Inmates graduate from Seminary at San Quentin Chapel as part of Southern Baptist program by Peter Menkin
The program for ministry at maximum security prison San Quentin in Northern California, outside San Francisco, proves the maxim, minister where you are at the moment. For inmate Mark Baldwin, serving a life sentence, he will prove the maxim well for with his new diploma in ministry earned from Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary based in the town Mill Valley, which is near the prison, will be ministering to fellow inmates for a long time—lifelong.
The Certificate for Ministry earned by the recent June, 2010 graduate Mr. Baldwin in the Southern Baptist tradition, as the seminary is a Southern Baptist seminary, is part of a larger and national program that applies the same maxim throughout its teaching efforts reach, which is really more than national. It is worldwide. That maxim remains the same wherever students learn and go into ministry. Minister where you are at this time in your life, and in the many places where you may be a long time in their location or place of life. In a conversation by phone with a Seminary spokeswoman, more details of the educational program called Contextual Leadership Development (CLD) was found. CLD finds its home base at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary just north of San Francisco at the Southern Baptist Seminary. The Spokeswoman offers these fast notes on the CLD centers:
is established under a cooperative agreement between Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary and a local Southern Baptist Church, association or state convention
offers diploma programs in Christian ministries, theology, and church planting
offers classes in English, Korean, Spanish, Thai, Chinese, Hmong, Mien, Russian, and Haitian, depending upon the center location
is approved by the CLD National Office and the Office of Academic Affairs of Golden Gate Seminary
CLD – home page on website: http://www.ggbts.edu/cld/default.aspx She points out how Don Beall, employee of the Seminary for 5 years, has the job of running this innovative and successful program of ministry-in-place. This writer was told in that same phone conversation, “There are over 60 CLD centers in the United States. A CLD Center needs to be established…It is ethnic, but has evolved to be cultural and started out to meet the needs of ethnic people to meet the grasp of learning English to provide future ministers during their student days in the Seminary program with an education in their own language so they can have a ministry. There is a cultural relevant group for every people group in their respective country. It is currently taught in 17 States, and 11 languages.” In the specific ministry program at San Quentin prison, the four inmates who graduated with their certificate this June, 2010 will be supervised by Prison Chaplain Morris A. Curry, Jr. (an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Church). He is Pastor to all Protestant inmates at San Quentin Prison, and supervises the four graduates, and the one previously graduated inmate who is himself an ordained Southern Baptist Minister. (All are inmates.) The relationship between Pastor Curry, the director of the national program Don Beall (an ordained minister in the Southern Baptist Church), and the Seminary itself is close and genuine for they have a mutual simpatico that is driven in part by the cooperation and interest of the Seminary, as evidenced by the participation of the Seminary President in the worldwide CLD program, and specifically in what is seen as the Seminary’s important educational program at San Quentin. So the Spokeswoman told this writer, “The President is very supportive and the Seminary considers it a major outreach. We have many students and graduates in the CLD program.” The San Quentin Prison program is the second such prison program of its kind in the United States, and the Seminary hopes to have a second of their own in another Prison. That would make three such programs. The Seminary is dedicated to CLD, and prisons are a favorite among favorites because of San Quentin’s proximity to the Seminary—but 20 minutes away. “Don Beall was one of the first teachers at San Quentin in 2007. He’s very involved in the other CLD centers because this one is special and it’s all nearby the Seminary. (He has been teaching one semester, two times a week, and every fall for a long time.)” So the Spokeswoman explains to this writer in the interview by phone. The following interview with Don Beall reveals the dedication of the leadership in the CLD program, displaying mostly that the dedication is Bible based, and tells us something of Don Beall’s role. The interview by email was sent to this writer from Washington State, in the Western United States, when The Reverend Don Beall was on vacation this July, 2010. 1. What is your role, and how do you see this developing leadership and ministers? Peter, I serve as the Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary Contextualized Leadership Development (CLD) National Director. I work with local CLD Directors and Registrars to provide orientation, make sure they receive adequate training, coordinate our cooperative agreement/partnership. 2. Will you speak to the nature of the San Quentin ministry as a ministry in place–its Biblical authority and basis? The Bible teaches us to visit those in prison and that “some of us used to be” which teaches us that God gives eternal life to all who call upon His name. Matthew 28: 19-20 commands us to teach those we come in contact with. Preparing men at San Quentin to serve the Lord through His church in prison and outside of prison is the task of all believers. 3. Where next might the Southern Baptist Church begin another prison ministry study program? We do not initiate setting up local CLD centers across North America but respond to local Southern Baptist Church (SBC)–churches, associations and state conventions who desire to provide theological training. We will evaluate each request with a face to face meeting with those interested. 4. How do you find the support of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary in this study program and ministry? Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (GGBTS) provides training support and encouragement to the local CLD Director. Dr. Jerry Stubblefield (retired GGBTS Faculty member) and Pastor/Chaplain Morris Curry who serves as the San Quentin CLD Registrar. We help enlist instructors at San Quentin, provide Course Syllabus Templates and evaluate each instructor’s syllabus to make sure what is being taught is the GGBTS course listed 5. If I recall right, you visit at San Quentin yourself. Tell us something about what you are doing with prisoners? I have volunteered to teach each CLD 1111 Ministry Foundations one semester two nights a week for 15 weeks. I also help advise the San Quentin students on their progress toward earning a Diploma in Christian Ministries or a Diploma in Theology. The graduates of this June, 2010 ceremony, complete with sermon by Seminary President Reverend Doctor Jeff Iorg, was the same as a graduation given at the Southern Baptist Seminary proper. The graduates were Mark Baldwin of California, 50; Robert Butler of California, 51; David Cowan of Pennsylvania, 42; and Darrell Cortez Hartley of Missouri, 46.
Speaking from a podium in the Protestant Chapel, Seminary President Iorg told the graduates, “It takes time to tell about Jesus. I challenge you to show Jesus Christ.” The Sermon spoke of the Holiness of the moment, and this writer thinks he meant by that the Holiness of the men’s new ministry in place, and the Holiness of their graduation into ministry. This wonderful sermon was a form of blessing and commissioning. In the Sermon, preaching Seminary President Iorg said Jesus went to the most strategic places possible. He looked to minister to the product of people’s backgrounds, where they were, in the place where they live, and in the state of their lives. He said that for these new ministers, “The Church is San Quentin.” He offered a blessing, and proclaimed, “Bless the Lord.” Donald Hart, a graduate of Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary is a teacher of men in the Protestant Chapel in San Quentin for the CLD program. He taught the four recent graduates, though did not teach the one previous graduate of the program. The Protestant Chapel is inside the Prison, of course. This interview by phone with the writer was held with Donald Hart regarding his teaching ministry to inmates. Don says of the men, “They are very proud; it is one of the programs they put a lot of effort into.” : Don has been teaching at San Quentin for two years. How long have you been on the faculty of the Seminary? Approved as an adjunct for the San Quentin project two years ago, I was a student at the Seminary finishing up my Theological Masters–passed the Masters of Divinity and focused on research and writing. It’s between the Masters of Divinity and the Ph.D. I did my undergraduate work at California Baptist University in Riverside, California. Have you had experience in teaching prisoners prior to your San Quentin experience? I had none. Actually, San Quentin was my first time in being involved with prison ministry. I think it was a combination of both; I did not know how prepared I was until I started. If someone wanted to be involved in this ministry, they have to have a passion for teaching for one. And along with the teaching is spiritual discipleship of the men. You also have to have the mindset that men in prison can be rehabilitated… That God has a plan for them where they are at or where he wants to put them in the future.