Jeff Iorg Blog

What a Party

May 23 2016

            We are having a multi-week graduation extravaganza – celebrating degree and diploma completions at all five campuses and two CLD locations.  Since these are the final graduates to have “Golden Gate Seminary” on their printed diplomas, there is a historic feel to the festivities.  Graduates realize they are part of the bridge generation – closing out one seminary identity and launching another.  It’s a unique experience.

            Some alumni have asked if it’s possible to convert a “Golden Gate” diploma to a “Gateway” diploma after the name change is official.  The answer is yes – but it is not required.  Alumni can indicate on their resume or vita: “Graduated from Golden Gate Seminary – renamed Gateway Seminary in 2016” and retain their Golden Gate documents.  They can also indicate on their resume or vita: “Graduated from Gateway Seminary” no matter when they originally graduated.  Both options are recognized as permissible.

If the name change is approved and if, as an alumnus, you want to exchange your Golden Gate Seminary diploma for a Gateway Seminary diploma, you may do so by contacting the Registrar’s office after August 1 (after we are fully operational and ready to respond at the new campus).   There will be a small processing charge and we will respond as quickly as possible based on the demand.  Other schools have reported a range of responses about reprinting diplomas based on their name change – from only a few requests to thousands.  We can’t predict what will happen but will respond as quickly as we can.

In the meantime, let’s continue celebrating this year’s Golden Gate graduates.  We have completed four ceremonies and have three more to go – including our San Quentin CLD program.  Thank God for the hard work these graduates have done.  Pray for many of them as they launch into new ministries in the next few weeks.


9000 Strong

May 16 2016

           Golden Gate will surpass 9,000 graduates later this year.  Our alumni are awesome!  The final official event on the Northern California Campus in Mill Valley will be an Alumni and Friends luncheon on Friday, May 20, 2016.  The event is sold out – a testament to the passion our alumni have for our school and their desire for emotional closure as the campus closes.

            When we announced the sale of the campus, we were unsure how our alumni would react.  Many of them had not experienced the conflict and turmoil of the past few years, like those of us living on or attending classes on campus.  Their response has been overwhelmingly positive.  Immediately after the announcement, we received about a dozen critical emails – mostly one-sentence complaints about my perceived leadership failure.

            Later, I received a thoughtfully written letter opposing the decision.  It deserved a personal response, so I sent a two-page reply addressing the writer’s concerns.  A few weeks later, he sent a follow up letter supporting the decision and thanking me for informing him more fully about the reasons and process for it.  That’s been the extent of the opposition.  As alumni have attended events and become more fully informed about the relocation process, this kind of measured response has been typical.  Our alumni have been models of responding to major change.

            As we commemorate the closure of Golden Gate Seminary’s Mill Valley location this Friday, we will reminisce about God’s work in our lives, share some tears over our sense of loss, and celebrate the amazing circumstances that have propelled us forward to two new campuses in California.  It will be an emotionally and spiritually uplifting time of recognizing how God’s plans surprise and thrill us as we follow him forward.


Last Major Events

May 09 2016

            The final two public events at the Mill Valley location of Golden Gate Seminary are happening in the next two weeks.  The final Chapel service will be Thursday, May 12, 11:00 a.m., and is open to everyone.  The final public event on campus will be an Alumni and Friends Luncheon on Friday, May 20, at Noon.  Reservations are required and can be made at

            Both of these events will be poignant moments for us.  We will celebrate what God has done at this location, commemorate the good work of so many who made owning this historic site possible, and look forward to the future God has for us in new locations beginning later this year.  There will be testimonies and tears, along with laughter and longing.  We hope to see you on campus for one or both of these events.

            We are now just over three weeks from closing the Mill Valley location.  As we get closer to the actual move, the tension (and the excitement) is mounting.  A few weeks ago, in another column, I described it like “100 weddings” all happening at once.  We are all stressed – but the good kind of stress – that leaves you emotionally spent but satisfied at the same time.  We continue to have remarkable unity as God gives us patience and determination to hold on to each other and make it through the relocation together.

            Pray of us.  We need physical and spiritual strength.  We also have many employee and student families who need wisdom about decisions related to housing, schools, jobs for spouses, and many other practical concerns.  We need stamina for packing, loading, and moving.  We also are at “crunch time” in the completion of our Ontario Campus.  Final inspections are happening and it seems like a thousand details all need to be completed at once.  All in all – it’s been an amazing process and we need God’s grace to sustain us to the end.

            Thank you for standing with us!


Things I Miss About Church - Part three

May 02 2016

            One more rant – and then I will go back to writing about moving a seminary!

            As I have written these past few weeks, I’m too young to remember the good old days wistfully, but I’m also old enough to remember how some church practices used to be done more effectively.

            I miss strategically involving people and building a ministry.  This happens when leaders call people to commitment and train them for sustained ministry leadership.  Back in the dinosaur days, churches appointed a group – you can call it a task force if it feels less bureaucratic – called a Nominating Committee.  Those church members were responsible to contact every member, find their most suitable ministry opportunity, place them in those roles, and help them get trained to do the job well.

            As part of this, program leaders focused on building church organizations – the skeleton on which church growth is sustained.  Today, many leaders believe ministry emerges organically and sustains itself magically.  Recruiting people, creating and building systems, and aggressively organizing are anathema.  Welcome to dreamland!  In reality, healthy churches are built systematically, with someone attending to developing the organization.

            These days, people are asked to teach a class “for a quarter” – and that’s equated with commitment.  In a past time, we recruited teachers by asking them to consider it as a calling - like John and Sarah Ferris who taught fifth grade in our church for more than ten years.  They believed it was their ministry – so they trained to do it, consulted with other teachers about ways to improve, and honed their skills through trial and error.  We counted on them year after year, while we developed other believers to take on new jobs – thus enlarging our ministry.

            I miss church leaders who saw their role as developing people and building ministry organizations.  It’s slow, hard work – but worth the effort and the only way to make a long-term difference in a community.