Spurgeon, Golden Gate move spotlighted
BALTIMORE (BP) -- The life of Charles Spurgeon and an upcoming campus relocation were main topics at June 11 alumni and friends luncheons hosted by seminaries at the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Baltimore.
Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary President Jeff Iorg presented Distinguished Alumni awards to Col. Frank Rice and Henry Webb at the seminary's alumni and friends luncheon.
"When I think about these two men who are being honored tonight, the word that comes to my mind is 'distinction,'" Iorg said. "Both of these men have worked long and hard for the Gospel and have done it with distinction."
Rice is a native of Baton Rouge, La., and received both the Bachelor of Divinity and Master of Theology from Golden Gate. Rice joined the Air Force after two years at Louisiana State University, serving with the WWII European occupation forces and during the Korean War. He graduated from Louisiana Baptist College in 1954 and moved west to attend Golden Gate.
Rice also served as a pastor in California and worked in rescue missions in San Francisco during his seminary years. He then reentered the Air Force as a chaplain and served in the United States, Germany, Japan and Thailand. His last active duty assignment was as the command chaplain of the Air Force Communications Command, providing for the spiritual welfare of over 55,000 men and women around the world. He retired in 1985. He and his wife Margarete live in Charlottesville, Va.
Webb was born in Portland, Ore., grew up in Oklahoma and graduated from Golden Gate with the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees. In accepting the award, Webb said he enrolled at GGBTS after a series of "delays and detours" that hindsight has revealed to be God's precise orchestration. The first delay involved a transfer from West Texas State University to Oklahoma University, where he met his wife Patti and received his call to ministry. The second delay put seminary off for a year, which led to campus ministry at Colorado State University and the University of Hawaii.
After arriving in Hawaii, Webb transferred again, but this time to Golden Gate to complete his Master of Divinity. At GGBTS, Webb felt a shift in his calling from campus ministry to pastoral ministry, and began to pastor Kalihi Baptist Church in Honolulu, Hawaii. While at Kalihi Baptist, he completed his Doctor of Ministry and helped found Kokua Kalihi Valley Comprehensive Family Services.
Webb served 28 years at LifeWay in a variety of roles including director of pastoral ministries. He was on the team that developed the LifeWay Transitional Pastor Ministry and was a transitional pastor trainer for 13 years.
During the luncheon, Iorg reported on the seminary's sale and relocation, focusing on most-frequently-asked questions.
"We have spent a considerable sum of money and time trying to develop our Mill Valley property. Despite these efforts, we have been stymied," Iorg said, explaining the reasons for the move. "Recently, we have come to the conclusion that these barriers were not obstacles to overcome, but rather as signposts telling us to move in a new direction."
The new campus will be on a smaller footprint in support of the school's core mission, Iorg said.
"We will design our campus with the needs of tomorrow's students in mind. In short, our campus will reflect our mission," Iorg said. The seminary's primary campus will be in Southern California, where population demographic projections indicate great growth over the next 40 years; while the Northern California campus will continue to serve the Bay Area as a commuter campus.
The relocation will not drain the seminary's endowment, Iorg said.
"Golden Gate's future is bright," he said. "We are strategically, geographically, and financially ready to impact the United States and world like never before."
Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's annual alumni and friends luncheon included a panel discussion on the life of Charles Spurgeon, the
man behind the seminary's 7,000-volume Spurgeon Library Collection.
"Beyond the Books: A Panel Discussion on Charles Spurgeon" featured Midwestern president Jason Allen; David Dockery, Trinity International University president; Jason Duesing, vice president for strategic initiatives and assistant professor of historical theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Christian George, curator of Midwestern Seminary's Spurgeon Library and assistant professor of historical theology, and John Mark Yeats, Midwestern Baptist College undergraduate dean.
Major initiatives are planned this fall for the Spurgeon Library, Allen told the overflow crowd.
"The Lord has brought together in a providential coalescence a combination of staggering funding, a scholar to lead and administer the collection, and an institutional administration that values and shares Spurgeon's convictions," Allen said. "I consider this a truly 'kairos' moment. What we'll be doing with the Spurgeon Library will truly lead it to become a world-class, internationally known center for biblical preaching."
The panel's dialogue focused on questions about the broader context of Spurgeon the person, the preacher and evangelist, what Spurgeon would think of today's SBC, and why Spurgeon's popularity has made such a comeback in Southern Baptist life.
The 19th century English pastor was born in 1834 and converted to Christianity in the Primitive Methodist Church in 1850, panelist George noted.
"If one were to ask Spurgeon, 'Who is Charles Spurgeon?'" George said, "He would answer, 'I am a sinner, and I am saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.'"
George described Spurgeon as a "preaching juggernaut," A prolific author, Spurgeon is credited with writing 18 million to 25 million words in the English language, more than any other Christian author.
Dockery described Spurgeon as a man dedicated to the inerrancy of God's Word. During the "Downgrade Controversy," Spurgeon stood firm in his convictions against more moderate Baptist leaders, Dockery said.
"He spent his latter years defending the truthfulness of the Bible with great conviction and had an amazing ability to articulate with clarity what was at stake," Dockery said, adding that during the Conservative Resurgence, Southern Baptist pastors looked to Spurgeon's example to draw strength and guidance for their preaching and theological bearing.
Duesing noted how Spurgeon might encourage modern-day Southern Baptists.
"One of the greatest things about Spurgeon for us to consider today is: as great as it is to look back and learn from him, what we should be doing is asking God to provide more men like him," Duesing said. "What we need is more men and women that are 'Spurgeonesque,' who will stand up and give the next generation an enduring legacy. If I could narrow Spurgeon's life down to [one] phrase, it would come from 2 Corinthians 11:3 -- 'a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.'"
In his presidential report to alumni and friends, Allen described Midwestern as healthy and growing. The school's spring enrollment was its highest ever, Allen said, and prospects for the fall have far exceeded his own expectations.
"Genuinely, I am over-glowing about the school because God is doing a work in Kansas City through the faculty, staff and students that, frankly, I stand back and marvel at," Allen said. "The ground the institution has made up, the momentum we've gained, and the future before us looks so bright, it is clearly and simply stated a work of God."
Allen presented three awards during the luncheon's activities. Dockery and Tom Elliff, president of the International Mission Board, were presented the Denominational Service Award, and Leo Endel, executive director of the Minnesota-Wisconsin Baptist Convention, was named Alumni of the Year. All three men were invaluable leaders within the denomination and dear friends of Midwestern Seminary, Allen said.
Compiled from reports by Tyler Sanders of Golden Gate Seminary and Pat Hudson of Midwestern Seminary. Baptist Press reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress) and in your email (baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).