Iorg tells trustees of changing demographics

By Kathie Chute on May 29, 2019

ONTARIO (BP) — Gateway Seminary’s spring enrollment increased 6 percent over spring 2018, President Jeff Iorg reported to trustees during their May 6-7 meeting in Ontario.

“This increase continues the steady growth pattern at both the new Ontario campus and in our online programs,” Iorg noted.

Student demographic profiles at the seminary are changing, so Gateway continually tracks student needs and adjusts programs accordingly, he said.

“Our average student is now about 36 years old with more financial pressure than ever before,” Iorg explained. “We have more certificate and diploma students and fewer students who have a bachelor’s degree but still want training. All of these factors have to be brought into play as we develop programs to meet the needs of future students.”

Amid unprecedented leadership transitions in Southern Baptist entities, alongside the challenge of pressing cultural concerns, Gateway continues to fulfill its mission of shaping leaders who expand God’s Kingdom around the world.

“We try to keep it simple — staying in our lane and shaping leaders — while implementing intentional strategies to accomplish our mission,” Iorg told trustees.

Gateway has been a forerunner in key areas in which many Southern Baptists are discovering the need to adjust their practices, he said: racial and ethnic diversity, women in leadership and affirming theological breadth.

“We welcome many of the changes taking place in the Southern Baptist Convention and our role as a forerunner on these issues.”

Iorg announced a new partnership with Baptist state conventions in the West: The Call Project.

His popular book, “Is God Calling Me?” will be distributed at every event for college and high school students over the next five years. The seminary also is producing sermon helps and other resources to teach about God’s call in various ways at a variety of Western convention events.

“When pastors ask me, ‘How is enrollment?’ I answer the question and then ask, ‘When is the last time you issued a challenge from your pulpit to those who are called to ministry?’” Iorg said. “Many admit neglecting to preach and teach on this issue. Challenging young people to consider God’s call is essential — not only for future seminary enrollment, but more importantly for future churches to have leaders they will need.”

Trustees approved an $11.75 million budget for 2019-20, hiring David Rathel as associate professor of theology and promoting John Shouse to senior professor of Christian theology upon his retirement in July after 33 years of service at Gateway.

Trustees also elected new officers for 2019-20: Keith Goeking of Missouri, chairman; Robert White of Georgia, vice chairman; and Gayle Fee of Nevada, secretary.

During a dinner following the board meeting, Ann Iorg was honored for 15 years of service to the seminary with the naming of a newly constructed children’s park at the student housing complex near the campus. The Ann Iorg Children’s Park will be commemorated with a bronze statue of a child reading to another child.

Outgoing trustee chairman Larry Felkins of Alabama said the board admired “the volunteer service Ann has provided Gateway over these past 15 years as well as her advocacy for children’s ministry training and her example as a children’s ministry worker.

“Trustees contributed the money to build this park, and it is our privilege to name it in her honor.”

This Convention serves our culturally diverse congregations as we fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.