Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary in Ontario, California, told Southern Baptists that Gateway “covers a lot of ground as your seminary for the western United States.”
To drive to all five Gateway campuses would take a 3,530-mile loop — 499 more miles than the loop it would take to visit the other five Baptist seminaries in one trip.
“Gateway is more than a California seminary,” Iorg said.
As Southern Baptists’ seminary in the West, Gateway sits in the middle of a very different culture.
“We’re not part of a post-Christian culture, we’re part of a never-Christian culture,” he said.
When it comes to issues like biblical marriage, Iorg said Gateway doesn’t shy away from standing on Southern Baptist principles.
“While the pressure to conform is enormous, we have not and will not change our positions on these issues,” Iorg said. “We represent you on half the continent.”
At Gateway’s three campuses outside California, the states host the seminary in their convention facilities.
“And when we don’t have those opportunities, we’ve created online learning programs and video conference programs to expand our influence across the West,” Iorg said.
But being a western seminary is more than just covering ground, he said. “It’s about thriving in this culture.”
They’ve allowed their context to shape their academic program.
“We were, for example, the first SBC seminary to require a course in intercultural communication in our core degree programs beginning in 1994,” Iorg said. “But beyond this course, we’ve allowed our context to shape how we teach everything from preaching to theology to counseling.”
They’ve also hired faculty who have either been trained in the West or who have demonstrated capability in ministry in the West, he said. “While we admire the other five Southern Baptist seminaries, we haven’t tried to become like them. We’ve tried to become distinctive in who we are here in the West.”
Gateway has also embraced what it means to be a multicultural seminary community, Iorg said. “About two-thirds of our students are not Anglo.”
He told Southern Baptists that their forefathers “adopted Gateway as a down payment on becoming a national denomination” 70 years ago.
He reported as a return on their investment that:
- Gateway enrolls about 2,000 students each academic year.
- Gateway faculty have served on every continent and extensively in the West. They’ve also published dozens of books on theology and ministry-related subjects.
- The seminary now owns more than $85 million in California real estate debt free. In addition, it has an endowment of $65 million.
- Gateway teaches master’s and doctoral courses in English, Korean and Mandarin and offers ministry certificates and diplomas in 15 other languages.
- The seminary has almost 11,000 graduates serving around the world.
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