Jeff Iorg inaugurated as 7th president of Golden Gate
MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)--Jeff P. Iorg accepted the charge as Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary’s seventh president during his inauguration Oct. 11. Casting his vision for the future of Golden Gate, Iorg shared his passions of fulfilling the Great Commission through the strengthening of churches.
“God did not call me because of my Christian heritage, my denominational loyalty, my political connections, my academic credentials or my leadership abilities," Iorg told those gathered at the Northern California campus of Golden Gate. "... God called me because of the person I am, with the passions that drive me in this position."
Iorg’s passion to fulfill the Great Commission stems from his personal relationship with Christ.
“I want every teenage boy in Los Angeles, every Native American in Arizona, every rancher in Colorado, every environmentalist in Oregon, every activist of every kind in the Bay Area, every Asian, every African, every European, every Latin American –- every person on every continent to the hear the Gospel," he said.
The Iorg family experienced this firsthand when moving out west, getting involved in public schools, community sports and others venues where they could actively live out their faith. This included starting one of the largest Southern Baptist churches in the Northwest, Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Ore.
“Passion for non-Christians demands we plunge in among them," Iorg said. "If your anemic, undisciplined faith can’t handle the pressure, that is your problem –- not the problem of the world we are living in. Grow up! The culture is not our problem –- [a] failure to boldly live and declare the Gospel is our problem.”
Iorg's passion for the Great Commission will be expressed at Golden Gate through a focus on missions, he said, adding that the curricular and co-curricular programs will demonstrate a renewed emphasis on missions, evangelism, church starting and church building.
The multi-cultural aspect of Golden Gate’s programs will continue as students are prepared to live and work cross-culturally, Iorg said. The fulfilling of the Great Commission begins with sound theology rooted in an unapologetic, uncompromising commitment to the Bible as the Word of God and an affirmation of the historical core doctrines of the Christian faith, he said.
“We will stand for the absolute truth, despite the cultural opposition to that idea.”
Iorg also said he has a passion for the local church.
“While Jesus ‘saved my soul’ in a real sense, the church saved my life," he said. “And yet some are giving up on the church. Why? Two reasons seem prominent. First, the church in our culture has become more of an institution then a movement. Very few young leaders today want to give their lives preserving yesterday’s institutions. Second, church is often lifeless, routine and monotonous.”
A passion for a healthy local church will shape Golden Gate’s future as students are encouraged to answer the call to the pastoral ministry, develop churchmanship and cultivate church leadership, Iorg said.
“We are committed to supporting church-starting and church-building strategies of our western partners in every way possible,” he said.
Roy J. Fish, distinguished professor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a mentor to Iorg during his time at Seminary, also spoke.
“Students come in with a full heart and a head to be filled, but if they leave with a full head and an empty heart, they’ve been done an injustice,” Fish said.
R. Philip Roberts, president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, brought greetings on behalf of the seminary presidents and Golden Gate’s five sister seminaries.
“We join our hands with you, today, in renewal of our sacred covenant with our Southern Baptist churches in believing, living and teaching the truth which makes all men free to embrace its facts and realities,” Roberts said.
Ronald L. Ellis, president of California Baptist University, also spoke.
“Significantly we share a commitment to the Great Commission," Ellis said. "We are committed to cooperation. As we go about our work together it’s my privilege to serve with you and look forward to our joint efforts in love, in Christ and in working arm-in-arm, hand-to-hand, and heart-to-heart as we seek to be a witness of Jesus Christ here in California, in the Pacific rim and literally to the uttermost parts of the earth."
Fermin A. Whittaker, executive director of the California Southern Baptist Convention, gave the charge from the churches. With millions of un-churched people looking for a place where they can connect to God, Whittaker said the church is a crucial element to the fulfillment of the Great Commission.
“Churches are in need for visionary and dedicated leaders to move us forward," Whittaker said. "There are days when the harvest is ready, but the laborers are few. As you prepare leaders ... may God guide you along the way."
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary is a Cooperative Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention and operates campuses in Northern California, Southern California, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona and Colorado.