Seminary class gives students first-hand look at SBC meeting

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)--Students enrolled in a class at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary were able to experience the inner workings of the Southern Baptist Convention first-hand in June. The class, involving 22 students, was held during the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Phoenix. Other Southern Baptist seminaries hold similar classes at the annual meeting.

"The course achieved results beyond my expectations," said Rick Durst, vice president of academic affairs and one of the professors for the class. "I truly believe that these students left the convention with a fresh excitement and understanding about being Southern Baptist and what that means for the Kingdom."

Students were required to visit exhibit booths and participate in the pre-convention and convention sessions. Almost one-third of the students were able to serve as microphone monitors at the convention.

"I left the annual meeting with more confidence in how Southern Baptists operate," said Rob Gaschler a student at Golden Gate and a campus minister at Arizona State University. "I thought I understood my denomination, but I gained a better understanding of the structure of our convention and how it came to be through this class."

The course was designed for students to experience in a practical way the polity of Southern Baptists. Using James Sullivan's book, "Baptist Polity -- As I See It," the class discussed how the polity and practice they were experiencing related to their readings.

"The students not only learned a great deal about our denomination but were overwhelmed by the breadth of SBC missions and ministries and what the Cooperative Program means," said Mark McClellan, director of Golden Gate's Arizona campus and instructor in the course. "I wish I had a course like this in seminary."

The class is expected to be offered at future Southern Baptist Convention annual meetings. The possibility of offering the class at state conventions is also being explored.

"There is no better way for a student to have a comprehensive understanding of the SBC than to attend an annual meeting," said Golden Gate President William O. Crews. "These students were able to experience and understand the Convention from a perspective that is not attainable from the classroom."

Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary operates five campuses in Northern California, Southern California, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona and Colorado.


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