Gateway name approved; WMU's Wanda Lee honored

by Erin Roach & Art Toalston, posted Wednesday, June 15, 2016 (2 years ago)

ST. LOUIS (BP) -- Two significant changes in Southern Baptist life were key elements of the Executive Committee report to 7,200-plus messengers at the SBC annual meeting in St. Louis:

-- final approval of the new name -- Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention -- for the former Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, which is relocating its main campus to Southern California from the San Francisco Bay Area.

-- appreciation to Wanda Lee, who has announced retirement plans after 16-plus years as WMU's executive director -- years marked by record missions offering and ministry expansion by the SBC auxiliary.

Messengers approved Executive Committee recommendations of four future host cities for the annual meeting: Nashville, 2021; Anaheim, Calif., 2022; Charlotte, N.C., 2023; and Indianapolis, 2024.

Also approved: a 2016-17 Cooperative Program Allocation Budget of $189 million, up from $186.5 million in the current Oct. 1-Sept. 30 fiscal year.

The CP budget maintains current allocations of 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 for mission ministries nationally and internationally.

The convention's six seminaries will receive 22.16 percent. The seminary enrollment formula for funding will be: Golden Gate Seminary, 2.15 percent; Midwestern Seminary, 2.65 percent; New Orleans Seminary, 3.82 percent; Southeastern Seminary, 4.17 percent; Southern Seminary, 5.06 percent; Southwestern Seminary, 4.07 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, while the SBC Operating Budget, the only CP-funded facilitating ministry, encompassing the SBC annual meeting costs and the work of the Executive Committee, will receive 2.99 percent of the budget.

Gateway Seminary

SBC President Ronnie Floyd congratulated the convention's West Coast-based seminary after the SBC approval of its new name, marking the move of its main campus to Southern California.

Messengers first voted on the Gateway Seminary name in 2015 and finalized their approval this year, a two-year process required by SBC bylaws. The seminary had been located in the Bay Area since its founding in 1944.

"We are delighted the convention has affirmed our new name," Jeff Iorg, president of Gateway Seminary, said after the vote. "We will preserve the best of our heritage as Golden Gate Seminary as we build a new identity as Gateway Seminary."

The seminary closed its main campus in Mill Valley, Calif, on June 3 to prepare for its 400-mile move south to Ontario, Calif. The seminary began its relocation after the 2014 sale of its main campus and the subsequent purchase of new sites in Ontario and, for the Bay Area, in Fremont. The seminary also operates campuses in Denver, Phoenix and the Pacific Northwest.

Gateway Seminary's official opening in Ontario will be July 5, with dedication events for the new campus Oct. 5-8.

Wanda Lee appreciation

Wanda Lee "has served faithfully our Lord and our convention," EC President Frank S. Page said in presenting Lee a framed certificate of appreciation for her 16-plus years of WMU leadership.

"During Wanda's tenure, over $3 billion has been given to missions while she was at the helm of WMU," Page told messengers, with more than $2 billion raised for international missions and nearly $1 billion for North American missions through the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Annie Armstrong Easter Offering, respectively, in conjunction with the SBC's two mission boards, state conventions and local churches.

Those totals, the resolution of appreciation noted, constitute "more than one-half of the total amount raised through these two offerings since they began being reported in 1888 and 1907 respectively."

The resolution also noted that Lee led WMU in:

-- Organizing 80 short-term mission trips encompassing more than 750 volunteers in underserved countries and in major cities around the world.

-- Expanding hands-on missions ministries such as the Baptist Nursing Fellowship, WorldCrafts, Christian Women's Jobs Corps and Project Help.

-- Expanding WMU's New Hope Publishers, with more than 100 new titles in the last four years and being named Publisher of the Year in the Golden Scroll Book Awards in 2015 and 2009.

Lee announced in January her retirement will take effect after her successor is named.

Collegiate ministry

Messengers watched a Cooperative Program promotional video highlighting the Baptist Collegiate Ministry at Francis Marion University in South Carolina, where Kendal Danford serves as BCM director.

"Our campus is about 50/50 when it comes to racial diversity, but our numbers and our ministry didn't reflect that," Danford said in the video. "We began to pray and ask God how we could reach all of the students on our campus. God began to open doors for us to reach African American young men."

One of those young men, Rashad, said he grew up in church but didn't meet Christ until he got to the BCM at Francis Marion.

"I always felt like there was this emptiness that I was dealing with inside of me. I came to BCM and got saved and plugged into core groups, and ever since then God has opened up so many doors for me," Rashad said, adding, "God belongs on my campus."

Mark Whitt, a national collegiate ministry leader with LifeWay Christian Resources, told messengers that Southern Baptists have some type of collegiate ministry on more than 800 campuses in the United States, aiming to reach 22 million college students.

Advisory councils

The Bivocational Small Church Advisory Council presented its written report to Page.

"You'll notice that only five are present," Page said of the council's members, "and the reason is because most of our bivocational pastors are out doing a secular job, and very few can come to our convention. We hope and pray that they will hear how much we appreciate them."

The report is "a compilation of several years' work, of recommendations, how to deepen the involvement of our bivocational and smaller membership churches in our convention," Page said.

"By the way, of our 46,498 Southern Baptist churches, over 30,000 are in this category of either smaller membership -- probably 35,000 -- or bivocational," Page said. "They are our true heroes. They are getting the work done, and we praise God for them."

Page also received a written report from the Multi-Ethnic Advisory Council.

"I thank God for these wonderful, wonderful brothers who have helped present an entire system of recommendations for us to look at over the next years to help us and all of our entities implement a deepening involvement of each of these ethnic groups in our convention and ministry work," Page said. "... We praise God for all of our multi-ethnic brothers and sisters."

Theological education in Germany

Heinrich Derksen, president of Bibelseminar Bonn in Germany, told messengers it was 10 years ago that he spoke for the first time at the Southern Baptist Convention.

"Since then our relationship has grown and has become very meaningful and special to me and our movement in Germany," Derksen said. "... In the past 25 years we have planted about 700 churches, and we are one of the largest and fastest-growing conservative movements in Germany today."

Page has traveled to Germany for several years to encourage Baptists there, including a recent trip where more than 1,200 German pastors attended a preaching conference. "Seventy-five percent were under age 30. God is doing a work in Europe," Page said.

Erin Roach is a writer based in Nashville; Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press. Kathie Chute, director of communications for Gateway Seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention, contributed to this article.
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