Golden Gate Seminary honors Korean Baptist leaders with alumni award
Tuesday, Jun 19, 2001
By Cameron Crabtree

NEW ORLEANS (BP)--Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary presented Paul and Rebekah Kim with the school's Alumni Achievement Award for 2001, in honor of their church planting work around the world and development of young leaders in ministry. Seminary leaders made the presentation during the school's annual alumni luncheon in New Orleans June 13.

"One of the most exciting things occurring in Southern Baptist life in our day is the establishment and growth of Berkland Baptist Church," said seminary President William O. Crews. "There's no church in the world who has provided more students to Golden Gate Seminary than this church."

Paul Kim graduated from the Mill Valley, Calif., seminary in 2000 with a doctor of ministry and Rebekah Kim graduated with a master of divinity in 1984. Natives of Korea, the couple came to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1981 and planted the Berkland Baptist Church near the border of Berkeley and Oakland. The church began with a vision to "live out the Great Commandment and to join in the Great Commission."

Since 1981, the Berkland church has grown into 12 churches located around the world: Berkeley, Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Leandro, Silicon Valley, Seattle, Davis, and Seoul (Korea). "Wherever I go, Berkland Baptist Church is full of vibrant, exciting young people," Crews said.

"None of this would have been possible without the vision, passion and courage of the Kims," Crews said. "They not only believe that the world can be reached for Christ, but they have dedicated their lives and ministries to doing something about it."

The Kims currently are based in Cambridge, Mass., near Harvard University, where he leads the Berkland congregation and she serves as a chaplain at the university. For the past several years, he has served as a trustee of the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. They have two children.

Reporting on the state of the seminary, Crews pointed to the importance of focusing on students and preparing them for ministry.

"I'm always moved by our students because I know them and I know what God is doing in their lives," Crews said. "It's a privilege to have them for a short time and to invest ourselves and God's Word into their lives. I'm excited about what their ministries will mean for God in the future."

Crews acknowledged the important role of local churches in the seminary's work.

"I firmly believe that any seminary ought to exist for the churches," Crews said. "We try to get as close to the local church as we can."

One of six SBC seminaries, Golden Gate operates five campuses in the western United States: a residential campus in Mill Valley, Calif., near San Francisco; a southern California campus in the Orange County city of Brea; a Pacific Northwest campus in Vancouver, Wash., near Portland; in Phoenix, Ariz.; and in the Denver, Colo., suburb of Englewood. Currently, the three campuses along the West Coast offer full degree programs without relocating or studying at the residential campus. Crews said he hopes full degree programs can be offered at the Arizona and Colorado campuses within the next two years.

"The contextualization of theological education is at the heart of why we exist as an institution," Crews added. "Golden Gate was established by people in the western United States who realized that if the job of the Great Commission in that vast region was going to get done, they would need training in the West."

Acknowledging the complexities of administering a multiple campus system, he said, "We do it because that's who we are. We want to deliver the full programs to those who are called in a given context and ought to be trained in a given context."

Crews responded to concerns raised by Golden Gate alumni about a motion made from the floor of the SBC annual meeting the day before asking the SBC executive committee to study the feasibility of merging Golden Gate and Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo., and then relocating a "main campus" to a "neutral state."

"This motion was not at our initiative and we did not know it was coming," Crews said, noting it was too early to know for certain what was fully intended by the motion made by a Colorado pastor. "We are as prepared as we've ever been in fulfilling what God has for us in the future and we don't feel the need on our part to merge with anybody. As an SBC agency, we will work with the [SBC] Executive Committee and we will certainly honor the wishes of the SBC in its mission. We will simply tell our story and believe in the end that the right decision will be made."

Crews acknowledged public discussion of the motion in the months ahead "does make our work in some areas extremely difficult," such as fundraising, faculty enlistment and student recruitment. "That is a liability we have to carry over the next several years," he added, "but we believe God will keep his hand upon us and keep us moving forward."
(BP) Photo posted in the SBC Annual Meeting Photo Library. Photo title: KIMS HONORED.

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