Jeff Iorg: Gateway seminary represents SBC investment in the West
By Tyler Sanders/Gateway
ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP)—Gateway Seminary President Jeff Iorg described the legacy of faithful investment in the American West through Southern Baptist support of the school at the 2022 annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif.
“Gateway was founded as Golden Gate Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1944. We were adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in 1950 and a special financial gift from the estate of William Conover, funneled through the SBC Executive Committee, saved our school in 1952,” Iorg said.
“Why did Southern Baptists go to such lengths 70 years ago to support a school on the West Coast when we were still very much the Southern Baptist Convention? Because Gateway Seminary was a denominational down payment on becoming a national movement.”
Being the only Southern Baptist entity in the western half of the United States, Gateway’s regional reach is expansive. Its main campus has always been in California—originally in the San Francisco Bay Area but in the Los Angeles area since 2016—with extension campuses established in Washington, Colorado and Arizona, as well as a second California campus, between 1973 and 1996.
“If you drove to visit all five (Gateway) campuses, you would drive farther than if you made the same trip to visit the primary campuses of the other five SBC seminaries,” he said.
However, Iorg said, being a Western seminary is about much more than geographic expansion. He said it is about “thriving in this culture where we live and training people to work in (a western) context.”
Iorg shared three distinct ways Gateway pursues that goal.
“First,” he said, “we have allowed our context to shape our academic program.
“We have allowed this context to shape how we teach everything from preaching to theology to counseling to reflect the challenges of ministry in the West.”
Additionally, Iorg said Gateway often hires faculty who are either from the West or who have significant ministry experience in the region.
The second point Iorg shared is that Gateway has embraced being a multicultural ministry.
“We embrace the diversity of our community – not because it is politically correct – but because it is biblically mandated,” he said.
“About two-thirds, that’s about 65 percent of our students, are not Anglo. Think about that statement in your context. If you are an Anglo from the South, you are likely accustomed to being part of the majority community.
“You would be a minority if you came to Gateway Seminary.”
The third distinctive Iorg shared about Gateway is its role as “a forerunner among Southern Baptists on key culture issues.”
“In the West, we are not part of a post-Christian culture. We live in a never-Christian culture,” he said.
Iorg specifically referenced three issues of which Gateway has made strong, biblical stances: racial diversity, marriage and gender and sexual morality.
“Our first full-time African American faculty member was elected by our board in 1987. The first Asian joined our executive leadership team in 1993. We had the first African American board chairman in SBC history in 2007,” he said.
“We have current employees who are African American, Mexican, Romanian, Chinese, Korean, Pacific Islander, Filipino, Australian, Taiwanese and Anglo. Gateway has been a forerunner on promoting diversity among Southern Baptists.”
Gateway’s primary campus was still in the Bay Area when the city of San Francisco began to authorize same-sex marriages. “We spoke out strongly against this devastating social policy change,” Iorg said.
“In 2013, we were the first SBC seminary to host a major conference on ministry in the new marriage culture. The following year, our faculty produced, as far as I know, the first book helping ministry leaders navigate this cultural quagmire.”
Iorg continued by sharing Gateway’s stand on gender and sexual morality despite living “in the shadows of Hollywood and Haight Asbury.”
“While the pressure to conform is enormous, we have not and will not change our position on these issues.”
Iorg concluded by thanking messengers for their continued support of Gateway Seminary.
“While we are delighted to report our progress, we know we could not have become the school we are today without national support. Over the years, there have not been enough Southern Baptists in the West to build Gateway Seminary to its present strength.”
“Thank you for standing with us and for all you mean to us. And, thank you again for coming to California!”
Jason Allen expresses gratitude to messengers
By Lucas Hahn/MBTS
ANAHEIM, Calif.—During the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Midwestern Seminary President Jason Allen delivered a message of gratitude and thankfulness to the Lord for his kindness and to the messengers for their strong support of Midwestern Seminary.
Reflecting on God’s faithfulness to the seminary over the past decade, Allen shared that Midwestern Seminary has continued to experience record enrollment growth due to our “For the Church” vision and the support of our convention of churches.
“I am delighted to share that as we close this academic year, our total enrollment will finish right around 5000 students, a significant increase from the enrollment of approximately 1,000 I inherited when I became president,” Allen said. “I believe our continued growth is a testament to the belief you all have in your seminary in Kansas City.”
He continued, “Our enrollment includes students from all 50 states and over 60 countries including Belarus, China, Colombia, Cuba, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, North Korea, Taiwan, Russia, Turkey and Ukraine.”
In addition to the seminary’s enrollment growth, Allen mentioned the institution’s commitment to our vision and doctrinal fidelity.
“Midwestern Seminary exists ‘for the church,’ and specifically, for the churches of our Convention. Most seminaries in North America do not know why they exist. We, however, are countercultural, we know why we exist and that is for the local church.
“I believe that from day one, we have been absolutely clear who we are theologically. We happily, wholeheartedly, and convictionally are a Southern Baptist institution. We cheerfully champion the beliefs of Southern Baptists as we advocate for and teach in accordance with the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.”
After recognizing God’s kindness in the continued growth and doctrinally fidelity of Midwestern Seminary, Allen concluded his address by thanking messengers “for embracing and supporting our institutional mission.”
“Within all of the global work we are called to do, know that we do all this work on your behalf, and it all emanates from Kansas City,” Allen said.
The report concluded with a video highlighting the many wonderful things the Lord is doing in Kansas City. From the completion of the Mathena Student Center to the beginning of the For the Church Institute, the video summarized the Lord’s work in and through Midwestern Seminary.
Dew sees hope and God’s favor at NOBTS
By Gary D. Myers/NOBTS
ANAHEIM, Calif.—Hope and favor. Jamie Dew, president of New Orleans Seminary (NOBTS) and Leavell College, used these simple but powerful words to describe the past three years at his school.
Speaking to messengers at the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting June 15, Dew began with words of gratitude. He thanked Baptists for supporting the work of training future pastors and missionaries who will serve the church and proclaim the Gospel throughout the world.
“When I think about what God is doing in the city of New Orleans and when I think about what God is doing on our campus at NOBTS and Leavell College, two words come to my mind, hope and favor,” Dew said.
Dew recalled the excitement and hope he felt when he was elected as the seminary’s ninth president in 2019.
“I felt in my heart a great deep sense of hope because of what I saw on our campus and our city,” Dew said. “I saw a school that was perfectly positioned and situated to train ministers of the Gospel in this century and for this particular moment.”
As he arrived in New Orleans, Dew found a seminary full of potential. The city is a strategic point for missions, church planting, urban ministry, evangelism and mercy ministries, Dew said.
“I knew that there was a tremendous opportunity for the Gospel there and to train up ministers of the Gospel for those particular kinds of needs,” he said.
Hope grew as Dew met with the faculty, students and staff at NOBTS. Dew said that the people at the seminary are gracious, humble, hardworking and faithful and reflect the attitudes and values of the convention.
“When I look at Southern Baptists, I see people that are humble. I see people that are hardworking. I see people that are faithful. I see people that love Jesus and will make Him known,” Dew said. “When I look at NOBTS three years ago, and I look at them right now, I see people that reflect who you are.”
In his three years leading the school – including two years hampered by the COVID pandemic – Dew said his hope has only increased.
Along with hope, Dew said that NOBTS has experienced God’s favor.
“When I think about the work that God has done over the last three years, I don’t really know how else to explain it or to describe it to you other than to say I sense God’s favor upon us,” Dew said.
Dew said that God’s favor is evident in the new faculty members who have come to join in the work, the new emphasis on missions, and increased giving. He expressed the most excitement over the increased mission fervor at NOBTS. Despite a long history of mission involvement, NOBTS sent fewer missionaries through the International Mission Board (IMB) in recent years. Dew came to the school with a desire to reverse that trend. Additional resources were set aside to make missions a priority.
“I’m happy to report to you here this morning that once again, the missiological engine at NOBTS has been cranked up and is moving forward,” Dew said. “In the last six months, we have on-ramped to the IMB more missionaries than in the last five years combined.”
Another bright spot illustrating God’s favor is seen in the proclamation and evangelism efforts of the students at NOBTS and Leavell College. This year alone, students have shared the Gospel at least 11,724 times, resulting in 1,120 professions of faith in Jesus Christ, Dew said. And since 2014, students have shared the Gospel at least 105,914 times resulting in 10,323 professions of faith, he continued.
Dew asked for the people of the Convention to pray for revival and for intentional efforts to call out and train pastors and ministers for local church ministry. According to Dew, churches throughout the Convention are having difficulty finding pastors to lead their churches.
“Every state in the South where we serve has an anywhere from 15 to 25 percent shortfall in pastors,” Dew said. “That means in the churches in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, all throughout the South—somewhere between 15 to 25 percent of our churches don’t have a pastor and can’t find one.”
In addition to the need for pastors, International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board hope to appoint hundreds of missionaries and church planters each year. Dew challenged churches to be intentional about identifying those who are called to ministry and encourage them to seek training.
Dew ended his report by inviting messengers to attend the 2023 SBC Annual Meeting in his adopted home—New Orleans. He encouraged Southern Baptists to come to New Orleans early or stay after the convention to see all that God is doing in the city. Dew also announced the creation of a new online visitor resource (nobts-visitnola.com) to assist visitors at next year’s convention. The site includes brief introductions to the city and Southern Baptist work in the region, as well as a guide to restaurants and attractions.
Mohler in 30th seminary report: Thank you, churches, for persevering in faithfulness
By Jeff Robinson/SBTS
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)—Albert Mohler’s 30th seminary report to messengers at the 2022 SBC Annual Meeting Wednesday in Anaheim, Calif., communicated the same message as the first: thank you to Southern Baptist Churches for your faithfulness.
Mohler, who began as Southern Seminary president in 1993, said the message to Southern Baptist churches remains unchanged from those early days. Southern Seminary continues to set annual records in enrollment, graduates, and finances, Mohler said, a tribute to the perseverance in faithfulness of local congregations.
“Thank you on behalf of thousands of students and graduates who’ve gone out from Southern Seminary who are serving in pulpits and throughout the mission fields of the land,” Mohler said. “Thank you on behalf of the people who have heard the Gospel because of the graduates who have gone out and preached this Gospel and who’ve taken this Gospel to the ends of the earth.”
Mohler pointed out with sadness that several evangelical schools are struggling at the moment, but none of the six seminary presidents delivering reports to the messengers at this year’s annual meeting are talking about crisis or downgrade. That the seminaries are strong is a tribute to Southern Baptist churches and, ultimately, to the faithfulness of Jesus Christ.
“It is because of the strength of the Southern Baptist Convention which means it is the strength of our churches that we are able to come to you and say we are at peak efficiency, and we are at peak enrollment,” he said.
“The Lord is blessing beyond anything we could imagine and at Southern Seminary we’re looking at over 6,000 students this year, sending out over 700 graduates. But I just want to tell you, it’s not about the greatness of the institution, it is about the faithfulness of Christ and His churches in all of that.”
Mohler said the SBC and its seminaries will only be as strong as the denomination’s churches, so local churches must continue to proclaim the Gospel of Christ faithfully and continue teaching the sound doctrine of an inspired and inerrant Bible.
Drawing on 2 Timothy 3, where the apostle Paul admonishes young pastor Timothy to continue in preaching God’s inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word, Mohler said the mandate of the SBC and its seminaries is the same as the one the apostle gave to his young protege.
“The process of faithful, genuine Southern Baptist theological education is the same as the mandate from Paul to Timothy,” Mohler said. “Remember and continue in what you’ve learned. That means what is learned must be what is rightly taught according to the Scriptures.
“I want to encourage you as churches of the SBC. It is abundantly clear that we must be, as a convention, and as the institutions of this Convention, following the same admonition that the apostle Paul gave Timothy and it’s now up to us, even as a convention and as the churches of this convention to continue in what we have learned and have firmly believed.”
Southern Baptists and their seminaries are steadfastly teaching the Word of God amid a culture of debauchery and decay. Mohler said this demonstrates the preserving power of God’s Word and exposes the rot that comes to churches and that teach theological liberalism and the shallowness of churches that operate on unprincipled pragmatism.
“I want to say thank you because in your churches the Gospel is being preached,” he said. “In your churches the Word of God is being taught. In your churches, somehow young Christians are being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. And what you see is the refutation of everything that represents theological liberalism in other denominations and the pragmatism that reigns in so much evangelicalism.
“You are preaching the Gospel; you are teaching the Word of God; you are raising up young people and guess what? They are showing up on the campuses of your seminaries and showing up on the campus at 2825 Lexington Road (Southern Seminary’s physical address) and they are now showing up in the pulpits, they are showing up in the mission fields. They’re showing up in ministry… Let us stand together. Let us go forward undeterred, undeflected, undistracted.”
SEBTS remains focused: Akin celebrates Great Commission education in presidential report
By Chad Burchette/SEBTS
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)—In his president’s report at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Danny Akin, president of Southeastern Seminary (SEBTS) and The College at Southeastern, celebrated the institution’s ongoing Great Commission efforts to mobilize students and equip Christian leaders in hard-to-reach places around the world.
“Southeastern is well known as a Great Commission seminary,” Akin said in his report. “We speak of every classroom as a Great Commission classroom, every professor as a Great Commission professor, and hopefully, every graduate as a Great Commission graduate.” He celebrated the missional heart of Southern Baptists and shared how SEBTS embodies that heart in its Great Commission approach to biblical and theological education and ministry preparation.
Akin reported how SEBTS thematically focused its efforts this year on “loving the truth” (based on Jesus’s instruction to teach the nations to observe all that He has commanded), highlighting the core convictions and confessions of Southern Baptists. “We affirm without apology the inerrancy and sufficiency of Holy Scripture,” Akin said. In addition, Akin reported that SEBTS unapologetically affirms and teaches the exclusivity of the Gospel and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ, the centrality of penal substitution, the truth of complementarian theology, the importance of the local church, and the inherent and eternal value of every human life—including the lives of the unborn.
Expressing the institution’s unwavering commitment to train students to serve the Church and fulfill the Great Commission, Akin reported significant expansions in Global Theological Initiatives (GTI) at SEBTS, which allow Christian leaders around the world to receive biblical and theological training and ministry preparation in locations with little access to theological education. “In addition to training 5,300 students here in North America this last year, we were involved in equipping more than 4,000 positioned leaders from over 40 different nations around the world,” he said.
Akin also rejoiced in God’s blessing on the largest GTI program at SEBTS, the Persian Leadership Development Program, which not only provides the world’s only fully accredited and theologically driven bachelor’s degree completely in Farsi, but also offers the world’s only Master of Theological Studies degree completely in Farsi to serve the fastest-growing church in the Muslim world. Akin reported that SEBTS has 3,177 students currently enrolled in its Persian Leadership Development Program.
In his report, Akin shared that during graduation this past May, SEBTS celebrated its first graduating class of 28 students from its East Asian Leadership Program and its second Master of Theological Studies graduating class in partnership with the Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary (UBTS). Many of these graduates are currently serving at UBTS.
In addition, Akin reported that SEBTS celebrated its first graduating class in its North Carolina Field Minister Program – a Bachelor of Arts program at Nash County Prison that has been designed to equip and mobilize incarcerated men to fulfill the mission by making disciples in the U.S. prison system. SEBTS also graduated five students from its Associate of Arts program at North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, equipping these incarcerated women for life post-release.
Announcing the recent launch of a new Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) program, Akin shared his conviction that the BBA program strategically complements the mission of SEBTS. “We believe that it is our responsibility to train people for ministry, for mission, and for the marketplace,” Akin said. “We believe this is one of the greatest mission fields in the world, and so we are delighted to enter that arena as well.”
Under Akin’s leadership, SEBTS continues to remain committed to a Great Commission focus that reaches from North America to the ends of the earth. “The final marching orders of the Lord Jesus was ‘go and make disciples of all the nations,’” Akin said. “If that is what was on His heart, it is right for that to be on our heart as well.” Seeking to obey the final marching orders of Jesus, SEBTS not only equips students on campus in Wake Forest, N.C., but also trains missionaries and national leaders to lead churches and ministries and disciple people in rural towns, urban centers and hard-to-reach places all around the world.
Greenway highlights ‘new day’ on Seminary Hill in SBC report
By Ashley Allen/SWBTS
ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP)—Highlighting growing enrollment in the Spanish language degree programs, the relaunched alumni association, primacy of the Master of Divinity degree, and the recently released The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture, President Adam W. Greenway told messengers to the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting it is a “new day” at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary during his June 15 report.
“The primary purpose of Southwestern Seminary has always been and remains to provide theological education for men and women preparing for Christian ministry,” Greenway said. “So whatever theological education you need, we’ll help you find it. Whatever ministry experience it takes, we’ll help you build it. And wherever God calls, we’ll help you get there.
He added, “Whether you are just beginning your journey or have decades of experience, I promise you, we will do whatever it takes to help you live your calling for the glory of God and for the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Completing the 2021-2022 academic year with over 600 students enrolled in the Spanish language degree programs, Greenway said this is a 30 percent “year over year” increase. He said Southwestern Seminary is “doing more to become a bilingual, bicultural institution to help train leaders in English and Español, who will be able to help connect all people to Jesus Christ.”
Noting the 41,000 living alumni, the largest alumni network of the six Southern Baptist seminaries, Greenway said the “revamped” Southwestern Alumni Association, which was relaunched on June 9, offers “pathways” for continuing education and opportunities for “connection” between the seminary and alumni.
Addressing alumni in the crowd, Greenway said, “We want you to know that you are always welcome back ‘home under the dome,’” a reference to the iconic B.H. Carroll Memorial Building on the Fort Worth, Texas, campus.
Greenway said over the last three years there has been a “renewed commitment” to the Master of Divinity degree program as the primary degree program at the institution. He said the degree is the “gold standard for training pastors for a lifetime of faithful ministry service.”
Referring to a “promise” made at the 2021 Southern Baptist Convention meetings in Nashville, Greenway said, “we have a book about the Book,” referring to the recently released The Authority and Sufficiency of Scripture. Published by Seminary Hill Press, the seminary’s publishing arm, and edited by Greenway and David S. Dockery, distinguished professor of theology and special consultant to the president, the book is a collection of essays from the seminary’s faculty that help “explain and to apply the richness of our convictions about Scripture to every aspect of life and ministry.”
Greenway noted the “refreshed spirit of service” from faculty and students through a “redoubled effort of life-on-life discipleship” throughout the campus. He observed this “spirit of Southwestern” is not “new to Seminary Hill,” but is built upon the “same commitment” that has characterized the institution since the seminary was chartered on March 14, 1908, under the “courageous and visionary leadership” of the founder and first president, B.H. Carroll.
Answering a question from a messenger who did not identify himself regarding his view on “balanced soteriological instruction covering the unity between Phil. 2:12-13,” Greenway noted the “conversation” and “controversy” around Calvinism and Arminianism.
Observing that Southern Baptists have had individuals “who are very Calvinistic” and those “who would not identify as Calvinistic,” Greenway said since Baptists first adopted the Baptist Faith and Message in 1925, “leadership has strived to be able to articulate a convention confessional consensus that does not attempt to take a hard and definite position on every issue that may be a contested and debatable issue amongst Southern Baptists.”
He added the Baptist Faith and Message “does not take a definite position on the question of the extent of the atonement,” observing he believes it is “intentional” that the confessional statement “does not take a hard and definite position on the question of the resistibility of grace and on other matters.”
Greenway said Southwestern Seminary “must never become a Calvinist seminary, but we must never become an anti-Calvinist seminary either, and the reason for that is because we are a Southern Baptist seminary.”
Since becoming president of Southwestern Seminary, Greenway said he has tried to “deliberately and intentionally” communicate “we are for you as Southern Baptists” noting that the seminary would have a “diversity” on the faculty, particularly in the School of Theology “that represents the big tent vision of the Baptist Faith and Message.”
However, on “every area where the Baptist Faith and Message speaks with conviction and clarity, we will stand there unapologetically,” Greenway said, while noting there would be “charity” given “where the confession of faith allows for liberty and latitude.”
Greenway said the institution remains “faithful” to Carroll’s original vision of confessional fidelity, the Great Commission, denominational cooperation, and “unwavering in our commitment to a high view of Scripture.”