gate Seminary – Gateway is already the name of our magazine.
5. It connects with a biblical motif – Jesus is the Gate (John 10:7, 9).
6. It has multiple marketing angles - gateway to your future, gateway to the world, gateway to your ministry, etc.
7. It is distinctive – no other seminary has this name.
8. It retains our Baptist identity and denominational affiliation.
9. It can be used with our award winning logo, nameplate, and tag line.
10. It follows the well-received pattern established by LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBC and Guidestone Financial Resources of the SBC. 

Our proposed new name may also have some weaknesses, but far fewer than the other options we considered. Like anything new, it will take some getting used to it. Several of us have had a few months to adjust and the more we use the new name, the more we like it. Judging from the early response, many of you like it as well. Given time, it will have the same powerful meaning as “Golden Gate Seminary” has had for so many of you for the past 70 years.