Students came from the seminary's five campuses, as well as from several of its regional Contextualized Leadership Development centers.
In his commencement address, Golden Gate President Jeff Iorg told graduates that God likes variety in life and in leaders.
"Our seminary shapes leaders, but Golden Gate leaders are not one-size-fits-all. I challenge you to emulate the models of different aspects of leadership portrayed in the Bible," he said.
Iorg urged seminarians to be innovative, to share the Gospel in ways that have never been done before and in ways that followers have never seen before. He encouraged them to build their ministries over time as they grow to understand people.
"Be a leader who challenges the people to rise above themselves," Iorg said. "Speak up when it is difficult, when it may be controversial."
He concluded by urging graduates to be leaders who grow over a lifetime. "Don't ever stop growing, learning, changing and pursuing what God has in store for you. Grow and change and develop as you lead over a lifetime," Iorg said.
The graduates represented 16 states and 10 countries and received eight types of degrees, including a diploma in Christian ministries and two diplomas in theology as well as master of arts in educational leadership, master of theological studies, master of divinity, doctor of ministry and doctor of philosophy degrees.
The William O. Crews Presidential Leadership Award, the seminary's highest student honor, was presented to Seth David Postell, a doctor of philosophy graduate from the Northern California Campus.
"Seth is an outstanding student who exemplifies the leadership values of the seminary," Iorg said. "He has proven himself, both in the seminary community and in his ministry, to be worthy of this award."
Two graduates told about their journeys toward earning their degrees. Postell returned to the podium to explain how he became a Jewish believer in Jesus at the age of 13 and shared a Messianic message during his Bar Mitzvah.
Emile Masabarakiza, who received a master of divinity degree with a concentration in biblical studies, described how God sustained him through his seminary studies.
Through its 63 Contextualized Leadership Development centers across the country, operated in partnership with local churches, associations and state conventions, Golden Gate conferred 18 diplomas in Christian ministries and eight diplomas in theology.
"It never ceases to amaze me how many language groups we are touching with our work," Iorg said. "God has truly made us a seminary for the nations."
Phyllis Evans is director of communications at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary.
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