ONTARIO, Calif.—Gateway Seminary wrapped up two years of transition Oct. 5-8, with a series of dedication events that praised God for His blessings on the institution’s recent move.
“Today we celebrate our heritage and stand in awe of God’s miraculous activity through us over the past few years,” President Jeff Iorg said during the dedication service. “These memories are important to us. But for us, our dreams exceed our memories. Our vision supersedes our heritage. Our longing to experience God’s future is more important than celebrating our legacy in our past.”
More than 400 people—that included numerous Southern Baptist leaders—attended the dedication, which was streamed live online from the seminary’s new chapel.
Iorg summarized the conditions that precipitated the seminary’s move 400 miles from the former Mill Valley, Calif., main campus in the San Francisco Bay Area to its new main campus in Ontario, Calif.
“From 2009 through 2013, we endured a prolonged political and legal conflict, along with persistent opposition from some in our community to our development plans for our former campus,” he said. “The situation was bleak. We owned a deteriorating campus, in a very challenging location, with significant development restrictions and entrenched community opposition. We were on a trajectory toward closure or worse—a perpetual struggle to preserve our property at the expense of our mission. Frankly, we needed a miracle.”
He said that administrators for several years had interpreted the challenges as barriers to overcome.
“Gradually, God changed our perspective. We came to believe our challenges were not barriers testing our faith, but instead were signposts telling us to go another direction.”
Iorg recounted seven miracles which enabled the seminary to relocate its primary campus and launch a new kind of seminary for the 21st century.
For example, the buyer of the Mill Valley property met all the institution’s needs in the conditions of the sale, and the building that was purchased was constructed in 2009 but was left unfinished and unoccupied for five years. The seminary also received several large financial gifts, some from donors with no previous connection to the school. In addition, the institution came out of the relocation process debt free with $123 million in real estate and endowment assets, up from $32 million just seven years ago.
Outlining his vision for the future, Iorg explained why the decision was made to move to Ontario.
“We moved here because Riverside and San Bernardino counties are the two fastest growing counties in the American West,” he said. “By 2050, the population of these two counties is projected to grow by more than 3 million people. That’s more population growth in these two counties than will occur in any western state, except Arizona, during the same time frame. We established Gateway Seminary where the most people will be moving and living. We are in the perfect place for our ministry-immersion approach to theological education.” (BP)