Winter Commencement December 10, 2010

Golden Gate Seminary Confers Degrees at Winter Commencement Ceremony

Eighty-eight students received degrees Friday evening, December 10, at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s 2010 winter commencement ceremony, held at First Baptist Church of San Francisco. Students came from the Seminary’s five campuses, as well as from several of its regional Contextualized Leadership Development centers.

The graduates represented 17 states and 8 countries, and received diplomas, masters and doctoral degrees. In all, 8 types of degrees were earned among the graduates: Diploma in Christian Ministries-CLD, Diploma in Theology-CLD, Master of Arts in Educational Leadership, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Philosophy.

The Seminary’s highest student award, the William O. Crews Presidential Leadership Award, was given to Richard Johnstone, a Doctor of Ministry graduate from the Northern California campus. “Rich is a recognized leader among California Southern Baptists. His doctoral project was outstanding,” said Seminary President Jeff Iorg. “He typifies the kind of effective leader Golden Gate is committed to producing for churches across the west and around the world.” Johnstone was also the recipient of the Will Edd & Lila Fae Langford Award, which is given to the candidate whose D.Min. project exemplifies excellence in design, implementation, evaluation, and impact.

Johnstone is the Director of Missions for Mid-Valley Southern Baptist Association in Fresno, California. In accepting his awards, he expressed appreciation for “the opportunity this program gave me to integrate both theory and practice in an actual ministry setting.” His son, Ethan, is extending the family’s studies at Golden Gate as a current student at the Southern California campus.

Two graduating students shared the story of their journeys towards earning their degrees. Maggie Arbino, who received a Master of Theological Studies degree, told the crowd how she was “blessed to have attended classes at Golden Gate Seminary since 1987, almost all of my adult life.” Her situation is also unique since her husband Gary Arbino is a Golden Gate professor of archeology and Old Testament.

Douglas Tiemann, who received a Master of Divinity degree, honored the faculty by describing how he had grown more confident during his time at Golden Gate. “My professors live their faith, and they have helped strengthen mine.”

Tiemann and his wife both participated in commencement exercises, with Reann earning the Master of Theological Studies degree.

Through its 64 Contextualized Leadership Development (CLD) centers across the country, operated in partnership with local churches, associations and state conventions, the Seminary conferred 50 Diplomas in Christian Ministries and 8 Diplomas in Theology.

One of these CLD graduates was Gary Lowe, of Utah, who received a Diploma in Christian Ministries. Before he started serving as a bi-vocational pastor, Lowe served a distinguished career in the Air Force. His service included 8 years as a pilot in the 89th Military Airlift Wing, Presidential Support, home of Air Force One. His duties included transporting the president of the United States. Lowe flew three presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H. Bush, and Bill Clinton.
“Day in and day out, I had a front row seat to history,” said 58-year-old Lowe. In addition to his current pastoral service, he is director of aviation/chief pilot for Sinclair Companies. He claims his CLD diploma is the first step in God’s leading toward full-time ministry. “There are so many resources available in the CLD program which benefit the layman to access seminary-level knowledge,” Lowe said. “It’s a spectacular program.”

President Jeff Iorg based his charge to the graduates on a group of characters in the Christmas story – the Shepherds. “These men are examples of everyday people who responded obediently to God’s direction.” He asked, “How is our seminary’s mission of shaping leaders who expand God’s kingdom around the world going to be accomplished through you?” Dr. Iorg summarized his message and answered the question in one sentence, “When everyday Christians respond to revelation with prompt obedience and tell people about Jesus.”

He encouraged the graduates to listen to God as he reveals himself in Jesus, through the Bible, and by the Spirit. He counseled, “Remember, delayed obedience is disobedience. I challenge you tonight to obey God - promptly, courageously, taking whatever risk is necessary to tell people about Jesus.”