Jeff Iorg Blog

The Last Semester

Feb 01 2016

           The final semester for the Northern California Campus of Golden Gate Seminary kicks off this week.  We are now in the stretch drive toward our relocation to two new campuses – in Ontario and Fremont, California respectively.  The most common question people ask me about our transition is, “How is it going?”

            Short answer: amazingly well, far better than we hoped.  Our employees and students have risen above and beyond the call of duty to make the relocation happen – while at the same time – keeping the seminary fully operational.  We still have not canceled any classes or programs due to the relocation.  We have kept Golden Gate Seminary – with more than 2000 students – running at full speed while simultaneously building the organizational infrastructure, policy manuals, academic programs, and physical campuses to house Gateway Seminary.  Hats off to the people who are making this happen!

As we start the final semester, here is an astounding fact.  Two years ago - before we announced we were moving – we had 191 new students approved for the Spring semester.  Last year, we had the same number - 191.  This year, 216 new students are approved for enrollment in the Spring semester.  None of us predicted or expected we would have MORE new students coming to Golden Gate during the relocation than before we announced the move.  God has been good to us!

            We all recognize these next few months are going to be challenging.  We will sort, pack, and ship 60 years of accumulated seminary paraphernalia.  Many of us – employees and students – also have to pack and move their personal belongings.  Stop and pray for us – for patience, endurance, flexibility, and physical stamina to get it all done.

            We welcome you to come to Mill Valley to see the campus one last time.  We have planned a series of special events – check our website – to commemorate God’s activity on this location over the years.  Your presence is an encouragement!


Students Keep Coming

Jan 25 2016

One of the surprising aspects of our relocation has been our sustained enrollment through our transition.  Our system-wide enrollment has remained steady through the two year relocation process.  While enrollment at Mill Valley has declined (as would be expected), enrollment in our online and regional campuses has grown!  For this upcoming semester, we have 205 new students approved for enrollment across our total system.  We only had 181 approved for the spring semester last year.  I know, it makes no sense, but our school has actually attracted more new students while we are moving than before we made the announcement.

            It’s amazing that students have continued to enroll in large numbers despite the impending relocation.  What’s even more surprising is some students have told us they have come to Golden Gate because we are relocating.  As one student said, “I could’ve gone to seminary anywhere.  I can only make history once.”

            Even though we are closing the Mill Valley campus and moving to Ontario at the end of this semester, we have 24 new students approved for admissions in Mill Valley for this spring semester.  Most of these are Northern California commuters who will transfer to the Bay Area Campus next semester.  But there is at least one very special student – Jose Carillo – who moved from Oklahoma to Mill Valley to be a new residential student.  When I jokingly reminded (in case he had not heard!) that we are moving, he replied, “I know.  I just stopped off here and I’m going with you guys.  Can’t wait to get to Ontario!”

            Students like this make my day!  I’m glad God sent Jose and others like him our way.  It’s an honor to lead them through our major relocation.


Celebrating Friends

Jan 19 2016

          There are several pastors in the West who are making a significant impact in their communities.  These include men like A.B. Vines, Claybon Lea, John Wells, Brian Kennedy, and Anthony Dockery.  These men have at least two things in common: they are my friends and they all lead predominantly African-American churches.  Martin Luther King Sunday found me preaching at one of these churches – New Seasons, San Diego - having been their pulpit guest several times in years past on the same weekend.

            When I preach or teach at these churches, one of the most impressive aspects of the ministry is the number of men in leadership.  There is a significant sociological and spiritual crisis among African-American young men in American today.  Politicians debate the causes but pastors are the key to the solutions.  Pastors who connect with young men - calling them to make healthy choices and live responsibly - are solving the crisis one man at a time rather than just lamenting the problem.

            At the church where I spoke on Sunday, two young men publicly committed themselves to Jesus – walking forward in a crowded worship service to demonstrate their sincerity and conviction.  It was moving to see them come and even more touching to see the older men who received them and took them aside to counsel and encourage them.  It was a privilege to be part of these holy moments.  One of the men who responded had his young daughter in his arms.  How her life will change because of the commitment her father made this past Sunday!

            One of the blessings of living in California is being in a multicultural ministry environment.  It seems natural to me to worship in different languages, preach to people from various ethnicities, and enjoy all kinds of food from around the world.  My life is richer for these experiences with so many friends from so many backgrounds.  Thank God for the kingdom diversity and the privilege of celebrating it with friends!


A LIttle Girl Stole My Heart - Again

Jan 11 2016

Almost 30 years ago, a baby girl stole my heart.  Not sure how it happened.  One minute, I was a strong-willed father of a rambunctious son who thought he understood what it meant to love a child.  The next moment, just after she smiled at me the first time, I was an emotional puddle of goo hopelessly in love with my daughter Melody.  She has been the apple of my eye ever since (just ask her brothers).

Well, it’s happened again.  My granddaughter, Savannah Grace, joined the family a few days ago.  She smiled at me – and boom – it happened.  Another little girl stole my heart!  Amazingly, she worked her magic twice in the same hour – curling her little fist around her father’s pinkie and putting him under her spell just before she did her number on me.

Daughters and granddaughters are powerful little ladies.  With a smile and a clasp, they reduce otherwise independent, strong-willed, driven men to baby-talking servants willing to do about anything to make them happy.  But more than that – their love for us evokes a willingness in us to do everything we can to nurture them to womanhood.

These are challenging days for women in our culture.  Gender mutilation, radical feminism, role confusion, and mixed cultural messages demanding everything from corporate success to sexual prowess to motherly sacrifice make girlhood and womanhood difficult.  Statistics about the number of girls who are abused are horrifying.  Men who do such things are despicable.  Girls are at risk in our culture, but even more so in cultures where religious and political forces conspire to oppress them.  These are sad and challenging days. 

God gives baby girls as special gifts.  Christian fathers and grandfathers have a huge responsibility to love them, protect them, and help them flourish into healthy women.  While indulging them from time to time (come on, we’re dads) is part of showing extravagant love, sacrificing for them is the true measure of our love for the girls in our lives.

 So, Savannah Grace, you’ve got us – both your dad and me.  We’re all in to loving you like silly men sometimes do, but also to sacrifice ourselves for your well-being.  Welcome to the family!