Gateway honors Iorg for 20 years of service


ONTARIO, Calif. — Friends, alumni, faculty, students and trustees gathered on Tuesday, April 16, to honor Jeff Iorg for his tenure as president of Gateway Seminary and to commission him for service at the Executive Committee of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Iorg’s final day with the Seminary will be May 12, and his first day as president of the EC will be May 13.

Bobby Evans, former general manager of the San Francisco Giants and former trustee, shared the impact Iorg had as a chaplain for the San Francisco Giants. Evans worked for the Giants for more than two decades and as general manager from 2015 to 2018. During Iorg’s tenure as chaplain, the Giants won three championships.

“The impact Jeff and [his wife] Ann made on our club is unquestionable, as well as on the lives of the players and their families,” Evans said.

Evans told attendees how he prayed for Barry Zito in 2006, after offering him a $126 million dollar contract with the Giants; the highest offer for a pitcher in Major League Baseball at the time.

“God, I just pray that while Barry's here, that we'll win a World Series and he'll come to know you,” he said.

“In 2010, the Giants won the World Series after waiting for 56 years, not once, but again in 2012 and then in 2014. In 2011, Jeff led Barry Zito to Christ.”

“Pray big or go home,” Evans said.

Former vice president of business services Gary Groat spoke of his 17 years of service with Iorg, including the period in which the school moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Southern California.

“It was no surprise at all that Jeff stepped up and made the decisions that ultimately led us here to Ontario,” Groat said.

“Change has few champions, but an army of resistance. That is true everywhere you go, and Jeff weathered all of it.”

Brian and Hilda Kennedy shared about their experiences with Jeff and Ann Iorg from a church perspective. Bryan is pastor of Mt. Zion Church of Ontario and associate professor of preaching at Gateway. Hilda is founder and president of AmPac Business Capital. The Iorgs joined Mt. Zion in 2016 and Iorg serves as an elder at the church.

“Ann is a servant,” Hilda said.

“She is a children’s minister and a children’s disciple maker. She is a women’s ministry leader and a model servant leader.”

“I know that Gateway will miss her.”

Brian preached a brief message during the dinner exhorting listeners, and particularly Iorg in his next assignment with the EC, to lead with integrity for the sake of the kingdom of God..

“Your job,” Kennedy said looking directly at Iorg, “is to navigate the executive committee and the Southern Baptist Convention to serve churches as they prioritize, elevate and accelerate the vision of reaching every person for Jesus Christ.”

“Southern Baptists can literally hurt millions of people by turning our efforts away from the Great Commission and into politics and cultural Christianity.”

“But in the right hands, with integrity at the helm, the EC and Southern Baptists will thrive in global kingdom advancement.”

Kennedy invited the elders of Mt. Zion and Gateway faculty to pray over the Iorgs on stage while the dinner guests prayed from their seats.

During the program, trustees honored Iorg with the title of president emeritus, effective May 13, 2024.

Additionally, Naomi Paget, FBI chaplain, crisis interventionist and Gateway alum, donated her collection of fine art to the seminary in honor of Iorg. Paget’s collection includes original works of religious art such as etchings by Rembrandt, paintings by Salvador Dali, wood cuts by Albrecht Durer and paintings by Marc Chagall.

Near the end of the ceremony, Iorg thanked attendees and the people who have supported him and Ann over their forty years of ministry.

“My successful ministry in baseball chapel was because of Bobby Evans. My leading this seminary to relocate was largely because of the behind-the-scenes business analysis and planning of Gary Groat,” Iorg said.

“Much of our work has been made possible by donors like Naomi Paget." 

“Hilda and Brian Kennedy have helped reach across a racial divide and given us the privilege of being friends,” he said.

“We are here tonight, receiving accolades, but we are only riding on the crest of a leadership wave created by your sacrificial service and your demonstrated competence in our lives,” said Iorg.

“So we simply say, a thousand times over, thank you.”