Presidents of the SBC’s Six Seminaries Report on Their 2017-2018 Academic Year

Presidents of the Southern Baptist Convention’s six seminaries reported on their 2017-2018 academic year to messengers June 13 at the SBC annual meeting in Dallas.

Iorg reports Gateway Seminary ‘at its best’

By Kathie Chute

Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary, reminded messengers that his past several reports have dealt with transition, moving the campus and a name change.

“That is behind us now,” Iorg said. “I am pleased that today my report is about Gateway Seminary at its best.”

Iorg reported that Gateway students and faculty recently traveled to a remote Southeast Asia country in cooperation with the International Mission Board to ask two questions of those in that area: Does anyone here know the man named Jesus and does anyone here know someone who is a Christian?

“In one area, the answers to both questions were ‘no,’ so they checked into a local motel. The next morning, one of the students was outside singing, and the woman who ran the hotel came to her and asked if she was singing folk music. The student said no, she was singing a song to praise God. The woman accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior, the first person in that region to do so.”

Gateway students studying in both online and traditional formats have shared the Gospel 429 times in shelters, on the streets, in malls, to friends and to people they have never met during the past year, Iorg reported.

“Ninety-eight people prayed with our students to receive Christ as Lord,” he said. “One student was so inspired that he expanded efforts to the children in his church. In all, more than 100 people came to Christ through evangelistic training in our classes. These stories show Gateway Seminary at its best.”

Iorg said faculty and staff, in moving to Southern California with the seminary’s transition in 2016, bought houses in neighborhoods with no churches at all.

“Some of these people pooled their resources to start churches instead of driving a distance to find a church. Gateway Seminary is taking the Gospel to places it has never been heard, expanded the Gospel and started churches.”

Despite the relocation, Gateway’s enrollment has remained steady at about 2,000, Iorg said. The seminary has graduated 600 students in the past two years [since relocating] and received two special donor gifts.

“No one on Gateway Seminary’s staff requested these gifts,” he said. “Instead friends of the seminary asked friends to give. Those two gifts totaled more than $1 million.”

Iorg also told messengers that the seminary has offered classes since 1962 on the Southern California campus located in Brea, Calif., but with the main campus in Ontario, Calif., the campus in Brea was no longer needed. The sale of that property will allow the seminary’s endowment to increase from $16 million to $60 million.

“We are the leading institution modeling multicultural ministry,” he said. “For two decades, Anglos have been in the minority on our campus. Sixty percent come from the countries of the world, and more than 30 percent of our students are women.”

Iorg answered questions from messengers about how Gateway was navigating the balance between online and traditional education, what steps were being taken to equip the faculty to better handle physical abuse cases and what the seminary was doing in restitution of the cases involved.

“We keep meticulous records gauging progress between online and traditional classes,” he said. “Our online classes are not simply glorified correspondence courses but educational experiences similar to those in the traditional classroom. We find that there is little difference between the two.”

In his 14 years as Gateway president, Iorg said, a serious allegation of abuse has never been made among students, faculty or staff.

“We do have clear policies in place at Gateway. In California, we are mandated to do sexual harassment training, and we follow that mandate as well.”

Iorg thanked Southern Baptists for its support of Gateway Seminary and asked for prayer.

“Thank you for your gifts and for sending us your students. I appeal to you today to put Gateway on your frequent prayer list. In California and in the West, we face constant pressure every day for our stance on biblical marriage and other issues.”

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Allen notes Midwestern’s ‘profound stewardship’ to SBC

By T. Patrick Hudson

Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary President Jason Allen’s report to messengers at the 2018 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting reflected a focus on stewardship.

The many signs of favor God has poured onto Midwestern during his nearly six-year tenure are not taken for granted by him or the seminary’s leadership team, Allen said.

Like the apostle Paul’s urging for Timothy to “guard what has been entrusted to him,” Allen said Midwestern’s leadership team carries a profound stewardship on behalf of the 47,000-plus churches who come together to support theological education.

“Over the past five years, God has been pleased to bless this institution in remarkable ways, and I am proud of that — not merely because of the strength it has enabled us to demonstrate but because of what that communicates about the men and women sitting before me and scattered throughout and around our denomination,” Allen said.

“Students who come and donors who give represent a denomination that believes wholeheartedly in our work, the strength of our faculty, the integrity of our vision, the clarity of our mission, and that we are committed, indeed, to serving the local church.”

Allen added that Midwestern’s unchanging vision, reflecting this stewardship, is to exist “For the Church.”

“Our ambition is to be the premier institution in North America training ministers, pastors and evangelists for local church service, not just in a generic sense, but particularly for Southern Baptist churches,” Allen said. “That has propelled us forward in a whole host of different ways, and this past year was another of unprecedented institutional achievement.”

Among the achievements for which he is thankful, Allen noted record enrollment, significant progress on campus construction projects, hiring a highly-respected faculty member, and the recent announcement about changes to the school’s undergraduate program.

Regarding enrollment, Allen expressed gratitude to God for continued growth, with Midwestern surpassing 3,400 students this academic year, which means enrollment over the past six years has tripled. Additionally, all early metrics portend another record enrollment this fall.

Allen said construction of the 40,000-square-foot Mathena Student Center –that will include a cafeteria, gymnasium, workout space, bookstore, café and seminar space — is approaching completion. The facility will be in use by the beginning of the fall semester, and thanks to the generosity of the Mathena family of Oklahoma City and many others, the construction will be accomplished with no long-term debt.

Another construction project — renovating the existing classroom and faculty building –is only weeks away from completion as well. The results of these undertakings, Allen said, will position the seminary’s infrastructure well into the 21st century.

Allen also reported the hiring of Andreas Köstenberger as research professor of New Testament and biblical theology and as director of a forthcoming Center for Biblical Studies. Allen praised Köstenberger as “one of the elite New Testament scholars in the evangelical world,” and added, “He comes in and complements and strengthens our biblical studies department.”

Finally, Allen shared with messengers a plan over the past year and a half to unveil changes in how Midwestern’s undergraduate program could better serve the churches of the SBC. Renaming the school’s undergraduate arm as Spurgeon College, the ideology was to emulate the famed British preacher C.H. Spurgeon.

“As you know,” Allen said, “we own the Spurgeon Library; we house the Spurgeon Library; and moreover we share Spurgeon’s convictions and ambitions for ministry” — his steadfast commitment to the Word of God and the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ; his willingness to defend the faith; and his determination to impact society through a host of social ministries.

“So for us, it is natural, fitting and right to launch Spurgeon College to help us extend our mission of training undergraduate students … who need that preparation,” Allen said. “We are proud to stand in the gap for you and to serve you through Spurgeon College.”

Concluding his report, Allen said, “‘For the Church’: that is why we exist. This is a perennial vision and we will not unveil a new one next year or the year after. That is who we are, and for me the great delight is to see how that vision has migrated from being ‘my’ vision for the seminary to ‘our’ vision for the seminary to ‘the’ vision for the seminary.

“We exist for the church; we exist for your church; and we are doing that as faithfully was we can by God’s grace, and we are thrilled with results God has given us.”

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Kelley: NOBTS living out Great Commission 100 years

By Marilyn Stewart

The founding of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary was the “most radical decision” ever made by Southern Baptists, President Chuck Kelley told messengers in his report to the convention June 13.

Placing an entity in a city without church and denominational support was “the radical part,” Kelley said, noting that New Orleans had less than 10 Southern Baptist churches at the time, with the seminary intended as a “mission project.”

“For 100 years, we have been in that most ‘un-Baptist’ of places,” Kelley said. “Through the years we have been faithful in understanding that we are not simply a seminary preparing people for ministry, we are evangelists and church planters reaching the city for Christ.”

Kelley said the seminary has remained true to its original motto of “Learning to do and doing to learn.”

Today, more than 130 Southern Baptist churches exist in the New Orleans area with many churches in southern Louisiana and Mississippi owing their founding to NOBTS faculty, staff and students, Kelley noted, adding that currently 39 NOBTS students are serving as North American Mission Board church planters in the city.

“We are in a place where the Great Commission is not the subject of a conversation, it’s not the slogan we write on the wall, it is the reality we face every day,” Kelley said. “And we love it.”

Reaching outside seminary walls with the Gospel is the reason NOBTS is committed to making theological education available and accessible, Kelley said.

NOBTS makes distance learning available through extension centers, workshops and event courses, and internet-accessed programs such as NOLA2U, a synchronous online delivery system providing students the full classroom experience from their home computers.

“We are committed to providing theological education to everyone who is answering God’s call,” Kelley said. While the quality of education is a priority, Kelley said “access is the key.”

Diversity is a commitment at NOBTS, Kelley continued, citing the more than $800,000 distributed to African American students through the Fred Luter Jr. scholarship program over the last five years as well as multi-facted opportunities for women students and the impact of the NOBTS women’s ministry program. Kelley added that women occupy the NOBTS associate dean of graduate studies and associate dean of NOBTS/Leavell College positions.

Kelley noted the seminary’s focus on evangelism through the NOBTS Caskey Center where student scholarship recipients are required to share the Gospel weekly. Sometimes, students worry they will not have opportunities to share, Kelley said.

“What they discover is that when they begin to pray, the opportunities are there,” Kelley said.

Students are taught to pray the “Monday morning prayer,” asking God to send an opportunity that week for a Gospel conversation, Kelley said, reporting more than 8,300 Gospel conversations last year, with 1,100 coming to faith in Christ.

Kelley challenged messengers to heed the lesson learned by NOBTS students and pray for Gospel conversation opportunities.

“God will give us opportunities to lift high the cross of Jesus Christ if we will but ask for them and look for them,” Kelley said. “It does not matter how much you share the Gospel inside the church, by far the largest number of people who need the Gospel are outside the church.”

Kelley also reported on the impact of the NOBTS baccalaureate and certificate programs conducted in five maximum security prisons in four states, including at Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, once known as the “bloodiest prison in the nation.”

“The culture of that prison changed as the Gospel got loose inside that prison,” Kelley said. “That prison has been transformed by the power of Jesus Christ.”

Kelley thanked Southern Baptists for their continued and faithful support of the seminary throughout its 100-year history.

“None of this happens without the Cooperative Program and for gifts above and beyond the Cooperative Program from those who think training ministers and missionaries is important,” Kelley concluded. “We are profoundly grateful to you.”

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Source: Baptist Press