Posted on Apr 1, 2014 | by Ben M. Skaug
MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP) -- Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary has reached a sale agreement for all its campus property in Mill Valley, Calif., and has initiated relocation of its primary campus to Southern California.
In a special gathering of faculty, students and staff, President Jeff Iorg announced the agreement with North Coast Land Holdings. The seminary's board of trustees approved the sale agreement unanimously.
"The final sale agreement will result in resources for a new primary campus in Southern California, a new commuter campus in the Bay Area to continue to service this area, as well as a substantial addition to the seminary's endowment," Iorg reported.
"This is an unprecedented opportunity to build a new kind of seminary campus for education in the 21st century," Iorg said. "We are seizing the moment to focus on fulfilling our mission in bold, innovative new ways."
Steve Sheldon, chairman of the board of trustees, added, "The board has been fully engaged in land development decisions for years and is unified in the direction we have chosen for the future." Full details about the sale agreement will be announced after the sale is finalized.
Golden Gate has faced many land development challenges over the years. "For the past four years, we have been involved in a lengthy and difficult process trying to further develop the Mill Valley Campus property," Iorg said. "We have engaged top planning firms, real estate specialists, financial analysts, legal counsel and political consultants to help us with this process. Despite these skilled professionals -- and much prayer -- we have been stymied. Gradually, we have realized these difficulties are not obstacles to overcome, but rather signposts pointing us in a different direction."
The terms of the sale agreement will enable the seminary to remain fully operational during the transition. The seminary will lease back the Mill Valley Campus property and continue present operations for at least two more academic years. After that, the seminary will operate a new commuter-style campus in the Bay Area, much like its current Southern California Campus.
"Current Bay Area students will be able to complete their programs at the present campus over the next two years or at the new Bay Area campus. We are not abandoning the Bay Area and will continue to provide a quality program for this region," Iorg said.
The decision to build a new primary campus in Southern California reflects church and population demographic projections for that region. The new seminary campus will be in the center of the largest area of projected population growth in the American West -- also meaning the center of church planting and ministry development in the region.
"Building a new campus does not mean replicating what we already have -- only in a different location. It's an opportunity to build a new kind of seminary campus reflecting the way educational delivery methods are changing in the 21st century. We see it as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to advance our seminary into the future," Iorg declared.
In making the announcement, Iorg singled out two groups of people who will be impacted the most by the decision -- students and employees.
Iorg assured currently enrolled students at the Mill Valley Campus that their degree progress will not be interrupted for the next two years as the school has a lease-back agreement for the current campus. All student housing also will remain open during for the next two years. This agreement allows students enrolled at the Mill Valley Campus to complete their degrees before the seminary relocates to its two new campuses in Southern California and the Bay Area. Iorg also said the seminary will work closely with those who cannot finish their degrees in the allotted time to assure degree completion.
"New students should also continue to come to Golden Gate," Iorg added. He underscored that the seminary will continue operations across its five-campus system and online programs during the transition.
"The seminary will be fully operational for the rest of this academic year, plus two additional academic years at its present location. Our school is open for business and will remain fully operational during the transition," Iorg said. "We will maintain the academic programs and standards currently in place across our system. We will continue to offer degrees through both face-to-face and online instruction, as well as continue programs at regional campuses in other states."
Iorg thanked employees for their faithful service through the many challenges Golden Gate has faced in the past. "No matter our locations, we will still need God-called men and women to staff our programs and teach our classes," he said. "As soon as the sale is finalized, we will begin implementing our strategic plans for the future. We will work with employees to walk through these transitions together and develop the best team possible for the next season of our seminary's life." Just as he told students, Iorg reminded employees, "The seminary will be open tomorrow and for two more years in its present locations. Come to work and do the same good job you have been doing."
Iorg concluded his remarks by reminding the seminary community about the importance of being a mission-driven institution, "Today, you are part of one of the boldest moves by any seminary in the past century. We are selling a campus, not closing our doors. We are relocating and repositioning for future success, not abandoning our vision. We are sacrificing short-term comfort for long-term fulfillment of our mission. We are positioning ourselves strategically, geographically and financially to impact the Western United States and the world like never before. We will all pay a personal cost for fulfilling our mission and vision this way. It will, at times, be scary and unnerving.
"Nevertheless, as I have told you on countless occasions, 'The mission matters most.' Like perhaps no seminary in recent history, we are standing behind that declaration with our actions today," Iorg said.
Speaking even more personally, Iorg said, "In my heart of hearts, I believe these decisions are right. I have agonized over them and have come to believe this is God's path for us. I have made these decisions with many regrets but ultimately, no doubts. We are headed to the future and I hope you will join me on the journey."
For more information on the seminary's announcement, please refer to the seminary website at www.ggbts.edu
to find a list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers and a video message from GGBTS President Jeff Iorg.
Ben M. Skaug is vice president for institutional advancement for Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.