EC advances Golden Gate Seminary name change to SBC

NASHVILLE (BP) -- Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary will become Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention if messengers to the next two SBC annual meetings approve a Feb. 17 recommendation of the convention's Executive Committee.

The EC also approved for recommendation to the June 16-17 SBC annual meeting in Columbus, Ohio:

-- a proposed amendment to the North American Mission Board's ministry statement to include planting churches overseas in agreed-upon instances with the International Mission Board (see separate story today).

-- SBC bylaw amendments for the potential use of electronic voting devices in the convention hall and to establish a quorum on all SBC business matters as those present at the time of a vote.

Forty-four Executive Committee members were able to travel to Nashville to comprise a quorum -- half of the EC's 82 members plus one -- before an ice storm crippled the city during the EC's Feb. 16-17 meeting (see Feb. 17 BP story).

Golden Gate Seminary recommendation

Golden Gate Seminary has purchased a six-story building in the Los Angeles area to anchor its new campus by the summer of 2016. The site also includes an adjacent ready-to-build lot and more than 700 parking places. The seminary has requested to change its name to Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, a move that must be approved by messengers at the next two SBC annual meetings.
 
The EC recommended that the SBC amend Golden Gate's articles of incorporation as well as SBC Bylaw 14 to change its name to Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention in conjunction with the move of its primary campus from the San Francisco Bay Area to Southern California near the Ontario International Airport. The EC's recommendation came in response to a request by the executive committee of the seminary's trustees.

To take effect, the bylaw amendment must be approved by messengers at two successive SBC annual meetings. The articles of incorporation amendment must be approved by Golden Gate trustees in April and messengers to the SBC annual meeting in June.

Last July, Golden Gate finalized the sale of its property near Mill Valley, Calif., for a base price of $85 million along with other terms favorable to the seminary. The purchase agreement allows Golden Gate to remain fully operational in its current facilities through the summer of 2016.

The seminary announced in August that it had signed a purchase agreement for the site of its new primary campus in Southern California.

The new site includes a six-story building, an adjacent ready-to-build lot and more than 700 parking places in the city of Ontario, part of Southern California's Inland Empire region. The building was constructed in 2009 and has remained vacant due to the economic downturn. The building's exterior is finished and all mechanical systems have been installed, but its interior is unfinished. The adjacent lot is already legally entitled for a future building.

The seminary will maintain a regional campus in the Bay Area along with regional campuses in Brea, Calif.; Phoenix; Denver; and the Portland, Ore., area.

Electronic voting

In recommending SBC bylaw amendments to allow for electronic voting devices in the convention hall, the Executive Committee added a notation stipulating that their use could begin after this year's meeting in Columbus.

The bylaw change notes that voting by "ballot" may include electronic voting that protects "the integrity of the voting process and provides for messengers' votes to remain confidential."

According to background materials, the EC staff has assessed the viability and expense of taking and counting votes by messengers for the past several years. Following this assessment, the EC reported electronic voting could allow the ability to schedule elections closer together and "to make the best and most efficient use of time in annual meeting programming."

In recommending a quorum for voting on SBC business as those present at the time of a ballot, the Executive Committee left bylaw requirements in force that a messenger must be present at the time a vote is taken in order to participate. Voting by proxy is not permitted. The tabulation of all votes is under the supervision of the registration secretary.

In other items on its agenda, the Executive Committee:

-- approved a 2015-16 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget of $186,500,000 for recommendation to the Southern Baptist Convention during its June 16-17 annual meeting in Columbus.

The proposed budget maintains current allocations to the convention's ministries, including 50.41 percent of receipts to the International Mission Board and 22.79 percent to the North American Mission Board, for a total of 73.20 percent allocated for mission ministries nationally and internationally.

The convention's six seminaries will receive 22.16 percent. The seminary enrollment formula for funding will be: Southwestern Seminary, 4.22 percent; Southern Seminary, 4.97 percent; New Orleans Seminary, 3.88 percent; Southeastern Seminary, 4.28 percent; Golden Gate Seminary, 2.09 percent; Midwestern Seminary, 2.48 percent; and .24 percent to the Southern Baptist Historical Library and Archives, a ministry overseen by the seminary presidents. (Cumulative numbers may not match the sum of individual seminary percentages due to rounding.)

The budget proposal maintains a 1.65 percent allocation to the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

The SBC Operating Budget, the only CP-funded facilitating ministry, encompassing the SBC annual meeting costs and the work of the Executive Committee, would receive 2.99 percent of the budget.

-- approved a resolution of appreciation for Tom Elliff, who retired Aug. 27, 2014, after more than three years as the International Mission Board's 11th president. EC members noted Elliff's "boundless energy, a heart broken over lostness and a passion for prayer."

Elliff's many initiatives as IMB president included the Embrace outreach to the more than 3,800 people groups identified as unengaged and unreached; the Ready Reserves program to reenlist retired IMB field personnel in service opportunities globally; the Global Strategic Mobilization of Southern Baptist business leaders in missions outreach; the Global Connect to train and supervise church members who volunteer for global missions; the School of Prayer for All Nations to train church leaders for focused prayer for the nations; and the Internationalization of Missions outreach to provide missions training to national Baptist groups and other Great Commission partners.

The Executive Committee commended Elliff on a lifetime of ministry that included eight church pastorates spanning 42 years; denominational service at the local, state and national levels; a personal evangelism, preaching and writing ministry focused on spiritual awakening; and overseas missionary service with his wife Jeannie in Zimbabwe from 1981-83.

Elliff served two terms as president of the Southern Baptist Convention, 1996–98; preached the annual sermon at the 1994 SBC annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.; chaired the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life, 1999–2003; and was president of the 1990 SBC Pastors' Conference.

He and his wife Jeannie have four children, two of whom became missionaries, and 25 grandchildren.

-- received a report from its communications workgroup that it is continuing to draft a report on progress in ethnic church and church leader participation in Southern Baptist life in view of recommendations adopted in 2011 by the SBC and the racial reconciliation resolution adopted in 1995 by the convention. The workgroup reported that it intends to present its completed report to the EC for consideration at its June 15 meeting in Columbus, Ohio, and upon approval by the EC, to make it available to messengers at the June 16-17 SBC annual meeting in Columbus.

-- approved a new online daily devotional "Renew Daily," a digital publication proposed by LifeWay Christian Resources to replace its LifeWalk Devotional, which is no longer offered. Renew Daily, which will encourage men and women to seek God in daily devotions, will be available in March through a new digital platform called DevoHub along with other LifeWay devotionals.

-- approved a request for an $80,000 reimbursement by the SBC Pastors' Conference for use of the Greater Columbus Convention Center's meeting hall and facilities, June 14-15, preceding the SBC annual meeting, as part of an annual reimbursement for costs in using the facility.

-- elected William Lovell and Tom Boyd as Southern Baptist Foundation trustees for terms to expire in 2018. Lovell, of Nashville, is retired from Lovell Investments. Boyd, Of Murfreesboro, Tenn., is with Decker Wealth Management and is retired from Bank of America where he served as a senior vice president.

-- retained the firm of CapinCrouse, LLP, as the Executive Committee's auditor for three years, beginning with the 2014-15 fiscal year. The EC's Business and Finance Committee reported that it had reviewed and approved the EC's 2013-14 audited financial statements as prepared by CapinCrouse.

-- authorized a 0.8 percent increase in the Executive Committee salary structure for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

-- received as information that C. Barry McCarty will be retained as the chief parliamentarian for this year's annual meeting in Columbus.

Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston, with reporting by BP managing editor Shawn Hendricks, special assignment writer/editor Diana Chandler; and chief national correspondent David Roach.
Baptist Press, as the Southern Baptist Convention's news service, 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).
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