Gateway Seminary conferred degrees on 20 Arizona Campus graduates at its May 26 commencement ceremony. Dallas Bivins, director of the Arizona Campus, presided over the ceremony held at First Southern Baptist Church, Scottsdale.
Gateway President Jeff Iorg delivered the commencement address, speaking of how we’re called to be the sweet aroma of Christ by spreading the gospel and making it available to everyone.
The degrees and their recipients were:
• Doctor of Ministry: Ryan Smith
• Master of Divinity: Christopher Baker, Hugo Cheung, Bryan Lamca, Daniel Rifenbark and Timothy Salomon
• Master of Divinity — Chaplaincy Concentration with Church Planting Certificate: E. La Mertha
• Master of Theological Studies: Troy Butler, Whitney Fearing, Joshua Hodges, David Kim, Luke Safford and Paul Sun
• Bible Teaching Certificate: Shonda Foutz and Rebecca Velazquez
• Diploma in Christian Ministries ADVANCE: Robert Cline, Leticia Garcia, Mark Hampton, Tara Hogue, Diego Jaramillo, Alfred Jones and Ruthie Stephens.
Joshua Hodges was recognized with the Gateway Award in Church Planting. The award is given to a graduate who has engaged and excelled in church planting with emphases in fostering healthy family environments within congregations. He and his family moved to Arizona in 2013, and he is serving as pastor to replant Every Tribe & Nation Baptist Church in Mesa. He is training Native American leaders to take the gospel to their people.
His wife, Deidra, was recognized with the Joy Balyeat Nash Award for Spousal Service. This award is given to the spouse of a graduating student in recognition of outstanding devotion and dedication in a support role. The graduates are given the opportunity to nominate their spouses for the award.
E. La Mertha received the Dan & Harriet Stringer Award, which recognizes a graduate who has persevered through significant personal hardship to pursue his or her seminary education. La Mertha suffered a traumatic brain injury, which makes it difficult for him to remember and makes the learning process challenging. Despite his injury, he took a full course load every semester to graduate with a master of divinity degree with chaplaincy concentration and certificate in church planting. He ministers to his church of motorcyclists.
His wife, Tiffany, was also recognized with the Joy Balyeat Nash Award for Spousal Service. In his nomination, he noted her dedication to their family and her unwavering love and patience despite his injury.