Jeff Iorg, president of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, conferred degrees on 10 students and delivered the commencement address during graduation exercises May 30 at the seminary’s Arizona campus.
In his charge to the graduates, Iorg compared Christian leadership to parenting, using the Apostle Paul’s reference to himself in 1 Cor. 4:14-16 as father to the Corinthian church. Iorg urged the graduates to give their lives for those God has given them to serve, just as they give their lives for their own children.
“Christian leadership demands vulnerability and responsibility. It involves sacrifice and requires longevity,” Iorg told the graduates. “Parenting lasts a lifetime. Ask any parent if it is worth it, and they will tell you parenting is absolutely worth any sacrifice. Ministry, too, is worth it! Commit yourselves to your ministry as you do to your children and accept the joy that comes with the sacrifice.”
The graduates included Adam Henry, doctor of ministry; Otis Calvin, Seth Kreimeyer-Kelly and John Ramirez, master of divinity; Eric Gibbs, master of missiology; Caleb Spacht, master of arts in educational leadership; Preston Ford, Stacey Ford and Rob Landry, master of theological studies; and Ray Lott, diploma in theology.
The seminary’s Contextualized Leadership Development program also awarded diplomas in Christian ministries CLD to April Delores and Angeline Walker, who attended the Western New Mexico School of Theology in Milan, N.M.
Several students were honored with special awards.
Eric Gibbs received the Golden Gate Award in Church Planting, which recognizes a graduate who has engaged and excelled in church planting with particular emphasis in fostering healthy family environments within congregations. Gibbs serves as pastor of First Pima Baptist Church, Sacaton.
Rob Landry received the Jack O’Neal Multi-Ethnic Ministry Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in preparation for service in a multi-ethnic ministry environment. Landry serves as a Missions Service Corps missionary in southern Arizona and as a missions coordinator with Praying Pelicans. He works with churches across the United States, coordinating mission trips to provide short-term service to local Arizona churches. In addition, he ministers across the border in Mexico, providing food and the good news of Jesus Christ.
John Ramirez was the 2015 recipient of the Dan and Harriet Stringer award. Established in honor of Dan Stringer and his wife Harriet, the award recognizes an Arizona Campus graduate who has persevered through significant personal hardship to pursue his or her seminary education. Stringer was a former executive director of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention and was instrumental in establishing the Arizona Campus.
Ramirez endured hardships within his family and his church while pursuing his seminary degree. In addition to raising a special-needs daughter, Ramirez and his wife, Roxanne, cared for her mother through end-of-life decline, including several years of Alzheimer’s disease. Ramirez started seminary as a diploma student. In spite of the many challenges in his personal life, he persevered to attain the grade point average necessary to be admitted to the master of divinity track through the seminary’s exception program.