Golden Gate Seminary’s Arizona Campus concluded its 20th anniversary year with a commencement ceremony May 28, honoring 18 masters and doctoral graduates and four graduates from the seminary’s Contextualized Leadership Development program.
Dallas Bivins, campus director, presided over the ceremony and presented the candidates for graduation. Seminary president Jeff Iorg conferred the degrees and offered a charge to the graduates.
Sandra De Jesus, who serves in information services with the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, and Tommy Thomas, North American Mission Board church planting catalyst in northern Arizona, received doctor of ministry degrees.
Receiving master of divinity degrees were Aaron Chicoine, Charles McCracken and Robert Peltier. Curtis Blocker and Dominick Grimaldi received the additional distinction of master of divinity with biblical studies concentration.
Received master of theological studies degrees were Joshua Dietz, Jeremy Fass, Wendell Hollis, Charles Jones, Jared Nelson, James Rowe and Timothy Salomon.
Jackie Fry was awarded the master of arts in educational leadership, and Eric Cook received a Bible Teaching Certificate.
Two students received special honors for their achievements. Curtis Blocker received the Zondervan Award in Biblical Hebrew. This award is granted annually to a graduating student in recognition of excellence in Hebrew studies. Nominations are made by biblical studies faculty throughout the Golden Gate system.
Also honored was Jeremy Fass, pastor of Silent Hope Ministries, Mesa, who received the Dan & Harriet Stringer Award. This award, established in honor of Dan Stringer and his wife, Harriet, recognizes an Arizona Campus student who has persevered through hardship to achieve his or her seminary degree.
Fass, totally deaf from childhood, came to Golden Gate Seminary with only a high school education and no apparent means of paying for a seminary education. When asked how he planned to achieve a seminary degree with those obstacles before him, Fass simply responded, “God told me to come to seminary.”
He was admitted to Golden Gate as a diploma of theology student, and later to the master of theological studies through the seminary’s admission by exception program. Along the way, Fass suffered a stroke but continued with his education, taking only one semester off.
His degree was fully funded by the Raymond and June Kuns Foundation, a local foundation committed to providing scholarship assistance to worthy seminary students seeking to serve as missionaries or pastors.
Four students received certificates in Christian ministries from Golden Gate Seminary’s Contextualized Leadership Development program. They are Kaul Corley, Ricky Graves, Sanford Mumphrey, and Roland Palumbo.
On hand for the 20th anniversary celebration were three former directors: David McCormick (1995-1999), Mark McClellan (1999-2003) and David Johnson (2003 – 2013). The commencement ceremony capped a weekend of celebration as the campus hosted its first-ever homecoming event Friday evening, May 27 in celebration of the 20th anniversary. More than a hundred students, former students, graduates and faculty attended and were greeted with gifts, games, barbecue and entertainment provided by two Arizona Campus alumni: Caleb Spacht and his band and Fred Harris.
All-in-all, it was a weekend worthy of the milestone of serving Arizona Southern Baptists for 20 years.