By Dallas Bivins, Director, Arizona Campus of Gateway Seminary –
The Apostle Paul encourages us to entrust what we learn to other faithful believers (2 Timothy 2:2). As the educational arm of the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention, Gateway Seminary takes that command seriously, and the Cooperative Program makes it a reality!
I can’t think of a better example of this verse than The Way Fellowship Church, pastored by Scott Gourley. Scott is not only a graduate of Gateway, but he is now a current student as well, pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree. Scott and I were recently discussing the importance of Gateway and the influence seminary education has had on his progress and growth — not only as a believer of Jesus, but a church-leader as well. Scott told me, “Gateway pushed me to deeper levels with God. It wasn’t just about learning more about the Bible itself, or even knowing more about my relationship with God. But seminary is helping me trust God in ways I never experienced before. Gateway is helping me take the things I’m learning to a deeper level, and trust Him with it.” There’s a world of difference between knowledge and trust!
But here’s the really amazing part of the story: among her members, The Way Fellowship has four Gateway Arizona graduates, as well as three current students! Joining Scott as graduates are Kyle Hall, Joel Larson and Kaylob Stumbaugh. Current students are Carrie Larson and Erik Maness. As we continued to talk, Scott told how the seminary has prepared, and is preparing, the men and women of The Way for service in the church — through the head, hearts and hands of the believer. Scott mentioned what a blessing Gateway has been to the church, but I had to reiterate what a blessing the church has been to the seminary!
There are seven Gateway students serving The Way! This collaboration between church and seminary has several common links, not the least of which is the financial ability we share together as ministry partners. You see, students at Gateway are able to attend one of the most cost-efficient schools in the world — right here in Phoenix! The generous gifts that we all make as Southern Baptists through the Cooperative Program allow us to subsidize our educational costs — making tuition and fees at the seminary very, very affordable.
What a privilege it is to serve the churches of Arizona!